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Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning: IELTS Writing Task 2 Topic

You must write at least 250 words for IELTS Writing Task 2. You will be given a topic and evaluated on your abilities to answer by expressing and defending your viewpoint, explaining the topic, summarising facts, describing challenges, identifying potential alternatives, and illustrating what you write with explanations, claims, and specific examples from your own expertise or experience.

Today we will read about a very popular topic “Advantages and disadvantages of online learning essay”.

So, let’s get started.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Topic: Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Classes

Let us help you in your IELTS writing preparation with an interesting and informative topic. Read all the 3 sample answers and learn how to approach a topic in different ways.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Classes Sample Answer One for IELTS Writing Task 2

Online teaching and learning have grown in popularity among students in recent times, and this is viewed differently by different learners. Many students see this as a helpful learning tool, although others believe it is not as successful as classroom instruction. This article would explore the benefits and drawbacks of digital education.

Also Read: Importance of Art in Society: IELTS Essay Sample for IELTS Writing Task 2 Explained for Band 8

Advantages of Online Classes Essay

Students who study online have more flexibility in their schedules and spend less money on their education. They will study their desired courses and subjects at their own pace. This is a fantastic opportunity for learners to learn new skills and expand their experience while remaining in the comfort of their own home. For example, a Nepali student seeking an Australian degree in business administration does not need to travel to Australia; he can train and complete the course while remaining at home. As a result, distance learning is both cost-effective and time-efficient.

Disadvantages of Studying Online

That being said, online classes offer more emphasis on the analytical aspect of learning and there is less instructor and student contact. It ignores realistic learning elements and encourages passive learning. It is clear that students perceive it to be less successful than classroom instruction. According to a new survey, a larger percentage of students considered classroom instruction to be much more successful than digital education.


Conclusion: Merits and Demerits of Online Teaching

In conclusion, the ever-increasing availability of digital education has gained traction among young adults for many years and is viewed as helpful by many and less successful by others. The focus should be placed on its efficacy in order to identify it as the most cost-effective learning method other than classroom instruction.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Classes Sample Answer Two for IELTS Writing Task 2

Recently, the course has grown in popularity, resulting in more excellent learning options for students. While this movement may have some benefits, it may also have some risks and challenges as a result. Both sides of learning will be addressed in more detail in the following chapters. On the one hand, distance education has certain benefits. For starters, the simplicity of distance learning is essential.

Also Read: IELTS Essay in Writing Task 2: Here’s How to Organize it Well

There is no time constraint and the online classroom and teacher are (theoretically) accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As a result, students will stick to their schedules without impacting their learning outcomes.

Second, the advantage of learning is that it saves resources. Tuition at online schools is often smaller than at conventional universities. Building repairs, grounds maintenance, food service, class accessories, and other expenses that impact the cost of credits are not needed.

Learners, on the other hand, may suffer from a number of disadvantages of simulated learning. To continue, students can encounter technical issues, which can have a variety of implications.

Furthermore, some students are not equipped with the good internet access that online courses necessitate, and therefore fall behind their simulated classmates: poor monitors find it difficult to obey the course Management.

The system, as well as their learning process, becomes troublesome. Another downside to digital education is the scarcity of accreditation and the poor standard of instruction. The growing demand for digital education has resulted in an uncontrollable proliferation of colleges, including some unregulated schools, and there is no way to check the content of all courses. As a consequence, illegal organisations can con several students out of money.

Finally, online education can be helpful in terms of scheduling flexibility and reduced tuition. However, immersive learning has some drawbacks, including poor student conditions and a lack of quality control over classes.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Classes Sample Answer Three for IELTS Writing Task 2

These days, online learning is becoming increasingly popular. Many conventional colleges began to make their classes available for free. It represents a simple and convenient way to gain expertise in almost any area, from law and accounting to social sciences such as sociology, anthropology, and history. Digital education is a fantastic alternative to conventional universities, particularly for people who do not have the time or resources to attend traditional universities. So what are the benefits and drawbacks of online learning?

