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The advantages and challenges of online learning

House & Home

Posted on Monday, August 3, 2020

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With learning institutions closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, primary school, high school and tertiary students have had to make a shift to e-learning to keep up with their studies remotely.


An example of this is Coursera’s online learning platform, where, since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, people have flocked to enrol for a variety of courses.


One reason for this increased uptake of online courses could be that many of us have more time on our hands as a result of not having to commute to and from work as well as significantly reduced social activities.


And as career trends are changing, some of us may want to upskill. If you haven’t jumped on this trend yet, it’s important to know the pros and cons before you do.


Advantages of online learning


  • There’s a variety of courses ranging from certificate to degree programmes.
  • Courses are more affordable, as fees are lower and there are no travelling costs.
  • It’s convenient and flexible, and you can study anytime and anywhere. This is a great perk for those who have a heavy workload plus family commitments.
  • It can help advance your career or give you more job opportunities.
  • You retain more information because you are able to learn at your own pace.
  • You can work while studying, which makes it easier for you to pay for your courses.


Disadvantages of online learning


  • Some students may not have a reliable internet connection, which would make it difficult for them to participate in online learning.
  • Some courses may lack accreditation or offer low-quality coursework and learning material.
  • There is little to no face-to-face interaction,so you won’t be able to build a relationship with your lecturer, which may be a problem for students who learn better with physical teaching. You also won’t be able to get to know other students as easily.
  • There may be more assignments and tests than traditional classes because lecturers will need assurance that you are on top of the course material.
  • You have to be incredibly disciplined, as you’ll have to schedule your own ‘class time’, so you may struggle if you are easily distracted.
  • You have to be proactive about any information you’ll need, considering you won’t be able to ask your lecturer questions face to face during or after class.


How should you go about online learning?
Although there are disadvantages to online learning, it’s always a good idea to upskill yourself, particularly during uncertain times like these. Being prepared before embarking on online learning can help to ensure you get the most out of it. Here are some tips to help you succeed:


  • Find online learning platforms to use. Good options include Coursera, MasterStart, GetSmarter and edX.
  • Make sure your internet connection is reliable and if it isn’t, sort this out before starting the course.
  • Choose a course, but check if it is accredited before registering.
  • Fully commit to any course you take and participate in the online forums and group tasks.
  • Have clear goals, as this can help keep you motivated.
  • Choose a dedicated time for your studies and set reminders on your phone.
  • Ask your online instructors for help when you need it.
  • Have a dedicated study space that is quiet, comfortable and clutter-free.


The information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.