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Benefits and Disadvantages of Online Learning

Online learning is quickly becoming a very popular option for students of all ages. In fact, there are hundreds of online schools and colleges catering to students located all over the world. If you are thinking about heading back to school, you might also be considering continuing education online. However, before you sign up for your courses or online degree, be sure to familiarize yourself with the benefits and disadvantages of online learning. Online learning can be a wonderful experience, but not all students find that they are cut out for learning online.


The Benefits of Online Learning

Online learning has grown dramatically in popularity over the past five years or so. There has been a noticeable rise in the number of online schools across the United States and North America. This increase in the number of online schools can be contributed to the great benefits that many of these schools offer their students. So, if you are thinking about enrolling in an online college or university, here are some benefits that might be particularly attractive to you.

Excellent Education:
Online schooling is not just a pathway to achieving a quick degree or an easy grade. Nowadays, the majority of online schools are highly reputable and dedicated to providing students with an in-depth and creative learning experience. In fact, some of the most respected colleges and universities in North America and Europe are now offering online courses and programs in order to cater to the needs of their students.

Accredited online courses are taught by some of the most talented instructors and professors and attended by students who are interested in and excited by the learning process. If you sign up with a recognized online school, you can be guaranteed that you are going to receive an education that is interesting, well-organized, and competitive with those provided by traditional schools.

Flexible Schedule
One of the major benefits provided by online learning is that it allows you to maintain a very flexible schedule. Unlike traditional schools, which require you to attend classes on fixed days and times, you can attend your online classes whenever, and where ever, you decide to. This means that online learning can help students who have very busy schedules.

Whether you are working fulltime or are managing an active family, online learning can easily fit in to any schedule. All you need to do is pick the time and days that you want to attend class. And online classes don’t take place on campus, which means less rushing around. As with distance learning, online learning allows you to learn from the comfort of your own home.

Student-Centered Learning
Unlike traditional schools, online schools offer students the opportunity to engage in learning that is centered around them. Because your instructor is not lecturing all of the time, you have the opportunity to dictate your own learning experience: you decide when you want to complete assignments and how you will complete them, and you decide which resources you want to use. And online learning is tailored for students with a variety of different learning styles, offering visual, audio, and oral components.

Fair Playing Field
Online learning also attracts students because it offers the chance to start the learning process on a level playing field. Since you never see your fellow classmates or instructor, there are no judgements made based on race, ethnicity, gender, or physical appearance. Instead, you are evaluated based on your performance on assignments and tests as well as on the comments that you make on the course material. This fair playing field goes a long way to making learning more comfortable for a lot of students.


Disadvantages of Online Learning

Though going to an online school can mean a lot of benefits for students, you may find that online learning just isn’t for you. Here are some of the disadvantages associated with the online learning process.

Requires Dedication and Time Management
Attending an online education course really requires patience and persistence. Because you don’t have an instructor there to guide you, it is up to you to make sure that you understand and complete all course requirements. You also have to make the time to study, contribute comments to student forums and chat rooms, as well as complete all assignments and tests. If you aren’t extremely dedicated or have good time management skills, it can make completing an online course very difficult.

Limited Feedback
One of the most important parts of learning is gaining creative and productive feedback from your instructors and fellow classmates. Unfortunately, the online learning process is not always that conducive to providing feedback to learners. Due to the nature of online education, instructors are not always present for you to inquire about course materials, assignments, or tests. When you submit assignments, it could take a while for you to receive any feedback from your instructor, and, because this feedback is not provided in person, it could be difficult to understand or appreciate fully. Feedback may also be harder to get from your fellow students, because you cannot talk to them person-to-person, or even on a daily or weekly basis.

Lack of a Classroom Atmosphere
Online learning is very different from traditional learning, particularly when it comes to the social aspects of education. Unlike traditional classes, online distance education courses don’t take place in a classroom, where you are surrounded by your fellow classmates. Instead, you have to learn and study by yourself. This can make the learning process very difficult, and quite isolating, particularly if you enjoying meeting with other students.

Online learning can also be frustrating if you like being able to meet and speak with your instructor on a weekly basis. With online learning, you will not be able to meet personally with your instructor, and this can be off-putting for many students.

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