Online Learning: Pros & Cons

Courses are taught through online learning

What is online learning?

Educational technology, changing educational beliefs, and a global pandemic have turned education on its head over the last two decades.

Since medieval times, students have had to take excessive notes and memorize tedious information as part of their formal education. With online education, we can thankfully progress beyond the rigid, teacher-centered approach to more convenient models for students.

Online education, also known as e-learning, is a way of learning that utilizes digital media or the internet to obtain knowledge. Online education programs use technology to deliver instructions to students who are physically separate from the instructors and promote remote classroom interaction.

Although online education gained popularity due to the pandemic in 2020, it is not just a passing trend, contrary to popular belief. By 2026, the global online learning market is projected to reach $375 billion.

How does online learning work?

Higher education institutions mostly prefer online education because students at that level are generally more self-motivated to learn.

Learning is the primary focus of online courses rather than delivering knowledge and allowing students to master it on their own. This accounts for the various platforms offering multiple tools to enhance retention rates and mastery of material. For example, iSpring Suite Max allows instructors to build interactive online quizzes from over ten templates.

In online college education, students from diverse backgrounds with varied perspectives connect through an internet-based learning environment. Learning management systems (LMS), such as Google Classroom and Moodle, support e-learning. Online courses can either be asynchronous (where students are not online at the same time, and use discussion threads and email to complete coursework) or synchronous (where students must be online at the same time). As in a traditional classroom, students should be presentable and punctual before logging in.

What are the types of online learning?

Personalized learning: This approach involves tailoring education to the needs, interests, and strengths of individual students. Personalized learning can be facilitated through the use of technology. This can provide students with customized learning experiences and allow them to learn at their own pace.

Blended learning: This approach combines traditional face-to-face instruction with online learning. Blended learning can be effective in helping students to develop digital literacy skills. This further provides them with more flexible and convenient ways to learn.

Competency-based education: In this approach, student- evaluation is based on their knowledge and skills. Competency-based education can allow students to progress through their studies at their own pace and may be regulated using technology.

Open educational resources: These are freely available educational materials that can be used, shared, and modified by educators and learners. The use of open educational resources can help to reduce the cost of education. It further makes resources more accessible to students around the world.

STEAM education: This approach emphasizes the integration of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics in education. STEAM education can help students to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovation skills.

Pros & Cons

The advantages for students:

– Online learning eliminates the constraints of geographical location, verbal expression and learning pace.

E-learning costs less than a traditional course and offers students a wider range of learning activities.

– With a flexible, self-paced curriculum, students don’t need to sacrifice their own schedules to meet traditional class attendance requirements.

– Online education improves peer-collaboration, engagement and lesson retention.

– Lessons and resources from the world’s top institutions and experts are easily accessible online to students.

The disadvantages for students:

– The use of emails, chat rooms or discussion rooms does not compensate for reduced social interactions in the virtual classroom.

– Technical problems, such as internet connectivity issues and malfunctioning software programs, can disrupt course work.

-Students who cannot afford high-speed internet or compatible hardware are at a disadvantage in e-learning.

The advantages for educators:

– With online learning, instructors can personalize learning experiences for each student based on accurate data.

– Educators have the opportunity to learn new communication skills and improve their technical literacy as they make the switch to e-learning.

– Learning management systems provide features that help instructors track attendance, participation and hold students accountable.

– E-learning gives room for educators to pursue opportunities in geographical locations that would otherwise be inaccessible.

The disadvantages for educators:

– Many educators lack the support, materials and budget from their institutions to experiment with online learning.

– E-learning may increase workloads as online lessons demand more prep work.

– Large class sizes may hinder the implementation of some e-learning strategies as well as make it difficult to detect cheating.

– Instructors may struggle with hardware technicalities and keeping up with constant software updates.

Whether you’re a Gen Z student or millennial instructor, remember that online learning can take some getting used to, so be patient and open-minded as you increase your experience.

Why is online learning the future of education in 2023?

Technology has had a considerable influence on education ever since the invention of the printing press in the 1440s. Notable landmarks include the introduction of the blackboard in the 1700s, the 1950s debut of computers in classrooms, and the penetration of the internet in the 90s. In 2023, technology is an essential part of the educational process.  Now, digital tools and resources are crucial to aid teaching and learning.

With web-based video conferencing and artificial intelligence, online learning is becoming a sensible alternative to disrupt the global education sector. In response to new research on learning styles and teaching methods, face-to-face courses are slowly becoming more student-centered. For example, some classrooms are experimenting with the “flipped” classroom model.  

Online education may be challenging for educators to implement at first, but it’s benefits are undeniable! Online learning has been adopted at all levels of education, from kindergarten to professional training, and students mostly hold positive opinions about it.

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