Online Learning

Professor Roy Tamashiro, Professor of Education at Webster University, completed a study of 120 students attending two master’s degrees programs through online learning. The students learned online exclusively and did not attend a campus for any purpose. The results of the study are described below.


At the top of the list is the flexibility and convenience offered by online learning. Students can study at any time of the day or night and schedules their studies around busy schedules. Time and convenience were also high points. Commuting and parking hassles are eliminated, as is gas, parking, babysitting and on-campus housing expenses.

Respondents indicated resources are easy to access with online courses and the instructor readily accessible. The ability to review materials frequently and have time to think before posing questions was cited. The opportunity to learn new technology and internet skills was ranked highly.

Peer interaction and collaboration was viewed as more personal or meaningful. Learning online with students from around the world was a unique and pleasant experience.

Students also learned time management, motivation, discipline and independence skills, all of which are essential in a work environment.


The largest detractor to online learning is the lack of social face-to-face contact with peers and instructors. Some students felt isolated without the campus lifestyle.

The majority of disadvantages mentioned were mainly concerned with technical aspects and communications. Many students felt they did not have the necessary aptitude to learn new technology associated with online learning and some had a fear of technical problems. This was the second highest complaint. Lack of a timely response for assistance was noted by a third of the students.

Another major impediment, listed at No. 3 on the cons list, was the student’s lack of disciplinary skills to manage their time and remain motivated.

This study may seem contradictory, but it points out a critical element to online learning. Students must conduct an honest self-examination to determine whether they are suited for online learning. For some, online learning is a thoroughly positive experience, while, for others, it is an unpleasant and non-conducive method of learning.