With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and colleges have been imparting education via online mode. The educational institutions have leveraged several online tools like Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams to impart education. Moreover, the state Governments have taken steps to provide education via Television channels. For instance, the Kerala Government has been involved in imparting education via its own KITE Victers channel. Moreover, students have been involved in doubt clearing sessions via WhatsApp with respective teachers. The private tuition centers are now closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and they are also adopting online mode with the help of various tools and software programs. We also have plenty of web-based online learning platforms like Udemy and Coursera. In this article, we will examine the pros and cons of online learning.

Online learning Pros

We now have now way other than to take part in the online learning mode. The situation is not conducive for classroom training due to the spike in the COVID-19 cases.

Simplicity

The big advantage of online learning is its simplicity. You can now learn within the comfort of your home. There will be no disturbances unless the baby kids spoil the party. There is no need to travel by spending long time on bus or train. As soon as you complete your morning chores, you can straight away login and start learning.

Accessibility

You can access the courses at any time even after the completion of the courses. This is not possible with classroom learning, where you can’t ask your teachers to retake the classes. However, if you are learning via Google Meet, then your teacher will have to enable recording. If you are using Zoom, then the recording is possible only with the higher plans.

Digital materials

Online learning is imparted with the help of materials supplied in Word, PowerPoint, PDF, Podcasts, and MP4 video formats. Normally, PowerPoint presentations are used to explain the concepts. These digital materials will be made available to students free of cost. In the case of school learning, teachers used to either email them or share via WhatsApp or video conferencing apps. Sometimes, the relevant teachers will be able to upload the video to YouTube and students can access them at any time. If you are learning via online learning platforms like Udemy, you will have to access them from within their website. You won’t be able to download the videos.

Flexible schedule and environment

With the help of online learning, students can create and learn at their own environment. For example, a student can now learn by sitting on the bed or sofa. It doesn’t matter where you sit for online learning. However, if you are attending live online learning of your school or college, then you should create a suitable stable environment. You can also listen to teachers podcast or video while bathing.

Wide Topics

The online learning gives you access to plenty of courses. You can select a course depending upon your interest. There is no compulsion regarding selection of courses. Moreover, students will be able to clear doubts, ask questions with the instructor including the ability to generate course completion certificate. For instance, if you are studying 10th grade, you can buy Java courses and learn at your own convenience. The courses will show you the steps required to complete each and every task with supplementary class notes. You can also download resources depending upon the access granted on the dashboard.

Self Discipline

The online learning will bring in much-needed self-discipline because you will be in a compulsion to complete the course after purchase. If you are a school student, you should login at the time given by the teacher. If you attend classes lately, then your teacher and school will know about it. Hence, online learning brings in the much-needed self-discipline.

Online Learning Cons

Even though there are advantages in Online learning, there are disadvantages as well.

Connectivity

To attend online learning, you need access to high-speed broadband connectivity. This is applicable to both school learning via Google Meet, Zoom, and others but also digital online learning marketplaces like Udemy and Coursera. However, students residing in remote and hilly areas will find it difficult to adapt to the online learning curriculum because of the connectivity issues. If you are based in the city, then you can easily subscribe to DSL high-speed Broadband services offered by several providers. You should note that several telecom companies have taken steps to ramp up their infrastructure in remote areas as well.

Social Isolation

The big drawback with online learning is that students are not mingling with each other physically. They only interact via online video conferencing tools. With a strict teacher in place, it will be visibility difficult for the students to communicate with each other. The educational institutions should promote increased interaction between students to bridge the divide among students. Moreover, students should be continuously monitored to check whether they are showing any signs of social isolation.

Exam Cheating

In classrooms, invigilators monitor the students during examinations. What will happen in online learning? If teachers provide questions and ask students to write and solve, then there is a chance of copying. If you look at Udemy and Coursera, they all employ standard protocols to prevent cheating. However, in the case of school online learning, teachers don’t have any credible system in place to evaluate students. The overall time was short after the announcement of lockdown and hence the development of comprehensive systems is happening in full swing. The deployment of third-party evaluation software systems can also be considered. The adoption of Google Classroom can also be looked into by the educators.

More theory – Less Practice

Generally, online learning is geared up with the teaching of theory content. It’s not possible for the students to perform practice sessions. For instance, if you are a student of Class 12 – Science stream, then you can easily learn Physics theory. Is it possible to complete the Physics practicals and write down the record book? You will have to physically attend the school to complete the practicals, which is not feasible now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lack of Gadgets

Gadgets form part and parcel of online learning. Even though most people have smartphones and laptops, there is a considerable population that still lacks Gadgets. Moreover, students in villages don’t know how to work with the laptop because of the language of instruction and other related factors. The respective schools and local body administration should take steps to provide smartphones and laptops at discounted prices or as a freebie.

Conclusion

Online learning is going on in full swing across the world. With the change in the health sector, we have to adapt ourselves with the latest technology. There are pros and cons to online learning but it’s up to the students, schools, and local authorities to address the issues and move forward in our quest to combat the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

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4 Comments

  1. There are pros and cons to everything. While online learning has now become a necessity and it has its good sides, I feel for a wholesome education and learning actual schools are very important. Anyway, nice summation.

  2. You have raised some pertinent questions in this post, which I really appreciate as the parent of a school-going child currently undertaking online learning. Another aspect is that many of the school teachers are unfortunately not tech-savvy too and need to be taught how to teach in this new online environment!

  3. Aha, THE Debate of the hour. Online learning is a reality, we no longer have the luxury to discount it on its perceived flaws. Rather as you say, its important to work around the difficulties.

  4. Like most things online there are pluses and minuses. But I can’t help but feel that this is a temporary shift. The cons outweigh the pros in most cases of regular learning, so we’re likely to go back to in-person learning as soon as the pandemic is under control.

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