Online classes can be a fantastic alternative whether you’re looking to learn a new skill for fun or taking a school class from afar, and it is important to know the pros and cons of online learning.
They are great if you can’t or don’t want to spend the entire day with a group of people, prefer working individually, or simply can’t or don’t want to commute. Online courses are only meant for some, though.
This article will examine the pros and cons of online learning/classes in order to assist you in determining whether it is the best option for you.
Table of contents
What are Online Classes/Learning?
Online classes include video recordings, live lectures, assigned readings, and assessments. They are typically conducted online, where students acquire reading materials, communicate with instructors and peers, view grades, and track progress.
Online learning has assimilated into our daily lives and has become the new standard. Every day, they make significant developments in the education sector, which is dynamic.
The introduction of new technologies and digital transformations have significantly impacted education technology, as seen by the dramatic improvement in student outcomes.
Education technology is making things easier for both teachers and students. Think of the example of a classroom app, for instance. It has become a very well-liked method of educating people.
Similarly, using technology would enhance students’ academic growth by giving education the crucial digital infrastructure. The use of online classes in regular education ensures more collaboration and student-teacher engagement.
In general, self-paced online courses allow for student flexibility regarding study times. In some circumstances, these classes also have a set timetable, and the student must be there in order to get the most out of their education.
Various organizations provide massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are some instances of such online courses.
What are the Pros of Online Classes/Learning?
For many people, the explosion of online education has been a remarkable change. Students who once had to spend hours traveling to school can now do so without leaving their homes.
And anyone who finds it challenging to study material at the same rate as a class can now proceed at their own pace – in a way that suits their learning needs.
Numerous individuals enjoy learning thanks to the benefits of online classes. Let’s look at a few of the benefits right now!
#1. Open to everyone who has an Internet connection.
For 92 million users on the network, more than 20 million new users joined up for a Coursera course in 2021! Since almost anybody with an Internet connection may take online courses, this has made a substantial contribution to closing the worldwide education gap.
Learning is accessible to people with disabilities and cognitive limitations thanks to online courses. For instance, deaf students who wish to participate in class online can easily enable closed captioning (CC) to read the dialogue.
To further boost student engagement in online classes, many video conferencing platforms and learning management systems (LMS) support accessible hardware technology.
Students who struggle with cognition or motor skills can work at their speed or attend class when it’s convenient for them.
For instance, if a dyslexic student finds it challenging to read assigned textbook chapters, they can opt to listen to them instead.
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#2. Flexible time management
The flexibility of online learning allows students to attend classes from any location.
As a result, students who live in remote areas will no longer have to waste time traveling large distances by car or taking the bus to school. Or, students who must work to support themselves while in school may find it simpler to juggle their work and school commitments.
This also holds for adult learners who can juggle obligations like raising children, working, managing the home, and other things. Due to their hectic schedules, finding time for an in-person class could be difficult for some.
In addition to the commuting time, busy adults may need to be on call for their kids, which is much more difficult to do when they’re in a physical classroom.
Online learning’s flexibility is highly advantageous to mental health. It has been demonstrated that job autonomy promotes workers’ mental health. For full-time students, going to school is similar to having a job that requires working at least 40 hours per week.
The freedom to select when and where one attends class helps lessen the impact of common mental health conditions, including sadness, anxiety, and stress. Pupils with better mental health are often happier pupils. Thus, instructors, parents, and students should all work toward this goal.
#3. More cost-effective than traditional classes
Higher education, including university, is considerably more accessible to a wider audience because of online learning. Online university degrees cost $10 to $11,000 on average, which is less than their on-campus counterparts.
This figure represents tuition disparities; it does not account for housing or on-campus dining expenses. So you can see how large that difference would grow once all costs were taken into consideration!
The learning management systems Thinkific and Udemy are excellent resources for finding inexpensive (occasionally free) classes.
Industry experts, business owners, and coaches share their knowledge through self-created courses, making them more affordable in terms of cost while offering incredibly relevant and practical course material.
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#4. Global connection capability
With online classes, you may communicate with instructors and students worldwide. For instance, you must fly to Hawaii before online education was widely available to learn about Hawaiian customs and cultures. You can now enroll in Ka Hale Hoaka’s online school and study at home.
Even if the material you’re learning isn’t strictly culture- or nation-specific, discussing it with others from different backgrounds might enlighten new insights.
Connecting with other students and learning from their differing perspectives is now simpler than ever because so many courses are implementing learning communities.
#5. Promoted interaction between students and teachers
Compared to in-person classes, it may initially appear that students in online courses engage less. Although this is certainly possible, many online classes strongly emphasize student interaction with the instructor and one another.
Speaking up in class is more difficult for some students than communicating through online forums, discussion boards, or direct messaging. Through these avenues, they can still benefit from group discussions without giving up online learning’s flexibility.
The psychologist and proprietor of EMDR Professional Training, Dr. Michelle Gottlieb, also interacts with her students by regularly posting comments and offering guidance in the online communities for her course.
#6. Promotes autonomy and self-pacing
Students can move at their own pace in many online courses. This ease concerns that the student might need more time in their busy schedule to complete several hours of study each week consistently.
Self-paced courses are excellent for accommodating hectic schedules. To really finish self-paced courses, though, does demand some self-discipline.
There are online courses that group students into cohorts with defined deadlines if learners discover they need more discipline and cannot finish self-paced courses.
This is a fantastic alternative for teachers and students who benefit from a more conventional classroom setting.
#7. Better facilitation and tracking
Online courses can be beneficial for you if you need help recalling what you learned the previous week.
Most online learning management systems keep track of the topics and materials you’ve already studied and direct you to the ones you should finish next.
