The Pros and Cons of Online Study

The online study segment has exploded in size and there is an online course for everyone. As with anything else there are various pros and cons associated with this form of study that anyone who is interested in undertaking online study should be aware of. This article will provide you with some very clear advantages and disadvantages of online study.

Pros

  • Variety

The type of training available and the level of training and study that you can do is phenomenal. Schools, colleges, and universities as well as businesses and global enterprises have taken their offerings online. So, through these various institutions and stand-alone online training companies the range of courses on offer is wider than anything we have ever seen before. When it comes to online training and education, the world wide web is definitely your oyster and regardless of what it is you want to learn it will be available to be taught online.

Online learning is truly the next level in democratizing knowledge simply based on the variety available. There is now access to unaccredited practical how-to 30 min or less courses or informal training on platforms such as You tube, technology, and IT training and even the top educational institutions now offer courses online. 

  • Time management and flexibility

Online courses will allow the learner to plan their time accordingly. Most courses can be attended when it suits you, and even those that have set times for lectures and seminars, will have these recorded for students to watch at a more convenient time. It is one of the major advantages noted of online study and allows for people to learn while they work, or study at an international university in a time zone that suits your lifestyle. Online learning will still require the learner to make time for the selected study and this must form part of the selection process, i.e., determining the kind of time available for the course chosen.

Thus becoming an online student will allow for the flexibility required to develop a career while studying or to complement an existing job by improving your current skills online.

  • Affordability based on the wide number available

It’s a fact that the big brick and mortar institutions of learning cost a lot more than the online version. The quads filled with learners, the lecturers, support staff, housing and food all need to be provided and these affect the cost of the education provided. Online learning is thus more cost effective as there are less overheads, but also based on the volume and the current levels of competition. The point to take and remember is that although across the board online education is less expensive than traditional education and training, there will still be considerable costs for a top-rated online education. 

Yes, there are numerous free online courses and ones that are considerably cheaper online, but as with anything else, it will require you to do your due diligence to ensure that the course you select is genuine and value for money.

  • Suits most learning styles/versatility

There are a number of different learning styles, these detail and explain the consistent manner that individual learners or students absorb, comprehend and are then able to access and use the knowledge that they learn. The most common feature of the demands placed on modern day education is for it to be interactive and a two-way process. However, online learning does more than this and it has been shown to meet most learning styles, providing the most versatile form of training and education that there is.

The interactivity provided by online courses through chat groups, live webinars, videos, and practical explanations provides for visual, audio, aural, verbal, logical and solitary leaning styles are all catered for on the online mediums. 

  • Globalized learning and sharing

Online learning now provides for one of the largest forms of globalization. As long as you meet the specific entry requirements for the courses that you want to do, you can study anything from anywhere. This is globalization in action and education is genuinely the one aspect online that has brought the global village closer together. Most courses are provided in English and if not, there is a workable translation service provided online or by the actual course provider. You can thus now meet and interact with people from all over the world at a fraction of the cost of a traditional international university experience.

The associated networking online among students is also one of the best ways to build support structures as well as an international reputation in your specific field of study.

Cons

  • The increased screen time

It is now accepted that from a young age many of us will spend an incredibly large amount of time at our screens, for everything from entertainment, education and family and friend time. One of the biggest recent contributors to the increased screen time for all ages, is the increase in online learning and education. It’s a great idea to improve your skills or take an online course, but this adds hours of additional screen time after hours at work, possibly also at a screen.

There is, however, no option but to engage online on screens or there is the possibility of being left behind, offline. It is thus imperative to mitigate against the ill effects of increased screen time and to realize that healthy screen time is now a challenge for all involved in online education.

The simple solution has been noted as regular breaks from the screen, getting up and going outside, giving the eyes a chance to readjust and relax.

  • Connectivity and the internet/tech 

If it’s not working, then you can’t learn. The argument has been that the rise in online learning is improving democracy and levelling the playing fields. However, this will only be the case if you actually have reliable and ongoing access to the internet. Or are able to download the courses and do them offline. For those in remote areas or living in deprivation and poverty, the fact that there are online courses and how-to lists on getting back on your feet, won’t help unless there is reliable internet access.

  • Easier to be distracted/ they require more self-discipline

Studying online presents a challenge for learners in that there are a lot more distractions. Learning online may start off as an exciting adventure, but if it’s a degree course over a year or two long, then the levels of commitment and dedication required will be more than that needed at a traditional college. Even just the shorter webinars and courses present a challenge as the other tabs on the screen, other people, and a myriad of other unrelated things to do present a major distraction and disadvantage for online learners.

  • Isolation and reduced social interaction

There will be long periods of time where you will need to do the work on your own. Lectures from the comfort of your home may seem a great idea in winter but will become more isolating in the summer months as the need to get out and interact becomes more apparent. Many argue that the latest tech will allow for improved interaction and a virtual learning experience that is comparable if not better than the traditional thing. This is indeed the case, but only the crem de la crème of online courses and educational institutions can afford the costs associated with setting up a virtual learning experience that uses the latest tech, virtual reality, and augmented reality to provide for an interactive learning experience and reduce isolation. For the majority the online learning experience can be a very lonely place. 

  • Divisive 

It is the opposite side of the democratization and globalization aspects of online learning. The process has been deemed divisive as some elements of the learning process such as video or live streaming will only be available in real time for those with the latest technology. This is then a factor of cost and entails that the best education online will still only be accessed by those with the financial wherewithal. The internet may make access possible, but it does not guarantee access, this is up to the national governments and international bodies that promote or work in education.

As aforementioned unless you have the latest technology and a professional connection to the internet, then some of the benefits and usability functions of the best online courses may not be available to you. This is a major disadvantage and speaks volumes against the notion that by simply making something available, does not necessarily equate to access. Online education in a myriad of forms and versions is available for all, but whether it can be accessed by all is questionable.

Final comments

Online learning is one of the fastest growing sectors across the globe and as such it is vital to keep as up to date as possible as to the trends, pros and cons of the sector. Online training and education are arguably one of the biggest changes of the modern age. Access to information, data and education are changing the world for the better. However, there are various drawbacks that anyone who is involved in the online learning area must be aware of and mitigate against.

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