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Is Online Learning More Effective than Face-to-Face Learning?

— August 12, 2019

Education, like everything else, is evolving as technology advances. This has lead to innovative solutions in online learning. But are they better than traditional methods?

Just like every single aspect of our lives is touched by technology and innovation, education has also evolved at an incredible speed over the past several years. Old-school methods are still applied in most renowned educational institutions, while some are very open-minded and have started implementing more novel teaching and learning methods, such as online learning. 

Both seem to succeed and their students come out as brilliant thinkers, innovators, and educators, changing the very systems they come from. However, while there is still a certain amount of skepticism regarding e-learning as the perfect replacement for the good old classroom, both have their merits and drawbacks.

Most of us have had the opportunity to enjoy a little bit of both. How will the future generations perceive the idea of spending hours every day in a classroom, or in front of a screen, if not both, in the purpose of education? How will you as a student, decide which mode of learning will give you the most freedom to shape the rest of your lifestyle and take the path you want in order to accomplish your long-term goals? If you’re still undecided, you can take a look at how both of these learning methods deliver, and then determine which can help you reach your aspirations in life.

Flexibility and time management

Right off the bat, it’s easy to point out a key perk of opting for the digital version of the classroom – your freedom to manage your time with more flexibility. Online courses have become a part of the repertoire for some of the world’s most prestigious universities, and this is perhaps the main reason for selecting the digital path. Their students, now adults struggling to pay off loans, find work, and build a life, are in need to have more flexibility in their schedules. Enriching their education through courses found on platforms the likes of Udemy is another way students can benefit from that level of flexibility. 

This flexibility, however, extends beyond allowing the personal to become a priority over the professional, or in this case, educational. It is also a factor that helps students take on more classes, expand their horizons, and spread out their studies to learn at a pace that suits them best. Because, if we’ve learned anything over the past few decades, it’s that we cannot all fit the cookie-cutter curriculum of physical classrooms and their tempo.

Woman holding pencil and sticky note on planner next to computer keyboard; image by Marten Bjork, via
Woman holding pencil and sticky note on planner next to computer keyboard; image by Marten Bjork, via

Content diversification

We live in a multimedia-driven world, overwhelmed by all kinds of stimuli, from social networks, television, dedicated websites with their own digital content, print still in full swing, and many others we could add to the list. We spend hours every day watching videos and tutorials, we consult YouTube when we need to wrap up a DIY fix at home, and we use video recipes to walk us through when we’re trying to impress our date. Modern educators are catching up with the trend, and innovators are finding ways to integrate this trend into and outside of the classroom. 

To overcome the shortcomings of textbooks, students can now use resources such as Clutch Prep to enrich their learning experience with video content that makes the process much more effective and infinitely simpler. As highly visual creatures, it’s no wonder we prefer enjoying an engaging video lecture paired with easy-to-understand examples and relatable experiments based on real life. Modern education deserves such diversity in learning formats, and more institutions are embracing the trend.

Socialization and regular interaction

Online learning tools do have their perks, but they also have certain issues that have yet to be resolved. One of them is the need to socialize, interact, and communicate in a classroom, face-to-face with teachers and fellow students. A healthy dose of competition paired with collaboration, creative brainstorming sessions, and group projects are all very tangible experiences that no digital solution can truly replace or replicate for the time being. 

This is especially important for younger students who need to develop their soft skills, not just enrich their resume with another degree. The nuances of communication, negotiation, recognizing body language cues, working under pressure and a little bit of stage fright when presenting in front of your school mates – these are all examples of real-life experiences for which the digital world still doesn’t have the capacity to prepare you.

Developing discipline and motivation

Both learning environments give you many opportunities to develop discipline. Physical classrooms act as routine-builders, and when you see other students advancing at a certain rate, you’ll likely be inclined to invest more time and effort to prepare for upcoming exams. Then again, being at the mercy of your own time-management skills when you rely on online learning tools and flexible schedules, you need to become proficient at imposing boundaries for yourself. 

Motivators come in many shapes and forms. Modern students appreciate the fact that digital learning enables them to lead a greener existence – no paper, no trips to the classroom, and many other factors all translate into a reduced carbon footprint. Then again, working with your peers in a physical classroom and alongside eminent teachers represents another incredible source of motivation that cannot be replicated completely in the digital world.

Education is becoming more complex and more rewarding every day. While digital tools and online learning platforms are becoming increasingly relevant in the modern learning experience, perhaps we can find a way to merge the best of both worlds and take our education to the next level. 

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