The coronavirus pandemic has forced many schools, colleges, and universities to switch to distance learning. Although lockdowns have accelerated the roll-out of these long-standing trends, before the pandemic, leading educational institutions, such as Harvard, were already launching their online learning programmes.
Distance learning courses are excellent because they enable people who lack the physical or material opportunities to gain a top-class education. During the pandemic, online learning became the only way to get an education, which helped contribute to its spread and popularity.
Today distance learning has become our new reality, but it has advantages and disadvantages. Let's try to figure them out!
The benefits of online education
There are so many benefits associated with online learning. Let's take a look at the main ones:
- Geographical accessibility
Online learning is the most practical option for professionals that need to improve their qualifications. However, with a busy work schedule, it is difficult to find time to, for example, travel to another city and take exams. Additionally, reputable educational institutions are often non-existent in remote towns and regions, and not every student can relocate. Thanks to this, disabled people or individuals with health issues can also obtain an online education.
- The ability to combine study with work
After leaving school, many graduates are faced with a choice: do they want to earn a living or go to university? Unfortunately, full-time study at a traditional university is virtually impossible to combine with work. As a result, a person will not get a complete and high-quality education if no one can support them financially.
Although, you can combine online education with a full-time job! Incidentally, to make the most of your education, we recommend taking the "Learning as a Skill" course. It demonstrates how to balance learning with work, overcome procrastination, build a skills map, and turn learning into an interesting and ongoing project.
- Low tuition fees
To study for free, a student must pass the entrance exams and achieve the highest score, which, of course, is not possible for all applicants. Although, even if an applicant can pass the tough selection process, it does not include the cost of food and accommodation, and sometimes even moving to another city. Online learning does not require these expenses because classes can be taken at home and paid online learning courses are significantly cheaper than in-person ones.
- A flexible schedule
Do you recall Hermione Granger from Harry Potter? She had to travel back in time to keep up with her interesting lessons. Today's students sometimes find themselves in a comparable situation: they are physically unable to attend all the classes they want. On the other hand, online learning allows students to listen to an interesting lecture when convenient, without making a tough choice. Moreover, students no longer need to strictly follow the schedule and wake up early to be on time for the start of their classes! It improves the psychological stability and the comfort of students.
- Flexibility in educational approaches
Previously, if students did not have the time to study at the curriculum's pace, they simply did not complete their studies. Now students have the opportunity to adapt and personalise the learning experience for themselves: they can listen to a lecture several times, rather than just once, to help them understand it. They can use different applications, choose suitable learning materials, and receive feedback from teachers on social media at almost any time.
- The opportunity to study with the best teachers
To learn from the best teachers, students from the provinces must go to metropolitan universities, where these teachers most commonly work. However, not everyone can afford it. Online education allows you to study with excellent professors without leaving your hometown.
- Convenience for teachers
With the accessibility of modern tools, it's more convenient for teachers to keep track of their student's progress: programmes can hold statistics on how students are doing in exams. Where you can track and analyse their progress. Even give them their own marks! Furthermore, ready-made video lessons and presentations will help teachers spend less time performing routine tasks and tailor an individual approach to students to improve their results.
- Convenience for entrepreneurs
Online education is also a lifesaver for entrepreneurs who need to quickly train their employees. Firstly, the training will be cheaper. Secondly, employees do not need to be away from work to complete training. Finally, employees will be able to study anywhere they can access the Internet: even if someone is late for class, they can still join the lesson on the way to work on the bus or in the car.
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They say that everything has its pros and cons. And although there are many pros to online education, the cons should not be forgotten.
- Lack of control
If you are studying online, the teacher cannot determine how well a student is working. This is a plus for responsible and conscientious students. Moreover, it is easier for them to show creativity and initiative without excessive supervision, which is a significant plus for universities. However, schoolchildren often need more stringent management; otherwise, they will not obtain basic knowledge.
- Low level of confidence in online certificates
Online course certificates can sometimes be viewed with scepticism by employers. Indeed, there are many opportunities for students to cheat in online classes: hand over someone else's work, cheat on an exam, etc. Don't students do this during regular exams too? Some of the tools used in online education for passing exams eliminate the possibility of deception entirely.
- The quality of education
Sometimes students buy an online course, and only after paying for it, realise that its quality is noticeably below par. However, the quality of educational courses is not controlled by the state and the relevant services, so the Internet can be full of low-quality courses. Therefore, before purchasing a course, a prospective student must carefully study the reviews from graduates who have attended their chosen online school to discover the educational programme's disadvantages in advance.
- Lack of practice
Very few individuals would agree to have surgery with a surgeon who has trained online. However, practice is necessary for some professions, and an absence of this is simply dangerous for others around you. That is why not all occupations are available online today. Moreover, it is unlikely they will ever be made available in principle.
- The problem of teacher training
Distance learning technologies are a powerful tool, but there is one "but": teachers have to use this tool too. In online education, it is more difficult for a teacher to keep students' attention, so they will have to use different approaches, for example, gamification, which not everyone is familiar with. Therefore, online learning presents a different challenge for teachers who have tutored students according to traditional methods all their lives. However, like students, they will also have to learn new things!
Online education has both positive and negative sides. However, online education allows people to learn throughout their lives, continuously learning new things and getting better and better! This is more crucial now than ever because the modern world moves at a cosmic speed. To undergo learning only once in a lifetime is an unaffordable luxury for an everyday person who wants to remain in demand in the job market. Therefore, online education is the best option for combining learning with work, making it stress-free and delivering maximum benefits.