It is important to continue on the path of learning and discovery, especially as career-oriented individuals who hope to advance both personally and professionally. Unfortunately, many of us find great difficulty navigating through our demanding and inflexible schedules to take on new challenges. But the world has changed dramatically, with online learning creating a virtual revolution in the world of education. With the internet, a person can learn about virtually every subject from anywhere. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages of online classes for higher education to take into consideration before considering if it is an option for you.
Advantages of Online Learning
The first obvious advantage of online classes is the sheer convenience factor. Perhaps some of you are burdened by a lengthy commute after a long day. The thought of traveling to yet another location before heading home is an impossibility. Now, with virtual learning you have the option of taking classes in the privacy of your own home while wearing your comfy slippers. All you need is an internet connection and a computer or a smartphone.
Not only have you saved hours by not having to travel to a physical location to take a class, but with online classes, you have greater flexibility in choosing when the best time to study for you is. You may or may not be able to find an instructor to teach you Spanish online at 3 am, but your options are infinitely greater by connecting online. Online classes ultimately enable you to achieve your professional and educational aims in a manner that fits your schedule.
The major advantages of online classes center around the tremendous amount of savings for the learning institution who do need to rely on reserving a physical location to teach courses, which ultimately translates to more cost effective classes for the student. Also, having to show up at a physical classroom location increases your expenditures as a student quickly. In addition to avoiding spending on the basics like books and supplies when you take classes online, students can also save money by not having to purchase food, gas or inevitably pay maintenance costs for their vehicle after being forced to travel.
Some might assume that traditional learning in a physical setting is the most natural and, in turn, best way to interact. But that in fact may not be the case with the average student who might exhibit more shy behavior in the physical space. In an online class, no student sits in the back row. Everyone is basically front and center! Those that are too shy to ask a question in front of their entire class now have the option of initiating a live, private chat with their instructor. A student uncomfortable with broadcasting to the entire class may even opt to mute their microphone or disable their camera while continuing to participate in the lesson. A student with the ability to hide may seem like a disadvantage of online classes. But now, teachers have the option of administering online quizzes to ensure every student is engaged. In a physical classroom, the teacher may write notes on a blackboard, in hopes that students are jotting the information down themselves. With online learning, an instructor can write down notes on a digital whiteboard or even assign a student to write real time notes that students can easily download after the class.
Taking Your Dream Course
Have you ever wanted to learn French, but simply never had the availability? Perhaps the small block of time you actually managed to carve out around a full time job and family to learn how to code could not align with a class available at your local community center. Was a school in your area even offering your dream class? Now with virtual learning, the sky’s the limit for new training opportunities. Students now have the option of learning from instructors in any time zone all over the world, at potentially any time of day, gaining incredible insight that was just not possible before. A world of opportunity can now be accessed from your laptop or smartphone.
Disadvantages of Online Learning
Lack of Community
Everyone learns in their own manner. Some students possess the ability to work independently, while others find comfort in their community on campus and thus easy access to professors or their fellow students. The good news is online virtual classroom platforms have been working to bridge those gaps, recreating the feeling of community in the virtual space by producing a series of tools that encourage learners to actively participate in live sessions.
Piggybacking off the sentiment above, sometimes being part of a community and having to physically show up increases the likelihood of accountability. If a student does not feel they are getting the proper guidance, they may not have enough self discipline to fully engage the lessons themselves. Moving to virtual real time classes instead of just online courses gives a greater sense of accountability. Tools like live quizzes are often available to assess understanding in real time as well as breakout rooms to encourage group activity. These tools help foster accountability and keep students engaged.
The classic disadvantages of online classes center around technical difficulties. Not being able to see or hear an instructor’s lesson is a sure fire way to encourage students to give up. Many times in the past, students were required to download and/or install cumbersome apps or technology that would deliver inconsistent performances. Luckily nowadays, online classes can be accessed through the click of a link without the need to install anything. Internet connections throughout the world have improved dramatically. Additionally, people’s devices have gotten significantly better.
There are advantages and disadvantages of online classes for higher education. But as technological capabilities have reached new heights and many of the major concerns of students taking online classes have been addressed, the advantages of online classes are beginning to eclipse the disadvantages.