Online education is the new standard practice among educational institutes worldwide. The spread of COVID-19 has catalyzed the popularity of e-learning, but is it viable for learners in the long run? Let’s learn more about both sides of the spectrum – online education advantages and disadvantages.
Online Education Advantages
There are substantial benefits of online learning, which we covered in an earlier post. 94% of the respondents of the Emeritus Impact Survey believe online education positively impacts their careers. In broad terms, it allows students and professors to connect from the comfort of their homes, even if situated hundreds of miles apart. Learners can attend classes while saving time on their commute. Another advantage is that it supports asynchronous learning. Students need not be part of live lectures or discussions and can access instructional material at their convenience. Let’s get a detailed overview of the advantages of online education:
A prominent advantage of online learning is the convenience facet. It allows students in cyber classes to promptly communicate with professors and peers. Students are exploring situations where the convenience of online learning supersedes the face time required in traditional courses.
2. Increased Participation
Another advantage is the ease of participation in virtual classrooms. One of the several aspects of online education is the potential for students to interact asynchronously. Online learning enables students to communicate in real-time in chat rooms or asynchronously through bulletin boards and similar forums.
3. Easy Accessibility
Students are often unable to reach out to their professors due to tight schedules and rigid timetables in the physical setup. Some of them might even be too shy to raise their hands in class and openly ask questions. With online education, they can immediately reach out to professors by sending them a direct message on their designated learning platform. In addition, they can also collaborate with their peers to work on group projects if they have a suitable window between lectures.
Online education enables students to learn anywhere and at any time. Therefore, students can seamlessly meet deadlines by finishing assignments at any time during the day. Moreover, one saves a substantial amount of time by not having to travel to the institute. The Emeritus Impact Survey states that 81% of the respondents find it easy to balance education with their personal lives through e-learning.
5. Time-Management Skills
When students transition into the working world, time management becomes crucial. A distinct advantage is that this skill is cultivated in students while taking online classes, increasing their overall efficiency. They must construct a study schedule while managing attendance and other responsibilities.
6. Preferred Learning Methodology
Each student has a unique style of learning. For example, while some identify as audio-visual learners, others learn well during lectures. Many online tutors integrate a combination of these to help learners assimilate the material comprehensively. Students can customize their learning styles to suit their requirements with online education.
Online Education Disadvantages
By far, it appears that online learning has numerous advantages for all individuals involved. However, while cyberlearning has a positive impact, it does present some challenges too. To avoid significant roadblocks, we must adequately consider, plan, and account for these challenges. Therefore, let’s learn more about the disadvantages of online education.
1. Absence of Face-to-face Interaction
Even though many students dislike constant prodding from teachers, it is efficient in increasing retention. However, a lack of face-to-face communication with the instructor restricts and minimizes feedback, leads to social isolation, and may result in a lack of motivation. In addition, a lack of focus is a detriment since it makes it more likely for students to drop out. Therefore, it requires a more committed individual to find the motivation to complete courses.
2. Compromised Communication Skills
Online education strategies are highly effective in boosting students’ academic understanding. However, there is a lack of communication skills development. It is an area that we often overlook during online sessions. In addition, due to the lack of face-to-face communication in a digital setting, students may be hesitant to collaborate effectively when they receive assignments and group projects.
3. Potential Social Isolation
The need for reflection, solitude and a lack of connection is all too commonplace now, due to the digital learning environment. Signs of social isolation will likely emerge due to prolonged hours of learning online. Social isolation combined with a lack of dialogue can lead to mental health issues like excessive stress, nervousness, and anxiety.
4. Technological Setbacks
Students may face technical challenges like inadequate internet access, device hardware failure, and unreliable electricity. While internet penetration has significantly increased in recent years, access to a consistent connection with adequate speed remains a challenge for some – resulting in a loss of coherence in learning due to a lack of regular internet access.
How Does Online Education Fit Into the New Normal?
After a firsthand experience with the advantages of online education brought on by the pandemic, it is clear that it is here to stay. Because of COVID-19’s unpredictable nature, online learning is a fundamental approach to ensure that learning never stops. Online learning has opened a segue for students and professionals to acquire new skills across various industries. It is likely to evolve and become more accessible to learners with upcoming technological advancements.
