While it is possible to benefit from online classes for many reasons, these benefits are less tangible. For instance, the lack of peer interaction can lead to a deterioration of social skills, especially in younger students. In addition, students may have difficulty interacting with teachers and other students, which can interfere with the development of self-confidence. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce the time spent in front of a computer or other screen.
One of the most compelling studies of online learning has a randomized control trial design that isolates the causal effects of in-person and online instruction. Pathbreaking studies have estimated the causal effects of online versus in-person performance on course grades and final exams. Most studies found that students with online access performed worse than their peers in the traditional setting. The effects were greatest among low-stakes students and those with lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
While some low-income children can benefit from the convenience of online classes, the effects of online learning on the educational outcomes of disadvantaged children may be less clear. Minority children are less likely to have access to computers and appropriate home environments, thereby limiting their access to online education. Children learning English and children with disabilities have struggled in the absence of in-class instruction. Even low-income students may have fallen behind before the recent online-only epidemic. As a result, time is running out for these students to catch up on key academic milestones.
Another benefit of online learning is that it allows students to drill down into a particular subject. Free information, while helpful, often does not cover the depth necessary for specialized learning. Unlike in-person learning, students can pursue a subject of interest without the worry of judgment or repercussions. With no physical classrooms or teachers to keep track of, the online environment is free from pressure. This can be a big advantage for both students and the learning institution.
Additionally, online courses provide greater opportunities for collaboration among students. Students can engage in discussions and collaborate through virtual group work and meetings. Online courses also offer a message board or grouping tools, which allow students to post feedback and respond to classmates. Virtual learning can also foster the development of interpersonal and networking skills, as students can communicate with professors, upload assignments for review, and participate in discussion forums. And, despite the disadvantages, online learning can help students improve their self-regulation and memory skills.
The benefits of online learning include increased motivation and self-discipline. Many students are skeptical of online education because it requires more effort. But the downside of online learning is that it can be a distraction. There are many advantages and disadvantages to both online and offline learning. Some students find online courses easier to learn than others, but some students do prefer traditional classroom learning. However, they do complain that online classes are not as interesting as their classroom counterparts.