During the COVID-19 pandemic, online education substituted traditional, face-to-face learning either partially or fully. Nowadays, distance learning is a popular and effective way of learning since it helps students and teachers save time and money and allows them to participate in a study process even if they are in another part of the world. Although online education does not provide direct face-to-face communication and requires much team effort to develop it, this type of education is an effective alternative to traditional instructions because it is cost-effective, flexible, and allows self-pacing.
Online education is a perfect choice for those who want to save time and money on commuting and educational resources. According to Zounek, J. & Sudický (2013), students and teachers can use freely available online tools to create study modules and learn new materials while staying at home (para. 6). They do not need to go to a library and search books and articles among thousands of printed sources. All materials can be found online, and many of them are free to access. Moreover, students and teachers can save time on commuting because they do not need to wake up earlier and spend an hour or more to get to the educational establishment. They can switch on their computer or smartphone, log in to their virtual classroom, and begin to study in their bedroom or any other comfortable place. International students do not need to pay for dormitories because they can study from home and not move to another country. One can see that online education is time- and cost-effective, and students and teachers can use the saved time and money for other purposes.
In addition, online education is an effective alternative to traditional learning because it is flexible. Students and teachers can choose their schedules, adjusting them to other tasks and family issues (Zounek & Sudický, 2013, para. 3). They can also choose the learning environment in which they feel more comfortable and productive. For example, one day, a student logs in to his/her classroom from the kitchen, while another day, they can study from a coffee-house. When the weather is bad, students may stay at home and study there as effectively as they would in a classroom. Besides, online learning is perfect for those students who have children or work because they can adjust their schedules accordingly. Moreover, the choice of courses is also bigger online, and a student may choose as many courses as they will be able to complete at once. In comparison, traditional learning does not give such an opportunity, and students have a limited choice of courses.
One more reason why online learning is an effective alternative to face-to-face study is that it allows safe-pacing. Traditional lessons are usually limited to 60-90 minutes, which is not always enough for some students to fully understand new materials (Appanna, 2008, para. 4). Online lessons allow students to choose their own pace of study and perform tasks when they are ready to do them. The deadlines for assignments are usually longer in online classes because some students may live in other time zones, so they will need more time to complete the assignments. Moreover, while studying from home, students can reread the lectures and edit their comments as many times as they need. Learning materials are always available, and they do not need to ask a teacher to repeat them. In addition, some students are more productive in the morning while others prefer to study at night. Online learning gives a possibility to study at a time when students feel they are more productive. Finally, online learning encourages students to develop self-discipline and responsibility and improve their time-management skills. All these advantages of online learning make this method of education an effective alternative to traditional instructions.
However, some may argue that online learning is not as effective as traditional one because of the absence of face-to-face communication and the need for a team effort. For example, the lack of nonverbal cues reduces the extent of the communication, making it less effective and informative (Appanna, 2008, para. 6). Some students may feel difficulties when listening to the instructions or classmates’ responses without seeing them face-to-face. Consequently, they will need more time to comprehend the information. In addition, educators require much effort to develop an effective online education environment (Appanna, 2008, para. 2). Some of them may be uninformed about the existing software and web design strategies, and they will need to spend much time learning new technologies and creating online lectures and instructions. Traditional learning is simpler than virtual, and teachers and students do not need special technical skills and software to develop and complete the assignment.
Even though online learning may have some disadvantages, these disadvantages are easy to solve. For example, various applications allow students and teachers to create video chats and communicate in real-time, thus preserving face-to-face communication. Team efforts are only needed when the program of online education is being developed for the first time. Moreover, the same time is needed in traditional education when teachers develop learning plans and instructions. In conclusion, in the modern world where most people have access to the internet and computers, online learning is a great opportunity for those who want to study but cannot attend school or college due to various issues.
Appanna, S. (2008). A review of benefits and limitations of online learning in the context of the student, the instructor, and the tenured faculty. International Journal on E-Learning, 7(1), 5-22.
Zounek, J. & Sudický, P. (2013,). Heads in the cloud: Pros and cons of online learning [Paper presentation]. International Conference DisCo 2013: New technologies and media literacy education, Prague, Czech Republic. Web.