Also Read: Opinion Essay for IELTS: How to Plan and Write a Perfect Opinion Essay?

While many people still believe that traditional colleges are the only way to gain expertise and obtain a diploma, digital education has proven to be an excellent option. Students should study on their own time, and particularly for free. It is an excellent way to learn a variety of subjects while still increasing self-motivation. Online learning is so successful because students can complete their assignments easily, leaving more time for hobbies or job search.

Access to all of the opportunities of a typical course allows learners to practise wherever they are, giving them the opportunity to prepare wherever they choose. An individual may attend various courses with only an Internet connection. Students’ accountability and self-discipline are among the benefits of digital learning.

Limitations of Online Learning

An individual can only learn properly in a small group. Learners learn at school how to make new friends, be polite, deal with failure, and, most importantly, compete. Competition among colleagues can be very exciting, and students can learn greatly from it. Human contact is not possible for digital learning.

Another drawback is that online classes cannot handle the thousands of students who attempt to participate in debates. Furthermore, if digital education is intended for disciplines that need preparation, it can be challenging.

Conclusion of Studying Online

Finally, digital education can be seen as a supplement to and expansion to traditional ways of learning. Even the best online course cannot completely substitute physical interaction with an instructor or the human connections formed in a group. As a result, standard classes can not be replaced by digital learning.

Any essay can be satisfactory if addressed correctly. It is critical to remember in IELTS writing that each type of essay necessitates a different approach. In the case of an ‘advantage and disadvantage’ essay, a mixture of solid structure and appropriate data is a game-changer. As a result, in order to achieve a 9 band in your exam, you must devote some time to planning and structuring your essay.

If you need more assistance on this, you can simply visit IELTS Ninja .

Also Read: How to Write Agree and Disagree Essays in IELTS? Tips to Write the Perfect Essay


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Thank you for providing the advantages and disadvantages of the online learning, but many prefer online learning over self study, what do you think about it?

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About the Author

Madhurjya chowdhury.

Madhurjya Chowdhury, a web content writer in Ufaber EduTech has a very strong passion for writing and alluring the readers. You can find him writing articles for the betterment of exam aspirants and children. With immense interest in research-based content writing and copywriting, he likes to reach out to more and more people with his creative writing style. On the other side, he is an Electronics and Communication Engineer from LPU, Jalandhar. In his leisure time, he likes to play badminton or read about space discoveries. Apart from this, he is a pro gamer on PC, PS and Mobile gaming platforms.

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person on a computer

The pros and cons of online learning

What to look for in an online course.


If you’re at a point in your life where you’re considering continuing your education, you may wonder if online learning is the right path for you.

Taking an online course requires a notable investment of time, effort, and money, so it’s important to feel confident about your decision before moving forward. While online learning works incredibly well for some people, it’s not for everyone.

We recently sat down with MIT xPRO Senior Instructional Designer and Program Manager Luke Hobson to explore the pros and cons of online learning and what to look for in an online course. If you’re waiting for a sign about whether or not to enroll in that course you’ve been eying, you just might find it here.

Pros of Online Learning

First, let’s take a look at the true value of online learning by examining some of the benefits:

1. Flexibility

Online learning’s most significant advantage is its flexibility. It’s the reason millions of adults have chosen to continue their education and pursue certificates and degrees.

Asynchronous courses allow learners to complete work at their own pace, empowering them to find the optimal time to consume the content and submit assignments.

Some people are more attentive, focused, and creative in the mornings compared to the evenings and vice versa. Whatever works best for the learners should be the priority of the learning experience.

2. Community

When Luke asks people about their main reason for enrolling in a course, a common answer is networking and community.

Learners crave finding like-minded individuals who are going through the same experiences and have the same questions. They want to find a place where they belong. Being in the company of others who understand what they’re going through can help online learners who are looking for support and motivation during challenging times and times that are worth celebrating.

Some learners have created study groups and book clubs that have carried on far beyond the end of the course-it’s amazing what can grow from a single post on a discussion board!

