For many years, we relied on traditional methods of learning until the pandemic introduced new ways of education. Online learning gained popularity worldwide as a result. The use of online learning platforms in education has increased since the pandemic. Through online education, students can access educational materials, attend lectures, take courses, and explore their favorite topics.
Online learning is no longer limited to academics; it has expanded to include various extracurricular activities. It has broken down geographical barriers within the education system. The demand for online learning has significantly increased in recent times. Like any other teaching method, online learning has its own advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these positives and negatives can help educators develop strategies to deliver lessons more efficiently and ensure uninterrupted learning experiences for students.
Let’s explore the evolving landscape of online learning and understand its positive and negative aspects:
Flexibility is a key feature of online learning, allowing students to learn from anywhere and at any time with an active internet connection. This flexibility is especially beneficial during unfavorable circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic or other emergencies, ensuring continuous learning. Students no longer have to travel and are not bound by geographical limitations. Online learning provides teachers with effectiveness by enabling self-paced learning, allowing them to record videos based on their availability and convenience. Students can access recorded videos and materials according to their device availability.
COVID-19 has already had a financial impact on parents. For some students, accessing academic, skills-based, and extracurricular courses can be costly. Online learning provides cost-saving opportunities for students. It eliminates transportation costs, meals, and the maintenance of infrastructure. This reduces overall student fees and also benefits educators. Online courses also reduce the cost of textbooks and course materials, as virtual materials are easily accessible and affordable for both students and educators.
3. Self-discipline and improved students attendance:
When students attend classes in controlled conditions, with the ability to choose their room, lighting, noise level, and position, it enhances their motivation for learning. Educators can also design lessons and activities based on their comfort, which helps them stay motivated. The personal space students experience during online learning is likely to develop self-discipline. Educators can guide and motivate students to create their own schedules, fostering discipline. Creating a pleasant learning environment can increase productivity for both students and educators.
Some students feel anxious and lack confidence when participating in offline classes, which leads to reduced engagement. However, these students often find it easier to participate in online sessions, as they don’t always require body language and eye contact. Online platforms also provide students with participation options, such as dropping messages in the chat box. These factors motivate students to attend classes more frequently, resulting in increased attendance.
4. More free time and increased course variety:
When students enroll in online learning programs, they save a significant amount of time, especially since sessions are prerecorded and can be completed at their convenience. This extra free time can be utilized for other activities. Students can dedicate time to healthy habits and exercise, nurture hobbies, and join customized educational programs based on their academic needs. For example, they can take tuitions for specific subjects, pursue courses related to their hobbies, enhance their math skills through programs like abacus training, and develop lifelong soft skills. Online learning offers a wide range of certificate courses that can help students build a strong resume for college and future career opportunities.
5. Various learning styles:
Every student is unique and follows different learning styles, whether visual, auditory, kinesthetic or preferring to learn in groups or individually. Online learning allows teachers to tailor their lessons to different learning styles, providing options and resources that can be personalized in various ways. This flexibility creates an engaging learning environment that accommodates individual needs.
6. Improved technical skills:
Online learning enhances the technical skills of both students and educators. Educators utilize various online platforms to deliver content, which increases their technical knowledge, and presentation skills and enables them to explore a variety of apps for enhanced creativity. Similarly, students engage in online assignments, tests, and navigation of different platforms, which enhances their technical proficiency and presentation skills.
1. Inability to focus on the screen:
Online learning can be enjoyable for children due to the screen-based experience, but it can also present challenges in staying focused for extended periods. Students are more prone to distractions from social media, games, and other websites, which can diminish their productivity. To combat this, teachers should aim to keep online lessons concise, interactive, and engaging to maintain students’ attention.
2. Technical difficulties:
While online education may seem convenient, it comes with its own set of challenges, particularly technical issues. Despite advancements in internet infrastructure, many smaller towns and communities in rural India still struggle with limited internet access or unreliable connections. This lack of connectivity can lead to interruptions in the online learning experience and limit access to educational resources. Additionally, computer or phone errors and a lack of technical devices can make it difficult for students to complete their online assignments.
3. Sense of isolation:
Students thrive in an environment where they can interact with their peers. However, online classes often lack the opportunity for students to communicate with their classmates, leading to a sense of isolation. Going through course materials, preparing assignments, and taking tests without the ability to discuss them with peers can be a lonely experience. Online sessions do not provide the same level of interaction and in-person support, which can be challenging for students who prefer traditional classrooms and rely on peer motivation and guidance. This challenge can be mitigated by incorporating interactive elements into online sessions.
4. Extended screen time:
Many parents are concerned about the increased screen time resulting from online learning. Some parents, particularly those who are less tech-savvy, find it difficult to control the content their children are exposed to online. With portable devices and the growing popularity of online education, screen time has significantly increased in recent years. According to the National Institute of Health, more than 7 hours of digital screen time can result in thinning of the brain’s cortex, which can impact children’s critical thinking and reasoning skills.
5. Multiple health issues and lack of interpersonal communication:
Online learning can contribute to various health issues for students who spend prolonged hours in front of screens. Extended screen time can lead to poor posture, eye strain, headaches, and other related ailments. Excessive screen exposure also has implications for student’s mental well-being and sleep patterns. Moreover, excessive screen time has been linked to an increased risk of ADHD among elementary students.
Online learning has both benefits and drawbacks. Educators play a crucial role in helping students leverage the positives while addressing the drawbacks for improvement. With the right approach, online learning can be a life-changing experience for both students and educators, representing the future of transformative education.