Why is Online Learning Better Than Schooling?
The internet’s expansive nature and the ease of access to technology have created a surge in the call for web-based learning and teaching. With the rapid advent of online learning tools and technologies, the practice is fast infiltrating education institutions across the nation, with evidence of advantages and successes. Therefore, online learning represents a more sensible choice to obtain education than conventional classroom learning because of its exceptional benefits for the learner. As a student, one will be able to find online learning useful for learning new skills, sharpening competencies in a complex topic, and exploring other learners’ perspectives using an affordable, convenient, and resourceful means – the internet. Perhaps most importantly, online schooling renders the need for physical appearance irrelevant, which makes scheduling of classes more flexible, predictable, and fun. While online learning does take away the college experience of attending classes on campus, trudging across the campus green quite a few times daily, and forcing in deadline study sessions in one’s room, it is not the sole, best way to earn college qualification. It is imperative to analyze how web-based learning is superior to traditional schooling.
Keywords: online learning, e-learning, traditional learning, virtual learning, pros of, cons of, e-education, web-based learning
Why is Online Learning Better Than Schooling?
According to Nguyen (2015), online learning, typically referred to as e-learning, virtual learning, or e-education, describes distance learning edification via the internet. Another definition of online education is where at least eighty percent of the course content is delivered through an online means devoid of face-to-face interactions (Alsaaty, Carter, Abrahams, & Alshameri, 2016). While this form of distance learning as existed in the United States for a considerable duration, it has metamorphosed into a widely-accepted approach of teaching and learning because of the improved, pervasive technologies that augment the education process. The traditional “brick and mortar” schoolrooms have since started losing their monopoly as the ideal places of learning. The internet has facilitated online learning, and many educators and researchers are interested in the concept to enrich and expand student learning upshots while simultaneously contending with the decline in resources, especially in higher education.
However, despite e-learning appealing to a broad variety of learners and developing into a more common form of education acquisition in contemporary society, it can neither totally negate the advantages associated with traditional learning nor make it obsolete (Gilbert, 2015). The challenges of e-learning include the requirement of a paradigm shift when transitioning from a classroom education system to a web-based one, dependency on automated software to perform simple tasks, the increased probability of procrastination because of lack of human supervision, and possible distractions attributable to ad pop-ups, music, and scrolling or flashing text, among others (Alghazo, n.d.). However, the benefits of adopting an e-learning approach outweigh the drawbacks by far. Students who embrace online learning will obtain access to a personalized learning experience, select flexible schedules, acquire access whenever there is a need, acquire a more cost-effective form of education with a variety of payment plans and alternatives, and an increased portfolio of courses and subjects to choose from.
Online education possesses merits and demerits for learners and education institutions, with the benefits being more appealing, particularly to many universities globally that offer complete degree programs virtually (Alghazo, n.d.). The first benefit of online learning is the pervasion in internet educational technologies. The significant strides in pertinent technologies have made university education more accessible today than ever. Any interested learner with a computing device and internet access is exposed to the wholeness of the educational globe. The trend is barely an exaggeration because, in the recent decade, highly prestigious institutions, for example, Stanford, MIT, and Harvard, have been offering unabridged, non-credit sessions of schoolwork online for free using massive open online courses (MOOCs) (Mehlenbacher, 2012). Typically, MOOCs possess the same instructors and identical study material that one would get find while attending the college in person. Additionally, colleges have started introducing more-personal online alternatives, with smaller-sized classes, and enhanced one-to-one instructor-to learner instructions (Gay, 2017). Such colleges have innumerable degree courses, and if a student is unable to find a preferred course, it is always possible to find it in another e-learning institution. However, when it comes to the effectiveness of learning and level of engagement, there is continuing debate. According to Gilbert (2015), traditional classrooms have been found to offer compelling hands-on experiences; for example, during laboratory-intensive sessions. Students are able to acquire practical skills that they observe and practice with their instructor present for guidance. Whereas it is impossible to refute this claim, it is equally important to acknowledge that e-learning could be more engaging than traditional classroom learning (Nguyen, 2015; Gay, 2017). With the advent of technologies and applications, online classes can present educational material in a more attention-grabbing way using multimedia formats that might be more apt for today’s students. In addition, because researchers and academicians have recognized that the future of education will possibly lie in online edification, they are constantly making efforts to introduce innovative ways of captivating learners’ attention more effectively while attaining the intended objectives. Another argument in favor of online learning is that it is more cost-effective and affordable than classroom learning (Alsaaty et al., 2016; Gilbert, 2015). When students attend a regular university, they are probably going to incur several thousand dollars in tuition, learning materials, transportation, room, and board, as well as general upkeep. Virtual learning colleges eliminate all such expenses from the budget, effectively leading to a five-figure reduction in the course of the entire study, which could be a master’s or bachelor’s degree. In addition, these students will not have to undergo the worries and stress associated with repaying expensive student loans.
