Even before the pandemic, e-learning was gaining steady traction across the globe. Online learning emerged in the 1980s when different international institutes and universities started offering online courses for distance learning. Though for several decades worldwide students had been reaping these opportunities via the internet, compared to traditional learning the spread and popularity of e-learning were limited. However, that all changed with the pandemic. Global lockdown and social distancing prompted the initiation of online learning. But how effective is e-learning compared to classroom learning? Can it be a perfect substitute for classroom learning? Let's find out.
The best way to go about this is to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of the platforms. As a result, this article will encompass several aspects.
Benefits and Demerits of E-Learning
Before the pandemic E-learning was not very familiar and popular in Bangladesh. The situation caused by the pandemic has created a paradigm shift in the education system. Students from each level have had their in-person classes shifted to different e-learning platforms. It took much deliberation for every institute to jump on the bandwagon.
To talk about the benefits, e-learning has helped students from different levels to stay engaged in their studies. Bangladesh was one of the countries which had the longest educational institution holidays due to the pandemic. In this respect, e-learning has helped students to stay in the cycle of classes rather than getting completely detached.
E-learning has a lot of benefits like –
- It has provided a means of education even in the most adverse social state.
- The learning material doesn’t have to be time-constrained. E-learning materials are accessible from anywhere anytime with the help of the internet.
- It's possible to review the concept and the content as the class lectures and resources get stored on the net.
- Access to a larger resource pool enables better self-learning motivation and process.
- It paved the way to access foreign non-degree courses through international e-learning platforms like Udemy and Coursera.
- It drives down the logistical cost of running a physical classroom.
Yet it's not all fun and games and flexibility when it comes to e-learning as there are significant drawbacks too. Let's look at them from a local perspective –
- The ability of face-to-face interaction is very less when it comes to e-learning.
- It is hard for a teacher or instructor to personally interact with the students in an online platform classroom.
- A huge chunk of the population lives in a marginal economic state. As a result, access to the internet and devices becomes another issue for lower and lower-middle-income households.
- There is always the issue of two-way communication in e-learning. The problems can be attributed to time constraints or network issues which are rampant everywhere.
- Yet the most challenging aspect is directly related to the student. The ease of access to e-learning tends to take the students out of the bound of strict schedule of physical classrooms. As a result, e-learning requires considerable self-motivation from the student as well.
- During an online class, the students can easily get distracted and get involved in other activities like playing games through additional internet tabs or listening to songs, etc.
- Lack of social interaction and peer interaction is making the students unsocial in the long term
- Unlike traditional classrooms, online learning confines the students within a room or designated space. They can’t enjoy the opportunities of playing, chatting, roaming, etc., which slowly harms their physical health.
Benefits and Demerits of Traditional Classroom Learning
The traditional classroom has been the way of imparting education since the inception of the concept. However, a closer look into the entire system reveals some key benefits as well as some flaws.
To talk about the benefits, here are some key points –
- The most convincing argument in favor of classroom learning is the active learning process. There is a direct peer-to-peer as well as a teacher-to-student interaction in classroom learning. It not only makes the process effective but engaging as well.
- When it comes to higher studies, not all the courses or majors can be taught online. Majors like hospitality, nursing, and performance arts require physical classes for in-hand experience and assessment.
- In this day and age, it is possible to find reference materials on the internet. However, for specialized academic needs, a proper library is still the go-to option. And in the context of Bangladesh, a proper academic library can only be accessed concurrently to physical classes.
- The rigorous schedule helps to induce discipline in the students. Physical classrooms have a specific routine for classes that insinuates timeliness and orderly behavior among the students.
- The need for extracurricular activities is immense to develop the core values as well as manifest new ones in a student. To that end, physical classes play a huge role in facilitating the process.
Just like its good aspects, classroom learning has some drawbacks as well like –
- One of the most significant negative aspects of classroom learning is regarding the travel time, and cost. It just adds up as extra cost and lost time for students traveling from a distance.
- Traditional Classrooms may not be inclusive places for socially challenged students.
E-Learning Vs Classroom Learning: Which One Is Better?
It's important to consider the stage of the learner to better understand the impact of e-learning and classroom learning. Each age group of learners has a different mental state and as a result, their perception towards education also differs.
For a child learner, classroom learning is the best option. This is the stage of their life where they learn about discipline as well as getting familiarized with education as a whole. This age bracket cannot be brought under exclusive e-learning because it won't have the desired impact on them.
For a teenage learner, e-learning can be a subsidiary option to classroom learning, not a complete replacement. This is an age bracket where a student adapts to changing perception both mentally and physically. As a result, classroom learning helps to keep attention and discipline in check.
Lastly, for the mature learners of graduation level, any of both works fine. It is completely dependent upon their major. The required mindset and dedication can be expected given their age bracket. There are a good number of universities that offer remote degrees to online students through e-learning. It ultimately comes down to preference as well as major related constraints.
Whether online learning or traditional classroom-based learning is better, seems to be a never-ending debate. It is hardly possible to completely disregard any of the two. Rather than looking as an alternative to one another, these two modes of learning should be considered as complements to each other. That way, the education system will be able to better utilize the resources and ensure an effective curriculum for the students.