With the advent of technology, online education is possible today. Besides, the Covid-19 pandemic has stirred up new ways of learning. As educational institutions and schools from all around the world are forced to shut down, online education has become the new normal. The virtual revolution in the education domain has made e-learning a necessary resource.
Many institutions have adopted this entirely new style of education. And online learning isn’t limited to academics, it has extended its legs to extracurricular activities too. For instance, a guitar teacher teaches online the basics of playing the instrument to students from all over the world.
Like offline teaching methods, online learning has its share of pros and cons. Understanding and decoding both aspects of e-learning will help education institutes in formulating better strategies for delivering online lessons efficiently. We have outlined the advantages and disadvantages of online learning for you below.
What are the Advantages of Online Learning?
We live in an ever-changing environment full of new possibilities. The ability to learn a new skill or gain knowledge wherever and whenever you want offers immense opportunities for education than ever. The scope of education broadens to great horizons that perhaps no one has ever envisioned. With that said, let’s see the top 5 advantages of online learning.
1. Online education saves time and money
This is the most obvious advantage of virtual learning. Not only you can save time but also your money. Managing schedule and taking online classes at your own pace, be it in the morning, noon, or evening, is a benefit nobody wants to miss. And no transportation, student meals, real-estate cost leads to saving extra bucks.
Reduced financial costs make online courses more affordable to the students. Additionally, as the course is available online, it creates a budget-friendly paperless learning environment that is favorable for the environment.
2. Convenience and accessibility
Another major advantage of virtual classes is that it is far more convenient. Students can attend classes from anywhere and anytime. Irrespective of geographical boundaries, schools have the opportunity to have a more extensive network of students. Moreover, online lectures can be pre-recorded, shared, and archived for future use.
If a student missed the class, he can watch the recorded session later. These recorded lectures can be replayed again and again for better understanding.
3. Affordability and more revenue
Not only students but also many educational institutions save money through an online set-up as there is no need to conduct physical classes, which translates to lower costs from both ends. An educator can easily teach students from his home with a basic setup.
The affordability benefit of online education plays a major role in deciding whether an institute wants to conduct online or offline classes. As there is no physical presence, there’s also no need to invest in furniture, electricity, school supplies, and other important aspects of offline learning.
4. Better student retention
Students are given the flexibility and accessibility to go through the study material at their convenience. They can choose their learning path and go through the study material as per their liking.
This level of flexibility helps e-learners to stay motivated and on track. They know they can finish the class as per their schedule. All this sums up to better student retention and more revenue for the online education institute.
5. Up-to-date content
In the fast-changing world, information, and knowledge change rapidly. With printed study materials, the only way to keep up with these changes is to reprint the entire material. Doing so is expensive. On the other hand, updating online courses allows you to balance these changes without costing you an arm and a leg. Any modification in online content is immediately available to the e-learners making the whole process extra smooth and quick.
What are the Disadvantages of Online Learning?
Provided all the advantages of online learning, one can’t deny there are some disadvantages too. Let’s have a look at the top 5 drawbacks of online classes.
1. Problem with internet connectivity
One of the classic disadvantages of virtual classes is technical problems due to poor internet connectivity. Sadly, this affects almost 40% of the world’s population. Many problems like insufficient data volume, slow internet, or any other connection issue can’t be fixed immediately. Some people have limited access to the internet. As soon as that ends they have to reach the local internet cafe or use public wifi. If you’re situated in an area with good internet connectivity, consider yourself fortunate!
2. May create a sense of isolation
Although there are many benefits of online education, you can’t deny the fact that it makes learners isolated and lonely. The prime reason behind this is learning online is a solo act, which may create a feeling of loneliness. Lack of community factor causes a sense of social isolation as there is no/minimal face-to-face interaction between the fellow students and teachers.
Students learn many things from their company. But in a virtual classroom, there are least physical interactions between teachers and students. In such a situation, it’s indispensable from the institute’s end to allow other forms of interaction between the students and teachers. Video conferencing, messages, emails and social media interactions can be an appropriate option to this drawback.
3. Demands self-discipline and time management skills
With the advantage of accessibility from anywhere and anytime, a new drawback originates. That is the ease to procrastinate. Those learners who lack self-discipline find it extremely difficult to stay on track in a separate learning environment.
Motivating yourself to study, jotting down notes, and attending classes regularly can be a daunting task for lazy students. Additionally, time management skills are equally crucial. One should know well how to juggle different tasks simultaneously like doing household chores or a part-time job.
4. More emphasis on theoretical knowledge and insufficient practical learning
Often online education is theory-based and lacks practical learning. Theoretical knowledge has more emphasis on facts, figures, theories, and reasoning while practical knowledge emphasizes hands-on tasks and endeavors. For example, e-learning would be great to learn theoretical knowledge of cricket like rules and guidelines of the game but when it comes to playing the sport practical knowledge is required.
Tricky topics, operative techniques, and complicated practices that need a physical experience are best-organized face to face. Thus, it can be said e-learning can’t supersede the knowledge coming through the first-hand experience.
5. Health-related concerns
For online education use of a computer and other electronic devices is mandatory. Parents are highly concerned about the health problems that arise due to long hours spent staring at screens. When learners are glued to the screens for long, it causes bad sitting posture, eyestrain, and other physical problems.
A good solution to this problem can be to offer the students frequent breaks at regular intervals. Students can utilize this break by going offline and moving their bodies as much as possible.
Quick Comparison of Pros and Cons of E-learning
Let’s have a glance at the tabular comparison of benefits and drawbacks of online classes:-
|1||Saves a significant amount of time and money for the student.||Technical issues may arise due to bad internet connectivity.|
|2||Can be accessed from anywhere, anytime making e-learning more convenient.||Lack of social exposure may create a sense of isolation.|
|3||E-learning is far more affordable than offline learning as no physical setup is needed. Education institutes spend less and save more money with online classes.||Demands self-discipline, self-motivation, and strong time management skills.|
|4||Better student retention due to the level of flexibility given.||Not suitable for every topic, especially practical ones which require hands-on experience.|
|5||Study material can be easily updated online as per the latest trends and news.||May cause health issues due to excessive use of screens and sedentary lifestyle.|
Just like the two sides of a coin, online learning has both positive and negative sides. Despite the drawbacks, it can be said the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and will improve more in the near future. If you are thinking of replacing conventional learning with e-learning, we encourage you to measure the level of complexity involved. Based on that you can reach a decision.