Brick and mortar versus online schools

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Old 10 October 2013   #1
Brick and mortar versus online schools

I was wondering if somebody with experience in both brick-and-mortar schools and online schools could give a pros and cons of either?

I personally went to a brick-and-mortar college basically because I was in college 15 years ago.

I keep getting questions regarding colleges and what the pros and cons are of brick-and-mortar versus online and I don't have any online experience regarding actual colleges.

When I'm talking about online colleges I'm not referring to places like gnomon, digital tutors, fxPhD, etc. i'm referring to colleges that have added an online program with tuitions and degrees etc.

I'm also not not considering the online training I mentioned because I don't think they have value I'm just trying to get the big picture of the options out there for brick-and-mortar colleges versus online colleges for computer graphics.

Thanks
 
Old 10 October 2013   #2
It is amazing how many times I have been asked this question as well. I graduated a few years back with my MFA and I actually mixed it up, taking some classes on site and others online. In the end I would say that from an educational standpoint they were about the same. Its really about how much effort you are willing put into it. The real advantage though of actually being on campus is networking. I believe this is perhaps the most overlooked aspect to education. While you can definitely network online, you simply don't get the same results as you would through personal interaction.
 
Old 10 October 2013   #3
I think one of the big differences is that, when enrolled in online courses, it's pretty much up to you to get any "flight time" once the class ends. You decide how much time you put into studying and applying what you learned and doing homework (which could also be 'none')... whereas in a physical school, you're THERE, and you're pushed to spend as much time as possible doing stuff, which of course would accelerate the learning process.
At least, this is my perception from seeing students go through programs these days. I'm not implying physical schools are necessarily better. Depends on the needs and availability of the student. I know people who already work professionally in other fields (such as graphic design or advertising) that enroll in online 3d courses because that's what they can fit in their schedule, and they actually make the most of it.
 
Old 10 October 2013   #4
Thanks for your responses.

The networking thing I think is over looked as far as the "value" of the experience.

Also the motivation aspect seems to be stronger with brick and mortar scenes.

I'm wondering you have seen or heard of ways online schools have created systems that help with these to things, "networking" and "motivation"?

I've seen a little bit of how animation mentor helps students connect but just little snippets.

Thanks
 
Old 10 October 2013   #5
I just got a BA in VFX from a brick and mortar school that also offered the program online and a majority of the classes I took were online. One reason being that I have been working freelance animating animatics for the past 6 years. Taking classes online allowed me the freedom to continue working without school getting too much in the way since classes were usually in 5 hour blocks. Another reason is because I liked the freedom of not being stuck in a classroom for long periods of time throughout the week.

With online classes, networking becomes limited compared to on campus. There were a few people that I routinely saw in my online classes every term or two but we never really connected despite the forced requirement to post in the discussion boards. When I graduated, I knew only a few people at a very small school. Hanging out with one of them at E3 this year introduced me to more people there in 3 days than I met in the 4 years I was a student. Granted, I am not the most sociable person in the world as I tend to keep to myself but I don't have anything against meeting or talking to people.

As I reached my last few terms, the online program was being pushed aside because the school claimed that 90% of the students taking classes online either failed or dropped out midway through. I can only guess that they weren't motivated enough to keep up with the projects. It wasn't a problem I had but I did see a number of students start a class and then vanish later on.

Now that I have graduated, I do kind of regret my choice to take as many online classes as I did.
 
Old 10 October 2013   #6
I teach part time at brick and mortar. Apart from networking there are a few other things that get overlooked, First being concentration. We can only concentrate for 40 mins at a streach. Anyone who has done a fair bit of 3dcg knows that can be stretched to hours depending on the activity. If I am troubleshooting a modeling or rigging problem 3 or 4 hours can lapse while I have no idea that the time has passed. Following a video/DVD tutorial and at the 40min mark I start to nodd off, regardless of the quality.

When you are young and your mind is still very bouncy, concentration is extremely difficult. I work very hard at pushing students past their comfort zone so they develop a bit of resilience in that area. This involves comedy, ridiculous threats (with game references ) absolutely anything to keep them awake. I sneakily mix this with instruction on how to find solutions on the web and follow tutorials, which is something we take for granted, but still a learning to learn process.

