Are online university classes really that different from traditional on-ground classes? It depends on your school, the class, and ultimately the instructor. Every online class tends to be different than the last because each instructor will most likely put his or her spin on it. With the changing class roster, some groups of students also seem to work better together than others. Those points alone can parallel traditional university classrooms.
Mainly the differences in online university classes from in-seat classes really encompass location. While classes on a regular campus tend to include students within some sort of proximity to the area (typically), online classes allow for a variety of students from all over the world to be including in one roster. Learning from one another and networking can be one of the largest benefits of completing your university degree online.
You will still be required to submit research papers (electronically), collaborate with others (group projects), and some even expect mandated classroom discussions (live chats). All in all these things also occur everyday on college campuses. The same course objectives will be required in both settings as well. Sometimes, the online instructor may actually ask for more work if there is no seat-time built into the syllabus. This is to make sure that you are getting your full value of the course.
Differences in the two formats may include the face-to-face interaction and the ability to steer the class in the direction of interest. Sometimes instructors are able to include materials and discussions about topics that are still relevant to the course, but also of interest to the class makeup. This can be tougher for online university course instructors. Also, getting to know your classmates as well is a minor inconvenience. By networking and communicating even while not in the chat room via phone conversations or email messaging, you are far more likely to form camaraderie and friendships which will assist you in the long run.
Overall, online university classes are very similar to traditional university courses. The location and delivery is just altered in its own way. No one course delivery model is better for all, but having the choice to find the one that suits you best is very beneficial!