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Online Learning vs. Offline Learning: Which is Better?

Online Learning vs. Offline Learning

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact the world over. Not only in terms of the number of precious lives lost, but the pandemic also transformed the way we live, interact and go about our daily business. If one positive emerged out of this pandemic, it is the accelerated pace toward digitalization. The pandemic accelerated exponentially, with the world already moving towards increasing digitalization pre-pandemic.

Businesses had to move to operate online overnight. Teams had to adopt methods of working efficiently from home. Small businesses and individual expenses quickly moved to digital payment channels such as Paytm, Google Pay, PhonePe, etc. The education system also had to adjust significantly and swiftly to this challenge. While online education or e-learning always had its place in the learning ecosystem, the pandemic, in the real sense, forced most offline classes to move online. This was essential to ensure students’ continuity of learning and that they got all their critical years of growth and learning. Seeing how the entire offline education ecosystem responded positively to this challenge was inspiring.

Many activities, from classes to quizzes, tests, exams, and even extra-curricular activities, found their way online. It took a while, but the students, teachers, and other support staff found innovative ways to make these traditionally offline activities fruitful even when conducted online.

Now that the pandemic is receding and things are returning to normalcy, many academic activities have moved back to their traditional offline ways. The online experience was an eye-opener even for orthodox offline education academics, who accepted its rightful benefits. This has resulted in most educational setups adopting the best of both worlds – online and offline classes – in what is popularly called a hybrid learning mode.

Let’s look at some of these benefits, which deem it necessary for any educational organization to not look at it as a choice between online or offline learning but instead to leverage the strengths of both learning mediums.

Offline Learning Vs. Online Learning

Accessibility

One of the significant benefits online education delivers is its vast reach and democratic accessibility. Learners can access online learning resources whenever they want, from wherever they want, and on the device of their choice, from computers, tablets, or even from their favorite smartphones. Innovations in online education democratized quality education as students, even from remote areas, could go through learning videos of subject matter experts, which in the offline mode were only accessible to those who could enroll and physically travel and attend such programs.

The availability of online education also encouraged working professionals to upskill themselves while working without needing to quit their jobs and join a full-time offline education program. For example, an underprivileged student from the remotest parts of India today can attend online learning modules offered by top global universities such as Harvard University. A few years ago, such options were only accessible to a select few who could get admission into Harvard and were privileged enough to enroll and travel to the USA to attend such courses.

Independence

Online learning innovations such as learning management systems (LMS) offer the much-needed flexibility to students to learn at their own pace. Offline education is synchronous, wherein the students must follow the tightly packed timetables set by the educational institutions and keep up with the teacher’s speed in the classroom. Offline class setups typically don’t offer any recordings of sessions or any notes for students to refer to.

This is incredibly challenging for students who must be able to study individually and those who, for some reason, missed a session or two. This can sometimes lead to panic, anxiety, and a sub-optimal learning outcome for students. Online learning tools offer a unique mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning. The students can attend live online sessions, later replay the video recordings, and learn at their preferred pace without feeling rushed.

Procrastination in Online Learning vs. Offline Learning

The strict schedules set by educational institutions in offline settings imply that students are expected to arrive on time, attend classes as per the schedule, turn in assignments, and appear for exams in a timely fashion. However, the flexibility and independence offered by online learning can also have adverse effects in the form of poor time management and procrastination. Knowing that they can learn at their own pace, students frequently tend to fall into the trap of procrastinating the learning schedule.

The online medium further adds to these distractions through social media, gaming, and the internet. One of the biggest challenges the EdTech industry faces today is the sky-high non-completion rates of online classes by learners. Hence, for online learning to be effective, it requires a strong sense of self-discipline on behalf of the learner.

Richness of Media

Online education offers a significant advantage in enriching the learning experience using multimedia such as pictures, videos, interactive visuals, annotations, and animations. Such tools not only make the teacher’s life easier by enhancing their ability to explain complex concepts but also make it easier for students to grasp. These innovations in online education can enhance the learning experience significantly compared to the options limited to PowerPoint slides and black/whiteboard illustrations available in offline education.

Quality of Interactions in Online Learning vs. Offline Learning

One of the significant advantages of offline classes is the learning that happens through face-to-face interactions, both in and outside the classrooms. Students learn more from such interactions in offline courses than from sitting through lectures in an online setup. Face-to-face interactions with teachers and other students greatly value the learning outcome. Such offline interactions also help build interpersonal skills, leading to the students’ holistic personality development.

Although online learning tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams offer features that enable such interactions, the experience is far inferior to the real-time experience. Isolated online classroom settings can hinder these social interactions leading to introverted social behaviors among students. However, online learning offers the flexibility of interacting with teachers and co-learners at any time and from anywhere. However, it must still match the vibrant nature of face-to-face discussions, debates, and exchanging ideas in real-time. Just the phenomenon of eye contact, communicating through body language, and energy exchange in offline classes is hard to replace in online learning settings.

Suitability to Specific Topics and Activities

There are specific topics that align better with each of these two forms of learning. Practical learning areas such as engineering are more suitable in offline classes. On the other hand, areas such as coding, graphic arts, and data analytics are more suited to online courses and an online learning environment. It is impossible to learn to swim online, and at the same time, it would not be easy to learn social media marketing without going online. Similarly, essential activities such as examinations have been found more effective when conducted in an offline proctored setting. Online studies are challenging to monitor and thus tender themselves to the usage of unfair practices. We see a plethora of social and cultural events being conducted online.

However, the energy of a dance competition in an offline setting can never be replaced by a teared-down version of the same online. Other learning activities relating to sports and fine arts also find more suitability and effectiveness in offline settings. Educational institutions need to identify these alignments and construct their learning paths keeping in mind the benefits of these learning modes.

Adoption of Technology

Proponents of offline education consider online classes to be dry and dull as against the vibrant classroom setting. Contrary to popular perceptions, online learning has evolved by great leaps and bounds over the past few years. Innovative solutions that enrich the learning experience are now easily accessible. The sole means to enhance online learning is through adopting and effectively using these innovative tools.

Online teaching tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams are widely used. They offer helpful features such as breakout rooms, polls, quizzes, expressions, etc., which can enhance the learning experience if used effectively. Unfortunately, most online learning sessions still need to be expanded to the usage of the introductory video calling feature, thus leading to a sub-optimal learning and teaching experience. Tools such as Kahoot and Slido can enable real-time polls, quizzes, and surveys to engage students and significantly enhance the learning experience. Tools such as Mettl offer practical ways of conducting online exams in a proctored setting, minimizing the possibilities of unfair practices.

Technological Limitations

Availability of optimal configuration of PCs, laptops, or even smartphones, good quality audio and video hardware, and high bandwidth Wi-Fi are some technical requirements that can significantly hinder the online learning experience. This is one of the critical challenges for the success and propagation of online education in a developing country such as India. Specific learners might be restricted in their ability to use technology, which further hinders their ability to leverage online learning.

To sum it up, the debate around online and offline learning does not tilt towards any option, as both have their strengths and weaknesses. The choice hence is not either online classes or offline classes. The right approach is to find the right mix of online and offline learning strategies leveraging the individual strengths of both mediums to deliver a unique and extraordinary learning experience for learners. Enroll now for CBSE and ICSE admission for your child, and give them the best learning environment providing enjoyable activities and a secure environment.

EuroSchool stands as a benchmark among the schools in India, showcasing educational excellence and holistic development. Committed to innovation, it establishes a standard for quality education across the nation. Selecting EuroSchool ensures that children will receive an excellent education that will mold them into well-rounded, future-ready people.



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