How Online Learning Is Different From Classroom Learning

Following the development of modern technology and digitalization, schools and universities are rapidly shifting to the world of online learning. As traditional classroom learning is slowly becoming overshadowed, people are starting to wonder which option pays off more.

How Online Learning Is Different From Classroom Learning

In this article, we will discuss the major differences between online learning and classroom learning.

How Online Learning Is Different From Classroom Learning?

Online learning, or e-learning, has been on the rise in recent years. The amplified need for online learning has sparked many debates on this topic.

Whether we are referring to online schools, courses, or professional training, online learning has the same goal as traditional teaching – to educate and inform its students. While both types of learning try to convey the same content, the methods and circumstances differ to a great extent. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest differences between online learning and classroom learning.

1. Social Interaction

One of the more obvious differences between these two options is the lack of physical interaction and thus active participation. The atmosphere in a real classroom is usually more dynamic. Lessons will include debates, raising hands and asking questions, dialogues, repetition, and sharing experiences with your peers.

Online learning is usually a form of one-way communication, especially with online courses that you just download on your computer and study by yourself.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case in larger online classrooms. After all, whether the class actively takes part in the lesson or not will always depend on the teacher.

2. The Location

Another major dissimilarity is the location of your classroom. Nowadays, attending online classes brings with it a whole new meaning, since you can do it from the comfort of your own bedroom.

This particular change of settings has given rise to a mixed bag of reactions. While some students prefer to physically attend school, others perceive online learning as a blessing in disguise.

3. The Timeframe

Traditional classes always occur at a fixed schedule, which you basically have to organize your life around. When it comes to online classes, your schedule is much more flexible. What’s more, most online classes are usually recorded, so you can watch them whenever you want and study the materials at your own pace.

Another factor to take into consideration is the length of the lesson. Given the fact that online classes are recorded and that you can pause and re-watch them as many times as you need, their duration can vary in large part.

However, if you’ve downloaded a specific course, you’ll find that even though the lessons are shorter, they span over a longer time period.

4. Learning Materials

The traditional classroom experience calls for the physical presence of the teacher, books, typically a blackboard, and occasionally PowerPoint presentations and other visual aids.  On the other hand, the massive transition to e-learning has prompted us to become more familiar with technology.

With the increasing need for online learning platforms, numerous programs (Zoom, Microsoft teams, Google Hangouts Meet, GoToMeeting, and other alternatives) have changed the face of video-based online classrooms. Moreover, teachers have a wide variety of visual and graphic aids at their disposal that they can freely insert into the virtual environment.

5. Cost-Effectiveness

Once we take into consideration the various fees, all the study materials you are obligated to purchase, accommodation, and travel expenses, especially if your school or university is in another town, we can conclude that online learning is much more cost-effective. In fact, all you really need is a computer and internet connection.

Of course, if we’re referring to online courses, most of them aren’t free, but they’re still more affordable than classroom courses.

6. Assessment

The end of a course or online school is typically marked by the final assessment. In some cases, you are required to actually be physically present for the final exam, so teachers are able to make sure that you pass the assessment fair and square.

However, today’s online learning programs usually include a number of assignments and papers you can all do from home. Other forms of online assessment are oral exams, during which the teacher listens to you from the other side of the screen. Sometimes, you are required to actually do a written exam with the camera on, but teachers tend to avoid this method.

7. Classroom Management

In a face-to-face learning environment, the teacher is free to divide the students into pairs and different groups, all the while monitoring everyone simultaneously. 

Although this is possible during online classes, it’s much more difficult to achieve. The more participants an online class has, the more challenging it is for the teacher to manage the entire group.

Nonetheless, some online learning platforms do provide the option to separate the class into different chat rooms. One downside of this feature is that the teacher can’t monitor all the groups at the same time.

Additional FAQs

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Education?

Switching to online learning will change your entire education experience. Some students find e-learning extremely convenient, while others prefer going to classes the old way.

These are some of the advantages of online learning:

1. It’s Much More Comfortable and Convenient for the Student

One of the favorite parts of studying from home is the fact that students can do everything in their pajamas. No more getting up at six in the morning, dressing up, and commuting by crowded buses. Instead, you have the option to design your own customized learning environment.

