E-learning has gained huge popularity in recent years and online courses are now offered by different educational institutions as part of their training. This, however, doesn’t mean that the traditional class room training is becoming obsolete. There are many people who prefer the freedom and flexibility of online courses and at the same time, there are others who support the values of class room training.
While both approaches to learning have their advantages and disadvantages, it is not possible to state with a 100% determination that one of them stands out completely. We can compare them and see what is different and how a given feature can be beneficial to one learner while not so attractive to the other.
Usually e-learning and class-room learning target different learners. The traditional form of learning is more suitable for young kids, teenagers and young adolescent who have not started work yet. It will teach them to follow a strict schedule, be more disciplined and learn how to be responsible.
E-learning, on the other hand is much more preferred by working individuals who want to improve their knowledge or add a certain skill. It is suitable for corporate trainings, since it can give access to the same course to all employees of the company regardless of their location. E-learning courses are also often chosen by university students who have the opportunity to enroll in a prestigious university, even if they can’t afford to attend it physically. E-learning can also be a great additional source for knowledge for younger kids and school students.
One of the main arguments in favor of class room learning is the greater access to social interaction. Students communicate with their teachers and peers, exchange ideas, ask questions. They do not only learn the material but adopt patterns of behavior that will serve them for life.
With the advancement of technology, e-learning on the other hand also offers great possibilities for social interaction. There are virtual class rooms where students see their instructors and peers and are free to communicate with them. There are also options for private chats or group discussions. Hence, we can say that it is only the physical interaction that lacks in e-learning not the social one.
Personalization of the Training
It is fair to say that both e-learning and class room training offer possibilities for personalization of the training.
In the classroom, the teacher has the opportunity to get to know the students and approach each of them individually. The teacher can assess their strengths and weaknesses and adapt the material accordingly. On the other hand, however, there is a teaching plan and specific material that needs to be taught, which sometimes leaves less to no room for adaptation and personalization.
With e-learning, it is possible to create a given course having the specific target audience in mind. It is easy to translate and localize e-learning modules so that they can meet the requirements of the individual group of learners. What e-learning lacks is the personal judgement of the instructor about how the learners react to the material.
There is a difference in the instructional materials used in a traditional and online setting.
In a class room the teacher usually presents the new knowledge orally and often uses some visual props such as PowerPoint presentations or models. Afterwards, the students have a written text that they should learn. Nowadays, however, many teachers use technology and elements of online training in their classes making them more interactive and attractive for the students.
In e-learning, the material is usually presented in a written form or often with the help of videos or animation. The developers of the course need to keep in mind that the learner is going to skim through the text on the screen and therefore present it in the best format – avoid long sentences and paragraphs, choose appropriate headlines, bullet points, bolded phrases, etc. The overall design of the course is also of a great importance.
Learning Time and Place
In a traditional class room setting the time and place of learning are limited and fixed. You have to be physically present at a certain venue in order to be able to acquire new knowledge.
With online courses these limitations are lifted. Your class room can be virtually anywhere and you can choose which time is the most suitable for a given course. You can also determine your own pace of learning.
The fact that both e-learning and class room training coexist is a proof that still both are necessary for the development of new skills and knowledge. Each of them has its pros and cons and can be useful in achieving different purposes of training. Hence, none of them can be deemed the best, since e-learning can be more appropriate in one case, while the traditional class-room approach may be more efficient in another.