An Up-Close Look at the Pitfalls and Benefits of Online Learning

If 2020 taught us anything, it is to be adaptable. Maybe you prefer the phrase “to pivot.” Either way, as a partner, parent, employee, friend, or human, 2020 has likely nudged you to change how you operate. Today, I’m going to focus on how 2020 forced us to use online learning more than ever, and how that’s revealed both the benefits of online learning, as well a few pitfalls that come with remote training. 

There are numerous pros and cons of online school, but first let’s talk about why online classes are not effective, or at least not as effective as they could be. 

To name a few reasons why:

There’s a learning curve.

Here’s the truth: We’ve all been trained to learn in person. Switching to online learning, both for kids and for adults, requires us to re-learn how to learn. It can be tricky and frustrating and present a hurdle most of us have to jump over to begin to see the value in online learning. 

Technical issues are a pain.

Remember that one time when everyone in your house didn’t need to be online at once? It’s fun to take a trip down memory lane, isn’t it? In today’s world, it is common to need more bandwidth, more devices, and more tech savviness than ever before. Technical issues alone can hamper an entire day of learning and working.

Time management becomes more challenging.

Online learning is an eye-opener for people who struggle with time management. In ye old times, we had people there to keep us on track and potentially watch over our in-person training progress. Now, this can be left up to the learner and once again we are faced with a learning curve. 

There’s less human contact.

Humans are social beings. We need in-person interactions often, even at work. We can be our best selves this way by noticing social cues, chatting with peers. and reading body language. These aren’t easy to achieve during distance learning. 

Content overload gets a whole new meaning.

If trainers and teachers aren’t strategic, the amount of content made available to a learner can be overwhelming. And while it’s important to give some grace here because remote learning is likely new to them too, a clear plan for the day or a starting point and ending point for the learner can provide a sigh of relief as learners plan for their learning. 

There, that’s enough on negative aspects of online education for today. Honestly, we could continue with this list of disadvantages of online education, but we’re not here to just talk about the shortcomings of distance learning. We want to be sure we address both advantages and disadvantages of online classes. 

Here are a few reasons why online learning is good:

It’s more affordable.

This is likely one of the biggest benefits of online classes for school students that are college-aged. Online education can come with a big discount especially if students are living rent free. 

There’s more flexibility in class options.

This is another one of the benefits of online teaching. Students or employees can be flexible on what classes they want to take. With online learning, you are more easily able to customize your education plan. 

Learners have better control over their schedules.

Hold up! I can choose when I take my classes? I can fit this training into my treadmill time? I can do this once I put my kids to bed? No need to worry about cramming everything between 8am and 5pm. Those specific “busy” hours are becoming a thing of the past. 

Everyone moves at their own pace.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You can earn a degree, certificate, or complete kindergarten day 142 at whatever pace your heart desires when you are learning online. I know someone that got her realtor’s license online in three months while holding down a full-time job and wrangling a baby. She set a quick goal and crushed it. I also know folks who are leisurely taking classes just to broaden their knowledge. Both paths are admirable, and online education is what makes them possible. 

There’s no commute.

Does this one really need an explanation? It doesn’t, but rest assured, I’m giving you one. The rundown: Less car mileage, lower cost for gas and car maintenance, getting hours back in your day because you aren’t driving, being able to do yoga at 7am instead of driving to school. BAM! You’re a better you. 

Final thoughts

Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of remote learning for students and disadvantages of online learning, I hope you are able to feel comfortable knowing one style might be better for you, but there are certainly benefits to both. The important thing is that you are learning and growing and enabling yourself to go further in your life and career.


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