3. Latest information

“Speed is a massive benefit of online learning,” and according to Luke, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

“When we say speed, we don’t mean being quick with learning. We mean actual speed to market. There are so many new ideas evolving within technical spaces that it’s impossible to keep courses the way they were originally designed for a long period of time.”

Luke notes that a program on Additive Manufacturing , Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality , or Nanotechnology must be checked and updated frequently. More formal learning modalities have difficulty changing content at this rapid pace. But within the online space, it’s expected that the course content will change as quickly as the world itself does.

Cons of Online Learning

Now that we’ve looked at some of the biggest pros of online learning, let’s examine a few of the drawbacks:

1. Learning environment

While many learners thrive in an asynchronous learning environment, others struggle. Some learners prefer live lessons and an instructor they can connect with multiple times a week. They need these interactions to feel supported and to persist.

Most learners within the online space identify themselves as self-directed learners, meaning they can learn on their own with the right environment, guidance, materials, and assignments. Learners should know themselves first and understand their preferences when it comes to what kind of environment will help them thrive.

2. Repetition

One drawback of online courses is that the structure can be repetitive: do a reading, respond to two discussion posts, submit an essay, repeat. After a while, some learners may feel disengaged from the learning experience.

There are online courses that break the mold and offer multiple kinds of learning activities, assessments, and content to make the learning experience come alive, but it may take some research to find them-more on what to look for in an online course later in this article! Luke and his colleagues at MIT xPRO are mindful of designing courses that genuinely engage learners from beginning to end.

3. Underestimation

Luke has noticed that some learners underestimate how much work is required in an online course. They may mistakenly believe that online learning is somehow “easier” compared to in-person learning.

For those learners who miscalculate how long they will need to spend online or how challenging the assignments can be, changing that mindset is a difficult process. It’s essential to set aside the right amount of time per week to contribute to the content, activities, and assignments. Creating personal deadlines and building a study routine are two best practices that successful online learners follow to hold themselves accountable.

Experience the Value of Online Learning: What to Look For in an Online Course

You’ve probably gathered by now that not all online courses are created equal. On one end of the spectrum, there are methods of online learning that leave learners stunned by what a great experience they had. On the other end of the spectrum, some online learning courses are so disappointing that learners regret their decision to enroll.

If you want to experience the value of online learning, it’s essential to pick the right course. Here’s a quick list of what to look for:

  • Feedback and connection to peers within the course platform. Interacting regularly with other learners makes a big difference. Luke and the MIT xPRO team use peer-reviewed feedback to give learners the opportunity to engage with each other’s work.
  • Proof of hard work. In the online learning space, proof of hard work often comes in the form of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or specific certifications. MIT xPRO course participants who successfully complete one or more courses are eligible to receive CEUs , which many employers, licensing agencies, and professional associations accept as evidence of a participant’s serious commitment to their professional development.

Online learning isn’t for everyone, but with the right approach, it can be a valuable experience for many people. Now that you know what to look for in an online course, see what Luke and the MIT xPRO instructional design team have to offer by checking out the latest MIT xPRO courses and programs .

Originally published at on August 8th, 2022.

essay advantages of online learning

The pros and cons of online learning was originally published in MIT Open Learning on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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The effects of online education on academic success: A meta-analysis study

  • Published: 06 September 2021
  • Volume 27 , pages 429–450, ( 2022 )

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The purpose of this study is to analyze the effect of online education, which has been extensively used on student achievement since the beginning of the pandemic. In line with this purpose, a meta-analysis of the related studies focusing on the effect of online education on students’ academic achievement in several countries between the years 2010 and 2021 was carried out. Furthermore, this study will provide a source to assist future studies with comparing the effect of online education on academic achievement before and after the pandemic. This meta-analysis study consists of 27 studies in total. The meta-analysis involves the studies conducted in the USA, Taiwan, Turkey, China, Philippines, Ireland, and Georgia. The studies included in the meta-analysis are experimental studies, and the total sample size is 1772. In the study, the funnel plot, Duval and Tweedie’s Trip and Fill Analysis, Orwin’s Safe N Analysis, and Egger’s Regression Test were utilized to determine the publication bias, which has been found to be quite low. Besides, Hedge’s g statistic was employed to measure the effect size for the difference between the means performed in accordance with the random effects model. The results of the study show that the effect size of online education on academic achievement is on a medium level. The heterogeneity test results of the meta-analysis study display that the effect size does not differ in terms of class level, country, online education approaches, and lecture moderators.

Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.

1 Introduction

Information and communication technologies have become a powerful force in transforming the educational settings around the world. The pandemic has been an important factor in transferring traditional physical classrooms settings through adopting information and communication technologies and has also accelerated the transformation. The literature supports that learning environments connected to information and communication technologies highly satisfy students. Therefore, we need to keep interest in technology-based learning environments. Clearly, technology has had a huge impact on young people's online lives. This digital revolution can synergize the educational ambitions and interests of digitally addicted students. In essence, COVID-19 has provided us with an opportunity to embrace online learning as education systems have to keep up with the rapid emergence of new technologies.

Information and communication technologies that have an effect on all spheres of life are also actively included in the education field. With the recent developments, using technology in education has become inevitable due to personal and social reasons (Usta, 2011a ). Online education may be given as an example of using information and communication technologies as a consequence of the technological developments. Also, it is crystal clear that online learning is a popular way of obtaining instruction (Demiralay et al., 2016 ; Pillay et al., 2007 ), which is defined by Horton ( 2000 ) as a way of education that is performed through a web browser or an online application without requiring an extra software or a learning source. Furthermore, online learning is described as a way of utilizing the internet to obtain the related learning sources during the learning process, to interact with the content, the teacher, and other learners, as well as to get support throughout the learning process (Ally, 2004 ). Online learning has such benefits as learning independently at any time and place (Vrasidas & MsIsaac, 2000 ), granting facility (Poole, 2000 ), flexibility (Chizmar & Walbert, 1999 ), self-regulation skills (Usta, 2011b ), learning with collaboration, and opportunity to plan self-learning process.

Even though online education practices have not been comprehensive as it is now, internet and computers have been used in education as alternative learning tools in correlation with the advances in technology. The first distance education attempt in the world was initiated by the ‘Steno Courses’ announcement published in Boston newspaper in 1728. Furthermore, in the nineteenth century, Sweden University started the “Correspondence Composition Courses” for women, and University Correspondence College was afterwards founded for the correspondence courses in 1843 (Arat & Bakan, 2011 ). Recently, distance education has been performed through computers, assisted by the facilities of the internet technologies, and soon, it has evolved into a mobile education practice that is emanating from progress in the speed of internet connection, and the development of mobile devices.

With the emergence of pandemic (Covid-19), face to face education has almost been put to a halt, and online education has gained significant importance. The Microsoft management team declared to have 750 users involved in the online education activities on the 10 th March, just before the pandemic; however, on March 24, they informed that the number of users increased significantly, reaching the number of 138,698 users (OECD, 2020 ). This event supports the view that it is better to commonly use online education rather than using it as a traditional alternative educational tool when students do not have the opportunity to have a face to face education (Geostat, 2019 ). The period of Covid-19 pandemic has emerged as a sudden state of having limited opportunities. Face to face education has stopped in this period for a long time. The global spread of Covid-19 affected more than 850 million students all around the world, and it caused the suspension of face to face education. Different countries have proposed several solutions in order to maintain the education process during the pandemic. Schools have had to change their curriculum, and many countries supported the online education practices soon after the pandemic. In other words, traditional education gave its way to online education practices. At least 96 countries have been motivated to access online libraries, TV broadcasts, instructions, sources, video lectures, and online channels (UNESCO, 2020 ). In such a painful period, educational institutions went through online education practices by the help of huge companies such as Microsoft, Google, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and Slack. Thus, online education has been discussed in the education agenda more intensively than ever before.

