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Online Learning vs Classroom Learning – The Pros and Cons
by Bhanu Kaushik August 25, 2020

Several equations in the world have changed in the past couple of months that the pandemic has been wreaking havoc around the earth.

Distancing oneself from another person has become the new norm. Visitors are no longer welcome anywhere. Children are no longer required to go to school, nor are adults to their workplaces. Some of these things have been unthinkable had it not been for the virus. 

However, as the world is preparing to accept that the new ‘normal’ is here to stay for some time longer than expected, people are looking at alternative means to carry out activities instead of stalling them indefinitely.

Education, for example, can be halted for some time but cannot be stopped completely. This is why schools, colleges, universities, and offices have resorted to digital means to impart training and lessons instead of doing them face to face.

While the physical classrooms remain closed, virtual classrooms are operational to continue with the process of knowledge dissemination. 

Can it be said that online learnings are better than classroom ones? Or is it that online training can never replace the good old classroom courses? Let us look at some of the pros and cons of online vs. classroom learning.

Online learning: Often, online learning is used synonymously with distance learning. The two are similar in the way that in both cases, the learner is physically away from the source of learning, but they are not the same. In fact, it will be safe to say that online learning is a type of distance learning where the learning is transferred through online means or the internet. Online learning is also called e-learning.

Examples: Off late, online education has become extremely popular, even before the onset of Covid19. There are numerous tutorials available on YouTube, social media such as LinkedIn, etc. There are also online courses and certifications on sites such as Udemy, which allows students to get certified without having to enter a classroom. Owing to the disruption caused by the pandemic, even the schools are now following online classes.  

Advantages: The reason why online courses became so popular is because of its multiple advantages over traditional courses. Some of them are:

– Online learning can be done anywhere, anytime. Practically even when one is on vacation or on leaves, one can complete a course without having to step out of the home. 

– They save travel time. No additional time is spent to reach the training center.

– No unnecessary distractions in online courses and learners can complete them at their own pace. 

– The advantage which is most relevant to the present time is that online courses are safe from the perspective of social distancing. This is the reason why even schools for children are employing this method to teach students during the coronavirus pandemic.

– Just like online shopping, online courses offer a learner a lot more options to choose from. To give an example, there can be a hundred different courses available online for website creation. A student can choose according to their requirement.

– In the case of online learning programs, the objective is only to transfer and receive knowledge, and this objective is met without any distractions such as power distance or bias or perceptions between or among the participants and teacher.

Disadvantages: Online learning may be highly recommended for numerous reasons, but it has certain limitations too. 

– Online learning allows no networking to take place among the participants. Networking is a key component of growth in one’s career. With the lack of human interaction, online learning prevents any kind of networks from building up.

– Online learnings require a strong internet and other hardware peripherals, which is not available to a large part of the Indian population yet, especially in their homes. In that situation, classroom training is more practical for them.

– In online courses, the aspect of kinesthetic is not present. As a result of which certain courses can never be online. To give some examples – public speaking, swimming, driving, science lab practicals, etc. These require a physical presence, an ambiance, a setup, or tactical objects to understand and learn.  

Classroom learning: Classroom learning is a traditional mode of learning in which the learning environment is created within the physical walls of a classroom. As the name suggests, in-classroom learning, both the teacher and student need to be present physically inside the classroom.  

Examples: The entire educational system right from the time a student gets into academics is based on the Classroom learning method. From nursery, schools to senior schools, college, and universities – most of it are based on traditional learning space, which is in the classroom.

Advantages: Classroom learning is advantageous for multiple reasons, some of which are:

– Fosters establishing a relationship between teacher or facilitator and the student. This is especially useful for developing it further into a more fulfilling mentor-mentee relationship.

– Classroom training can employ all types of learning methods – auditory, visual, tactical, etc. This caters to all kinds of learner’s

– At a higher level, classroom training also promotes networking among the learners or participants

– In Classroom training, the interaction between participants, teachers, and other participants is more direct and real-time.

 Disadvantages: Until recent times, there were no major flaws found with the traditional method of teaching in the classroom. However, with the recent pandemic situation, some major flaws with the classroom method have been identified. They are:

– In the event of a pandemic that is spread through social contact (direct and indirect), classrooms become a potential zone of risk.

– Travel time, to and from the center of learning to the home of the participants and the facilitator, when added up, forms too many man-hours wasted unproductively. If each participant spends 30 minutes in reaching the venue and there are 30 students and one teacher, then a total of 31 hours are wasted in total (which is over a day’s worth of other productive work not done). 

– Classrooms can become the breeding ground for unnecessary conversations, grapevines, politics, debates, which can be easily avoided with the help of technology in an online course. “Sticking to the point” cannot always be ensured in-classroom training.

– Classrooms also become a center for exhibiting power-distance between two individuals, especially teachers and students, at times, which can impede knowledge transfer. 

– Other distractions such as inadequate lighting, noise, not-so-ambient classrooms can also disturb the learning process.

At BML Munjal University, we are well equipped with best in class infrastructure to provide education through the classroom as well as digital means. While digital training restricts human interactions, it is the need of the hour to ensure the safekeeping of health of our students as well as faculty. 

The transition from the classroom to online is not an easy task; however, at BMU, we have been able to transform education to meet the needs of the present situation. We have customized our courses to ensure that the students are not the ones that suffer due to any disruptions. 

In the present world of changing dynamics, “status quo” is a thing of the past. “change is the only constant.” In order to stay relevant, one needs to able to adapt to the situation and transform oneself accordingly. Therefore whatever maybe the situation ahead or for however long the uncertainty may last, at BMU, we will always be prepared to face the challenges even if it is the mode of education. 

Online vs Classroom learning

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