The technological shift in learning practices has given rise to several new trends, and online learning is inarguably the most popular of them. The many advantages of online learning make it a popular idea that continues to grow in the academic world. If you wish to study at your own pace, it might be ideal to turn to online learning.
According to Statista, around 45 percent of US students enrolled in exclusively online courses in 2020, as compared to 17 percent in 2019. The massive increase in numbers was a result of the global pandemic, but it gave students a rather effective learning model. Since then, online education has grown massively, and students prefer it for all the right reasons.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Classes
Online programs offer a variety of benefits as well as downsides to students. Before you adopt this mode of learning, you must develop a deeper understanding of the positives and negatives of online learning to decide whether it suits your learning style and helps you achieve your educational goals or not. Below are a few advantages and disadvantages of online learning.
5 Pros of Online Learning
1. Greater Flexibility
Online learning adds flexibility to your life. Compared to traditional classes, online learning lends you more time to manage your routine activities during online classes. You can have a flexible schedule for learning that is convenient for you and your busy routine. Instead of binding yourself to a fixed schedule, you can learn at any time of the day at your own pace.
2. Technical Skill Development
Online programs help students develop technical skills regarding the use of technology, electronic gadgets, and solving related technical issues. These digital skills are considered complementary nowadays and help students qualify for better job opportunities. While using different software and tools for taking online classes, students also learn to troubleshoot common issues.
3. Improved Self-Motivation
Unlike traditional classroom settings, online classes require you to demonstrate increased self-motivation and discipline to schedule and manage your studies. Successfully completing your online courses proves that you have enough self-motivation and fine time management skills that can help you in the long run. There is nothing pushing you to study every day but your determination to achieve your goals through concentrated efforts.
During online classes, you tend to spend less compared to the traditional classroom setting. Virtual learning reduces several costs that would otherwise be spent if studying in person, such as room and board, costs for commuting, and books and supplies.
The learning materials for online courses are usually available online, which saves the cost of books. Keeping these things in consideration, we can say that the cost of remote learning is comparatively lower than traditional on-campus learning.
Online learning can help reduce your carbon footprint, making it an eco-friendly learning method. It reduces the cost of fuel used for daily commuting, electricity, and other utility charges. It also helps promote a paperless environment which leads to a healthier ecosystem.
5 Cons of Online Learning
1. More Screen Time
Increased screen time is obvious when you learn online, which may hinder students that find it difficult to focus on the screen and concentrate on learning. It can also become a source of distraction for students, making it difficult for them to study. In addition, continuous and excessive use of screens can cause headaches, weakening of eyesight, and eye infections among learners.
2. Increased Sense of Isolation
Social interaction is crucial for students to gain a broader perspective and build a network. Online learning lacks this element as it significantly reduces face-to-face interaction between teachers and students and among students. This may give rise to a sense of isolation that can lead to potential mental health issues.
3. Technical Issues
Virtual learning is prone to several technical issues that cause connectivity problems. These issues can not only disrupt your learning process but can cause you mental stress during exams. You might do hours of hard work to complete an assignment, and your laptop suddenly shuts down before saving your work. This and similar issues can be a headache for students.
4. Prone to Cheating
Unfortunately, it seems easier for students to cheat and use unfair means during online assessments than in a traditional classroom. It is challenging to prevent cheating with remote learning which questions the credibility of assessment results. This harms the learning process adversely and demotivates students who prepare for exams fairly.
5. Difficulty in Hands-On Learning
Hands-on learning can become challenging in distance learning. Learning theoretical subjects might seem the same as in a traditional classroom, but skill-based learning is a bit different. Fields that require practical work, such as science and engineering, are difficult to learn online. Also, there is no substitute for the learning gained from laboratory experiments and hands-on practice.
Tips for Improving Your Online Education Experience
There are several ways to improve your online education experience and learning outcomes. Virtual learning is completely different from traditional learning methods, and you need to make some extra effort to make it worth it for you. Here are some effective tips that might help you on your way.
