Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get a phone call or an email concerning some type of Prelicense class. Alabama License Law requires anyone desiring to get license to sell real estate in Alabama, must take a 60-hour Sales Prelicense course. This course can be taken in a typical classroom setting or it may be taken via the internet; commonly referred to as an online class.
The question commonly asked is which one is the most effective. On the other hand some people will say, “I need to sit in a classroom to learn.” I truly understand their feelings. I like the camaraderie I have with other students. It gives me someone to talk to. We are such creatures of habit. We don’t like getting out of our comfort zone. We are accustomed to a classroom and learning from the internet is a new concept for us. We don’t understand how it works nor what to expect. Think about this; if we never got out of our comfort zones, we’d never learn new things. Since about 2005, computers have become a dominate factor in our lives. It is forcing us to get out of our comfort zone and try new things. Once we experiment with the basics of the computer we find it’s not so bad. Then after using the computer for a while, we wonder how we did without it all those years.
A few years ago I conducted a study of former students that had completed my prelicense classes; both classroom and online students. I wanted to know how each group scored on the state exam. The results from the proctored exams we gave at the school were shocking. So much so that I shared my findings at the annual meeting of the Alabama Real Estate Educators Association. We determined that other schools were seeing similar results. I then spoke to personnel at the Alabama Real Estate Commission to learn that the results from their study were even more shocking. All across the state of Alabama, students that took online classes consistently made 25-30% higher scores on the state exam than those completing their work from a classroom. Not only was it a shock to me, but it made me question my abilities to properly teach in a classroom.
The mission of our school is to educate people so they can pass the state exam. Also to provide proper training to help them reach their desired financial goals. I personally hate it when one of my students fails to pass the state exam. It’s an added expense for them to retake the exam if nothing else. Our goal is to provide the highest quality education at the lowest cost to the student.
After careful consideration I decided to no longer offer classroom courses for sales prelicense nor broker prelicense. Did I over react to the results of a study? I don’t think so. The results caused me to ask why online students made higher scores. I think the main reason is focus. Online students are forced to focus on information that is helpful to them passing the state exam. Classroom students are often interrupted by other students bringing up topics that aren’t related to the subject being taught. Online students learn in a quiet, peaceful environment, while classroom students can be distracted in many different ways. Online students can review the course material as often as needed to better understand the material being taught. Classroom students must grasp their understanding as it is being taught.
When comparing the advantages and disadvantages of both delivery methods, I am convinced that online prelicense classes produce more positive results compared to a classroom setting. However, I am totally convinced that continuing education classes are far more beneficial in a classroom setting.
Should you have specific questions concerning various issues, please let me know and I’ll research the answer for you. I also want to encourage you to subscribe to our “News & Updates” weekly report so you can stay abreast of issues that might affect you when buying or selling real estate. If you haven’t visited my website, please go to www.AlabamaRealEstateInstitute.com and view previous articles.