Online learning/Digital learning also known as Distance Education is a type of education or learning process where a person learns through the use of technology. Unlike traditional education where the learner and the teacher have to be in the same room physically, in online learning that need not be the case.
e-learning is education through virtual mode where the instructor or teacher records themselves from anywhere and teaches the learner or the student without being in the same room. Many universities have started distance education through online mode where students can get a degree in the comfort of their homes. Besides distance education, many universities also share live recordings of their lectures and upload them to help students. The students can watch these lectures for free and even download lecture materials for free. This kind of material sharing is done by many well-known universities and is called massive open online courses or MOOCs. With the surge in cases of COVID-19 and the implementations of lockdowns in various places, schools have started to switch to online education.
In today’s world where technology rules, one can easily learn anything and everything on the net by simply typing the subject, they want to learn on any search engine. From STEM to arts and humanities to dance and music you can learn it all. With just a simple search you get millions and millions of results. If you want to learn how to cook you can type in the keywords and you will get millions of tutorials on how to cook. With the advancement in technology, the world of learning has changed. e-learning has become the norm since the pandemic and has indeed redefined education.
Traditional learning is classic classroom learning where both the student and the teacher need to be in the same classroom. In traditional learning, both the teacher and pupil are required to be present physically in the same classroom. This way the teacher can teach and explain the lessons in person. Traditional learning allows students to socialize with other students. In traditional learning, students can also verify their doubts in person. While it may have its flaws traditional learning is indeed a good way to learn.
Advantages(Pros) of online learning
Below are some of the advantages of digital learning:
1. Affordable: One of the key points to digital learning is that it is much more affordable as compared to traditional learning. The money you spend travelling or buying uniforms or the money you spent on dorms in traditional education is not seen in digital classes. This makes it possible for students from economically weaker sections to pursue their dream careers. With digital learning, you only need to pay for university credits saving you a lot of money.
2. Saves time: Unlike traditional learning where you have to commute, digital learning saves a lot of time. In digital classes, there is no commute involved as a student can learn and get a degree while sitting at the comfort of their home.
3. Tech-savvy: While it may not sound ideal, digital learning will force you to become more tech-savvy. This is because you will need to use technology for learning. However, this is a good thing as in today’s age of technology majority of the jobs need tech-savvy employees.
4. Self-paced: Unlike traditional learning, digital learning is mostly self-paced where you can do your work in your own time. There are no teachers and you can easily take your own leisure time in completing your work.
5. Improves time management: A student has to learn how to manage their time efficiently. Digital classes make this possible as there are no teachers to guide the students physically in doing their work. This independence allows students to grow and improve their time management abilities.
6. Easy attendance: Unlike traditional learning, digital learning makes it possible for students to give their attendance at the comfort of their home. The students can give their attendance without being absent.
7. More accessible: Location-wise digital education is much more accessible. If a student wants to study at a particular university from another country or region but cannot travel due to financial issues or some restrictions, then through digital education a student can get a degree from that particular university without having to travel.
8. Less competition: Unlike traditional learning where competition is very high. Digital learning has less competition and is less intense as compared to traditional learning. The low level of competition makes students less stressed and more relaxed.
Disadvantages(Cons) of online learning
While there are many advantages to digital learning we also can’t ignore the disadvantages of digital learning. Below are some of the disadvantages of digital learning:
1. Easy to lose focus: It is very easy to lose focus in digital learning. Since you are just staring at a screen it can easily feel like you are watching a video on youtube. This sometimes makes you lose interest in the subject and makes you go off track without realizing it.
2. Expensive: While the fees paid by a student are much less than traditional learning, online learning requires a student to buy computers or devices. While this is affordable and possible for many, it is still impossible for many. Through this pandemic, we have seen and heard many stories of parents sacrificing their life savings and salaries to buy computers and smartphones just so their children can get an education through online learning. So digital learning may be accessible but it’s not readily affordable.
3. Isolation: While digital education has its perks many students feel a sense of isolation and become depressed. This is due to little to no human contact and socializing with peers. Both students and teachers alike are prone to loneliness in virtual learning.
4. Health concerns: Many parents are concerned about their child’s health as it is unhealthy to sit for hours in front of a computer screen. Staring at the screen for too long can also damage their eyesight. Not only that, back problems due to incorrect sitting positions may arise.
5. Need a good Internet connection: While digital education is convenient, a student needs a good internet connection to learn online. If the internet connectivity is not good then a student may miss a lot of important stuff due to buffering. This also means that students need to pay money for an internet connection which may become a struggle for some families.
6. Students will lack socializing skills: Since there is no socializing involved in digital learning many students who study through digital mode lack socializing skills. This may become a problem for students in the future. The lack of peer-to-peer interaction may also decrease the cooperative skills of a student.
7. Prevention of cheating is difficult: Unlike traditional learning where teachers can personally monitor students. Digital learning makes it quite difficult for teachers to assess their students during exams. The teachers will have no idea if students cheat on the test or not as they are not physically there to assess them
8. Limited: Digital learning does not apply to all disciplines and subjects. Majors which require practicals like engineering, medical science, and other STEM subjects where practicals are needed digital learning cannot be implemented fully. This is because practicals performed by a student need to be assessed in person by their teachers. Also, some practicals cannot be learned virtually.
Online education has many pros which have made our lives easier. Especially during this pandemic when parents are worried about their child’s safety, it has become a perfect model of education in the eyes of many. College education on campuses with peers is certainly something that shouldn’t be missed out on as it helps in the overall development of a student. While pros may outweigh the cons we certainly can’t ignore the cons too. We should consider both the advantages and disadvantages and work out the balance between the two so that we can get the best out of both.