These days there are many ways to learn something new or add to your existing knowledge. Whether you are undertaking academic study or want to learn new skills for a hobby or general interest it is likely you can access information from the internet. Some internet courses will result in a formal qualification. Studying externally certainly has its advantages but I often find face to face learning suits me better.
I have studied both externally and internally and overall prefer face to face study. I must admit I haven't done a long course via the internet. I have gained qualifications through 'flexible delivery' or correspondence lessons backed up by phone and email support.
Some people will prefer studying externally, which probably means via the internet these days. Since leaving school decades ago I have studied face to face at university and have also attended classes at the Workers' Education Association, TAFE, various community centres and also in informal settings. From my own experience some of the advantages of learning something face to face include -
Motivation When studying face to face I have to be at a class at a certain time. I can't use any of the excuses I may come up with when contemplating sitting down to do some external study.
I also feel obligated to stick at study for the whole session whereas if I am working on my own I am more likely to get distracted.
The enthusiasm of other students helps keep me motivated. Some lecturers are particularly passionate about the subject which also helps.They may give extra information and examples which would not be presented in an external course. They are able to adapt the core material for the particular group in front of them if it's a small group.
Less distractions When I am studying face to face everyone around me is doing the same thing, or they should be. At home there may be visitors or the phone may ring.
Company of other students When I started studying at university as a mature age student I was pleased to find I knew several of my fellow students. It made the experience of going back to uni after nearly 30 years less scary.
Walking into a classroom of strangers can be daunting. Having said that, sometimes I find this less confronting because no one knows me. If I do make an idiot of myself at least I won't be seeing these people all the time. This is especially the case with short courses of one or two days.
I tend to find I will make friends with at least one person in the group, even if the course is short. This morning I attended a 3 hour session on short story writing. There will be a second class next weekend. In the break I got talking to two other participants and enjoyed the exchange of ideas and experiences.
When I was undertaking university studies I enjoyed the company of others and learnt much from fellow students. I found younger students were particularly helpful when it came to some of the computer skills I didn't have. Some of us also got together socially which was a lot of fun.
Instant answers to questions In a classroom setting there is usually the opportunity to ask questions or request clarification of a point. However, this may not be the case in a large lecture theatre. In that situation you may be able to ask the lecturer at the end of the class or else a fellow student may be able to provide the answer.
During tutorials you should be able to get answers to any questions. I found it frustrating having to wait for my lecturer to get back to me with the answer to a question when studying externally.
Immediate feedback Tutorials and practical sessions usually provide the opportunity to find out straight away if you are on the right track. In between classes you can check with other students.
There are advantages to both internal and external courses and I appreciate the availability of a variety of methods for learning. However, I generally find learning in the company of others works best for me.