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The Pros and Cons of Flexible Classroom Options

October 29, 2018

A college education, although hugely beneficial, requires a lot of hard work. Work that spans even beyond the classroom. Many students begin school in their later years after having a family, and some are working full or part time in order to stay debt free. Whatever the situation, flexibility can be a huge factor in choosing a program or university to attend. Without compromising on the quality of your education, students can still attend quality brick and mortar universities, like Idaho State University, while reaping the benefits of a flexible education. Here, students have the opportunity to take classes in a variety of mediums, like online, online/in-person, through distance learning or with traveling professors. . But you might wonder: which type of class is best for your schedule and your learning needs? Well, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of class, we've explored these options below.

Typically, these kinds of classes are geared towards non-traditional students. “According to the National Center for Education Statistics, non-traditional students are usually 24 and older,” says Best Value Schools. Non-traditional students also usually have a full-time job and may have family situations that do not easily allow for the completion of school.

The types of classes offered by ISU are:

  • Classroom
  • Classroom and lab
  • Web course
  • Web supplement
  • Video Conference (Distance Learning )

So, what do these classes entail and what are the pros and cons to each?


Classroom Courses

Classroom courses are, of course, face-to-face in a physical classroom. These classes are better for those who learn better through listening to lectures and also interacting with peers in groups.

The downside is that these classes are generally during the morning or afternoon and don’t allow for a ton of flexibility. If you have other obligations that may limit your attendance, you may consider a different type of class as many of these face-to-face classes are based on attendance. However, in the ISU College of Business, many of the in-person courses for all the graduate programs take place in the evening after a typical workday.  For example, for a Master’s of Accounting, we offer afternoon classes in Pocatello and evenings in Idaho Falls. For an MBA, it’s evenings in both Pocatello and Idaho Falls as well as online. Our other programs offer similar options to give you the widest variety possible to match your needs and your schedule.


Classroom & Labs

Classroom and labs are classes with lab times incorporated into them and are typically standard for certain types of classes. These types of classes are good for those who learn better with hands-on learning. Since they have lab time incorporated into them, they are a little more structured for those activities that will apply what you learn. Alex Bolinger, a management professor at the ISU College of Business says that “ I think that instructors have a responsibility to use different methods for teaching material that appeals to students with different learning styles. I'm not a big fan of long lectures. I think most students appreciate a mix of lecture but also activities, discussions and exercises in small groups, media clips and cases to really understand the material.”



Labs are classes where you do activities based around lecture material that you’re learning. They don’t usually include any lecture and are coupled with a lecture course like Biology 1101 will usually include a lab that is only worth one credit. These courses are best for hands-on learners, but again may be required depending on the class, so not all classes will have the option or come without the lab.

Web Courses

Web courses are classes that are online, at ISU there are two types of online classes. These can be “synchronous” which means they are offered during scheduled times to allow real-time access and “asynchronous” which means that they offer any-time access to the course materials and instructor, allowing for more flexible scheduling. Some web courses are a blend of both. Online classes do allow for more flexibility because of the ability to do it whenever, if it’s asynchronous. You’ve still got to check up on deadlines and make sure you get things in but it allows you to do it on your time when you’ve got the time. However, there are still expectations.

“I have my students do projects and meet with businesses outside of classes and develop marketing plans for those businesses,” said John Ney, a marketing professor at the ISU College of Business. Ney says despite teaching in an online course, he still believes in providing the traditional brick and mortar college experience by incorporating real-world experiences into his online classes. This and video conferences are types of  distance learning, where you can get an education without needing to physically be in the classroom. For example, a teacher can still lecture in real time but interact virtually with his students without them being in the physical classroom that the professor is in.


Video Conference

Video conference classes are classes that require face-to-face meetings on specified days and times that are broadcast to other ISU campuses via broadcasting software. This type of class allows for you to learn in a classroom setting without actually needing to be there.  John Ney’s MBA marketing course is online at a designated time. Here students and the professor all log in at the same time from where ever is most convenient for them. The students and professor all appear on screen using their laptop cameras. The professor can even break students up into private groups that are automatically selected by the program or the professor. Then, the professor can “walk around” and “visit” with each group virtually. So, students are still getting the group work and interactive experience as a traditional classroom, but at the convenience of using their own space. Some students even come from across the country to join the class. This is a great option for students studying out of state or out of town, but don’t want to miss out on the educational experience and interaction with their peers. Because of the ISU College of Business's class sizes, some professors even allow students to participate in a poll to determine a time of day that fits best for the group to virtually meet as a whole at the beginning of the semester.     

While everyone’s schedule are different, there are many options available to enable everyone to be able to participate in higher education and whether it be in the classroom or through a webcam across the country,  a quality education at a reputabel and accredited university is at your fingertips.