Today’s world is the world of Information and Technology. The rapid development in the IT sector has made the life of people easier as it has provided an upgrade to the traditional approaches. Handwritten letters have been replaced by emails and instant messages, movie halls have been replaced by OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, banking sectors have also adapted online bankings, physical newspapers have found alternatives in online portals etc. Similarly the effect is also seen in the field of education. With advancement in technology such as high speed internet and mobile phones, laptops, tablets available to everyone, online education has become one of the best things to happen to people.
Everyone from kids and teenagers to grownups and working professionals have been fascinated by online education. The main attraction point of online education is that people do not need to travel long distances to attend a lecture of a few hours, they can attend the lectures and read course materials from the comfort of their home or other places. Also, online courses offer people an advantage in the form of autonomy and flexibility of time. It can be planned according to their schedule which may include full-time employment, internship, family time etc.
In the past, there was a concept of distance learning, even before technology was at its peak. Televisions and Radios used to broadcast programs where instructors explained about their course materials. It has been seen from the research that the most successful schools are the ones who adapt to the changing times, as they can fulfil the expectation of students, parents and society. We can’t simply put traditional education in the drowning side of the boat as it has its own advantages, but what needs to be done is leveraging online education to make our education systems more effective.
People who take online courses seem to have a greater amount of motivation and self-discipline than classroom based courses. The traditional classroom based approaches enforce various things to the students taking the classes, which may not be a motivating factor to all. But in the online courses, it can be seen that the students tend to set their own goals, progress trackings and deadlines by themselves and follow it as per their requirement. But, it doesn’t mean that there are not two way interactions in online courses between the students and the instructors.
The platforms which provide online courses offer communication mediums among the students and instructors such as forums, instant messagings, emails etc. Various informative materials that couldn’t be displayed properly in traditional classes due to lack of resources can be easily shown in online classes in the form of animations, videos, interactive activities etc. which can contribute to effective learning and communication.
The instructors can efficiently deliver lessons to their students via online platforms. The lectures can be recorded and shared with the students. Various course materials such as videos, PDFs, audio clips, diagrams etc. can be used effectively by the instructors as part of their teaching materials. The time of students is also saved significantly, where in traditional classes the major time of students is spent in note takings.
Accessibility of Time and Place
One of the most acknowledged and loved advantages of online education is that it allows both the instructors and students to attend the class from any location of their choice. Not only that, the educational institutions can have students from all across the world enrolled in their classes instead of being restricted by geographical boundaries. The recorded lectures, videos and course materials can be accessed at any time in the future whenever required.
Getting high quality education can come with a high cost, depending on various factors. Not only the education institutes are quite expensive, but for the students to enroll in such institutes and take classes they may need to travel cross-countries and spend a fortune to sustain their living costs like apartments, meals, transportation etc. Online education eliminates all of those external expenses. Moreover, all the course and study materials are available online, which is more affordable and manageable than physical papers and books.
Improved Student Attendance
It can be seen that students who take physical classes tend to miss their classes due to various reasons, long distance travel being one. But online classes can be taken from any location of their choice, there are less chances of students missing out on their classes and getting full attendance.
Suits a variety of learning styles
Different people have different learning styles. Some can concentrate in noisy environments with lots of people present, some need a quieter environment to get the gist of what they are learning and get distracted by large groups of people present. The students taking online classes can adjust their environment as per their need and personalize it in the way they find it comfortable.
Inability to focus on screens
Devices such as mobiles, tablets and laptops which are used for online classes are not only used for classes but for a variety of purposes such as entertainment, communication/social media etc. The students can get distracted and lose focus from the course they are taking and spend their time in other applications during the lecture time.
Technological issues are one of the primary challenges in online education. Online education requires a stable and high speed internet connectivity as well as electricity. In recent years, high speed internet connectivity has been widely available in major cities and developed countries, but there still are places where internet connection is barely reachable and disruptive. This can create issues while attending the online classes and students may miss their lectures.
Sense of Isolation
Having a friend to directly interact with and discuss on course materials is a really big plus point for people to understand course materials. Online education provides minimal physical interaction between students and teachers. This can result in a sense of isolation for the students. The online platforms need to allow some form of communication to reduce the sense of isolation among the students.
Since students and teachers can take the online classes from places of their choice, the majority of time their place of choice becomes their own room or some public places such as library or cafe etc. There can be lots of environmental distractions in such places by family members or third party people.
Lengthy Screen Time
Staring at a laptop or mobile screen for a long time can have some health hazards such as issues with eyes, or headache to many people. The increase in screen time is one of the biggest concerns and disadvantages of online learning. The students can also develop bad body posture and hunches by staying in front of the screen for a long time.