High school and college students are experiencing uncharted territory when it comes to their education: transitioning from in-person classroom and campus experiences to virtual ones. With a global pandemic affecting students of all grades, at times the situation can feel difficult to navigate. As more schools move towards virtual learning, there can be some growing pains students are feeling as the world adjusts. Here are a few pros and cons of virtual learning students can expect in the coming academic year.

Pro #1: Convenience and Comfortability

A major benefit of online education is the convenience of it all, allowing students to log on when they see fit. With the wide availability of Wi-Fi connections, students can be logged in from anywhere in the world. A recent article in the New York Times by an incoming high school freshman in New York City praised online learning due to it offering “more time on subjects that require greater effort and study.” As students are increasingly accessing the Internet anywhere and everywhere, so too can students access their classes and education, often from the comforts of their own home any time of the day.

Pro #2: Availability and Affordability

With online courses, the opportunities available to students are boundless. Online college courses and degree programs can be found through a myriad of sites, such as edX, a trusted platform from Harvard and MIT with more than 2,500 online courses offered from 140 institutions. While most traditional on-campus programs can range from $22,000 to $50,000 yearly, virtual opportunities can cut those costs in half. With the option to attend college from your living room, many students are saving on commuting and housing costs as well. An added boon to virtual learning is the flexibility of studying remotely, a talent that poses many students to be uniquely prepared for a professional marketplace where remote options are commonplace. As the coronavirus pandemic pushes students to alternative education routes, online learning provides the benefit of easing the financial burden of traditional college.

Pro #3:  Improved Student Attendance  

Since online classes can be taken from home or location of choice, there are fewer chances of students missing out on lessons, in case missed in E- classroom lectures can be recorded which can be viewed by them later in the day.

Pro #4:  Suits A Variety Of Learning Styles 

Every student has a different learning journey and a different learning style. Some students are visual learners, while some students prefer to learn through audio. Similarly, some students thrive in the classroom, and other students are solo learners who get distracted by large groups.

The online learning system, with its range of options and resources, can be personalized in many ways. It is the best way to create a perfect learning environment suited to the needs of each student.

As every coin has two sides so does e-learning, with many pros e- learning has some cons too and they are as follows – 

Con #1: Technology and Time

The biggest snafu of online learning deals primarily with time management and technology. For students prone to procrastination, online learning can be difficult to coordinate and motivation can prove to be a struggle. Since the majority of online learning is dependent upon a student’s ability to complete self-directed work. For those students who have the dedication and motivation to adapt to online learning, they can still struggle due to access. According to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES), 14% of students, aged 3-18, do not have access to the Internet at home, roughly equating to 9 million students.

Solution – Time management can be fixed with a plethora of applications available at our fingertips. Apps like Stay focussed, Forest: Stay focussed help individuals to concentrate on the work and block all the apps that mess with one’s concentration. And to help with the problem of procrastination one should make a timetable and most importantly stick by it and follow it wholeheartedly because learning today will definitely make you a better person tomorrow.

Insufficient internet access is being taken into account by the governments of most nations, but this problem is a genuine issue that sometimes doesn’t let passionate and good students pursue education.

Con #2: Social Interaction and Stigma

Online learning loses appeal for students who have their hearts set on a traditional college experience. Without the on-campus interactions with educators, clubs and sports, and other students, many students can feel isolated. In a study from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, social isolation shows up as the main reason for students to withdraw from their studies. This diminished level of social interaction weakens the college experience for many students, which leads to online learning having a stigma around it. However, this stigma of online education not being on par with traditional education is slowly fading, as noted in a Northwestern University study citing that “a solid majority (61%) of HR leaders [believe] that credentials earned online are of generally equal quality to those completed in-person.”

Online learning can be difficult to navigate, and students are approaching their fall 2021 semesters with a mixture of anxiety and excitement of the unknown. In a recent survey from NSHSS, students were lukewarm about the prospects of online learning. When asked how they would feel if their schools were still all online in the fall, roughly half (53%) said they prefer in-person classes but could deal with e-learning. And despite the COVID-19 crisis, students remain optimistic and hopeful. Strikingly, more than 80% of the 2000 respondents stated being “Very hopeful” or “Pretty hopeful” about the health of their family and friends (82%) and their ability to achieve a college education (94%), graduate on time (86%), and secure a job (83%). 

Solution – Not denying the fact that online education can get lonely sometimes but always remember, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. There is a solution for this too. These days some students on youtube have started a series named –  study with me, wherein one can study with them for hours together with some breaks, which helps to solve the isolation problem because you have someone studying along with you.

Con #3: Manage Screen Time

Many parents are concerned about the health hazards of having their children spend so many hours staring at a screen. This increase in screen time is one of the biggest concerns and disadvantages of online learning. Sometimes students also develop bad posture and other physical problems due to staying hunched in front of a screen.

Solution – While studying, taking breaks is a must especially when studying for long hours. So in these breaks, one should not check social media or play online games instead during this time the student should go away from the device, look out from the balcony and also talk to your loved ones.

Underneath the growing pains of virtual education, there are benefits that with little research and dedication, students can reap as the world continues through the global pandemic.

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