Exploring the pros and cons of online learning
Considering a hybrid or remote course? Let's have a look at the positives and drawbacks of online learning.3 min read Published: 16 May 2023
“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.”
— Vernon Howard
If you are a high school student trying to make your mind up about college, or if you are already at college and are looking for ways to make the absolute best progress you can, online learning is bound to be on your mind. Should you prioritize getting yourself into a physical classroom for a face-to-face experience, or is the flexibility and huge variety of online education a better fit for you?
We want to shed some light on the pros and cons of online learning so you can make a well-informed decision which supports your learning in the best possible way. Let’s dive in.
A massive benefit of online learning is that you can go exactly at your own pace, on your own schedule, from anywhere with an internet connection.
This is a major plus for everyone really, but it is seriously important if you are a neurodiverse or differently-abled student. Data shows that ND and differently-abled people are more likely to experience unpredictable fluctuations in their energy and feelings of wellness, making a flexible study schedule a game changer for your chances of success.
On another practical level, plenty of students have jobs and other responsibilities like voluntary work or a grandma to check in on every Tuesday. Online learning means you are able to pick up your class when you can and take as many breaks as you need. This means you have a lot more control over your schedule which can help to keep feelings of overwhelm at bay. A big plus.
Tech enhancements like pause and replay features mean you can go over (and over) any bits of a course that you are finding a bit tricky, with no need to keep putting your hand up in class over (and over) again. Of course, some people don’t mind being in the front row of the lecture hall, and good for them! But those with a more introverted disposition, the privacy of online learning can be a big comfort.
Unsurprisingly, the most common worry for US students is the cost of college, with almost 40% of prospective students worrying that they can’t afford further education. Student debt is a serious consideration and is a burden that a lot of people don’t want to take on. It’s not just tuition either; accommodation, textbooks, transport all add up pretty quickly. Online learning can offer some relief here, since the tuition fees are usually lower, and you won't have the added cost of dorms or travel.
Just as an aside, a lot of colleges do offer some pretty generous scholarships and bursaries. If the cost is a factor for you it might be worth looking into what kind of financial support different colleges offer, and maybe get strategic with who you apply to based on how much financial aid they provide.
Ok, now that we have covered the main benefits of online learning, let's think about some of the problems you might face with learning online.
A big drawback of online learning is the challenge of not spending regular time in-person learning alongside peers. Plenty of people still have screen fatigue from the pandemic, and if this sounds like you, online learning might not be the best fit.
Making new friends, learning together, exploring a new city together, responsibly partying together 😀, these are all parts of the college experience that a lot of students say was really special and meaningful to them.
Bonding with others and finding a sense of community and connection might be harder online than in person, but again, it does depend on how you like to socialize and maybe where you feel you are on the introversion/extroversion scale.
On a more practical level, relying on technology for your education might be a bit risky at times. A potential issue with online learning is that the platforms or tech they are delivered with aren’t always reliable, and whatever technical issues you experience might not be supported as well as if you were in person. If you have spotty wi-fi or are at risk of power cuts, that could be really annoying and disruptive to your learning.
In the end, whether or not online learning is right for you is a personal decision. We are confident that it’s a decision you can make. Go forth boldly in the direction of your dreams!
And if we can help you along the way, we would love that.
We provide a tool that lets you engage with class content in exactly the way you want to. It includes lecture capture, auto transcription, and a note taking tool that consolidates your lectures and notes. You can use us for both online and offline courses, so whatever you choose we can be by your side.
More from Better LearningView All
What study tools are available to students?
If you’re starting at college or searching for details on the latest study tools, you’re in the right place. See our top ten study tools and aids here!
The Ultimate Survival Tips for Your First Year at Uni
The Glean team share their ultimate first year survival tips for incoming university students.
How to Budget Like a Pro In Your First Year of University
The Glean Team share their top budgeting tips and money management skills for your first year of University.