With the COVID-19 pandemic and general trend toward internet-based services, online learning has been moved to the forefront of everyone’s minds and focus. Now we see things like virtual kindergarten, online anger management courses, and tele-health visits with doctors. This major shift in how people learn information has most of us asking, is it really better? Do we learn more when we can go at our own pace and from the comfort of our homes than we do actual classes? As with many things, there are various pros and cons to online learning.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of online learning is that it’s flexible. Students can move through courses at their own pace, adhering to deadlines, and watching lectures when they have a moment to spare. This allows students to feel more in control of their educational journey, and sometimes it even helps them do better in school. It’s easier for working professionals to fit in learning around their busy schedule when they don’t have to be in class at a certain time every day.
It also allows students to approach a subject in a way that makes sense to them. If they need to listen to a lecture three times to understand it, they can play the video over and over again. If they need to take their time reading the class material, they can do so and refer to it while crafting a response. Also, for some people it’s easier to participate in an online forum than in-class discussion because they don’t have to worry about standing up and speaking in front of a group.
Although the benefits can be great, the cons can be equally not so great. Online learning can be incredibly isolating, especially for classes who don’t have regular video meetings with each other. This can lead to a significantly increased risk of students dropping out of courses or school altogether. For the less organized student, the structure of online classes can be a drawback as well. To keep up with flexible learning, students need to have great time management skills and prioritize school projects over watching TV or procrastinating. Those who are less self-disciplined might not thrive in this setting.
There are two sides to online learning, and even though it seems to be the most popular form of education today, you can see the pros and cons and how they might affect you.