Although online education approaches were not used as comprehensively as it has been used recently, it was utilized as an alternative learning approach in education for a long time in parallel with the development of technology, internet and computers. The academic achievement of the students is often aimed to be promoted by employing online education approaches. In this regard, academicians in various countries have conducted many studies on the evaluation of online education approaches and published the related results. However, the accumulation of scientific data on online education approaches creates difficulties in keeping, organizing and synthesizing the findings. In this research area, studies are being conducted at an increasing rate making it difficult for scientists to be aware of all the research outside of their ​​expertise. Another problem encountered in the related study area is that online education studies are repetitive. Studies often utilize slightly different methods, measures, and/or examples to avoid duplication. This erroneous approach makes it difficult to distinguish between significant differences in the related results. In other words, if there are significant differences in the results of the studies, it may be difficult to express what variety explains the differences in these results. One obvious solution to these problems is to systematically review the results of various studies and uncover the sources. One method of performing such systematic syntheses is the application of meta-analysis which is a methodological and statistical approach to draw conclusions from the literature. At this point, how effective online education applications are in increasing the academic success is an important detail. Has online education, which is likely to be encountered frequently in the continuing pandemic period, been successful in the last ten years? If successful, how much was the impact? Did different variables have an impact on this effect? Academics across the globe have carried out studies on the evaluation of online education platforms and publishing the related results (Chiao et al., 2018 ). It is quite important to evaluate the results of the studies that have been published up until now, and that will be published in the future. Has the online education been successful? If it has been, how big is the impact? Do the different variables affect this impact? What should we consider in the next coming online education practices? These questions have all motivated us to carry out this study. We have conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis study that tries to provide a discussion platform on how to develop efficient online programs for educators and policy makers by reviewing the related studies on online education, presenting the effect size, and revealing the effect of diverse variables on the general impact.

There have been many critical discussions and comprehensive studies on the differences between online and face to face learning; however, the focus of this paper is different in the sense that it clarifies the magnitude of the effect of online education and teaching process, and it represents what factors should be controlled to help increase the effect size. Indeed, the purpose here is to provide conscious decisions in the implementation of the online education process.

The general impact of online education on the academic achievement will be discovered in the study. Therefore, this will provide an opportunity to get a general overview of the online education which has been practiced and discussed intensively in the pandemic period. Moreover, the general impact of online education on academic achievement will be analyzed, considering different variables. In other words, the current study will allow to totally evaluate the study results from the related literature, and to analyze the results considering several cultures, lectures, and class levels. Considering all the related points, this study seeks to answer the following research questions:

What is the effect size of online education on academic achievement?

How do the effect sizes of online education on academic achievement change according to the moderator variable of the country?

How do the effect sizes of online education on academic achievement change according to the moderator variable of the class level?

How do the effect sizes of online education on academic achievement change according to the moderator variable of the lecture?

How do the effect sizes of online education on academic achievement change according to the moderator variable of the online education approaches?

This study aims at determining the effect size of online education, which has been highly used since the beginning of the pandemic, on students’ academic achievement in different courses by using a meta-analysis method. Meta-analysis is a synthesis method that enables gathering of several study results accurately and efficiently, and getting the total results in the end (Tsagris & Fragkos, 2018 ).

2.1 Selecting and coding the data (studies)

The required literature for the meta-analysis study was reviewed in July, 2020, and the follow-up review was conducted in September, 2020. The purpose of the follow-up review was to include the studies which were published in the conduction period of this study, and which met the related inclusion criteria. However, no study was encountered to be included in the follow-up review.

In order to access the studies in the meta-analysis, the databases of Web of Science, ERIC, and SCOPUS were reviewed by utilizing the keywords ‘online learning and online education’. Not every database has a search engine that grants access to the studies by writing the keywords, and this obstacle was considered to be an important problem to be overcome. Therefore, a platform that has a special design was utilized by the researcher. With this purpose, through the open access system of Cukurova University Library, detailed reviews were practiced using EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) that allow reviewing the whole collection of research through a sole searching box. Since the fundamental variables of this study are online education and online learning, the literature was systematically reviewed in the related databases (Web of Science, ERIC, and SCOPUS) by referring to the keywords. Within this scope, 225 articles were accessed, and the studies were included in the coding key list formed by the researcher. The name of the researchers, the year, the database (Web of Science, ERIC, and SCOPUS), the sample group and size, the lectures that the academic achievement was tested in, the country that the study was conducted in, and the class levels were all included in this coding key.

