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In-Classroom Learning Matters: Here's Where Virtual Learning Falls Short

Black man getting frustrated in front of laptop
Author
Josef Rappaport, DPT, Physical Therapist
November 27, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic put educators in a tough place, working to recreate the experience of in-person learning environments through a digital setting. Many students found that they struggled to connect with their instructions and classmates through a computer screen, as it was impossible to emulate the experience of in-person interaction.

While there are some benefits to virtual learning, there are also benefits to the traditional classroom–especially at the college level. As many colleges and universities transitioned to digital learning during the pandemic, students often felt like they were not able to get the full college experience. Despite massive changes in instructional delivery, many higher learning institutions still charged students the same full tuition price as if they were attending in-person class on campus. Students were understandably frustrated, and many are exploring the possibility of being financially compensated for their experience. 

Free Case Evaluation

If you were a student in one of the universities or colleges listed below during the Covid pandemic of 2020, you might be entitled to a tuition refund.

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Here, we’ll take a look at the benefits of learning in a traditional college classroom setting

1. Friendship, community, and networking

For many college students, the start of their first semester marks the first time that they’re fully on their own. Attending in-person classes is a fantastic way to make friends, talk with others who share similar academic interests, and begin the networking processes that can help them get a solid start to their career after graduation. 

While some online learning communities offer forums for students to get to know one another, these interactions often feel awkward and forced. When classrooms are run virtually, there’s no time before or after class ro borrow notes, chat with classmates, or talk about meeting up to study on the weekends. Students in online learning communities typically reach out directly to their professor or teacher’s assistant when they have a question, rather than reaching out to an online classmate who they’ve never met. 

2. Focus

When students are learning in a traditional classroom environment, distractions are minimized. Texting and checking notifications is discouraged, and classroom norms mean that students are expected to be focused on their instructor throughout the class. 

Online classrooms by default don’t require the same level of focus from students. Notifications going off on the computer, household responsibilities, distractions from family members at home can all make it tough to stay on task while learning online.

Structured class meeting times can also help students stay on-task. Some college students find that when left to their own devices (for example, when they’re permitted to listen to a lecture and take exams at whatever time suits them), they tend to procrastinate. An in-classroom learning environment requires students to physically show up and focus, which can help students–especially new college students–fully engage with both their academic material and their soon-to-be career colleagues. 

3. Social cues

Many college classes tackle tough subjects, and face to face interaction allows students and professors alike to pick up on social cues that can further a conversation. Often, students who take class online feel like they’re speaking to no one, even though they’re fully aware that their professor and/or classmates can hear and see them speaking. 

Social cues–including facial expressions, proximity, volume, and tone–can all help professors understand their students, and can help students understand one another. When these important parts of the communication process are removed, students may struggle to develop a sense of trust with their instructor and classmates, which may limit the depth of discussion during class. 

4. Routine

As we mentioned, for many students, the first semester at college is their first time living fully on their own. Discipline is required for academic success, and online classes do not typically require the same structure as in-person learning. 

When a student is living on campus, they’re responsible for deciding when to wake up, when to leave for class, arriving on time, having the right supplies, interacting with others, and making it to their next class on time. While this experience may seem trivial to professionals who have been working for years, creating a personalized routine is vital for both academic and career success. 

Paying More for Less

College in the United States is expensive–and many students who paid tuition during the COVID-19 pandemic feel cheated out of the full college experience. As schools pivoted to online learning, students who were expecting to have face to face interactions with professors were relegated to screen only learning, which left their college experience devoid of the networking and personal growth opportunities that many students use to push their careers forward after graduation. 

In today’s digital age, students already know that digital learning is a viable option for those who cannot or do not want to take classes online. Despite the convenience of this option, many students still want the in-classroom experience. In many cases, online learning tuition is less expensive than in-person learning tuition, as the college or university does not have to provide a physical space and can allow one professor to teach double or triple the typical number of students in a lecture course.

If you paid tuition for in-person classes and had to switch to online learning, you’re not alone–and you may be entitled to financial compensation. 

Students who paid for one type of classroom experience and got another aren’t alone. If you expected in-classroom learning and were forced to switch over to digital learning due to COVID, it’s possible that you may be entitled to a tuition refund. While eligibility depends on the school you attended and personal circumstances, many schools are offering partial refunds to students who paid for in-person classes that transitioned to remote learning. 

You don’t have to try to figure out the tuition refund process on your own–our team is here to help. Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation to learn more about whether you may be eligible to get some of your tuition back.

Free Case Evaluation

If you were a student in one of the universities or colleges listed below during the Covid pandemic of 2020, you might be entitled to a tuition refund.

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Author
Josef Rappaport, DPT, Physical Therapist
November 27, 2023

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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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