Just like every other teaching method, online education comes with its own set of pros and cons. With the "new normal" dictating increased usage of online tools, a better understanding of these tools helps educational institutions in devising better strategies for their students and students better strategies for learning.
Let us discuss the various pros and cons of online education in detail, especially as the possibility of returning to in-person colleges, bootcamps, seminars, training sessions, tutors, and other modes of learning starts to open back up in 2021.
With the shifting of dynamics in the post-pandemic era, online education has proved to be a boon for many. The advantages of this learning method are many and can be discussed as follows...
- Efficient: In-person learning is limited to the size of the room and how far a teacher's voice will carry. When online one teacher can teach hundreds of people. This brings down costs and removes barriers.
- Asynchronous: In-person learning has to be done on a fixed, inflexible schedule. Online learning can be done in your time around working hours and household responsibilities. The online lectures can also be recorded, shared, and viewed for future reference at a time of their choice by the students. Innovative: Online education offers teachers an efficient way of delivering lessons by incorporating a range of tools into lesson plans. These include podcasts, videos, online tools, and more. The tools are adapting with the times.
- Accessible: Online education allows students to attend classes irrespective of their location. It also helps the schools in building an extensive network of students without any geographical restrictions. Thus, it offers better accessibility in terms of both time and place.
- Affordable: Online education is also beneficial in terms of reduced financial costs in comparison to physical learning. This is because several cost points get eliminated in the process such as student meals, transportation, and real estate. All the course and study material is also available online thus creating a paperless environment making it all the more affordable for the students.
- Improved attendance: With the liberty of taking classes from any location, online classes have better attendance, leading to fewer students missing out on lectures.
- Universal: With a range of tools available for personalization and customization of online classes, they are suitable for students of all ages and styles.
Though online learning platforms have flourished today, there are several disadvantages or weaknesses of this system that should be kept in mind. This helps in devising better teaching and learning strategies for the students and teachers alike.
- Inability to focus: One of the biggest challenges in the case of the online education system is the inability of the students to focus on the screen for long time periods. This inability also increases the risk of the student getting distracted by social media, a nearby TV, or the internet in general. In order to curb this problem, it is important for the teachers to keep the interaction going and keep their classes engaging and crisp.
- Technical issues: Another key weakness of this system is the over-dependence on technology. Though internet penetration has increased by leaps and bounds in the last few years, consistent internet connection is still a big problem in many towns and with some parts of the population for whom affordable high-speed internet is still a challenge.
- Isolation: One of the major aspects of learning is not just the lectures but the peers. The online education model has reduced the physical interactions between teacher and student to a minimal level causing a sense of isolation among students. This affects adults just as much as it does children, even it adult students might be less likely to admit it (or even notice it)
- Managing screen time: Increased screen time has become a health hazard. This can also cause bad posture, lack of focus, headaches and several other issues. Taking paper notes can help, but the build up of screen time is inevitable.
- Academic Integrity: This is more of an issue with college than with career-focused education, but the lack of classroom tests and in-person assignments means the temptation to look something up or get help on solo assignment is raised when you don't have the standard classroom environment.
Remember, the online education system might never replace the physical learning system. However, they can be seen as their extension and can be used to complement the learning and understanding process of the students. This will help students in getting the best of all worlds.