The following criteria were identified to include 225 research studies which were coded based on the theoretical basis of the meta-analysis study: (1) The studies should be published in the refereed journals between the years 2020 and 2021, (2) The studies should be experimental studies that try to determine the effect of online education and online learning on academic achievement, (3) The values of the stated variables or the required statistics to calculate these values should be stated in the results of the studies, and (4) The sample group of the study should be at a primary education level. These criteria were also used as the exclusion criteria in the sense that the studies that do not meet the required criteria were not included in the present study.

After the inclusion criteria were determined, a systematic review process was conducted, following the year criterion of the study by means of EBSCO. Within this scope, 290,365 studies that analyze the effect of online education and online learning on academic achievement were accordingly accessed. The database (Web of Science, ERIC, and SCOPUS) was also used as a filter by analyzing the inclusion criteria. Hence, the number of the studies that were analyzed was 58,616. Afterwards, the keyword ‘primary education’ was used as the filter and the number of studies included in the study decreased to 3152. Lastly, the literature was reviewed by using the keyword ‘academic achievement’ and 225 studies were accessed. All the information of 225 articles was included in the coding key.

It is necessary for the coders to review the related studies accurately and control the validity, safety, and accuracy of the studies (Stewart & Kamins, 2001 ). Within this scope, the studies that were determined based on the variables used in this study were first reviewed by three researchers from primary education field, then the accessed studies were combined and processed in the coding key by the researcher. All these studies that were processed in the coding key were analyzed in accordance with the inclusion criteria by all the researchers in the meetings, and it was decided that 27 studies met the inclusion criteria (Atici & Polat, 2010 ; Carreon, 2018 ; Ceylan & Elitok Kesici, 2017 ; Chae & Shin, 2016 ; Chiang et al. 2014 ; Ercan, 2014 ; Ercan et al., 2016 ; Gwo-Jen et al., 2018 ; Hayes & Stewart, 2016 ; Hwang et al., 2012 ; Kert et al., 2017 ; Lai & Chen, 2010 ; Lai et al., 2015 ; Meyers et al., 2015 ; Ravenel et al., 2014 ; Sung et al., 2016 ; Wang & Chen, 2013 ; Yu, 2019 ; Yu & Chen, 2014 ; Yu & Pan, 2014 ; Yu et al., 2010 ; Zhong et al., 2017 ). The data from the studies meeting the inclusion criteria were independently processed in the second coding key by three researchers, and consensus meetings were arranged for further discussion. After the meetings, researchers came to an agreement that the data were coded accurately and precisely. Having identified the effect sizes and heterogeneity of the study, moderator variables that will show the differences between the effect sizes were determined. The data related to the determined moderator variables were added to the coding key by three researchers, and a new consensus meeting was arranged. After the meeting, researchers came to an agreement that moderator variables were coded accurately and precisely.

2.2 Study group

27 studies are included in the meta-analysis. The total sample size of the studies that are included in the analysis is 1772. The characteristics of the studies included are given in Table 1 .

2.3 Publication bias

Publication bias is the low capability of published studies on a research subject to represent all completed studies on the same subject (Card, 2011 ; Littell et al., 2008 ). Similarly, publication bias is the state of having a relationship between the probability of the publication of a study on a subject, and the effect size and significance that it produces. Within this scope, publication bias may occur when the researchers do not want to publish the study as a result of failing to obtain the expected results, or not being approved by the scientific journals, and consequently not being included in the study synthesis (Makowski et al., 2019 ). The high possibility of publication bias in a meta-analysis study negatively affects (Pecoraro, 2018 ) the accuracy of the combined effect size, causing the average effect size to be reported differently than it should be (Borenstein et al., 2009 ). For this reason, the possibility of publication bias in the included studies was tested before determining the effect sizes of the relationships between the stated variables. The possibility of publication bias of this meta-analysis study was analyzed by using the funnel plot, Orwin’s Safe N Analysis, Duval and Tweedie’s Trip and Fill Analysis, and Egger’s Regression Test.

