The compare and contrast research paper discusses the major differences between online and face to face education in terms of instructor’s sense of control, time, and group dynamics. There are major differences between physical (face-to-face) and online modes as per these essential criteria. Thorough analysis enables students decide on the best group learning setting that adheres to their individual preferences.
The distinctions between online or face to face education the two modes present a clear picture of their advantages and disadvantages.

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In terms of instructor’s sense of control, a conventional classroom environment maintains a higher sense of control from the instructor. Physical presence and supervision of a teacher makes it almost impossible to ignore given instructions. By contrast, online students may enjoy lower levels of instructor control. Not permanently seen on the other side, they may postpone or ignore the instructors. This means that online setting is freer compared to the classroom environment. In both cases, however, much depends on organization of a learning process and student motivation.

Regarding time aspect, face-to-face mode assumes that individual and group students are unable to meet more regularly because of physical distances. Therefore, students gather at specific dates or agreed times in certain locations. In this sense, Smith, Ferguson & Caris (2001) refer to time as a limiting factor. At that, students may interchange meetings for the more prioritized ones. Physical meetings are easy to control for one party always knows when the other party is leaving. Finally, set deadlines best organize students and manage their time. In its turn, online mode enables groups of students meet more often as they do not need to travel. At that, there is no scheduled time, date, or physical location for meeting. Thus, time factor is less important for group meetings. Usually, virtual students keep up to convened meetings. However, online meetings are less controllable because a party can leave the meeting without informing the other party. While the participants of online sessions rarely see each other, they do not adhere to the set deadlines.

The third core criterion is group dynamics. In this respect, face-to-face students better understand the group dynamics as everyone has previous experience of learning in a physical setting. Face-to-face meeting, however, may make some participants anxious. Physical learning environments often assume male dominance and so the time is not equally shared among group members. Thus, the odds of hierarchies are higher. After the end of a face-to-face session, students’ dynamics vanishes. Furthermore, physical settings are prone to occasional breaks. At that, one’s physical participation is a must to learn something. Overall,
Wang & Woo (2007) claim that the impact of classrooms on group dynamics is lesser compared to the online mode. Students tend to express specific expectations with regard to participation. On a plus side, group dynamics in a physical setting assumes quicker interactions and discussions while the participants use the whole body (body language) while communicating. In comparison, online participants interpret the group dynamics. The virtual mode assumes lesser degree of nervousness and equal participation for female students (Paechte & Maier, 2010). Hence the extent of hierarchies is lesser. The online dynamics of group participation is hidden though traceable. Group meeting are free of breaks. Individual participants actively listen to the new material without physical participation. The technologies boost subsequent dynamics and vary participants’ anticipations. However, interactions and discussions may be slow when the internet connection is insufficient.

The compare and contrast research paper discussed the pros and cons of online and face to face education in terms of instructor’s sense of control, time, and group dynamics. Now students are free to choose between either modes of group participation depending on their individual preferences. The major difference between the discussed modes concerns the component of group dynamics. While this criterion embraces essential individual preferences, further studies should cover this aspect in more detail.

  • Paechter, M. and Maier, B., 2010. Online or face-to-face? Students’ experiences and preferences in e-learning. The internet and higher education, 13(4), pp.292-297.
  • Smith, G.G., Ferguson, D. and Caris, M., 2001. Online vs face-to-face. THE Journal (Technological Horizons in Education), 28(9), p.18.
  • Wang, Q. and Woo, H.L., 2007. Comparing asynchronous online discussions and face‐to‐face discussions in a classroom setting. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(2), pp.272-286.