Since its establishment, online learning has been the subject of political debates. People who favor traditional face-to-face classes argue that it will impair children’s learning and development while more progressive ones welcome the possibility of making education more accessible. Although online learning has been around for decades, it did not become widely used until the COVID-19 pandemic forced countries to shut down. As people were discouraged from going outside their homes and convening, educational institutions shifted to virtual classes.
Yet, the world continues to be divided between virtual learning and face-to-face learning, with some saying that the former cannot replace traditional classroom education. However, the shift to virtual classes is not something that can be postponed or stopped. Nevertheless, it is worth looking into the various advantages and disadvantages of online learning.
What is Online Education?
Online education, also called online or virtual learning is a type of distance learning that uses technology in delivering resources and connecting with educators and other learners. As the name suggests, classes are held purely online in this format. With online courses, students attend or watch online lectures and participate in discussion fora. Remote classes may have fixed or flexible deadlines, so students can learn and complete assignments and coursework at their own pace. Since they also work at home, they can access help with their coursework, such as from compare and contrast essay writers. Since students and educators do not need to go to a classroom, this system presents advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Online Education
Here are the pros of online education for both students and educators:
1. Convenience & Accessibility
With online education, studying occurs purely online, which means that learners and educators can attend classes wherever and whenever is most convenient for them. This format, then, is beneficial for part-time students who need to balance their time between work or family and their education. Individuals who have to work during the day can study in the evenings. Likewise, those who have other obligations can easily pause lecture videos to attend to their tasks without major repercussions.
Furthermore, distance learning makes education more accessible for more people. Aside from enabling individuals who have additional responsibilities to still pursue their education, online education also allows individuals to access online courses or take up degrees from foreign institutions. The convenience online education offers, therefore, also helps spread knowledge.
2. Student-centered Learning
Since online education allows students to study at their own convenience, they do not have to worry about scheduling conflicts, their commute, as well as other concerns like physical appearances and clothing which divert their attention from learning. Students also benefit from being able to concentrate better in their studies since they can work alone at their own pace while also having access to more resources.
Furthermore, online education has different opportunities for students to engage in discussions with each other, such as by commenting on each other’s work, participating in discussion boards, and so on. These additional aspects of online learning help enrich their understanding of course materials. Thus, we can conclude that this newer format offers possibilities for improving the quality of learning for individual students.
3. Less Distraction
In a traditional classroom setting, students are seated next to each other all day, so they may be tempted to chat with each other. Some students may also be distracted by their surroundings or the need to go to the toilet. Simply put, they do not have the option to take a break when they feel like they need it, which may result in easily falling for various distractions that may impair their learning in a classroom.
In contrast, students can easily hit pause whenever they need to take a break. Since they will not be disturbing other students’ flow, they do not have to feel guilty about needing a break. Taking breaks is vital in keeping one’s mind in optimal condition. Since online education is flexible, individuals can choose the best place, time, and pace for them to learn.
4. Creative Teaching Methods
Face-to-face teaching methods have been established for decades, and although it continues to evolve, one of the main criticisms is that teachers tend to follow the same teaching format. Such an approach tends to fail to accommodate different learning styles and student needs. However, with the use of technology, educators are encouraged to think outside the box for creative ways to apply technology and teach concepts in more creative ways. Creative teaching methods accommodate students’ diverse needs and learning styles, which allows for better learning.
5. More Free Time
On a regular school day, students have to endure preparing and commuting to school, which usually takes an hour or two. Those times could have been spent sleeping some more or relaxing, which is important to avoid burnout. With online learning, learners may cut off at least an hour from their preparations and commute. These precious hours can be dedicated instead to hobbies for a balanced life or to working on homework earlier. When students finish their work early, they can rest early. Studies have found that getting enough hours of sleep greatly improves students’ performance. By not requiring students to dress up and commute to school, they save more time, which indirectly results in better academic performance.
6. Availability of Writing Service for Students
Another advantage that learners get from online learning is that they can take advantage of numerous tools, like custom writing services, that can help make their workload more manageable. Custom writing services connect learners with professionals who can write various types of academic essays. Academic writing services can help students focus on learning so they can experience the full benefits of online education.
Disadvantages of Distance Learning
Although distance learning offers a lot of advantages, there are still a few disadvantages that educational institutions need to mitigate.
1. Access to Technology
Although over 90% of Americans now have access to the Internet, the survey showed that there is a digital homework gap among American children. According to Pew Research Center, in the lower-income population, 43% of students do their homework on a cellphone, 40% use public Wi-Fi to finish their homework, and 36% are unable to complete their schoolwork due to lack of access to a computer. So, although online distance learning makes education more accessible in some ways, it also makes education inaccessible for some populations.
The issue of access to computers is compounded by the issue of digital literacy since adult Americans have a relatively low literacy rate, which could impact their ability to participate or support younger students in virtual classes. One of the major disadvantages of distance learning is that it does not provide equal opportunity for everyone, particularly for those with lower income.
2. Increases Tendency to Procrastinate
Since virtual classes can be completed anywhere, anytime, individuals who lack discipline may end up procrastinating too much. Procrastination is the act of postponing an important task for something trivial. People commonly think that procrastination is the result of laziness, but in reality, it is a lack of intrinsic motivation. Motivation may be depleted when an individual who has not yet established a strong study habit has to study in a distracting environment, they may struggle. Learners do not have the benefit of a teacher’s supervision, so they may end up getting distracted or fail to start work completely.
3. Social Skills Development and Isolation
Since students mainly interact online in remote learning setup, younger students may miss opportunities to develop their soft skills. Interpersonal skills can only be learned by interacting with people, so it is not something that a student can read about and discuss. In a virtual learning setting, students do not have the luxury of playing or interacting with their peers. They may also have limited experience working with teams, which is one of the best ways to develop communication and leadership skills.
Another important aspect of social learning is friendship. Students become close with other people in their class by being around each other regularly. These individuals become their support group throughout childhood and, possibly even adulthood. If children study virtually from the beginning, they may not be able to form the same friendships. As a result, they may spend more time alone and, therefore, feel isolated. They may feel like they do not have someone to vent out their frustrations and have fun with. A lack of opportunity to socialize may bear various mental health issues, such as depression, in addition to impaired interpersonal skills for younger learners.
Online Learning: An Imperfect Alternative
Although distance learning has existed in some form in the past, online learning did not gain traction until recent years. The pandemic in 2019 pushed educational institutions to explore this new method. Learners’ and educators’ experience with virtual classes varies, depending on their situations and perspectives. In the end, online education is not a flawless method, but neither is traditional classroom education. Educators and parents should be aware of these advantages and disadvantages of online learning so they can provide the appropriate support or make necessary adjustments to maximize each learners’ potential.