Additionally, it will automatically file your assignments, monitor your grades, and determine your cumulative GPA. In contrast, learning in a traditional classroom would involve dealing with tons of paperwork, bulky textbooks, and tangible supplies.
The ability to start virtual labs in online classrooms makes it simpler to arrange interactive learning sessions. Also, they can use the learning management system to launch tests and feedback questionnaires.
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#8. Multiple learning styles-adaptive
Everyone has a somewhat different preference regarding how people process information. There are three main categories of learning styles:
- Auditory Learners– These are learners who prefer to hear information. Podcasts, lectures, and audiobooks are all examples of this. For this learner, any verbal explanation is helpful.
- Visual Learners– Learners who want to see things first. This type of learner can benefit from using animations, videos, hand motions, sketching, and writing.
- Kinesthetic learners are those who prefer to use their hands or engage in active learning. This learner can better interpret knowledge if given a chance to touch, feel, build, and view things in 3D.
The majority of people are hybrid learners because they combine several different learning styles. There are many different ways for students to select to learn in online classrooms.
For instance, a course might provide directions on how to conduct the science experiment at home (for kinesthetic learners) and a video (appealing to visual learners) with voiceover (for auditory learners).
What are the Cons of Online Classes/Learning?
Online learning/classes have a lot of benefits, but it’s also vital to consider the disadvantages. Let’s look at some reasons why some people might decide that online learning/classes aren’t for them.
#1. Frequently necessitates lengthy screen time.
For adults and children, staring at computer devices all day has various detrimental repercussions. These side effects include headaches, neck, and back pain, disturbed circadian rhythm, and eye strain.
If students take online classes and work remotely, they must take precautions to prevent the effects of excessive screen time. Among the approaches to stop screen time’s harmful impacts are:
- Blue-light blocking glasses
- every 20 minutes, stopping to consider something different
- Every few hours, switch up the setting where you work.
- Make sure to make your screen sufficiently bright.
- Reduce the screen’s contrast.
#2. Less chance to interact with peers
Although online classes can be rather friendly, you’re likely to finish them on your own most of the time. This can be a significant drawback, particularly for kids who already spend a lot of time alone at home.
Students can overcome this isolation by working on their online coursework in public spaces like coffee shops or libraries, where the atmosphere is livelier. They can also enroll in courses that have active online communities.
It’s crucial to remember that many people sign up for university, college, or even community classes to make acquaintances.
Being close to the same people makes you more likely to become friends with them simply because you see them frequently! You won’t have that natural proximity and connection with your classmates if you take lessons online.
Real-life connections between online peers will require more work, but they are still achievable. Online students can achieve a similar level of social connection by selecting a course with a lot of group project work.
#3. More difficult to use technological equipment
To take online courses, students, at the very least, need a device with an internet connection. Students will require a computer or tablet with a keyboard to type assignments.
It is expensive to buy these devices up front, particularly if you have several kids enrolled in online schools who each require their device to finish their schoolwork.
Most of the time, physical classes must give the necessary tools for students to participate. This keeps classes affordable for students with lesser incomes.
Some school systems offer laptops or tablets to pupils as a way to get around this problem with online learning settings so they can participate even if they can’t afford to buy their equipment.
#4. Adds to instructors’ workloads
Not necessarily because they are fond of technology; teachers become educators because they love to teach. When teachers were initially tasked with converting entire curricula and courses into online versions, this became very evident.
This required a lot of extra work from many teachers, including recording lectures, shifting assessments and assignments online, and setting up video call live sessions and portals for submitting homework.
However, once the courses are created, updating the content with the most recent information only takes a short time.
Teachers could also experience difficulties with their students’ reduced online participation and the need for collaboration opportunities.
#5. It demands greater restraint and is harder to concentrate.
Long-term attention spans can be difficult to maintain when learning online. With distractions like phones, delivery persons, and household duties like washing or walking the dog all around them, students are now in a setting solely intended for studying.
Due to the need for more organization, students must be adept at managing their own time. During in-person classes, students do not have to consider this additional challenge on top of their study material.
When learning online, students could also discover that they encounter difficulties or that the material is unclear. If the instructor hasn’t set up a mechanism to get in touch with them to answer questions, pupils will grow frustrated.
#6. A lack of practical instruction
Online learning works better for some subjects than others. Online learning of subjects like math or biology, for instance, will be easier because they involve many visual or audio explanations.
However, studying things like medical examination, dental work, or even pottery or another skill may be challenging due to the practical aspects.
It can be more practical for kinesthetic learners to attend classes in person or buy the learning tools needed to use their newly acquired skills at home.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Students who learn online may need to acquire the necessary communication skills. Additionally, it is mandatory for pupils to have high-speed internet access at home, which might cause issues if it is not offered.
Compared to typical classroom instruction, online learning demands more self-regulation, intrinsic motivation, and independence from the learner. For students to become and stay motivated, Keller’s ARCS (attention, relevance, confidence, satisfaction) Model of Motivation provides a framework.
The teacher’s and other students’ speech and body language can provide you with additional information and deeper comprehension. You can interact, collaborate on issues, and network with other students from all backgrounds.
E-learning is reliable. The effects on the students of two different facilitators presenting the same course material can vary greatly. Online training with eLearning ensures a level of consistency that is impossible with in-person instruction.
Social media, texting, television, and family are the top distractions for students, which can divert focus from the task at hand and reduce productivity.
Everyone learns at their speed; therefore, for some college students, especially nontraditional learners, learning online is frequently an effective and efficient option.
However, online learning/classes have benefits and drawbacks, just like traditional types of learning settings.
Be sure to pick the perfect fit for yourself!
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