If I had a rupee for the number of times I’ve heard the term “new normal” since the pandemic, I’d be rich by now. There’s a new normal for just about everything, and education is no exception. We’ve seen innovations on the rise in this sector for a while now, especially in the online space. Companies like Byjus and Khan Academy popularised online learning, and the lockdown forced schools to follow suit as well.
There’s no denying that online education is far more convenient and opens up the possibility of providing quality education across the country. That’s why the demand for online education has risen quite a bit over the last three years and will continue to do so in the future.
Now if we were only praising the upside of online education, this article’s title wouldn’t do it any justice – like everything else, online education has its downside too. But schools and other institutions can implement a blended learning approach once they understand the advantages and disadvantages – as can you!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Education
Let’s Start With The Positives First!
Don’t feel like travelling all the way to school? Attend classes from the comfort of your home! Online learning makes it possible for you to learn from anywhere – as long as you have a laptop or smartphone and a good internet connection. It’s quite possible to create both a classroom atmosphere and an individual learning atmosphere through online classes. It’s also possible to take tests, present assignments, interact with other students, discuss doubts and save on travel time and cost.
It’s Easy to Provide Individual Attention
Imagine a student who’s shy in class but has a doubt. In a normal classroom setting, they are highly likely to keep quiet about it and remain plagued with doubts. But in an online classroom, they have an option to directly message the teacher during a class or send an email after. This eliminates their fear of ‘not appearing smart’ in front of the whole class, giving them an opportunity to clear their doubts on the go.
It Accommodates Different Learning Styles
Not everyone learns through reading and writing. Some are better are audiovisual learning, some learn better by listening, some through interactions and some while moving. An offline class cannot accommodate these different learning styles but online classes can. Finding a math concept too tough? You’ll find a variety of explanations on platforms like YouTube or Vimeo. Prefer learning science through song and dance? The internet has it and so much more!
Not every student learns at the same speed. Some grasp concepts quickly while some take their time to understand it better. An offline class may not be able to wait for each child to pick up, but online learning allows you to learn at your own pace. Didn’t understand a concept? View the video as many times as you want until you’re sure you’ve got it down to pat. Quicker at learning than your peers? Go through your syllabus faster and utilise your free time to learn a new skill!
It’s More Cost-effective
Before online learning, your parents would have to make a large dent in their life savings to get you into a good school. But online learning gives you access to some of the best teachers across the world at a much lower cost. Platforms like Khan Academy and Coursera even give you an option to learn courses at no charge. And you’re saving on costs like travel, parking, school maintenance fees, etc.
It Increases Conversations With Classmates
If you’ve ever studied in a large classroom, you may not take the time to get to know each and every one. But online classes encourage you to introduce yourself and interact with their classmates through discussion boards, chat rooms, mailing lists and more. Your funny comebacks are no longer limited to the four people around you – you have a full platform to engage now!
A classroom often seems more like a lecture dissemination – your teacher is talking while you may or may not be paying attention. But online learning makes the most of technology to keep you hooked to learning! By turning topics into games, including reward systems at each steps and accommodating different learning styles, an online class has the potential to keep you far more interested in the class than an offline class could.
Disadvantages of Online Education
Lack of Physical Interaction
While online classes are convenient, they also tend to isolate you. In a classroom, you would hang with your friends between classes, pass snide comments to the student next to you or play on the grounds during recess time. But an online class limits your interactions to texting or video calls. Eventually, the isolation can get to you – the FOMO is real here!
At some point or the other, you must have encountered a technical glitch in life. And online classes are no exception. Imagine being right in the middle of a test when your internet suddenly decides to stop working, or the power goes out. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? That nightmare is a very real possibility with online learning.
Lack of Focus
In a classroom setting, it’s easy for a teacher to spot if you’re distracted and bring back your attention to the lesson. But online classes allow you to do your own thing on the side while attending classes. Even if your video is on, you can still browse the internet, complete another task on your laptop or even zone out for a while before the teacher notices you’re distracted.
Lack of Practical Application
In a classroom, if you were studying chemistry, you’d have an option to go the laboratory and experience chemical reactions in person. But an online class may not be able to provide the same experience. A lot of online learning is limited to theoretical understanding – there are limitations to implementing that learning in real-life situations.
Increase in Screen Time
While online classes may be convenient, it leads to a significant increase in screentime, which could impact you both physically and mentally. Feel like online classes during the pandemic gave you more headaches, neckaches or backaches? That’s one of the downsides of increased screen time. Additionally, spending too much time in front of a screen also impacts your memory retention, ability to socialise, sleep cycle and so much more.
How Do I Choose?
Opt for a blended learning approach – continue with a school education while setting time aside for online learning as well. Look up explanations of concepts you found tough in class. Try different learning formats (podcasts, videos, presentation slides, infographics) to learn topics better. While schools focus on knowledge building, online classes can help you with skill-building. Identify the skills you will need to do well in your future path and begin acquiring them on the side. By the time you graduate, you’ll be equipped with both the knowledge and skills required to ace your way to the top!
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