Online vs. In-Person: Are Face-to-Face Classes Better Than Virtual Learning?

The internet has made it possible to gain training from some of the most reputable academic institutions in the world without leaving one’s home. Oxford, Harvard, Yale, and other universities and colleges around the world all offer online classes, either with or without certificates at the end, on learning platforms such as and Coursera.

Aside from the convenience, online classes are typically relatively affordable, too. Students do not have to take out a loan to access quality education. Although the classes are all online, students still have access to lectures made by experts in their respective fields.

When is In-Person Classes Superior?

There are several benefits that students can reap from online classes which can make young people ask, is it still worth spending time and money on in-person classes? The traditional process of getting an education can be very expensive, especially if you are heading to an Ivy League. Tuition goes above a hundred thousand dollars and, if you have to move out of state for it, you would have to spend more.

However, it turns out, there are valuable lessons you can get from going into a classroom and listening to a lecture.

Heading to business school, for example, can teach you skills that you will need in order to become a better entrepreneur. These skills cannot always be translated or communicated verbally or in writing for online classes. One necessary skill you can get from in-person classes is the importance of working as a team. Because there is no way to bring students together, the activities required from online classes are completed individually. Teamwork is not practiced.

Another skill that will prove to be useful in the real world is exposure to different viewpoints. Most online classes have platforms where students can interact and even have a debate on the topics discussed. However, being in one room, explaining your perspective to the class, and hearing what they have to say is a different experience. It teaches students how to communicate effectively and also listen to someone else’s opinions on the matter.

In addition, in school, you have the opportunity to network and build connections. These people may lead you toward or introduce you to a potential client or investor in the future.

Challenges of Virtual Learning

online learning

Despite its benefits over in-person classes, virtual learning can lead to huge problems. Not all students respond well to online classes.

Some people find it more challenging to focus when the lecturer is not present within the room. Previous studies have found that people understand what they read on paper compared to what they read on a screen. Moreover, most people prefer reading on a paper rather than on a screen, especially for content that they need to remember later on.

It is also easier to procrastinate with virtual learning. Some have flexible deadlines to accommodate those who have full-time jobs or responsible for childcare at home. These can prevent learners from completing the course.

Many students already have serious problems with procrastination. One survey found that up to 75% of college students consider themselves procrastinators.

Virtual Learning Can Be as Effective

However, to those who can only access online classes, there is evidence that suggests that virtual learning imparts quality education, too.

One study looked at the value of virtual learning among nearly a thousand students at the Harvard Business School. The researchers found that the career and personal benefits of online classes mirror that of in-person classes. In some cases, online classes exceeded in-person classes.

The paper revealed that one in four participants were promoted after they completed the online course at Harvard. More than half also said they received a wider scope of work opportunities. Meanwhile, one-third shared that they transitioned to a new career.

The findings are significant because these are the same benefits that people seek when they want to get an MBA. They want to be promoted to a more important role in the company or be recruited by another employer and be offered a higher salary. Some are transitioning from another industry to business.

However, as mentioned, not everyone will benefit from virtual learning. It is more accessible for those who do not have the financial capacity or the time to enroll and attend in-person classes at a university or college regularly but it is not a solution for everyone. In some cases, going to in-person classes is preferable because the lecturer and their peers are present in the same room. Moreover, in-person classes facilitate interaction, something that may not be available to students in virtual learning setups.

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