Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how we live, interact, learn, and do business. Digitalization was one of the significant manifestations of the pandemic. Innovative digital tools such as digital payments, OTT, online learning, e-commerce, etc., gained exponential traction amongst the masses. Even pre-COVID, the world was on the path of digital transformation, and COVID accelerated its adoption pace.

Online learning was one such revolution. Schools and colleges had to be shut down, and classes had to be moved online. COVID accelerated the adoption and made online learning mainstream. Online learning was instrumental in ensuring academic continuity even during the problematic pandemic days. Online learning innovations provide students to take advantage of critical formative years of their professional lives. While there were a lot of positives in online education in terms of accessibility and flexibility, it also had its limitations. Quality of interactions, lack of practical experience, dependence on technology, and many other factors left much to be desired for the online learning experience.

As we gradually move back to normalcy, we see offshoots of selective adoption wherein certain learning activities are reverting to the traditional offline ways while certain activities have continued online. A new hybrid model of the online and offline model is evolving. A model which combines the best of both worlds by leveraging the benefits of online education and offline education.

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of online learning, which can help construct the most optimal hybrid experience for effective learning. 

Advantages of Online Learning

Ubiquity

One of the most significant advantages of online learning is that learners can access online education whenever they want, wherever they want, and on any device of their choice – a laptop, computer, tablet, or even on their smartphones. Innovations in online education have ensured that students can access lectures, learning videos, notes, assignments, etc., from the comforts of their homes or sometimes even while on the go or multitasking on their regular chores.

Wider Reach

The internet and smartphone penetration, along with innovations in online education, have democratized the reach of online learning. Learners worldwide can now access online learning and teaching without enrolling and physically traveling to remote destinations. Offline classes are limited by the number of students they can handle. However, online education doesn’t carry this limitation. Whenever there is a desire to learn, online learning platforms such as YouTube and Swayam have ensured access to online education for all.

Flexibility

Online learning provides significant flexibility to learners and allows them to learn at their rate and schedule. Offline education typically follows a rigorous timetable with strict class hours. This may not be suitable for specific candidates, for example, working professionals. The advantage of online education is that it allows working professionals to upskill during after-work hours and when at their convenience. The learners in offline settings need to follow the pace of the instructors. Some learners might find the rate too fast, and some might find it too slow. Online learning puts the control back into the hands of the learner. Students can play-pause-replay or fast-forward the recordings as often as they want to bring the learning rhythm in sync with their optimal grasping pace. This goes a long way in making online education relevant to many learners.

Richness of Media

Online education has its advantages when it comes to multimedia capabilities. Online learning content can be enriched from audio, video, pictures, animations, gamification, annotations, and various digital content innovations. These capabilities help bring seemingly complex and tedious topics to life and significantly enhance the online education experience.

Economical

One of the most overpowering advantages of online education is its low cost. Online education setups do not require physical infrastructure and classrooms. A simple connected device is enough for learners to completely immerse themselves in online learning. Because of their inherent low production costs and a broader reach, online learning courses are also priced economically compared to costly offline methods. This further democratizes online education and makes it affordable to many low-income individuals and families.

A More Comprehensive Range of Learning

Another by-product of the economics involved in the production and consumption of online education is the wide variety of topics available for learners through online learning. Offline setups have limitations in the form of the array of courses they can offer. Mostly it is limited by the capacity of the physical infrastructure. Online education has no such limitations. Online education institutions can submit as many online courses as possible depending on the demand in the market. Enroll now for CBSE and ICSE admission for your child, and give them the best learning environment with fun-based activities and safe surroundings.

Disadvantages of Online Learning

Procrastination

One downside of online education’s flexibility is that it leaves a lot to the individual’s self-discipline. Lack of fixed class schedules and flexibility of accessing at their own pace leads to learners procrastinating learning. This frequently leads to high non-completion rates for online education. Furthermore, the vast array of distractions offered by the online world in the form of social media, online games, and the internet doesn’t help a strong-disciplined learner. Strong self-will and discipline are essential for learners to benefit from online learning.

Dependence on Technology

Internet and smart device penetration is still in a growth phase in India. This implies that most of our population still needs access to high-quality devices and high-speed internet connectivity. These are essential ingredients required to deliver an optimal online learning experience. A weak or unstable internet connection or a low-configuration digital device can significantly hinder achieving the desired learning outcomes. However, with the pace at which device and internet penetrations are growing, we should soon overcome this limitation.

Quality of Interactions

Despite significant innovations in the online education space, the quality of interactions from those in offline settings could be better. The vibrance of in-class discussions, debates, and collaborative activities between learners and instructors still outshines online interactions’ limited dynamics. While digital innovations such as breakout rooms, chats, in-built expressions, and other collaboration tools offer enhanced capabilities, they still leave much to be wanted regarding the quality and depth of these social interactions. Peer-to-peer interaction is a significant part of students’ overall learning and holistic personality development. With its physical limitations, online education still needs to be able to bridge this vital loophole.

Lack of Practical Experience

You need to teach someone how to swim online. While online education has its strengths in specific subject matter areas, there are many other areas where it needs to deliver. Clear streams, such as engineering, medicine, field sales, etc., require practical exposure for students to experience and learn. Such topics are not suitable to be delivered through online learning platforms. On the flip side, specific issues, such as Digital Marketing, Graphic Design, etc., are much more amenable to being delivered online than offline.

Unsuitable for Certain Activities

Learning entails various activities such as lectures, discussions, assignments, presentations, exams, and other extracurricular activities. Delivering a presentation to an audience of 50 is a very different ball game online versus offline. Activities such as exams offer another set of challenges and limitations online. Online exams have been found to leave too much to be desired in preventing unfair practices. Online exams are challenging to proctor, thus leading to prevalent practices of students using unfair practices such as accessing the internet, chatting, and sharing answers with other classmates during the exam. Although online exams and assignments lead to a substantial environmental impact in terms of saving paper, the fairness of evaluation tends to be compromised in the online medium.

Like everything else, online education has its advantages and disadvantages. The need of the hour is to leverage the benefits of online learning and the advantages of offline learning and construct a superior hybrid learning experience for learners. The high pace of technological innovation ensures coverage of the highlighted disadvantages of online education. Over time we should see the advantages of online education bypassing any other medium of learning and emerging as a more powerful medium for most learners.



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