Advantages of Learning Online with Emeritus
The strongest argument in favor of online learning must come from the impact it created. And Emeritus conducts an Impact Survey every year to understand its learners and their needs better. From the last Impact Survey in 2022, five benefits of online learning clearly stand out:
- Learners received an average of three job offers within 12 months of doing the program.
- The average salary increment after completing an Emeritus course is 17%.
- About 94% of learners see a positive impact on their career and professional development.
- Approximately 47% of learners said that the knowledge and skills they acquired in the program were essential to advance their careers despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
- About 81% of learners believe that the program format allows easy balance across work, personal life, and studies.
Long-Term Benefits of Online Education
The virtual nature of learning has made students much more independent than the traditional setup. Since students must account for themselves while determining whether or not to study, it has ingrained in them a feeling of responsibility. It enables students to do more than rely on textbook content; it also enhances their knowledge through research on the internet. In addition to these, here are a few other long-term benefits of online education –
- It minimizes fundamental setbacks such as timing, additional expenses, and traveling. It improves the likelihood of more students graduating and choosing higher education
- Professionals with online learning abilities are preferred in today’s market, as they are more compatible with the advanced digital workspace
- Online education is synonymous with resource efficiency in terms of time and money. It enables more enrolments in educational courses
Online Education in a Post-Pandemic World
The COVID-19 pandemic has bolstered the transition to digital learning for good. Learning is a lifelong pursuit. It seldom concludes with a degree. Most individuals continue to learn digitally and develop a new skill set to help ease the job and stay up-to-date with the latest technological breakthroughs. The Emeritus Impact Survey tells us that 94% of respondents saw an immediate improvement in their work post acquiring new skill sets through online learning. Overall, one cannot overstate the relevance of online education in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Connecting Bright Minds Across the Globe
While online education bridges the physical gap between two people’s locations, academic institutions also have another advantage. They can recruit faculty and experts from various locations to teach their students. It is a big plus for students as it enables them to connect and procure firsthand insights from them out of the comfort of their homes. Usually, this would be highly improbable and expensive too.
Real People, Real Salary Hikes with Online Education!
According to The Educators, online learning has aided 42% of US corporations to increase their revenue. As per e-learning statistics for 2021, about half of US organizations are capitalizing on the benefits of online education. Moreover, with the increased convenience and saved time, students invest their time learning new, industry-relevant skills. Gaining such skills allows them to negotiate higher salaries and continue to enjoy salary hikes. However, there is no greater testament to the benefits of online learning than the personal stories of our learners.
One of the transformation stories that stand out is Ashley Goldstein, a middle school art teacher who transitioned to become an AR/VR game designer after learning with Emeritus.
“I had no background in coding. I knew some HTML but had never tried C# which is mainly used for extended reality games. But, in spite of these challenges, I could actually follow the course work because the professors focussed on concepts, not just code. I could build my portfolio during the tenure of this course and have now got a job in Nvidia,” says Ashley Goldstein, who pursued the Professional Certificate in Extended Reality Development from New York University.
Another remarkable transition story is that of Pete Chu. Apart from 20 years in the life sciences industry, Chu went back to his first love, computers.
“Though I spent twenty years in the life sciences industry, I still wanted to become a coder. The MIT xPRO bootcamp was intensive and exactly what I was looking for. I even got a Forbes internship after the program. This is a huge career switch but the skills I have picked up over the years are helping me become a better coder too,” says Pete Chu, who bagged an internship with Forbes and then a full-time position as a software developer at Accolade Inc. after completing MIT xPRO’s Professional Certificate in Coding.
For more real-impact stories straight from Emeritus learners, check out our learner stories section.
Learning, The Emeritus Way
In conclusion, online learning has alleviated various learning constraints, such as budget and timeline, that traditionally curtailed students’ learning trajectories.
While online education has advantages and disadvantages, the rewards far outweigh the downsides. Furthermore, with the advancement of tech frameworks, tech inadequacies will gradually be addressed, resulting in online education being a more comprehensive learning platform. These factors are sufficient to validate online education as a viable solution to various pertinent learning dilemmas. Moreover, these disadvantages are easily addressed with personal initiative and motivation!
Emeritus offers a diverse range of online courses from around the world! See something you like? Reach out to us.
By Riddhi Chotalia