Is online learning as good as face to face learning?

Some people think that, in order to take a “real course” or a “real exam” you need to be physically present on a certain place, like a classroom, and have a teacher or a trainer guide you at all times. Nothing could be further from the truth. So, let’s compare face to face learning to online learning.

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Online learning

What are the main benefits of face to face learning?

Face to face learning has been the norm for centuries.

With face to face learning, you have a live interaction with a teacher or an instructor. That interaction occurs in person, which means you need to be physically present in a classroom in order to learn. That usually happens at a specific time & date.

Face to face learning helps you get organized with your studies, because you need to be somewhere at a specific time & date. Also, you get to interact with the trainer and the other students. If you are not that self-disciplined and didn’t do your homework, no problem, you can just sit there and listen to the teacher speaking ­čśů

Also, face to face learning is more acknowledged as a “real” way of learning, so if you tell someone: “I’m going to a class or a training program about this and that” people understand you are actually taking time to learn something and is serious about it. But, are you really?

Is online learning really effective?

Good question. Even though we are in a modern era when we don’t have to be physically present in a place in order to learn something, people still have a hard time taking online learning seriously. But, let’s take a look at the facts here:

  • Most people today prefer to consume content using the Internet rather than in any other way. Actually, the very fact that you are reading this right now is proof of that! ­čśë That includes learning about the news, watching TV, talking to friends, booking appointments, shopping... and the list goes on. Why should learning still remain strictly traditional while everything else seems to be going on a different direction?
  • Online learning requires more self-discipline – and, surprise! – you actually get to learn more: since there’s no teacher watching you, you need to “watch yourself”. Which means you actually have to take the time to study, pay attention to what you are studying, and apply what you learned when taking an exam.
  • Exam results have shown that distance learners can get similar, or better scores in exams compared to traditional students, because they study more. In fact, many of the top universities in the world are offering distance courses now.
  • No time wasted on commuting: with online learning, there’s no need to spend money on transportation. You can study using any device connected to the Internet.
  • With online learning, you can still get a diploma or a certificate. Yes, that’s right. And that certificate can be the same as the one given to people who take face to face classes.

So, face to face learning or online learning?

We are not saying that traditional learning should be discontinued. However, online learning is not only an alternative to that, but a great one. Some teachers and trainers prefer to use a blended approach: combining both methods to maximize results. Whatever you choose is up to you. However, if you are a teacher or a trainer, consider the many benefits of online learning and how it can make your life (and the one of your learners’) much easier, without any decrease in quality.

Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of online learning.

Useful resources

Johns Hopkins University
University of Illinois

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