According to Alghazo (n.d.), online learning is more convenient than traditional schooling because it permits students to acquire more control over their schedules. E-learning tends to eliminate scheduling conflicts and absenteeism since students do not have to report physically to an agreed place to learn. Whereas some programs might require some degree of attendance of online lectures from time to time, the lessons are normally archived for future reference. Therefore, there is no danger of missing critical lessons because of a conflict in schedule. Additionally, the flexibility permits students to peruse the lectures in their own time and at their own pace. For students who take a while to grasp concepts, e-learning offers the best platform. Conversely, students who desire to move ahead of the rest can access forthcoming material to satisfy their curiosity and interests. However, the main drawback of e-learning, as outlined by Gilbert (2015), is the risk of procrastination. When there is no professor present to ensure students are up to date with their assignments and projects, there are bound to be instances of procrastination due to laziness, busy schedules, or simply failure to follow course activities. Despite the setback, though, e-learning still has more benefits to the students (Gay, 2017; Alghazo, n.d.). For example, it is the appropriate mode of learning for individuals who possess childcare responsibilities that impede regular class attendance and those who work full time. In another illustration, it would be hard to imagine a single mother attending regular campus lectures with a baby in tow because the babysitter had to cancel at the last minute. With e-learning, the mother can still be present in class while simultaneously maintaining an eye on the child. In addition, e-learning is better because it is embracing the continuous shift towards technologically-driven learning institutions and changing workforces (Nguyen, 2015). The online classroom plays a critical role in preparing individuals for the transforming workforce. As the students grow more confident and comfortable with technology, they are anticipating what future workplaces might be like. With the advent of technology, the workforces are increasingly becoming distributed and remote. Whether working with colleagues across the world or across the state, individuals adept at technology for messaging, collaborating, video-conferencing, and aggregating information, which are skills acquired in e-learning, will have an advantage. Finally, in the absence of e-learning, then blended learning is non-existent (Alghazo, n.d.; Gay, 2017). Blended learning, where students take at least one course online in college, is continuously gaining popularity within academia, and its rapid rise has been permeating corporate as human resource leaders, talent heads, and learning professionals recognize its potential. Notwithstanding the distinct form of blended learning that one considers, the existence of two parts is irrefutable: online and in-person. Therefore, online learning will continue making incursions into other spheres of life development besides education, which cannot be said of classroom learning.
Despite the few drawbacks that e-learning has for students, its benefits outweigh its detriments, making it better than orthodox classroom schooling. While not entirely replacing the classroom learning experience, e-learning has emerged as a rapidly growing and accepted mode of education globally because of the discovery of impressive technologies. The technologies have made it easier for students to access educational materials online, maintain a connection with their professors, and engage through multimedia platforms. Also, the technologies have permitted students to access college education more affordably than would have been the case in traditional schooling. Subsequently, students who take online classes have minimal student loans to repay. Besides, learning online enables students to gain more control over their schedules. They can plan their studies at their own pace and select when to access relevant material that is archived in online databases. Similarly, e-learning prepares individuals for the future working environment that is increasingly being inclined towards technology. With the skills acquired in e-learning, individuals can become competitive in the job market. Finally, e-learning platforms offer more diverse alternatives in terms of courses to study and payment options, which is more difficult with classroom learning. Because more and more universities are turning to the internet to offer undergraduate and graduate programs, the expansion of programs offerings is evident. When a student fails to obtain a course of choice from one institution, there are always more options to select from, which can be accessed from the convenience of the home. Based on the weight of the advantages associated with e-learning over classroom learning, it is the better education mode of the two.
Alghazo, A. (n.d.). Comparing effectiveness of online and traditional teaching using students’ final grades. Carbondale, IL: Department of Workforce Education & Development Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Alsaaty, F. M., Carter, E., Abrahams, D., & Alshameri, F. (2016). Traditional Versus Online Learning in Institutions of Higher Education: Minority Business Students’ Perceptions. Business and Management Research, 5(2), 31-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.5430/bmr.v5n2p31.
Gay, G. (2017). An assessment of online instructor e-learning readiness before, during, and after course delivery. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 28(2), 199-220. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304106528_An_assessment_of_online_instructor_e-learning_readiness_before_during_and_after_course_delivery.
Gilbert, B. (2015). Online learning revealing the benefits and challenges. New York: St. John Fisher College.
Mehlenbacher, B. (2012). Massive open online courses (MOOCs): educational innovation or threat to higher education? Raleigh, North Carolina: NC State University.
Nguyen, T. (2015). The effectiveness of online learning: Beyond no significant difference and future horizons. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 11(2), 309-319.