There are many differences and similarities between traditional education and online education. These differences are primarily based on the fact that traditional schools require physical attendance; whereas, online schools require virtual attendance. Furthermore, the instruction from online schools is sometimes pre-recorded, or is difficult for the student to interact one-on-one with the teacher. Additionally, without physical attendance, there is not the social element to education that exists in a traditional school. Similarities in curriculum exist, such as topics covered and required work. This essay will compare and contrast these differences and similarities in order to better understand traditional education and online education.
Physical attendance and virtual attendance. The differences between physical attendance and virtual attendance are the most significant differences between traditional and online education. Physical attendance requires a student to adhere to a school schedule, to commute to and from school, and to be prepared to leave the house, i.e. the student must consider their appearance. Physical attendance also requires that a student sit in a classroom, sometimes in an uncomfortable seat, near people who the student may or may not like. On the other hand, virtual attendance does not require the student to leave the house. Students can take their classes in their pajamas and do not have to worry about their appearance. The schedule for online classes is usually much more flexible than the schedule for a brick and mortar school; a student can log in to a lesson at 2 am if that is when they want to take their classes. Therefore, students have the opportunity to maintain other schedules in their lives, such as work or sports.

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There are similarities between these types of attendance. Students are required to attend and have a certain number of hours that are required to be involved in actual instruction. Students must absorb the material that is being presented. Attendance requires a student to set aside other activities and concentrate on the given class.

Pre-recorded instruction and live instruction. There is a difference in the quality of instruction that students receive between traditional in-person education and that from an online instructor: In a traditional setting, there is an opportunity to form a teacher-pupil relationship. Students can ask questions and have them immediately answered. Online instructors do not personally know their students, at least not to the same extent that an instructor who sees a student in-person does. Students are not able to ask questions about their instruction with immediate responses. Although, sometimes, there is an instant messenger option on live lessons which a student can interact with an instructor. However, this instant messaging can be interrupted by technical difficulties, or difficulties in written expression. Therefore, the feedback is not as immediate as it is with live instruction.

There are similarities between these types of instruction. Students have lessons which require the instructor to create a lesson plan. There are tests on the material which is presented. Students are expected to produce written essays, and have an understanding of the objectives of the lesson plan. Students should take notes in both types of instruction.

In conclusion, the similarities between traditional education and online education are based in the objectives of the education—students are expected to learn the same material, pass the same tests, and have the same competencies. However, the differences are found primarily in the fact that the student receives traditional education in-person, allowing them to form relationships with teachers and other students. Online education does not allow the student to form these relationships because there is a qualitative difference between knowing a student face-to-face with a virtual student.