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12 Pros and Cons of Online Learning

A photo from creative director Fei Lu's virtual art mentorship class.
Art Mentorship with instructor Fei Lu!

Public education is like public TV. The quality — if we're lucky — is satisfactory, but you don't get to choose your class, or what you learn, or what teacher you have. Kind of like cable television. Who watches that anymore when you have YouTube and Netflix — where YOU can choose what to watch, and WHEN? Having a choice becomes a game changer in the world of online learning.

We’ve all become more accustomed to online learning and online meetings due to COVID-19. Some of us love the idea of being able to work from home and not have to worry about transportation. Others miss the interaction of in-person learning, and find that focusing from home is a challenge. Whether your opinions align with the former or the latter, there are lots of advantages to online learning that you may not know about! In this blog, we’ll examine and compare the advantages and disadvantages of online education.

The pros of online learning

A photo of Nasim Abaeian, teaching a class about forms.
Realistic drawing class with instructor Nasim Abaeian!

1 - Convenient and flexible

Online learning eliminates the need to be at a certain place at a certain time. All it takes is a few seconds to log onto your device and open up whatever video conferencing site/app that you need to join on, and presto! Though, we’ve definitely all been guilty of attending a seminar or work call in bed or half dressed.

If your classes are extracurricular, you also have the option of choosing when you want to book your classes! While you don’t have that option with your school board, it makes your extracurriculars even more flexible than they were before.

2 - Saves time and stress

Gone are the days of stressful commuting -- now you can roll out of bed and attend a live class in a matter of seconds! There’s always the risk of running into traffic when driving, or the bus coming late or early to your stop. But with online learning, this factor has been eliminated! The days of skipping breakfast because you’re in a hurry are over, because your “commute” is thirty seconds to log onto a computer.

A mother helping her child with a laptop.

3 - No need to be a chauffeur

When it comes to extracurriculars and school, many parents feel like an anxious chauffeur trying to get everyone to the right program on time while balancing their own schedule. Driving students back and forth from institution to institution takes up a lot of time, but with online schooling, that’s no longer the case! You can just log your kids into wherever they need to go, and you gain an extra half hour or so each day, which adds up to entire weeks over time.

4 - Get feedback throughout the week, even in between classes

Usually in school, you have a limited amount of time where you can speak to your teacher, and then you’ll have to leave for the day. Emails might be difficult to get through as well, since a lot of teachers have the mindset of “being off the clock” once physical class ends. Now that we're all online, communicating via the internet is easier than ever before! Platforms like Google Classroom allow us to stay up to date with our schoolwork and teachers -- this way, we can stay organized and keep a schedule for ourselves!

A woman working on her laptop at a cafe.

5 - Learn from anywhere

If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s much easier for you or your kids to learn online. Normally, taking lessons and getting an education would require that you have to stay in one area for an extended period of time. Pre-recorded, or asynchronous classes, are far more ideal for people who travel frequently. This way, they can access their education when and where they want! On the other hand, synchronous, or live online classes, are a great solution for kids who live with different parents at different times. It's much simpler to be able to attend remotely, since it can be difficult to join a weekly class in person.

6 - Never miss a class again

Whether it’s family emergencies, sick days, inclement weather or appointments, missing a class can be stressful because you often fall behind. With in-person classes, we’d rely on our peers to give us the information we missed. But sometimes the information can be inaccurate, or we don’t retain it as well as if we were there ourselves. For some classes and institutions, online classes are recorded and can be sent to students who missed class! That way, we don’t miss a second of class even if we can’t make it live. Even if you’re sick, you don’t have to worry about infecting your peers -- you can stay home and rest while you attend classes!

A screenshot of a Google Classroom submission. A student asks for feedback on a portfolio piece.
Google Classroom makes getting feedback easy!

7 - More opportunities for shy/introverted kids

Asking questions in class or being called on can be daunting for students who are a little more shy or introverted. With the addition of a live chat, it’s far easier for those students to interact, speak up in class or ask questions without turning on their mic! I have a few students who never spoke up in class when we had the live studio, but since switching to online classes I’ve gotten to know quite a few of them. It’s far easier for some people to speak up with a chat box instead of a mic, or in person!

8 - More cost effective

When it comes to paying for online extracurricular classes or postsecondary education, online classes tend to be far more cost effective! You’re no longer paying for big study halls, classrooms or studios with property taxes and maintenance. Instead, all of those costs are going directly to the educators, and the rest of the savings go back into your pocket. Education has been overpriced for a very long time, and with online learning, there’s a far more cost effective option.

The cons of learning online

1 - Lack of personal touch

My favourite stories about my teachers are the little things we’d be allowed to do in the classroom, or the atmosphere of the lessons instructors would teach. With the limitations of a digital classroom, we don’t get to tell those stories or have those experiences as much. Instead of the posters of the classroom, desk groups, name tags and fun class activities, instead we’re stuck behind the same screen on the same desk every day. For instance, doing a few exercises at home for phys-ed will never be the same as being able to play team sports with your classmates.

A jar of paintbrushes on a messy desk.

2 - More mess at home

Especially with arts and science, your home can become a mess of paint, marker, glue, and other messy materials that the school would normally deal with. This can also come with an opportunity to teach children about keeping their workspace clean and taking care of their materials, but at the end of the day, parents still have to deal with it first.

3 - Lack of traditional social interaction

While there’s nothing wrong with online social interaction, traditional face-to-face interaction is still incredibly important. The lack of face to face interaction can be very taxing, especially for extroverted people. Not seeing any people for long extended periods of time makes an individual feel very isolated, and some students don’t learn as well in a digital classroom. A lack of close physical proximity makes it harder to make friends as well, especially if they’re starting at a new school.

4 - Technical difficulties

Let’s face it -- the majority of us most likely aren’t very avid with technology. But savvy or not, that won’t stop us from having technical difficulties. The internet can be too slow, connections can be laggy or drop altogether, batteries can die, hardware can stop working properly -- the list goes on and on.

But don't worry, not all hope is lost if you run into some issues! In our experience, 95% of issues can be solved by:

  1. Refreshing your browser

  2. Restarting your computer

  3. Unplugging your internet modem, waiting a few seconds, and re-plugging it in!

  4. If all else fails, try searching on Google or YouTube for your exact problem -- you may just find a free tutorial or forum with troubleshooting details from the tech savvy community.

There you have it! Overall, there are many more benefits to online learning than in person learning. But ultimately, what works for you or your kids is a case-by-case deal because no two people are alike. While some people prefer learning virtually online, others prefer in person. However, both are completely valid forms of education -- find what works best for you or your kids!

Thinking of trying an online art class for your kids? Check out our virtual art classes, where we teach art for all levels of skill and all ages! If you’re a teacher, take a look at our school programs, where we bring art workshops to your school by popping into your classroom virtually!

Art Resources for Teachers:

Any teacher now can facilitate world-class visual art lessons — even with no art experience! Get our art courses designed for classrooms, complete with step by step video lessons, assessment tools and handouts you can use every year.

If you're an educator, you're eligible for special pricing — 50% off our regular course price! Art Projects for Your Classroom

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Virtual Art Classes

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Art Mentorship

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Teacher Resources

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