The Pros And Cons Of Online Learning
The global pandemic is having an impact in many areas of society, especially education. Lectures have been moved to online learning environments such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. And although learning things digitally is something many of us are used to, the set-up of online class rooms is still a big change for everyone involved.
Teachers and students who have become accustomed to spending time in conventional in-person environments, will need to adapt to the online learning model. As well as adopt new (and unfamiliar) teaching and learning strategies.
In this blog post we will explore some of the pros and cons of online learning.
The Pros Of Online Learning
Improved accessibility to education
E-learning can improve accessibility. Those who would struggle to attend a class in-person, due to a disability for example, have no issues with virtually attending one from the comfort of their home. Universities are also able to serve larger groups of students as they are not limited by physical space.
Improved accessibility of course materials
In a physical classroom setting, students normally need to take excessive notes and only have one chance to listen and process the information. Online lessons are generally recorded and the students can look back and study the material multiple times.
Improving the accessibility of course material can help students who struggle in certain areas. Providing a mix of video content, audio files, transcriptions, and notes can aid students with different learning styles.
Digital learning is affordable
In contrast to in-person learning, e-learning is normally more affordable. E-learning eliminates a couple of costs associated with standard education. Firstly, the travel costs for the student and secondly the real estate costs for the University or College.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 many students have been forced into online learning without receiving any reduction in fees. This could change in the future though.
Students miss fewer classes since they can easily access their lessons from anywhere.
Encourages participation from students who may be shy in person.
Many students that tend to be withdrawn in class environments can feel more confident opening up in a digital setting. They can be much more forthcoming, as far as participation and questions are concerned. This can be attributed to being comfortable in familiar surroundings.
The Cons Of Online Learning
Different learning styles
People have different learning styles. Some are better learning kinaesthetically, while others are auditory learners. Another group might be visual learners. E-learning can be quite one dimensional and as such may not accommodate everyone’s preferred learning style.
Universities should try to minimise this impact by providing video content, audio files, transcriptions, and notes (as mentioned above in benefits.)
Easy to Get Distracted
Many students are unable to retain their concentration for long periods of time during a virtual lecture. It is easy for boredom to set in since no in-person interaction exists. It adds extra pressure for the lecturers to try and keep online sessions interactive and engaging enough for students to stay interested.
No Social Interaction
People tend to learn things by being around others. Sadly, online learning eliminates in-person interactions for both teachers and students. Discussing ideas and talking to one another is important for students, and is also an integral aspect of learning. You can sometimes learn more from discussing a topic with your class mates than listening to a lecture.
Some platforms like Zoom have features to try and combat this. On Zoom, the host can create virtual break rooms within the call. This puts participants into smaller groups where they can discuss things amongst themselves.
Screen Time Overload
There are unhealthy consequences of looking at a computer or mobile device screen for hours on end, such as ergonomic issues and eye strain.
All approaches to learning come with their share of advantages and obstacles. Many institutions are still finding their feet with e-Learning but expect it to improve rapidly over the coming months. Since everybody is at the mercy of Covid-19, some type of virtual learning is necessary to keep education going for students.
If you are struggling to stay focused during online classes check out our studying at home tips.