Online learning vs. face-to-face: Better at your own pace or with an instructor in the room

Within the past year, many students experienced online and hybrid classes for the first time. And, for some, online classes didn’t sit well with them. It was difficult to make the sudden switch in the spring semester of 2020 with no option for a complete in-class for the semesters afterward. 

While online classes have their perks along with an increase interest for many students, there are also some down sides. I tend to get less distracted while taking an in-class compared to online. When attending class in person, most instructors ask that phones be put away or set aside. But, while attending class online, it can be easy to open a new tab and get distracted.  

I also feel there’s a better connection between students and instructors with face-to-face classes. Students can meet with their instructors before or after class with any questions or concerns and get an immediate answer instead of waiting for a reply email, which can sometimes take more than a day. And, personally, it’s easier to reach out to an instructor you have met face-to-face rather than just reading about them or watching a video in an introduction on Talon.  

There is also the benefit of having a regular schedule. When attending classes on campus, there is the stress of making sure you have all your materials, securing transportation to campus, finding a parking spot, and getting to class on time. But, there’s also a sense of security in having a schedule and managing time a bit better. 

While there are some downsides to face-to-face classes, especially with the ongoing issue of COVID, there are some upsides with improving social and verbal communication skills, time management and scheduling and a better connection with others whether they’re students or instructors.  

As COVID has taken over how we learn, I have to say thank goodness for technology. There are pros and cons to both online and in-person classes but for a non-traditional student like myself, I would have to lean toward team online.  

Here is why, the probability of getting COVID is reduced because you don’t have to go to campus and be around others. There is no trying to find a parking spot and no rushing from one side of the campus to the other. The flexibility to still work fulltime and learn at my own pace is what I appreciate about online classes. If I want to get started right away I can, jump ahead, or start later and get my assignments done, I can do that.  

 The cons are no study buddies, they say you learn better from your peers. The time it takes to ask a question because you have to wait on email responses, so this takes more time management if you are struggling with a class.  

There is also a lack of social interaction. People need social stimuli and with the increase of isolation and a correlation to depression, this could put imposter syndrome to the forefront making the learning experience more difficult to navigate if students don’t have a good support system to begin with.   

Lastly, distractions are all on students. Trying to have a proper study and learning space within one’s home can be difficult if there isn’t space for it. 

I have taken both Zoom and just online classes, as well as in-person. If you are more of a self-starter and can navigate the course material on your own, online is great. If you are more of a social person and like the structure of in-person classes then go for it.  Either way, whatever works best is the most important and I enjoy the flexibility of online.