The Pros and Cons of Online Learning

The Pros and Cons of Online Learning

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For many of today’s students, digital courses can help save time, money, and stress. Attending class on your own time, at a café, or at home in your pajamas has some serious appeal. But is online learning ideal for everyone?

Instruction delivered through the internet may include real-time or anytime academic interactions from any location where the web is accessible. For some, the convenience outweighs the benefits of in-person interaction. Participation feels more comfortable, personalized, and cost-effective. For others, digital courses present challenges that ultimately disrupt the learning experience.

What are the pros?


1. Schedule flexibility: Online learning removes time and location barriers, allowing students to access materials from a remote location and cut down on travel time and costs.

2. Self-pacing: Students can control their own learning, moving through modules at a speed that meets their individual needs within the given deadlines.

3. Modern methods of engagement: Courses often include a variety of contemporary multimedia resources, which may suit a range of learning styles and appeal to today’s generation of digitally-inclined students.

4. Privacy: Taking a course in one’s own space helps some students feel more confident about participating and taking risks.

5. Increased concentration: Students can avoid distracting classroom sights and sounds.

6. Easy resource access: Materials are readily available and simple to share through posting or emailing.

7. Accessibility: Resources are more accessible to students with disabilities or learning difficulties, as web-based course materials are required to be ADA compliant.

What are the cons?


1. Faulty technology: Technology issues can interrupt or prevent participation. Equipment must be reliable and the internet must be accessible and high-speed.

2. Computer skill requirements: Students must have strong computer skills to navigate courses. In many cases, familiarity with various programs is required.

3. Self-discipline challenges: Students must be able to manage their own time and organize their work. They must be capable of balancing their personal lives with their learning priorities.

4. Distractions: For some, distractions are more prevalent outside the classroom. Food, friends, background noise, television, and phones can all slow down productivity.

5. Cheating temptations: In class, students may be tested on their retention of new information. At home, easy access to content may prevent students from showing what they actually know.

6. Isolation: Online learning does not require physical presence in the classroom, which can leave some students feeling secluded.

7. Excessive screen time: Some people find that spending too much time on computers or digital devices negatively impacts the mind or body, resulting in issues with vision, posture, or sleep.

Online courses are not a one-size-fits-all learning solution. If you are a student, consider your personal learning preferences as well as the pros and cons of online learning before enrolling in a digital course. A blended approach, which combines digital and face-to-face instruction, may help balance the advantages and disadvantages of online learning. If you are an educator interested in creating digital materials or moving a course online, contact us at to find out how we can help you get started.