- Build personal connections. As a student, you must focus on building strong relations with your fellow students. Lack of physical interaction might be a setback, but you can use various other online platforms to communicate and interact with others.
- Enhance your classroom participation. If you are learning through live virtual classes, show your presence through effective class participation. It is good to ask questions, share your ideas, and respond to classroom discussions. It will transform the whole learning experience for you.
- Utilize online learning resources. There is no limit when it comes to learning resources available online. You can find plenty of lectures, tutorials, research papers, activities, and quizzes that can facilitate your online learning. It includes free and paid resources. Make the most of them to make it fun for yourself.
- Use time management apps. Time management can be a challenge in online learning, so time management apps can help. You can use them to design a balanced timetable, which will motivate you to complete your scheduled tasks and refrain from excessive screen time.
- Set up a study area. Don’t make the mistake of studying in your bed. It might seem to be a nice place to study but can harm your learning process. Set up a separate space and use it for studying. Keep all your relevant things there and make it pleasant by designing it according to your interests and comfort.
What Degrees Can You Get Online?
You can get associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees online. With an increasing inclination of students towards distance learning, plenty of colleges offer online degree programs. Today, you can learn your desired field of study in an online environment even if you have a busy schedule due to a full-time job.
Whether you are a fresh high school graduate, or a professional looking for career advancement, you can find a suitable online degree program for yourself. Following are some of the best online colleges you might consider, including the University of Florida which was ranked by Statista as the best online college in the USA in 2021.
Best Online Colleges
|Online Colleges||Online Degrees Available||Online Education Defining Features||US News Ranking|
|Arizona State University||Bachelor’s, Master’s||Career counseling for online students||#6|
|Colorado State University – Global||Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral||Accredited online degree programs||#13|
|Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide||Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s||Virtual labs for online students||#1|
|North Carolina State University||Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral||Highly qualified teachers monitoring online classes||#10|
|Ohio State University – Columbus||Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral||Financial aid programs for online students||#7|
|Oregon State University||Bachelor’s, Master’s||More than 1,600 online courses to choose from||#5|
|Pennsylvania State University – World Campus||Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral||Round-the-clock technical support for students||#16|
|University of Arizona||Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral||Think Tank Online Tutoring||#7|
|University of Florida||Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral||Transition advising for online students||#1|
|University of Illinois – Chicago||Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral||Online library services for students||#3|
Is Online Education Right for You?
Yes, online education is right for you if you wish to enjoy more freedom and convenience while having a personalized learning experience. The online environment offers plenty of opportunities to develop and thrive in the modern world. It is safe to say that it is not only the present but also the future of learning. Having an online learning experience is a worthy skill to have for the job market.
To decide whether this learning style suits you or not, you might experiment by taking some short online courses, certificate programs, or classes. It will provide you with a clearer idea of an online learning environment and digital learning materials to help you make the best decision for yourself.
Advantages of Online Learning FAQ
Yes, online platforms help in collaborative learning. The enhanced connectivity, access to learning resources, and improved communication improve the learning outcomes of collaborative learning. Tools and software such as Slack, Skype, and Dropbox facilitate communication and project management, leading to effective and collaborative learning.
Yes, online degrees are respected. The best and highest-ranking schools offer online degree programs that are supervised by highly qualified instructors. Employers also recruit eligible students for high-paying jobs irrespective of their mode of education. As long as your school is accredited and respected, your online degree is considered credible and respected by employers and educational institutions.
Yes, online learning can be better than classroom learning in many cases. It allows students to learn and concentrate on learning by their will, rather than under any pressure from instructors. The ease of communication and access to a wide variety of learning resources makes it a more convenient option. In addition, it is also cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
No, it is not hard to learn online. It is similar to learning in a traditional classroom setting with a difference in the environment. In many cases, you might find it easier than on-campus learning. Online learning tools and Internet-based learning activities can make it fun for students and increase classroom engagement.
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