What makes online education as effective as traditional learning?

words Alexa Wang

online education

There’s been a lot of heated debate about online education versus traditional methods of learning as the online variant becomes increasingly popular. Many people thought that traditional learning is unparalleled, while others believe online learning is the way of the future. Either perspective is technically correct, and both forms of learning have their advantages.

But online courses can be just as effective at delivering knowledge as more original approaches, and there are a few primary reasons for this. 

Making education accessible 

There’s a large demographic of people who struggle during their traditional learning because of the commitments they have in their day to day lives. This often includes single parents, or those who are looking to further their education later in life. Many traditional learning places like colleges will help parents work around their schedule, but online learning gives the learner autonomy over where and when they learn. For those who live in smaller communities that don’t have institutions dedicated to learning, e-learning may even be the only opportunity that they have. 

Course availability 

The older model of learning creates a greater burden on educational institutions in terms of their implementation. They require a lesson provider (teacher), physical learning materials, and a physical location for the teaching to take place. This translates into a limited amount of courses being able to be provided in any one college or university. If you’re unable to find a local course for you, you might even need to consider travelling or relocating and that can become expensive. Alternatively, these programs can be accessed through online education, and travelling can be avoided. If people are more attached to the thought of traditional education, they may need to invest in going to cities that support their learning.  

Greater retention 

There are many support systems in place at traditional learning centers that are geared towards keeping student retention. They may offer compensated counselling services, or they might offer to pay for tutoring. Online education might not have these tools available, but they still have higher retention rates than their counterparts. This is probably due to the fact it can be accessed at convenient times for individuals, and there isn’t an overarching burden that can come with assignments in traditional learning. If you’re somebody that struggles with adhering to an educational commitment because of responsibilities, online education might even be more effective. 

Feeling outpaced

In the ideal traditional learning environment, every class is going to introduce a new lesson for eager minds to consume. The unfortunate side effect of this is that some students are going to learn at a different pace than others. It’s easy to become over encumbered when you’re trying to play catch up on lessons. Especially when previous knowledge is the foundation for the development of new material. This method of teaching is conducive to those who need to adhere to a schedule in order to be organized. However, e-learning might be a better model for those who need to learn at their own pace.  

Practicing self-sufficiency 

online learning

When you complete online courses, future employers have already learned something about you – you’re self sufficient and capable of getting the job done on your own. Some employers might be less liberal in their thinking and prefer traditional certificates over e-learning models, so this might work counter-intuitively. However, if an employer isn’t going to see you as the hardworking, self-sufficient person that you are, you might not be interested in their employment anyway. 


An additional way that online learning can help target a wider demographic base is by the cost associated with this medium. Students likely won’t have to invest in physical textbooks, and they won’t need to pay tuitionary costs that pay for the space, as well as the professor or instructor. With North American student debt rising into the trillions, it makes sense why students would be adverse to participating in traditional learning. Online learning can’t provide skills based education like the trades, or engineering and nursing, but it is an obtainable route of education that might be a distant dream to those looking to avoid accruing insurmountable debt.

What form of education that one obtains ultimately falls into what route works better for the learner. For those looking to educate themselves later in life, online education might be the more attractive option. I think the benefits of remote learning are going to continue to increase throughout the future and as more developments are made. We might even see a day way online learning becomes substantially more effective at educating than historical models. 


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