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Online Education as an Alternative to Traditional Schooling

Introduction

There has been a longstanding debated about whether online education is more effective than face-to-face learning. Technology has advanced to the point where students can take classes in the comfort of their own homes. The novel pandemic of COVID has led to the rise in online studying due to mandatory quarantine and social distancing regulations. According to the National for Education Statistics, 43% of college students in the United States engaged in some form of online education in 2016 (“Online Education vs. Traditional Education”). Traditional education is the standard for most academic institutions. However, new interactive features, innovative applications, and other technology allow students to reap all the benefits of face-to-face classes without leaving their houses. Apart from saving money, online education enables students to become self-disciplined, take accountability for their grades, as well as modify their courses to fit their learning style. Traditional schooling might not be for everyone due to constant stress, financial implications, and a certain lifestyle that is a part of it. Online degrees, on the other hand, give students an opportunity to customize their courses and learn at their own pace.

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Online Education during COVID

The industry of alternative education has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade. However, COVID-19 forced schools, universities, and other educational institutions to work remotely, which led to a revolution in the online learning industry. Platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera have been the focus of discussions in the mainstream media due to the massive increase in users over the past months (Koksal). The pandemic made students and educators switch to alternative schooling (via Zoom, Coursera, and other platforms), but they might be hesitant to come back to offline classes. Online education creates an abundance of opportunities for bright minds since it incorporates innovative and user-friendly technology.

Personal Experience

The traditional school system has never suited me since I was extremely antisocial when I was young. At this point in my life, I have gotten much better at communicating with others. However, I believe that online education would give me an opportunity to get to know people on the Internet before meeting them in real life. I notice that I feel much more comfortable and less awkward around people, with whom I have already made friends online. My friends agree that alternative schooling would probably be the best option for them. Surprisingly, each one of them has their own reasons for preferring online education. Sasha, my friend from high school, is an exceptionally good dancer. She has participated in competitions since she was three years old. For her, traditional school failed to accommodate her lifestyle, which was the reason she switched to distance learning after freshman year. Sasha told me that her decision to study online gave her an opportunity to combine her passion for dance with education.

Even though I have taken multiple online classes, I have never experienced alternative schooling to its fullest degree. Therefore, I can acknowledge that I might be biased towards a system I have never fully experienced before. Traditional education is a series of unfortunate and traumatic incidents for most students, which is the reason so many kids say they prefer online classes. I also understand that I might underestimate the value of traditional schooling in terms of socialization since I am unaware of the ways distance learners make new, meaningful acquaintances online. Students’ socioeconomic background poses a challenge to the system of online education as well. Some parents cannot afford to buy their kids laptops, gadgets, and various applications that are necessary for productive online studying. It is also important to acknowledge that 38 percent of world population cannot access the World Wide Web, which means that online schooling is a privilege (“Internet Usage Statistics”). OECD reports, “whilst 95% of students in Switzerland, Norway, and Austria have a computer to use for their schoolwork, only 34% in Indonesia do” (Li and Lalani). Apart from the aforementioned obstacles, it needs to be acknowledged that online education is not the best option for children with special needs, who require extra attention from educators.

Advantages of Online Learning

For those fortunate enough to possess the necessary technology and enjoy Internet access, there are various ways that online learning can make studying more effective and productive. Research demonstrates that students studying online retain 25-60 percent of course material, while those who attain traditional educational institutions retain only 8-10 percent. Li and Lalani conclude that such findings are reflective of the higher speed of distance learning. They point out a recent study, which shows that “e-learning requires 40-60% less time to learn than in a traditional classroom setting because students can learn at their own pace, going back and re-reading, skipping, or accelerating through concepts” (Li and Lalani). The students have an ability to schedule their lectures, tests, and revisions however they see fit, which gives them an opportunity to scale themselves (Koksal). This benefit of online education is especially important in continuous studies since adults have jobs and family matters to tend to apart from studying.

Alternative schooling is often cheaper and more effective than traditional face-to-face classes. Online courses have no additional commuting and housing costs (Koksal). In addition, all the necessary materials can be found online. Interactive educational platforms also can enhance students’ natural learning patterns by analyzing massive amounts of data using machine-learning algorithms (Koksal). Online courses are personalized, so that when a student struggles with a certain concept, the platform restructures the course material to include more detailed explanations of it. Instant feedback from other learners helps to improve the learning curve (Koksal). Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, which is why workforces are now increasingly distributed. It is extremely important to have an ability to navigate the world of technology and be familiar with video conferencing, online messaging, and digital presentations. Online education enables students to gain these skills, which are valuable on the job market. Therefore, online education can be equally as effective (if not more) as traditional education. Students are more likely to enjoy learning at their own pace using affordable and user-friendly platforms, which is why online learning has the potential to become the ‘new norm.’

Opposing Online Education

Despite all the benefits of online education, there are many adversaries to the idea of alternative schooling due to a number of factors. Firstly, traditional education is associated with discipline and motivation. It implies a structured class schedule and routine lectures with the same instructors, which can help to keep students focused on their studies. It is important to acknowledge that online education’s effectiveness varies greatly among age groups. Li and Lalani report that younger children must have a structured learning environment to avoid distraction. According to experts, online learning can be more effective by ensuring there is “a concerted effort to provide this structure and go beyond replicating a physical class/lecture through video capabilities, instead, using a range of collaboration tools and engagement methods that promote ‘inclusion, personalization and intelligence’” (Li and Lalani). Alternative schooling is often criticized because of its lack of socialization. However, it is crucial to understand that shy students actually benefit from a digital learning environment since they often feel more comfortable voicing their opinion to a camera rather than a room full of their peers. Kids engage with the course material in different ways because of their unique learning patterns and personality types. Online classes create an opportunity for unconventional learners to succeed academically.

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Conclusion: The Future of Digital Learning

To sum it all up, online schooling is an effective alternative to traditional education due to its ability to provide students with customized and affordable learning opportunities. The emergence of digital platforms and online applications has given students an opportunity to receive personalized solutions due to data analysis. Getting instant feedback from students all around the world is now easier than ever, which facilitates the constant improvement of online courses. In the future, online learning will probably replace face-to-face education. Digital classes are going to incorporate VR/AR technology and advanced machine-learning algorithms to make online education even more effective. Yuval Noah Harari notes that “schools continue to focus on traditional academic skills and rote learning, rather than on skills such as critical thinking and adaptability, which will be more important for success in the future” (Li and Lalani). The COVID-19 has disrupted the traditional educational system by making alternative schooling much more relevant. E-learning is slowly becoming a ‘new normal,’ which is evident in the sheer number of Coursera, Skillshare, and Udemy users.

Works Cited

“Internet Usage Statistics.” Internet World Stats, 2020, Web.

Koksal, Ilker. “The Rise of Online Learning.” Forbes, 2020, Web.

Li, Cathy, and Farah Lalani.” The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how.” We Forum. 2020, Web.

“Online Education vs. Traditional Education.” Western Governors University. 2020, Web.

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