Online Learning vs Traditional Learning

Online and traditional learning are two modes of learning that are often weighed against each other. Learning through the medium of the internet without the proper assistance of a teacher in real-time is known as online learning. Traditional learning refers to imparting education in institutions with teachers and students interacting in real-time.

Learning has become easier with access to different courses available at a click. The traditional form of learning is slowly slipping into the online mode, owing to its various advantages. Both Online Learning and Traditional Learning have their own advantages and disadvantages. Their effects are thus registered accordingly. Let’s have a look at the comparison between the two.

What is Traditional Learning?

Traditional Learning refers to a setting where a teacher communicates with a group of students in a typical brick and mortar classroom set-up. The students attend the class for a fixed time duration and learn about specific topics, subjects, and often get hands-on experience for a job. Although many schools/institutions make use of technology, the teaching-learning process still involves hand-written notes, assignments, tests, etc. The curriculum follows a standardized pattern using textbooks approved by the government and the education board. Moreover, the students are completely dependent on the teacher for acquiring knowledge of the subject.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Learning

Traditional Learning has been there since time immemorial. It is the first and foremost approach to learning considered by educators for imparting knowledge. Though it is a primary approach to learning in contemporary times, it has certain advantages and disadvantages which make it unique.

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • In-Person Learning: allows teachers and students to interact and build a rapport
  • Values and Discipline: ensures moral development of learners
  • Social Skills: encourages social interaction and inculcates social acceptance
  • Physical and Mental Health: strikes a balance between physical and mental well-being with the help of an appropriate mix of activities
  • Experiential Learning: provides hands-on experience to the learners, thereby helping them apply their knowledge
  • Time-Bound: Involves a strict schedule, which is difficult to bend as per need
  • High cost: it involves a high infrastructure and maintenance cost 
  • Generic Methodologies: use teaching methods that are not learner-specific but generic
  • Theory-Based Lessons: majorly include theory-based lessons and less activity-based due to lack of time
  • Physical presence of teacher and learner: requires the teacher and learners to be present under one roof

What is Online Learning?  

Online Learning refers to a process where the students and the teacher are connected via the Internet. This implies that they are not bound by time or space. Moreover, the study material is digitally shared by the teacher, and the students also have access to varied information sources through the Internet. Unlike a traditional classroom, students get a wide range of subjects in an online learning format and are free to opt for any of them depending on their interests.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning

Online Learning is a comparatively new and emerging approach that is setting the ground for endless opportunities. Let’s take a look at some advantages and disadvantages of online learning.

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Readily available content: transcends the barriers of time and space and provides easy access to content 
  • Collaborative Content Creation: allied educators to collaborate via Learning Management System (LMS) to create well-rounded lessons
  • Familiarity with Technology: provides exposure to the judicious and resourceful use of technology
  • Time-saving: faster than traditional lessons as they omit real-time interaction
  • Cost-effective: saves the cost of infrastructure and maintenance  
  • Needs latest devices: requires the availability of latest gadgets for better results
  • Requires trained professionals: only technologically proficient educators can keep up with online learning
  • Difficult to maintain and monitor student attention: struggles to captivate learners’ attention due to absence of physical presence
  • Content reformatting: requires restructuring of content to fit the LMS format
  • Plagiarism: does not ensure originality due to easy accessibility 

Online Learning vs Traditional Learning might seem like a highly debated topic with two opposing and fervent sides, but a deeper understanding of both gives an entirely different impression. Taking into account the different perspectives of learning, both methods have certain pros and cons that make them unique as well as effective in different learning situations. While the wide accessibility of online learning may excite the interest of learners, the in-person attention provided in traditional classrooms may be preferred by the supporters of traditional learning. It is difficult to make a conclusive remark as to which mode of learning is better than the other as both weigh equally on the scale of effectiveness.

All learners have different styles and preferences of learning. There is no one specific methodology that can fit all learners. Educators must design curriculums that allow the learners to learn their own way. Adopting different modes of learning may prove helpful in doing so. Offering lessons through online as well as offline mode may allow the students to learn comfortably as per their style of learning. However, be it online or offline, it is necessary to design engaging and effective lessons as the ultimate aim of both modes is to fulfill the lesson objective and foster learning.

Refer to our next article in this series for a response to this question.

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