The current state of the global economy has led to the growing demand for more innovative ways of turning in the education curriculum to learners. With the increasing adoption of technology in education, various learning institutions are trying to strike a stability between online and face-to-face methods of curriculum delivery. Although there exist various choices for delivery of curriculum through online or face-to-face modes, there is a heated debate on whether or not online learning is more advantageous in achieving desired learning outcomes.
Based on the constructivist concept of learning that explains how proactive interactions and enforcements improve learning outcomes, it is evident that studying is a self-initiated and directed process. Through online learning, students can accomplish the learning tasks using the previous knowledge and experience. Online learning is appropriate for current learning environments since it will offer student-centered and interactive learning process to learners as opposed to face-to-face learning. Besides, students find online learning an interactive learning environment since they can post their questions and receive immediate replies and comments on their posts. Thus, online learning provides an active process of acquiring knowledge through interactions compared to face-to-face learning.
The traditional face-to-face learning approaches limit the degree to which learners can make their choices count during the learning process. In most cases, it gives the instructors power to control the learning process hence is teacher-centered. Online learning, on the other hand, is a learner-centered approach, which gives the students the freedom to take the initiative and be responsible for choosing the learning strategies that best fit their abilities. Thus, as opposed to the face-to-face learning environment that dictates what strategies the students have to work with, online learning allow students to come with learning strategies that satisfy their learning needs.
Another factor that makes online learning more appropriate compared to the traditional face-to-face is the degree of flexibility and availability of learning resources. Online learning ensures learners are flexible regarding the learning content, styles, and the whole process. Moreover, students can access learning, materials from anywhere provided they could access the internet. Hence, the method is appropriate for ensuring learning becomes a continuous process through just-in-time access to the materials. Face-to-face learning, on the other hand, requires learners to be a given place at a particular time for the learning to take place.
Comparing the costs of taking a course using an online learning mode and traditional face-to-face learning reveals that online learning is comparatively less expensive. This is because students do not have to plan for accommodation, transport, food, and other social activities associated with face-to-face learning (real learning) modes. Moreover, online learning is more effective regarding planning your time and multi-tasking (like work-study program). Thus, for self-sponsored students and adults, online learning provides the best environment to meet your needs.
Critics of online learning argue that students undergoing online learning have low retention of what are learned online classrooms. As opposed to online learning where instructors do not come into physical contact with the learners, face-to-face learning environment not only allows the students to create a lasting relationship with the instructor and peers, but also gives them room to participate in some activities like class demonstrations, practical, and physical education that enhances their memory. Online environments, however, try to capture students’ attention through videos, power point presentations, and podcasts. Thus, online learning attempts to improve learners’ memory but is less effective compared to the other.
There is a greater difference between online and face-to-face approach regarding how the two helps in creating a conducive learning environment for students. Although critics may view online learning as a shortcut to the normal learning process, it satisfies the needs of learners in the current society where technology has taken over everything. Thus, the use of technology in learning environments has been deemed appropriate for diverse learning environments making online learning more beneficial.