The fact that distant learning provides you with so much more free time means that you will have more time for extra-curricular activities. With such a flexible schedule, your home-school balance will improve significantly.

2. Better Time Management

Online learning comes with the ability to review materials and tailor your tasks and obligations to your schedule. The fact that you control the rhythm of your lesson alleviates the entire studying process. You can pause the presentation, repeat any segment and write down everything gradually, which makes online learning much less stressful.

3. Online Learning Is Much More Affordable

Traditional college courses cost a great deal more, when you add up the premises, the dorms, the equipment, dining halls – none of the things you actually use in online learning. You’d also be saving money that you spend on a daily basis, whether it’s on gas, bus tickets, coffee and lunch breaks, course materials, etc.

4. Students Experience Less Peer Pressure

It’s not uncommon for a toxic environment to exist in a classroom, especially a high school. That’s why online learning is a preferred option for countless students worldwide. In this scenario, students don’t feel the need to compete with each other on a daily basis, and they can actually focus on studying, instead of other trivial matters.

5. You Improve Your Technical Literacy

By studying online, students develop new software and technical skills, which will definitely come in handy when they apply for a job. Not only do you become acquainted with numerous programs, like Google Docs and Drive, Microsoft, Dropbox and Skype, but you also learn how to solve technical problems in the process.

6. Consistency of the Delivered Information

Another great benefit of online learning is the instant delivery. Each lesson and course material is designed to convey a certain amount of information. If a course doesn’t have a teacher, but clear and well-written instructions, the focus is transferred to the learner. During face-to-face classes, the instructor’s teaching style can hinder the flow of the lesson, and it might take twice as long to convey the message.

7. Accessibility – It’s All There Just One Click Away

A course can be attended by students living in completely different time zones. If you have an emergency, you can just pause your online class and continue later. Moreover, you have access to the syllabus and all the course classes at your disposal, and it’s all stored in one place.

While online classes have a multitude of advantages, it’s not a perfect system. Online learning has its fair share of disadvantages as well. Let’s take a look at the most prominent ones:

1. It Can Be Extremely Frustrating

There is nothing more annoying than a weak internet connection or a slow computer. Many students don’t have the luxury of owning the newest modern technology, so they have to settle with what they have. Furthermore, if a handful of students attend the same online lesson, it could create issues with the connection.

2. No Human Interaction

Attending online school can be awfully lonely. It’s important to remember that school doesn’t just revolve around studying and taking tests, but also talking to your friends, joining clubs, making memories and fun experiences. Due to the lack of human interaction, online learning can cause social isolation, as well as high levels of stress and anxiety.

3. You Need to Be Self-Motivated

Unfortunately, if students don’t follow the online course all the way through, or if they aren’t motivated enough, it can lead to them failing the course itself. Online learning requires concentration and self-motivation. Due to the fact that they technically attend online classes alone, students tend to feel as if they are left to fend for themselves, which can be extremely nerve-wracking.

4. No Hands-On Practical Training

If the online course in question is meant to teach you how to do some practical or physical work, then there is no way for you to practice. For that exact reason, teaching social sciences and humanities online is much easier, than let’s say engineering, medicine, science, etc.

Is Online Education as Good as a Classroom?

Now that we have presented you with some of the advantages and disadvantages of online learning, you can conclude for yourself which you think is the better option. Ultimately, no one can decide which of the two is superior, due to the different factors and methods of teaching.

Both traditional and online learning lack certain aspects and means, which the other can make up for. In the long run, with the rapid development of modern technology, there’s no denying that the online world will only expand.

How Effective Is Online Learning?

Ultimately, that depends on the student and on the organization of the online course/class. On the one hand, no matter how well-organized and practical online learning might be, if the student is unmotivated and not willing to learn, then there will be no visible results of even taking the online class.

On the other hand, if the online course is not designed properly and if it doesn’t have the capacity to meet all the student’s needs, the student’s willingness to learn won’t matter.

Online Learning vs Classroom Learning – Modern or Traditional?

The debate between online learning and traditional classroom learning is nowhere close to being finished. There will always be students who prefer going to school the good old-fashioned way, as there will be those who appreciate the numerous perks of online education.

After reading our article, what do you think? Does online learning have more benefits than attending traditional classes? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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