The way we study has changed massively since the coronavirus pandemic started. Online learning or working is not completely new. However, the current climate has brought an entire move of everything you used to do in particular manners to the digital environment. From studying to working from home, to even doing leisure activities, the online comes with both advantages and disadvantages.
Depending on your personality and means, some people find it easier to work or learn from the comfort of their home. In contrast, others complain it has limited their abilities and affected their performance. We have compiled a list of pros and cons of online learning that shows how you can make the most of it but also overcome its obstacles.
Cons – and how to confront them
Everything that has an advantage comes with a disadvantage. This is directly impacted by a person’s personality traits as well as their ability to adapt to new situations. If you’re the kind of person who views online learning as a hardship, it doesn’t mean you will not be able to combat this. It just means you’re doing it on your own terms.
Self-reliance at risk
An important aspect of doing work from home, professional or academic, is the requirement of self-motivating, especially in a situation such as a pandemic which can affect one’s mental health in many ways.
Among others, a small study in the United States revealed that 24% of respondents have found it difficult to remain focused. Such studies have shown an overall increase in people developing anxiety conditions. This can affect one’s capability to remain constantly motivated and fulfil tasks within the home environment.
More often than not, procrastination begins to settle, and you find yourself in a vicious cycle. A good way of dealing with this is to break down your duties into smaller ones, which are easier to achieve. For instance, make lists that separate your responsibilities into house chores and study assignments. Then, organise them further in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you. And don’t forget to include a lunch break!
It might not be easy to find a balance between learning time and break time when you have to do it from home, the place where you usually left most of your academic responsibilities at the door. And it might seem not very comforting to adhere to a self-imposed schedule, but once you write it on a piece of paper, where you can follow a timeline of your day, it will give you a sense of control.
The social aspect
Another essential characteristic which the online environment lacks entirely is the ability to interact with your peers properly. Although many tools provide a great way of discussing and networking with many simultaneously, it is not the same as real social interaction. Therefore, the desire to socially interact with others, and lack thereof, can greatly affect their life quality. This results in social isolation and is usually difficult to overcome by yourself. As a teacher, a way of dealing with this aspect is making sure your students are still interacting with each other, although virtually.
Limitations in practice
In the case of studying, certain subjects require more practice than others, such as social sciences. But when you have a study field that requires a practice-based learning method, this is a challenge.
For instance, if you’re studying a science-based course, such as physics or medicine, even teachers might have a tendency to give more attention to theory. If it’s a mechanical engineering course, you might be able to put theory into practice if it’s safe to do so from home. Nevertheless, videos are always a great way of putting theoretical concepts into perspective.
Pros – take advantage of the online
Once you acknowledge that the online environment has its disadvantages, you become aware of the vast opportunities it actually holds. This can also help you in overcoming certain obstacles, and you might even find it exciting.
Flexibility brings opportunity
One of the biggest advantages of online learning is flexibility. Factors that could have been obstacles until now are no longer. It doesn’t matter where the university you attend is located, or whether there is a course you always wanted to try but it is being held in a completely different country.
The online environment offers a plethora of opportunities. Because of this current climate, you can even move back home if your studies have taken you far away from your hometown, and still be able to attend classes. Plus, you could sign up for a new course and you might acquire a new skill, find a hobby, or even make a career change. For instance, you might have always wanted to learn more about the basics of chemistry. You can still sign up for an online chemistry course for beginners, and find that it is something you want to learn more about.
Money is always an important aspect of everyday life, and so is saving money. Not having to travel back and forth daily means you can save up both money and time. Instead, you can use them for something else, such as doing more exercise, learning how to draw or sign up for that paid art history class. As students, with online learning, everyone has the same opportunities to attend the courses they desire, without considering accommodation or other university-related costs.
There is no secret that finding a balance between study, family and friends, is oftentimes a challenge by itself. Luckily, with everything moved online, comes a flexible schedule. The coronavirus pandemic has put certain things into perspective, such as the importance of finding a balance between academic and social life. Students learn at different paces and, in order for everyone to perform well, teachers have become more understanding. As a result, the curriculum is better tailored to offer flexibility.
Whether you struggle with moving almost your entire life online, or it has been a positive change that allowed you to do things you never found the time for before, it is certain the online is here to stay. However, there are things you can do to make the most of your online experience. More importantly, with every great change like this one, it is essential to acknowledge that people adapt at a different pace.