The majority of students favor the point and shoot method (do this, click that, etc ad infinitum), my lessons are 1.5 hours long so you can imagine after the first hour theatrics are needed. Online schooling wont allow some lunatic like me to push you. We all know that we have no limits, we know there is enough amazing software and learning material out there to allow us to be what level we choose. It takes quite a while to realize that when you first begin. A combi of good live lessons and inspiring fellow students can be a real game changer for the beginner.

The limitations of brick and mortar is the level of teaching staff. Here in Holland freelance instructors are being phased out. Your Mummies and Daddies and the Govt. demand that people who teach actually have to know what they are doing (strangely enough) so they have to be qualified instead of being a visiting professor like myself. The result is you get teachers who know how to teach but dont know anything about 3d and dont have time to follow its development. I did teaching full time for a year and ran screaming from it. So both methods of learning are a bit of a mixed bag. Being in a building to learn is heavily dependent on the instructor and your fellow students, online study is heavily reliant on your motivation.

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Old 10 October 2013   #7
There are way too many variables on both sides of the equation. As far as teaching for both, there's the knowledge and experience of the teacher AND their ability to convey any of that. There's also the issue of access to that teacher when you have questions and problems. As far as motivation, that requires some self reflective honesty. Are you really someone who is seriously self-motivated or do you need others to push you? Be honest. Beyond that, I guess there's the question of opportunities to do collaborative work in either system. It's not enough to have individual skills. You need to be able to collaborate well, to work together with a team to complete a project. Look for wherever will provide such opportunities as part of the education.

Btw, I loved "when your mind is still very bouncy".
 
Old 10 October 2013   #8
great responses thanks so much for sharing.

How about some creative techniques online schools have used to inspire and motivate?

Anything that the school you went to did that helped get you more excited, collaborate etc?

The mention of humor to keep kids going is cool. That seems like it would be much harder with an online school yeah?

Did your online classes have live lessons or prerecorded?

Quote: Now that I have graduated, I do kind of regret my choice to take as many online classes as I did.


Would you mind considering how the school might have made your experience online a better one?

I'm trying to understand why some online programs have happier students then other programs. Then I know what features to look for in an online school.

Of course each program has it's pros and cons.

online pros
convenience
time saved
access to materials
access to the teacher after class

online cons
motivation challenge
inspiration challenge
social challenge

Thanks
 
Old 10 October 2013   #9
Originally Posted by gauranga108: Would you mind considering how the school might have made your experience online a better one?


I don't know if there is anything that would have besides maybe incorporating video into the course more. We had lectures to watch each week but they were recorded well before and sometimes not even of the instructor we had. The connection might have been better had our stuff been graded with more than just a text write-up.

Most of my regret stems more from not meeting others at the school which may not have changed whether I was on campus or not. The media design program they have is very small with the video game program being much larger. I rarely met any of them because that program is on campus only except for the GE classes that everyone is required to take.

Perhaps one of the things that has helped Animation Mentor bypass these problems is because they incorporate video chatting more. I recall the online classroom being like one big video chat group with the instructor critiquing work in real time.

All of my classes were premade with an instructor just stepping in to help when needed, respond to the discussions, and grade. I even had one instructor who logged in only 3 or 4 times during an 11 week term leaving me and one other student to fend for ourselves in a subject that neither of us cared about. I had the same instructor on campus for the next level up of that class and there wasn't much difference besides the fact that he was there. He gave us the project, maybe talked a bit in the first few weeks, but there were a few times near the end when all he said was "Hello" and "See you next week" during a 5 hour class.
 
Old 10 October 2013   #10
Originally Posted by gauranga108: great responses thanks so much for sharing.

How about some creative techniques online schools have used to inspire and motivate?

Anything that the school you went to did that helped get you more excited, collaborate etc?

The mention of humor to keep kids going is cool. That seems like it would be much harder with an online school yeah?

Did your online classes have live lessons or prerecorded?



Would you mind considering how the school might have made your experience online a better one?

I'm trying to understand why some online programs have happier students then other programs. Then I know what features to look for in an online school.

Of course each program has it's pros and cons.

online pros
convenience
time saved
access to materials
access to the teacher after class

online cons
motivation challenge
inspiration challenge
social challenge

Thanks


Couple of other on-line "pro's" you left out:

1. Don't have to deal with the student parking lot. Probably not a huge problem at East Coast US schools or in Europe, but at US West Coast schools, big problem...

2. On-line, you don't have those few students who just don't get it, and waste seemingly endless hours of class time for everyone else while the prof slowly tries to explain stuff to them. Again. And again. And again...
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Old 10 October 2013   #11
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