Online education system is emerging as an alternative to the current system of classroom education due to the risks posed by the Corona pandemic all over the world. Over the years distance learning or distance education in various forms – distance learning programs from open universities, online programs and so forth have helped realise the educational aspirations of students who could not attend full time and campus based classes. It is notable that the government of India for the first time allowed universities to conduct fully online degrees – a radical change brought in the new education policy (NEP) announced by the HRD ministry on 29th July, 2020 which would reshape the education delivery in India. As per the new Education Policy, 2020 stress has been laid on providing on line education through more online classes in schools and conducting vocational courses through online mode.
Advantages of online learning
- Efficiency Online learning offers teacher an efficient way to deliver lessons to the students. Online learning has a number of tools such as videos, pdfs, podcasts, etc. and teachers can use all these tools as part of their lesson plans. By extending the lesson plan beyond traditional textbooks to include online resources, the teachers are able to become more efficient educators.
- Accessibility of time and place Another advantage of online education is that it allows students to attend classes from any location of their choice. It also allows the schools to reach out to a more extensive network of students, instead of staying restricted by the geographical boundaries. Additionally, online lectures can be recorded, archived, and shared for future reference. This allows the students to access the learning material at a time of their comfort. Thus, online learning offers the students accessibility of time and place in education.
- Affordability : Another advantage of online learning is reduced financial costs. Online education is far more affordable as compared to physical learning. This is because online learning eliminates the cost points of student transportation, student meals, and most importantly, real estate. Additionally, all the course or study material is all available online, thus creating a paperless learning environment which is more affordable, while also being beneficial to the environment.
- Suits a variety of learning styles : Every student has a different learning journey and a different learning style. Some students are visual learners, while some students prefer to learn through audio. Similarly, some students thrive in the classroom, and other students are solo learners who get distracted by large groups.
- The online learning system, with its range of options and resources, can be personalized in many ways. It is the best way to create a perfect learning environment suited to the needs of each student.
Disadvantages of online courses
- Requires self-discipline and time-management skills : Great freedom comes with great responsibility. Some people can handle it, and some can’t. Taking an online course requires self-discipline to set aside chunks of time to complete your training. It means you have to make it a priority and let no other activities interfere. That could be difficult if you have a never-ending daily to-do list.
- Communication with the instructor is often limited : Online courses reduce the interaction between the trainers and participants to the bare minimum. For some, a trainer, personal attention, and discussions with fellow students are essential to take in new information. These aspects bring the learning content alive. The need for these things depends moseor less on your generation.
- Not suitable for every topic : No one wants to have a surgeon at their bed that learned how to stitch through an online course. Some topics, like safety standards and information about products, lend themselves more naturally to e-learning than others. Repetitive content, especially for new employees in a high turnover environment, is ideal for e-learning.
- Besides the topic, it is valuable to consider your employees’ motivation levels. Not every employee is eager to take compulsory courses. If you do away with the encouraging trainer, it becomes difficult for someone with low motivation to start or finish a course. For this reason, creating motivating materials for your employees becomes more important than ever with online learning.
- Unpleasant to read : Spending hours at a computer or tablet without any breaks can ruin your vision . Also, back problems could become a serious issue. It is quite understandable that you won’t be eager to read from a screen again if you have already spent the whole day behind your desk.
- Possibility of distraction : You can ignore your lip-smacking colleague, but can you ignore your screaming child, the popular Netflix show Tiger King in the background, the smell of excellent coffee, or that pile of dirty laundry in the corner? Distraction outside the office is a potential threat to your productivity. But it certainly depends on your learning style. If you want your participants to take the whole course at once, distraction will occur faster, than if you advocate a microlearning style.
Virtual learning is opted these days due to the shutdown of schools and institutions. It is beneficial to an extent because it does not require waking up early, there is no fear of getting scolded and one can study in a comfortable manner. But, a teacher-student relationship can be best established in a classroom only. The interaction and the questions a student asks the instructor in the class cannot happen in an online interaction. Virtual learning offers a good substitute to classroom learning in the time of emergency but it cannot replace the classroom learning. Classroom learning still remains the main option as discipline can be taught through it and it is a better mode of imparting education and knowledge.