Earning a new skill, taking a course or undergoing training to further your career doesn’t mean sitting in a classroom anymore. eLearning vs Face-to-Face learning is an ongoing discussion among many people, educators and learners alike.
In fact, eLearning (often referred to as online learning) is incredibly popular and has been growing dramatically in recent years. 82% of organisations in the UK have increased their use of digital learning since 2020, and 97% were using some kind of eLearning for a portion of their employee training (LPI, 2021). The Learning and Work Institute has found that 70% of adult learners in the UK saw eLearning and online learning as a flexible solution to help fit personal and professional development around other commitments.
What’s better: eLearning vs Face-to-Face
Is eLearning really as good as it is made out to be or is there still a place for face-to-face training?
eLearning has emerged as a convenient and modern method of acquiring knowledge. Offering a blend of flexibility, accessibility, and varied content: eLearning has certainly paved its way into mainstream education. Whereas if we consider eLearning vs face-to-face courses, the social interaction offered by courses in the classroom is an element that eLearning has found challenging to replace for potential learners.
To help you make a decision as to whether or not this method is for you, you will need to consider the pros and cons:
Advantages of eLearning
- Flexibility: One of the most significant benefits of eLearning is the ability to learn at your own pace, anytime and anywhere. This flexibility is especially valuable for those juggling multiple responsibilities, such as work or family commitments.
- Cost-effective: eLearning courses often cost less than traditional classes, eliminating expenses for commuting, accommodation, and sometimes even textbooks.
- Wide range of courses: Online platforms offer a diverse range of courses that might not be available locally, providing learners with more opportunities for their development.
- Instant feedback: Digital platforms often provide immediate feedback on quizzes and tests, allowing you to gauge their understanding instantly.
- Tailored learning: With adaptive learning technologies, some eLearning courses can provide content based on a learner’s pace and understanding, ensuring a personalised learning experience.
Disadvantages of eLearning
- Social interaction: eLearning can be isolating as students miss out on group activities, discussions, and real-time interactions with peers and trainers.
- Requires self-discipline: This mode of learning demands a high degree of self-motivation, time-management, and discipline.
- Technical issues: eLearning is dependent on technology. Poor internet connections or system malfunctions can hinder the learning process.
- Limited hands-on experience: Practical subjects may not be effectively taught solely through eLearning, as they often require hands-on practice.
Comparing eLearning vs Face-to-Face
Traditional face-to-face learning has long been the cornerstone of education. In-person chats, lessons, and group talks work well for auditory learners, but online courses can also offer these advantages with the technology that is available now. Here’s a look at what this tried-and-tested method offers, along with some of its challenges.
Advantages of Face-to-Face Learning
- Personal interaction: Face-to-face learning fosters social interactions, discussions, and teamwork, which can enhance understanding and long-term retention.
- Structured environment: The set timings and structured environment can be beneficial for those who find it challenging to self-motivate.
- Instant clarification: Immediate doubts can be addressed, ensuring continuous flow in learning.
- Holistic development: Beyond academics, face-to-face settings nurture other essential skills like communication, presentation, and interpersonal skills.
Disadvantages of Face-to-Face Learning
- Less flexible: Class timings are fixed, which might not suit everyone.
- Higher costs: Face-to-Face learning has additional costs like commuting, hire of the classroom and trainer fees.
- Limited course options: You confined to courses offered locally, reducing your opportunities for development. Or you may have to travel a long distance and stay overnight to attend a course if it is not available in your local area.
What type of course should I do?
Both eLearning and face-to-face courses cater to different kinds of learners, addressing their unique needs. Understanding what type of learner you are can help you determine the most suitable course type for you.
Self-directed Learners: If you have a knack for setting your own pace, seeking your own resources or reading, and managing you learning trajectory often find eLearning the best option for them.
Visual Learners: With the multimedia capabilities of eLearning platforms, if you are a visual learner you can benefit from videos, infographics, and interactive simulations found in eLearning courses. Meanwhile, traditional classrooms offer whiteboard explanations, handouts, and live visual demonstrations.
Auditory Learners: These individuals retain information best when they hear it. Face-to-face discussions, lectures, and group studies serve auditory learners well. However, eLearning also provides spoken information, audio content, and interactive discussions to cater to their learning style
Reflective Learners: Those who need time to reflect on and process new information might find eLearning advantageous. The ability to pause, rewind, and replay lessons allows you to digest content at their own pace.
Social Learners: These learners thrive on interaction, discussion, and collaboration. Face-to-face settings naturally provide this through group activities and classroom discussions. Many eLearning platforms now incorporate forums, group projects, and live webinars to foster engagement. Virtual courses (courses that are run on Zoom or Teams by a trainer), can be a good option for social learners who do not have courses available to them within a commutable distance.
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