The global market for online learning or digital education was growing steadily over the last decade. But many educational institutions and academic institutions switched from traditional learning to online learning to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Forbes.com,
“Since the COVID-19 outbreak, online learning has become more centric in people’s lives. The pandemic has forced schools, universities, and companies to remote working and this booms the usage of online learning.”
The cloud-based learning management systems (LMS) make it easier for schools, colleges, and universities to switch from conventional learning to eLearning or online learning. But the decision-makers must remember that online learning like conventional learning has its own advantages and disadvantages. No educational institution can deliver online learning and boost the learning experience without understanding the important Online learning advantages and disadvantages.
9 Important Online Learning Advantages to Leverage
No Geographic Boundaries
Many educational institutions these days adopt online learning to enable students to learn regardless of their current geographic location. The students can attend classes, interact with instructors, and take exams by accessing the LMS over the internet. Many students these days prefer online learning to traditional learning to eliminate the need to move to another city or country. The online learning model further enables working professionals to acquire knowledge and hone skills without taking study leave.
Enable Self-Paced Learning
Most academic institutions allow learners to access virtual classroom solutions and LMS 24 hours a day. A learner can further acquire knowledge by accessing the eLearning solutions on both computers and mobile devices. Hence, they can easily learn at their own pace and convenience. Working professionals can leverage online learning advantages to learn after working hours. Likewise, students can complete online courses and obtain certificates despite busy lifestyles and extracurricular activities.
Increase Student-Teacher Ratio
According to HunSchool.org,
“The student-teacher ratio reflects the teacher’s workload and how available they are to offer services and care to their students. Many students and teachers find that the lower the number, the better the educational process and learning will be.”
Unlike conventional learning, online learning helps educational institutions increase the student-teacher ratio without impacting the quality of education. In an online learning environment, a single teacher can offer services and care to a larger number of students without putting in extra time and effort.
Multi-Format Courses and Classes
The LMS enables educators to create courses by combining digital learning materials and content in multiple formats – eBooks, PDF documents, audiobooks, video, infographics, journals, and quizzes. The educational institutions also have the option to integrate the elearning management solution with ready-to-use digital libraries. Hence, a student can understand a concept and acquire knowledge by accessing information and content in many formats. The multi-format courses make students understand concepts clearly and retain knowledge effectively.
Give Individual Attention to Students
In a conventional learning environment, many students do not ask questions to teachers as they feel shy or fearful. Also, they do not clear doubts due to not feeling comfortable asking questions. But the students often interact with teachers and students in the online learning environment without feeling shy or fearful. The sophisticated LMS enable students to interact with teachers using a variety of options – emails, chatting, instant messaging, and voice calls. The students can further use these communication options to ask questions and clear doubts after attending the online classes. The multiple communication options make it easier for teachers to give individual attention to students.
Leverage Student Data Using Analytics
The sophisticated LMS and virtual classroom solutions are designed with built-in learning analytics. The built-in analytics help educational institutions to assess the effectiveness or performance of every online course or training program based on real-time data. The analytics further make it easier for teachers to track activities, progress, and competencies of students simply by generating dynamic reports based on real-time student data. The analytics help educators to give individual attention and assistance to the students. Also, educators can leverage analytics to boost the learning experience in a virtual environment.
Acquire and Hone Real-World Skills
In a digital and knowledge economy, students cannot enhance employability and career prospects without learning how to use search engines, emails, web browsers, and social media. Employers prefer students who have already acquired basic digital skills while acquiring knowledge. In a conventional classroom environment, students often lack the options to acquire and hone these key digital skills. But they can learn how to send emails, gather information using search engines, and leverage social media while learning online.
Curtail Higher Education Cost
The cloud-based LMS help educational institution to offer online courses and training programs without spending money on physical infrastructure and additional educators. The new-age LMS further help educational institutions to set up digital libraries instead of conventional libraries. An educational institution can easily reduce course fees by investing in the right LMS. At the same time, students can leverage online learning advantages to save money by not moving to another city or country.
Conserve Trees and Save Environment
According to Planet Blue Campus,
“Upwards of 15 billion trees are cut down each year in the world, and much of the paper created from these trees are going towards books and textbooks.”
The hard copies or printed versions of textbooks will remain an integral part of the classroom environment. Both teachers and students do not replace digital content with physical textbooks while learning traditionally. But they can acquire knowledge by accessing digital content in a variety of formats while studying online. Hence, online learning helps educational institutions to save the environment by saving trees.
7 Important Online Learning Disadvantages to Consider
Minimal Face-to-Face Interaction
In a conventional learning environment, teachers and students meet and interact with each other in person. Hence, the real-time dialogue is an integral part of the classroom-based learning model. The new-age learning management systems (LMS) and virtual classroom solutions enable students and teachers to interact with each other seamlessly in the virtual learning environment. But students often miss real dialogue and face-to-face interaction while switching from conventional classrooms to virtual classrooms.
Self-Direction and Self-Discipline are Prerequisites
A student cannot pursue an entire course or training program in a virtual environment without essential skills like self-discipline and self-direction. The student can interact with students and other learners using the communication options provided by the LMS. But he cannot acquire and retain knowledge without staying proactive and disciplines. Also, he must stick to a preset schedule to attend online classes, complete assignments, and prepare for exams.
Additional Learning Time
The students cannot retain knowledge and hone their skills in a virtual learning environment only by attending online classes regularly. Often teachers make online learning effective by giving assignments and suggestions for further reading. A student can acquire and retain knowledge by gathering information from external sources. Likewise, he must complete the assignments and tasks on time to prepare for the exams. That is why; online learning makes students put extra time and effort into the conventional learning models.
Training and Upskilling Teachers
Most LMS are designed as easy to use software solutions. The teachers can use features provided by the LMS to teach efficiently in a virtual environment. But some teachers need more time to use LMS seamlessly and effortlessly. Also, they have to focus on improving the learning experience by managing the virtual classrooms proactively. That is why; the educational institutions have to organize training programs to upskill and reskill the educators to conduct online classes and manage virtual learning environments.
Consistent Increase in Screen Time
When a student learns online, he has to stare at the screen for an extended period of time on a regular basis. Several studies have highlighted how too much screen time impacts the physical and psychological health of students directly and adversely. Most parents these days explore ways to reduce screen time to keep their children safe. The online learning models make it difficult for students to curtail screen time. The teachers have to implement strategies to conduct online classes without increasing screen time.
Lack of Access to the Internet
The students can access the new-age LMS and virtual classroom software on both computers and mobile devices. But an educational institution can leverage the eLearning advantages fully when most of the students can access the internet. In many developing countries, a large percentage of students still lack access to the internet. For instance, only 38% of school kids have access to the internet in India. That is why; an educational institution has to consider access to the internet as a precondition while implementing online learning.
Inadequate Quality Assurance Procedure
Many students these days prefer online learning to conventional learning. They join courses and training programs offered by institutions not associated with a school, college, or university. A large percentage of online courses and certification programs lack accreditation. The absence of robust quality assurance processes further makes it easier for unaccredited institutions to create poor-quality study materials and deploy unskilled educators. The students can leverage eLearning advantages only by joining an online learning provider that is both qualified and accredited.
Like conventional classroom-based learning, online learning also has its own pros and cons. The educational institutions can leverage online learning advantages fully only by considering and addressing the major eLearning disadvantages. They must invest in the right eLearning solutions – LMS system, digital library, and virtual classroom software – to address the major shortcomings of online learning by adopting flipped classroom models.