Should my child take online courses? Pros and Cons of Studying Online

As of this writing, the coronavirus has emerged and escalated in many countries around the world.  Students are told to keep staying at home, which makes this “Tet holiday” the longest Tet in history.  When the coronavirus keeps your child inside, shifting from physical classrooms to online learning seems to be the only and most effective education alternative to help kids keep on learning.

However, speaking of online learning, some parents still hesitate to allow kids to step into an online environment.  Distance education can be a highly effective alternative method of education for the students who are matured, self-disciplined and motivated, but it is an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners and some may have difficulty assuming responsibilities required by the online courses.

Studying online might not be the best choice for every student, but understanding its advantages and drawbacks can help you decide if distance learning is right for your child. 

In this article, we will take you through some advantages and disadvantages of distance education before you decide if you want to sign up an online course for your kids.

Advantages of online classes

There are quite a few advantages with online classes that are worth your consideration.  Here are some of the top benefits identified by online students.

Increase flexibility

One of the biggest advantages of online classes is the increase in flexibility.  Students can study wherever they want to, on any devices. This does not mean that the workload is less for a student studying online, only that they have more flexibility in when, how and where they study.  Your child does not need to be stuck in a classroom, instead, she can go study in the garden, on the living room couch or in the comfort of her own bed. Since everything is available online, accessing class materials and submitting work is very convenient.  Exactly when and where this takes place is up to the student, as long as assignment due dates are met. This flexibility is why online education is very popular with older students who have other commitments. Younger students better take online courses that have live teachers at a given time.

More convenient

This one doesn’t need much of an explanation. Online learning programs do not require parents to drive their kids to a particular location.  They can study and improve their skills at home and at their own leisure. This way parents too can get back to their busy schedule, very well knowing that their kid is getting the required personalized support they need.  On the other hand, kids also feel more in control of the process and in charge of their education. This is the most appealing benefit of online education, without any commute or wasting time travel to schools, especially in this sensitive outbreak period – kids have no choice but to stay inside.

Ease of Access

An online class levels the playing field when it comes to students from different geographical regions having access to a particular course.  Unlike in a physical classroom, students don’t have to live in big cities to gain access to quality education. Now the location of your child doesn’t matter and thus doesn’t interfere with her chances of pursuing a particular subject.   All your child needs to study online is a device with internet access. With an internet connection, there are no geographical barriers. Distance learning enables children across the country to join any courses they want, with professional instructors.  All of the study materials, lectures and assignments can be sent via email or some kind of file transfer system.

Allows personalized learning at multiple levels

Online learning can accommodate a wide range of learning styles and use a variety of methods geared to different learners.  With an online learning model, students move through subjects at their own pace, and can sometimes customize learning with different modes of media.  Students in traditional classrooms typically do not receive the personalized attention they get in an online class. Due to the increased time with their instructors, students develop better problem-solving and communication skills.

The most advanced online learning tools provide ongoing, real-time assessment of students’ progress. They can tailor the learning experience and provide progress feedback. Regular assessment is critical to keeping a student challenged at just the right level – not overwhelmed by material that’s too advanced or bored by topics that the child already knows.

Less intimidating

Many students in classroom environments aren’t comfortable speaking in public.  In a physical classroom setting, asking a question or revealing that your child is unable to grasp a concept in class can be quite embarrassing for many students.  Distance education can somehow reduce that stress. In an online environment, it can be much easier to share thoughts with others. Shy students do not have to worry about being penalized for not speaking up.  Studying on their own at their comfort place lessens this type of stress and can bring better results in the end. Reports suggest that online learning programs have proven to help kids build their confidence.  This increased confidence does not only help students through their academic year, but also helps them to perform well in all aspects of their life. Hence, if your child is a little bit shy and reserved, an online course will work well for her.

Enhance independent skills and Internet proficiency

Through independent learning, your child will learn about self-reliance and confidence – the essential skills for a lifetime of learning. More importantly, they are learning to acquire the skills with cutting-edge technology and diverse methods.  Online skills like accessing information, communication, and collaboration are necessary for learning and succeeding, not just in school, but in life. This will hopefully accelerate modernization of the education system, and also increase their capacity and abilities to face new challenges in a rapidly changing world.

Disadvantages of online classes

While there’s plenty to like about taking online courses, that doesn’t mean they’ve reached a state of perfection.  Here are a few of the potential disadvantages of online classes your kids may encounter.

Lack of peer interaction

One of the biggest disadvantages of online courses is missing out on the social element of going to class.  It’s not ideal for students, especially little ones, to sit alone with their computer throughout the entire session.  Online students have limited interaction with instructors and may have to wait for hours for reply to questions. Interaction with classmates in discussions and hands-on projects are critical, especially for younger children.  Although many online classes encourage collaboration through group activities and projects, students may feel isolated from their peers when not sharing the same physical space.

Complicated technology

Overdependence on technology can be a major drawback in long distance learning, especially when the learning takes place in an online environment.  Any malfunctioning software or hardware can bring an ongoing class to a standstill and interrupt the learning process. Poor internet performance can also lead to negative impacts on an online class’ effectiveness.  Similarly, if a student is not computer and tech savvy, her learning experience can be dissatisfying.

Requires students to exercise self-discipline

Despite being convenient, online learning programs require kids to be self-starters.  Even though you study at your own pace and time, there are deadlines to be met. Some amount of self-motivation, responsibility and time management skills too are a part of the package.  Online courses that have deadlines for assignments and tests can put unnecessary pressure on students and end up adversely impacting students’ time management and organization skills.

Requires extensive parent commitment

Staying motivated and keeping up with homework and assignments may prove more difficult for online students than for those attending traditional classes.  Younger children, in particular, may have trouble with the accountability and self-motivation required, and therefore, it may need parent involvement to make sure their online experience goes well.  If your child is at primary level or even lower, parents should stay involved in her online lessons, at least in the first few lessons, to make sure she stays focused, as well as keep her safe in the online world.

Introduce your kid to learning online

As a matter of fact, there are advantages and disadvantages to every type of learning environment.  Online programs aren’t always perfect for everyone, but they can make learning more accessible for many students.  Online learning, at its best, allows students to use technology they’re already familiar with to better engage with learning.

As we continue to monitor the situation for our students in the Everest community during this COVID-19 outbreak, we understand that the situation for many can be very difficult at present and wish to offer our support. To ignite the trend of #keeponlearning attitude, Everest Education is now offering 1-month free online courses for Math, English and IELTS programs. Through this, we hope to encourage students and families to keep studying, to keep striving for knowledge, and do not let viruses stop your child from learning. To explore what is an online class like at Everest, you can take a look at the video below:

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