The traditional classroom teaching environment has been a wonderful place to learn for a long time, however, with the advancement of technology, online learning has become an increasingly popular alternative. Both studying online and face-to-face have a place within the learning curriculum and your success may depend on your personal preference and preferred style of learning. Here we take a look at the pros and cons of online study and factors, which may help you, decide which is best for you.
The Pros of Online Learning
Online courses allow you to study during the hours that suit, take as many breaks as needed and typically do not have set school terms. This is a huge benefit to those already in the workforce looking to upskill but not wanting to take time off work. This is also a great option for mothers and primary carers returning to the workforce who need to fit study in around busy family life. It also means that you don’t have to schedule your holidays around a typical school semester so you can take a well deserved holiday without having to travel in peak holiday times.
Ease of access
Signing up to an online course means you can study anywhere. Rural students now have access to high quality education, which previously would have been unavailable or they would have needed to find accommodation on campus. Online study also enables you to move anywhere (even overseas) without having to give up or defer your study. A GAP year can now be taken without the gap.
Study at your own pace
As all the course material is accessed online, students have the ability to re-watch tutorials, read over the notes at their own pace, take additional time for assignments and make their study fit into life commitments and work schedules. This reduces the stress that can come with a course following strict deadlines and enable time to fully understand the course topic rather than rushing through.
Bullying is reduced
Although many students prefer social interaction whilst studying, many have experienced bulling and would rather avoid a face-to-face environment. Online study reduces the physical contact with other students and in doing so reduces bulling. This enables students who have anxiety, the ability to learn and thrive in the comfort of their own home.
No distractions from other disruptive students
We have all experienced the class clown or pupil who wants to give a 10minute anecdote for every question posed by the lecturer, which ultimately ends up disrupting the class and wasting valuable learning time. The ability to study online removes these disruptive students from the learning environment so you can focus on what is important – your education.
Ask for help with confidence
Students can ask for help via email or online platforms without having to speak in front of a classroom. Public speaking can be confronting for some pupils and often, deters them from asking any questions at all. To gain a full understanding of what you are learning, asking questions for clarity and further discussion are extremely important.
Enables alternatives for students with special needs
People with special needs may find a typical classroom set up difficult. For example, someone with hearing difficulties may find a classroom has too much white noise or the teacher does not speak loudly or clearly. In an online learning environment they can have the volume of the class suitable for their needs as well as use subtitles or written text.
Often online courses are more affordable than face-to-face courses
Generally speaking an online course tends to be more affordable than a face-to-face course. This may be due to the reduced cost in hosting a class at a physical location as well as often having pre-recorded tutorials that can be reused. This gives students the qualifications they need at a more affordable cost.
Help students develop time management skills
Time management is crucial to your success in the workforce. Having completed an online course shows that you have the ability to complete tasks in a timely fashion without having to be micromanaged.
The Cons Of Online Learning
Limited Social Interaction
It is no secret that humans love social interaction and the schooling system for children goes hand in hand with establishing what social norms are, developing relationships, building resilience and confidence and making friends. However as we become adults and have social connections outside of the classroom the need to get back into a face to face learning environment diminishes. People who are already in the workforce have their social interaction through their work, hobbies, sporting commitments and parents have social interaction through activities with their children and other families. Typically the motivation to do an online course is to advance your career or try out a new career or just learn something new so the need for social interaction is less of a priority.
Need to be self motivated
As most of us are used to learning in a face-to-face environment, staying motivated without a teacher watching over you and strict deadlines can be a challenge. Staying motivated takes a bit of self-discipline and time management. For some tips on how to stay motivated when studying online read this article.
Visual demonstrations can be more difficult online
There are some courses that just need to be done in person due to the need for visual demonstration. Over the past few years there have been huge advancements in remote demonstrations and remote assessment but there will always be areas that simply need you to be present. You can often find hybrid courses available that allow you to complete theory work online and only visit the campus or learning facility for practical components.
Increases screen time
After a full day of work in front of a computer, spending more time in front of a screen studying can be a turn off for some people. If this is the case you may want to schedule in your study time after you have had some time away from your computer to avoid screen overload. Perhaps you may find it beneficial to schedule frequent breaks and head outside for a walk.
Access to a computer and internet
Although Internet access is continually improving all over the country the reality is some people just do not have a computer or reliable internet to participate in an online course. However, there are options such as libraries that offer computer and internet facilities so if you are really keen on starting an online course it would be worth visiting your local library to see what they offer.
Some students prefer a hands on, interactive learning style
There are some students who will just always prefer a face-to-face learning style, which is absolutely fine. Online learning is not for everyone and if you know you will do better in a face-to-face environment then you should embrace that and continue in person studies.
If you are thinking about starting an online course and would like some insight into what to expect please contact our friendly career consultants. You can view all the online courses offered at Upskill Online here.