For years now, online learning has become a part of many course offerings by countless universities around the globe. All these thanks to the technological advancements achieved in the last few decades. One can easily say that getting a degree, a certificate, or simply just getting knowledgeable and skilled at a particular subject has never been more accessible.
Just like any other aspect of technology, online learning, too, happens to have both benefits and drawbacks. While we can’t say for sure which one dominates, we can say that it mostly depends on the individual and their learning style as well as the number of obligations one has to carry out daily. For this and more, here’s a list of both advantages and disadvantages one will be eligible to as an online learner.
We’re starting by listing below nine benefits of online learning. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these are the only benefits one can get out of online learning, but they’re the main ones.
When one considers getting a degree, a certificate, or a diploma, there are many factors that one takes into consideration. One of them happens to be the financial aspect of education. While everybody wants to get the best education out there, not everyone can afford it. That’s why many are after more affordable options.
While the tuition and fees for diploma, certificate, and degree might be the same rate as the traditional one, still, students won’t have to pay for housing, meal plans, and even commuting. Additionally, students will spare their textbook money as they can buy cheaper digital versions of the books.
Flexibility is one of the main advantages of online learning. While many courses have a scheduled time to attend them, most of them also offer the option of recording so that students can go back to them whenever they need to. With that being said, students can study and review the materials at their own pace, as well as carry out their day-to-day work and family obligations. Not to mention the fact that they won’t have to physically be part of the class. In that way, they spare themselves lots of time they can efficiently allocate to another responsibility.
When it comes to students who choose to study online, there is a stereotype surrounding it. Usually, the people who study online can’t find the time to attend school in person as they might have to roll their sleeves for other commitments. This stands true for many as the average online learner is 32 years old. With that being said, one can conclude that online learners might be parents with the responsibility to look after their family, or employees at a particular entity with career responsibilities to take care of. Online learning will surely help develop time management skills, as one with a lack of these skills won’t be able to balance all their responsibilities.
More or less, we touched upon this benefit on the time management part. One can’t manage their time appropriately if they don’t have a specific goal in mind that they want to achieve. The desire to keep up with the online courses, finish work obligations, and spend time with family as much as possible can certainly stimulate/encourage one to take a stronger stand against the temptation to procrastinate doing what is expected of them.
For students who want to be in touch with their instructors as much as possible, online learning offers many opportunities. Unlike traditional students, online learners can communicate with their instructors via email, video conferencing, the school’s portal, even in-person if necessary.
Many students like to be part of study groups, and it’s good that they do so. It turns out that being part of a particular study group can help the students to avoid procrastination and instead focus on the materials by thinking critically and creatively and build strong communication skills.
Online software like Google Hangout or Join Me offer the opportunity to get together with people remote and study together. Surely online study groups can’t be any different from traditional study groups. All one needs is a computer, an internet connection, and a pair of headphones to start exchanging ideas and tips with other students.
When one studies online, they won’t need to travel to a place to attend the lectures. Consequently, the negative environmental impacts that come from manufacturing and transportation are reduced. Another way in which online learning is sustainable is through the reduction of the materials used to make textbooks that traditional education requires.
The fear of public speaking is very common. It is estimated that 77% of people around the world suffer some form of public speaking anxiety. Knowing how high these levels are, indeed most of them are students. For this reason, many might find it less intimidating to be sharing thoughts with others on the online platform making online education foster better class participation levels.
We saw how online learning had quite a few benefits. With that being said, here are a few drawbacks that online learners might experience at some point in their online education journey.
With online learning, there is no one to remind you that you have a class to get to, assignments to finish and turn in or ring a bell to you that the exams are coming. It’s entirely up to you. If for some reason you decide to postpone things, you might find that the stuff you need to do might pile off, and you will find it hard to keep up with the workload.
Tech issues are one of the main common problems in online learning. Online courses might require a stronger internet connection that the students might have. Hence, they will fail to connect with the classroom virtually. Some might even have problems with the computers they use as they won’t support the learning management system the school might be using for their online courses. In this case, the students will find it hard to keep up with other students.
One of the disadvantages of online learning is the loneliness the students might feel when separated from the other part of the classroom. For people who have been used to the noise that characterizes a traditional classroom, it can be quite hard to adjust to the new setting. For this reason, they might feel isolated from the other students as they don’t see them being physically present in the class. However, we mentioned before in the list of the benefits of how you can join study groups online and won’t have to feel lonely and isolated in your online studies.
All in all, online learning has both its strengths and weaknesses. While the benefits might prevail, the decision of whether this learning platform is with it is entirely up to you as an individual. At the end of the day, you will need to decide on the education platform that eases the juggling you need to do between the many commitments in your life.