School closures and online education have become more common since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has left many wondering: Can online education take the place of conventional classroom instruction? There are several pros and cons for both traditional in-person instruction and remote digital learning. In this article, we will focus on what aspects of online learning make it effective for student success.
Face-to-face learning often includes traveling to and from school and between classes, and waiting for teachers and other students. According to a Brandon Hall analysis on online learning within organizations, remote education often requires 40-60% less time than learning in person. Students are not required to commute to school.
Additionally, students can study at their own pace, going back and re-reading, skipping, or accelerating through the material as they see fit. Furthermore, most digital learning allows students to work at days and times that are most convenient for them. This allows students to complete other personal, family, and professional obligations alongside completing their education. Without the majority of their time being spent in the classroom, students are able to achieve so much more. The ability to save time while simultaneously learning effectively is a crucial advantage of online learning.
Learn at Your Own Pace
The online environment is ideal for students who want to learn at their own unique speed. Students can control their learning trajectory, thereby defining their progress. For instance, unlike traditional classes where students must take notes feverishly during lectures so that they can review the material later, online learning allows them to review the class materials as often as they would like and at times that are best for them. They can stop and rewind recorded lectures as many times as necessary, allowing them to take better notes and better comprehend the material. They can also download and save resources for later use.
From a teaching perspective, remote instruction allows for more individualized lessons where progress is automatically tracked and supplementary lessons in challenging topics are easily assigned. This allows the students to move rapidly through lessons they’ve mastered while taking more time with ones in which they are struggling. This is quite different from a typical classroom environment where teachers are required to continuously move on to the next standard, whether all students have comprehended the previous standards or not. This often causes students to scramble to learn the content, leaving holes in their understanding. Being able to pace oneself with digital learning results in a more personalized learning experience.
Develop Valuable Life Skills
Online learning necessitates performing a specified task without constant monitoring from the teacher. In order to stick to a schedule and keep up with coursework, students must learn self-motivation and self-discipline—qualities that will serve them well in their personal and professional life.
One skill that students could gain from online learning is time management. Online coursework requires that students deliberately set aside time to review content. This demands discipline and superior time management skills so that learning tasks are completed as efficiently as possible. Students thus develop qualities such as initiative and accountability, which will help them succeed in school and beyond.
Furthermore, as variants of the virus spread, many offices have shifted to online or hybrid environments. Thus, practicing these skills as a student will help them be better prepared for the remote workforce that is becoming more and more common. There are many valuable attributes to be gained from participating in digital education.
Better Access to Resources
In a typical classroom situation, students are most likely only able to speak with their teacher one-on-one during their scheduled office hours or for a few minutes before or after class. With online learning, however, students can contact their instructor by email, live chat, or phone to obtain the feedback or support needed.
Furthermore, various resources, such as videos, PDFs, and podcasts, are often used by online teachers to supplement their lessons. Students can save these resources in organized files and tabs to reference as needed. When additional resources are needed, students can expand beyond standard textbooks to incorporate easily-accessible internet resources. There are many amazing free online resources students can utilize. Grammarly is a Google Chrome extension that can help students improve their writing grammar and fluency. Khan Academy is an online learning platform that provides brief video lessons on thousands of topics and programs that are tailored so that students may learn at their speed. IXL is a website with adaptive practice problems in math, language arts, science, social studies, and Spanish for students in grades K-12. These resources and thousands of others can help students better understand the material so they can achieve high marks on assignments, projects, and tests.
For individuals who do have access to the appropriate technology, there is evidence that online learning can be more effective than traditional methods. According to some studies by Shift eLearning, students remember 25-60% more information when they study online versus only 8-10% when they learn in person. This is primarily because students can go at their own pace: re-reading, skipping, and/or accelerating through concepts as they see fit.
Students’ ability to retain information also increases with the various modalities available with online learning. Videos, photos, explanations, documentaries, and charts are used to convey concepts and theories so that students can recall the information more effectively. Choice of materials makes learning more personalized and accessible.
Online classes allow students to learn at their own pace, have a more personalized learning experience, and gain valuable life skills. Tutoring programs can help students navigate this novel learning environment.
If you are interested in receiving tutoring services, we at Educate. Radiate. Elevate. are happy to help! K-12 low-income BIPOC students in Illinois and Texas can nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else for free tutoring through our nonprofit program. Through high-quality instruction intertwined with teaching essential learning and life skills, E.R.E. strives to uplift underprivileged communities of color.
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