Which is a better?
Yes, it is the argument between traditional offline learning, and the “new normal” form of learning online.
When we define conventional offline learning, it emcompasses learning in a physical classroom environment and private tuitions. And the routine to go to a designated place to learn. Contrastingly, thanks to the development of technology and the Internet, we are now empowered to learn skills and knowledge through various forms of online medium. Learning online includes educational videos, online contents, forums and even live seminars (a.k.a webinars).
However, before anyone partakes to judge which is better, I’ll take the stand early in this blog and conclude that neither is superior to another. Truthfully, it’s really the learner/ student/ mentee/ disciple/ apprentice that determines the outcome of learning, regardless of the format.
The most obvious reason for one to learn anything virtually would have to be the flexibility of environment. With access to the Internet, one can have the freedom to learn from anywhere. Try choosing between a cosy coffee joint or an enclosed room with a whiteboard for a “classroom”. Wouldn’t be too difficult a choice i would imagine. Furthermore, one can save the hassle of arduously commuting back and forth from the place of education. In fact, studies have shown that online learning for college degrees can reduce as much as 90% in energy consumption and produce 85% less CO2 emission. The convenience is definitely worth opting to learn online rather than offline.
Another distinct benefit of learning online is the pace of learning. If you are a quick or slow learner, learning online would allow you to adapt your own pace of study. Without peer pressure, one can focus more time to learn a particular concept without the scrutiny of others. From a survey result, students absorb abstract ideas better without external pressure from others.
On the other hand, in a traditional classroom setting, students are usually tied to a set schedule with a structured curriculum. There is limited flexibility in both the educational program as well as the environment. The benefit however, lies in the discipline for the students. Constantly under the pressure of time to complete their assignments, students are taught to prepare and manage their time effectively. Something that is not taught through online learning. Discipline and time management is a vital skill for one to strive in their career.
In a traditional classroom environment, classes are taken in person, meaning that students can receive immediate feedback and criticism from fellow peers or teachers through their interaction. In addition, students are required to speak their minds and work in groups with people that have differing viewpoints. As a result, developing better interpersonal skills as compared to students that completes their coursework online. Through the interactions in class, one can gain the confidence to speak publicly and express their opinions effectively. And also grants them the ability to carry themselves in a professional manner. This is crucial to success in their career. In a seminar consisting of 85 companies, business leaders vote the 2 most important skills when employing a graduate is communication and teamwork respectively.
If anything, online classes actually impedes a student’s ability to improve their soft skills as there isn’t any element of social interaction incorporated into their curriculum.
Cost is another important factor for consideration. It is said that online degrees are 80 times less expensive than traditional degrees. In the US, an online degree cost approximately US$30,000 on average. However, a traditional degree can go upwards of US$85,000. As mentioned, commuting to a designated location for learning also adds up to the total cost. And this could be a decisive point for a learner to opt learning online rather than offline.
However, the comparatively hefty cost for offline learning in a school environment does have its fair share of benefits. For instance, one would receive a more comprehensive coursework kit and material. Greater support are also usually administered to students by incorporating extra curricular activities, additional supplementary courses, 1-to-1 tutor consultation, etc.. This creates a more fulfilling and experiential form of learning.
Best of both Worlds
The concoction for both the advantages of learning online and offline? You’ll get Kalpha.