The Disadvantages of Online Learning
The most relevant disadvantages of online learning are directly tied to the specificities of the web environment itself that bring people to choose this method of education. The nonexistence of a physical classroom, flexible schedules and reduced personal interaction are all factors that attract people, but have their own negative aspects that should be highlighted.
Most of these disadvantages of online learning are connected to the one overarching characteristic of e-learning, which is the reduced personal interaction inherent in an online learning system. Firstly, participants can only receive information from one source – the professor or the media content, and usually have limited opportunities to exchange ideas and information with other students or even learn from their mistakes and experiences. The lack of non-visual cues may bring delays or misunderstandings when information is transmitted, as well as depriving the user from practicing his interpersonal skills and self-confidence in work presentations, advantages that can be decisive in the workforce. Lastly, the relayed nature of communication between teacher and student dampens a timely exchange of questions which, according to a study in the American Economic Review, may result in poorer test scores when analytical thought is required of the student.
One of the factors that bring users to this type of training environment is the schedule flexibility and the reduced time investment it seems at first to require. Saving on commute hours and being able to maintain a full or part time job and work schedule are most certainly attractive features, but many make the mistake of not allotting much time for school related activities from the beginning. While a meager time allowance for the course may be just enough to attend and perform homework, greater benefits can be achieved through extra research and study.
The characteristic that makes online classes what they are and appealing in so many ways (the ability to attend from anywhere in the world) also presents an obvious hindrance – there are no facilities. Most colleges and schools offer their students physical resources to enhance achievement like libraries, study rooms and research material, like labs and field study opportunities. Fields like scientific research or interpersonal relations may be extremely hard or near impossible to assemble in an entirely virtual environment without a loss of quality.
Consequentially, the students may want to ensure the place from where they attend classes provide adequate conditions to focus on their course of study. Not every single student has the possibility of ensuring a time and place to attend an online class without any interruptions. Another disadvantage of online learning often heard from e-learning users is the struggle to make family and room mates understand the concentration required to properly benefit from the online program. As this type of education is still in an evolving stage, many people don’t quite understand it yet as something as meritorious and important as classes that require a physical classroom presence. Here, the learner may have to manage both physical interruptions and often quite a bit of negativity in his life "outside of the virtual classroom."
The globalization of student access may bring a subtle negative aspect to the professional life of the graduate – the loss of networking opportunities. With users logging in from various parts of the country and even the world, the contacts gained may be of little practical application. Also, it is frequently by interacting with professors, teachers, and professionals in the field that a student opens the gateway for post-graduate jobs, something that may be lacking in the limited interaction of online learning management systems.
In conclusion, all these disadvantages of online learning can be to a certain degree mollified by the user himself, but require a high degree of self awareness and motivation. The main drawbacks to online learning can therefore be overcome with a sincere effort in interpersonal interaction within the web environment and by fostering contacts in real life that relate to the field of study, an effort that is clearly strenuous and demanding in terms of willpower and time expended.
Disadvantages of Online Learning
Employment - Student may find that employers as well as institutions of higher learning are less willing to accept degrees, transcripts, and certifications from online programs as they are for their more traditional accredited programs in a face-to-face environment. While the acceptance of the quality of online learning is growing, their may still be some who think the quality of an online education is not the same as one gained in a physical building.
Communication/Less Interaction - Most, if not all, of your communication and interaction with your instructor and fellow students will be through electronic medium including email, chat rooms, discussion boards, or perhaps Skype or online meeting technology. Not having access to the visual cues, body language, and non-verbal communication of a traditional program could make it difficult to discern true meaning. Online learning can limit the amount of public speaking practice and team work that are so much a part of in class presentations, group work, and discussions.
Course Availability- Not all courses of study are available online. If you're interested in an unusual field or one that requires lab work, you may find it difficult to find a suitable source for an online education.
Access to Instructors - Another disadvantage of online learning is that Instructors will not be on hand or "on campus" and easily accessible to answer questions. While they may be available on email, that's not the same as having access to a living, breathing person and to be able to ask questions during a break or after class.
Technology - While technology tools and the Internet infrastructure are becoming more and more stable, there are still instances when technology fails. Servers may be down, or you may experience periods when your connection to the Internet is interrupted. Hard drives fail, and email may get caught in spam filters and never be delivered. It's important to backup important class information and make certain that you have alternative ways to communicate.
Working Alone - Working alone can isolate a student, making it easy to put off or neglect course work or drop out of an online class completely. It takes a certain amount of internal motivation to continue when you're pressed for time and don't have fellow students to talk with and help to motivate you along the way.
More Disadvantages of Online Learning
- For many online classes, there is the potential for less interaction with faculty and other students.
- Students may have limited access to the online instructor
- Another disadvantage of online learning is that students may find the lack of non-verbal communication that is a part of traditional face to face learning difficult to get used to.
- Fewer networking opportunities.
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