The concept of education has been drastically changing across the globe since the advent of breakthrough technologies. We are entering into a new era of education that completely revolves around the Internet and computer devices without any requirement to be physically present in the traditional classrooms. This is what we term as online education that enables users to acquire knowledge anywhere and anytime as long as we have the requisite resources. Is online learning the future of education?
What are the different types of online learning?
There are different kinds of online learning models based on the type of platform, mode of teaching, and types of resources used. All these types are well featured and suite the varied requirements of learners. Given below are the 3 commonly used types of online learning:
1. Synchronous Online Learning:
The live online learning sessions are termed as synchronous online learning. In this, virtual classes/conferences/webinars are held where there is an instant interaction between the students and the teacher.
This type of teaching method ensures better learning of the subject as students can clarify their doubts and share their feedback right away. A sense of discipline is maintained, as they are held at fixed times.
One of the biggest disadvantages of synchronous learning is that it becomes inconvenient for students residing in different time zones. Further, if there is a power cut or Internet failure, the student would end up missing the entire class.
2. Asynchronous Online Learning:
As opposed to the synchronous learning method, this type of learning does not take place as live sessions. This instead depends on recorded videos and other forms of online study material. The student gets to study the same and appear for an online exam within a flexible time frame.
While it offers flexibility, a sense of discipline is less. Also, due to a lack of direct communication between teachers and students, learning might not be up to the mark. No personal interaction between teachers and students often leads to a lack of encouragement in learning.
3. Blended Online Learning:
This is a combination of traditional learning and online learning. There will be regular up close and personal interactions between teachers and students combined with online, learning online through messaging, tests, quizzes, and more.
These types of learning modes speed up the learning process at the same time providing flexibility to both students and teachers to manage their time well. The cost of such a technique is a little on the higher side.
Why the demand for online learning is on the rise?
The demand for online education has constantly been on the rise since the last couple of years. However, due to the unavailability of resources at remotest areas, it was not fully accepted at many places across the globe. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and worldwide lockdown compelled educational institutions as well as professional bodies to resort to online learning methods.
With every school, college, and institution compulsorily switching to online educational tools, a question that often lingers in the minds of many is “Is online learning the future of education”?
There is no definite answer to this question. However, given the promising advantages and features of online learning, it will be right to say that online learning is surely becoming the future of education gradually replacing the traditional classroom teaching method.
What are the advantages of online learning?
Online learning provides flexibility in terms of time and place. You can learn anything sitting at your home or office or anywhere without having to commute daily for your classes.
This way, both students and teachers can have better management of their time. For working professionals, it helps in continuing their studies and maintaining a proper work-study balance.
Online courses are priced lower than offline university courses as not many resources are used like textbooks, accommodation, equipment, etc. The student is only paying for the teacher’s time, experience, and online resources. More students can enroll in the courses as the cost is considerably reduced.
3. No limit on enrolment
Traditional courses set a limit on the number of enrolments due to a lack of availability of unlimited resources. But with online learning, this is not an issue. As they mainly depend on recorded videos, live online videos, online test series, any number of students can attend the same at the same time.
4. Better student-teacher interaction:
It promotes better student-teacher interaction than traditional learning. Teachers can put a cap on the number of students as per their discretion and focus more on individual students to ensure adequate attention.
5. Customized learning experience:
There are various online teaching resources like eBooks, videos, graphics, photos, etc that provide a customized experience to the learners and make it more fun to even learn a boring subject. Students who are not very fond of textbooks can learn a lot through these methods.
6. No disruptions:
As long as you have an uninterrupted internet connection and power connection, online learning faces no disruptions. Even during times like Covid-19 when the entire nation went into a lockdown mode, students continued with their education through online learning methods and still doing.
Does online learning have any limitations?
Everything comes with pros and cons. Online learning has its share of disadvantages. Given below are of the biggest disadvantages of online education:
1. Social isolation:
As there is a lack of face-to-face interaction amongst teachers and students, it leads to social isolation. Social isolation is a breeding ground for mental illnesses, anxieties, and loneliness.
Humans are social beings, which depend on interpersonal relationships for leading a happy life.
2. Higher chances of cheating:
Students have various modes of cheating while appearing in online examinations. Without a proper identity verification system, they can even let third parties take exams on their behalf. Hence, the integrity of the examination is compromised to a great level.
3. Not convenient for subjects demanding practical experience:
For subjects requiring practical knowledge, online learning does not deliver the required expertise. No matter how much you learn theoretically, practical experience is a must for gaining expertise in certain fields such as medical, research, science, vocations, etc.
4. Kids get over exposed to technologies:
Children are getting exposed to technologies at an early age for online learning to become habituated with the same. They are easy targets of online children abusers and prohibited content.
5. Lack of discipline:
Since online learning provides the flexibility of time and place to students, it results in a lack of discipline. There is no fixed schedule for studying. This is often misused by students and taken for granted.
6. Health issues:
Excess dependence on technologies has negative impacts on our health. Diseases like obesity, spondylitis, eye diseases, headaches are on the rise among people.
However, most institutions resorting to online teaching are trying their best to have appropriate systems in place to maintain the quality of education. In the years to come, we can expect to see a tremendous transformation in the online learning sector.
What technical skills are required for online learning?
Institutions providing online courses clearly specify the required technical skills in their curriculum. Though most institutions try to make their online learning platform as intuitive as they can, there are some basic computer skills, which are a must for online learning. One needs to have the knowledge of using a keyboard, mouse, running computer programs, internet, word processing programs, email, and other collaborative tools.
What kind of online materials are used?
Online materials can be in various forms like images, pdf files, videos, GIFs, blogs, and many more.
How do teachers and students connect?
There are various online learning platforms in the market in the form of websites or mobile applications that are specially designed for teaching purposes. They are designed in a way that teachers can use them to create surveys, questionnaires, hold lectures, and more.
Are online learning courses expensive?
The cost of online learning courses varies from course to course as well as from institute to institute. However, comparatively, the cost is lower than in conventional courses. Although there is an initial investment of computer devices and internet connection.