Compare and Contrast Virtual Vs. In-Person (Physical) Classrooms

Modern technology has permeated the education system, and as a result, colleges are faced with the increasing pressure to integrate virtual learning as part of the instruction process. Many college students, particularly those who are working, prefer online classes compared to in-person or physical classrooms. The pressure to integrate virtual technology into the college learning process emanate from diverse directions. The education system is under pressure to extend its service to previously underserved groups, hence accelerating online courses’ integration. The ever-increasing cost of education also makes online courses more preferred because of their affordability (Makarova & Makarova, 2018). As the education systems are under pressure to provide online courses, this essay finds it prudent to explore the similarities and differences of virtual and in-person (physical) classrooms regarding the mode of examinations and assessments, communication and course model, and effectiveness of the learning outcome.  

Similarities between Virtual and In-Person Classrooms

Whether a student prefers a virtual or in-person classroom setting, examinations and assignments are given and monitored thoroughly. Besides, they are part and parcel of the learning experience, to test the learners’ understanding of the course content. Like traditional learning, learners in online courses are expected to complete a series of reading and assignments relevant to the study. They include weekly submissions, virtual lab sessions, and final exams, all of which are done online, usually on a school canvas student portal. Other assignment options in an online learning setting may include watching and writing a review of a movie or documentaries that the teacher provides in the course plan. There are strict examination monitoring and rules in both environments to ensure students’ correct identity and the test environment’s integrity. For instance, leaving a browser tab may indicate cheating. In physical classes, examination candidates arer frisked or scanned as they enter examination rooms to ensure maximum integrity. Students do their continuous assessments or final examination in a group for the in-person courses and are closely monitored by an invigilator. For virtual classes where students reside near the college’s physical campus, exams are done in the school’s setting center based on a specific timeframe (Kemp & Grieve, 2014). Students can be monitored by a human through webcams or other software or tracked purely by computers for courses with more remote learners.

Another area of similarity between in-person and online courses is the communication between the students and the instructors. In both settings, academic instructors are available to help learners with the course’s necessary materials. Whether one is enrolled for in-person or online courses, instructors are likely to have specific hours or days of the week to communicate with the professor or clarify particular issues. Both students in traditional classrooms and online classes may have the option of contacting their professor virtually through emails or phone calls or physically in their designated offices. The goal of communication in online courses is similar to in-person classes, emphasizing building links, sharing information, and allowing the students to be heard and understood. As for the online courses, communication provides a sense of community essential for students and contributes to retention (Cung, Xu & Eichhorn, 2018). Hence it should be a priority for the instructors. Besides, physical classes allow students to hold group discussions, which online forums have mimicked in online courses. Forums give students a chance to make an initial post, on which other online classmates can respond.

Differences between Virtual and In-Person Classrooms

Online classes most emphasize asynchronous learning, while in-person courses are modeled on synchronous learning. Synchronous instruction happens simultaneously between the instructor and the students, implying that there is real-time interaction. As for asynchronous education, learning does not necessarily need to happen simultaneously, and there is no real-time interaction between the instructor and the students. Students may learn the course materials through online content such as pre-recorded videos (Faulconer et al., 2018). The emphasis on synchronous learning in physical classrooms is considered the primary advantage of such learning settings. In-Person classrooms promote a more accessible learning experience through “hands-on” instructions. Learners better understand the concepts by asking questions in class and consulting physically with instructors and fellow students (Faulconer et al., 2018). The online system lacks real-time contact and mostly emphasizes asynchronous learning, where communication is done virtually through discussion board assignments or emails. The approach can be disadvantageous for learners who require a quick response for technical concepts (Bettinger & Loeb, 2017) such as math and engineering equations.

Another significant difference between the traditional in-person classroom and online course setting is that the latter allows for a personal approach in conveying information and knowledge. While traditional classroom forces the instructor to address the whole auditorium or classroom to engage everyone, the online teaching approach allows the instructor to address individual learners, tackle their knowledge gaps and other unique needs, putting the learner in the center of the entire process. The idea is applied even for online group courses, as many of them have fewer participants, grouped in smaller manageable units. The instructor can utilize the new format of breaking down the learners into smaller units to allocate adequate attention and personal time for each learner (Bettinger et al., 2017). This can compensate for the instructor-student real-time interaction in face-to-face classrooms.

free essay typer



Modern technology has invaded the education system, pilling pressure on colleges to integrate virtual learning as part of the instruction process. It is essential to explore the similarities and differences between virtual learning due to new technologies and the in-person instruction model, which has dominated the education sector for centuries. This paper has explored similarities and differences between the two areas based on the mode of examinations and assessments, communication and course model, and effectiveness of the learning outcome.