Nearly everyone has some experience of learning in a face-to-face classroom environment. Because of that, we’re often more comfortable learning in environments that look like classrooms. However, online learning is becoming more and more popular in recent years. Is online learning as good as face-to-face, or will the personal touch always be better?
There’s no arguing that online learning brings education further than it’s ever been before. Thanks to the spread of the internet, learners can access education through their computers, no matter how remote they are. It brings opportunities to people who have never had them before. When viewed like this, there’s no argument that online learning isn’t a good thing.
Learning online has a lot of advantages. As the learner is attending the class in their own environment, they can control it better. They can adjust lighting, heat and noise levels to ones they are comfortable with. The more comfortable they are, the better they can learn. They also avoid the issue of potentially disruptive classmates.
The work done in class can be much more focused online, too. When group work is held through text or video chats, it’s easier to concentrate on the topic at hand. It has been suggested that online, a group will put much more effort into the task at hand. Feedback given online can be in depth and consistent.
However, there’s some things that online learning just can’t offer. The learner has to be fairly dedicated, as online it can be much easier to disengage from the task at hand. It’s also harder to check if they’re paying attention to the instructor.
The same goes for group work. Face-to-face, every participant needs to contribute, as it’s much more obvious if they don’t. Being physically in the same room together creates a much stronger bond between team members, too.
Ultimately, learning is a social activity. While the internet has made communication easier, it’s not always as effective as face-to-face meetings. Learners can get to know each other better in a physical space, while online there’s always the sense of being disconnected from your peers.
Looking at these points, it’s easy to see a case for both online and face-to-face learning. Both are effective in different ways. Online learning is fantastic for those who otherwise can’t access education at all, due to location or illness. Face to face learning is better for bonding, and allowing learners to learn from each other as well as their instructor.
Overall, online learning is as good as face-to-face learning, but it works best in certain situations. In the vast majority of cases, face to face learning is the way to go.