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One of the key differences between learning in a classroom setting and learning through online or alternate delivery, is the shake-up in the instructor-student relationship. The very nature of classroom study lends itself to an atmosphere where the instructor is at the front of the class, and all of the students are in rows, or in small groups around the room. There's a certain expectation that the students are there to listen and absorb, and the instructor is there to deliver everything there is to know on a particular subject.
With online learning, all the typical visual cues are no longer there to support outdated educational stereotypes. Suddenly the student is in a position to lead the way in his/her own educational journey. Oftentimes, course loads are designed with various learning styles in mind, allowing the student to pick and choose which assignments they want to complete, and how they prefer to complete them.
While this method enables the student to capitalize on his/her strengths, it can also hinder any opportunity to push the boundaries of comfort-zones, thus inhibiting potential educational growth. A good instructional designer will create a course load of assignment options and electives, while maintaining certain mandatory course requirements.