2.4 Selecting the model

After determining the probability of publication bias of this meta-analysis study, the statistical model used to calculate the effect sizes was selected. The main approaches used in the effect size calculations according to the differentiation level of inter-study variance are fixed and random effects models (Pigott, 2012 ). Fixed effects model refers to the homogeneity of the characteristics of combined studies apart from the sample sizes, while random effects model refers to the parameter diversity between the studies (Cumming, 2012 ). While calculating the average effect size in the random effects model (Deeks et al., 2008 ) that is based on the assumption that effect predictions of different studies are only the result of a similar distribution, it is necessary to consider several situations such as the effect size apart from the sample error of combined studies, characteristics of the participants, duration, scope, and pattern of the study (Littell et al., 2008 ). While deciding the model in the meta-analysis study, the assumptions on the sample characteristics of the studies included in the analysis and the inferences that the researcher aims to make should be taken into consideration. The fact that the sample characteristics of the studies conducted in the field of social sciences are affected by various parameters shows that using random effects model is more appropriate in this sense. Besides, it is stated that the inferences made with the random effects model are beyond the studies included in the meta-analysis (Field, 2003 ; Field & Gillett, 2010 ). Therefore, using random effects model also contributes to the generalization of research data. The specified criteria for the statistical model selection show that according to the nature of the meta-analysis study, the model should be selected just before the analysis (Borenstein et al., 2007 ; Littell et al., 2008 ). Within this framework, it was decided to make use of the random effects model, considering that the students who are the samples of the studies included in the meta-analysis are from different countries and cultures, the sample characteristics of the studies differ, and the patterns and scopes of the studies vary as well.

2.5 Heterogeneity

Meta-analysis facilitates analyzing the research subject with different parameters by showing the level of diversity between the included studies. Within this frame, whether there is a heterogeneous distribution between the studies included in the study or not has been evaluated in the present study. The heterogeneity of the studies combined in this meta-analysis study has been determined through Q and I 2 tests. Q test evaluates the random distribution probability of the differences between the observed results (Deeks et al., 2008 ). Q value exceeding 2 value calculated according to the degree of freedom and significance, indicates the heterogeneity of the combined effect sizes (Card, 2011 ). I 2 test, which is the complementary of the Q test, shows the heterogeneity amount of the effect sizes (Cleophas & Zwinderman, 2017 ). I 2 value being higher than 75% is explained as high level of heterogeneity.

In case of encountering heterogeneity in the studies included in the meta-analysis, the reasons of heterogeneity can be analyzed by referring to the study characteristics. The study characteristics which may be related to the heterogeneity between the included studies can be interpreted through subgroup analysis or meta-regression analysis (Deeks et al., 2008 ). While determining the moderator variables, the sufficiency of the number of variables, the relationship between the moderators, and the condition to explain the differences between the results of the studies have all been considered in the present study. Within this scope, it was predicted in this meta-analysis study that the heterogeneity can be explained with the country, class level, and lecture moderator variables of the study in terms of the effect of online education, which has been highly used since the beginning of the pandemic, and it has an impact on the students’ academic achievement in different lectures. Some subgroups were evaluated and categorized together, considering that the number of effect sizes of the sub-dimensions of the specified variables is not sufficient to perform moderator analysis (e.g. the countries where the studies were conducted).

2.6 Interpreting the effect sizes

Effect size is a factor that shows how much the independent variable affects the dependent variable positively or negatively in each included study in the meta-analysis (Dinçer, 2014 ). While interpreting the effect sizes obtained from the meta-analysis, the classifications of Cohen et al. ( 2007 ) have been utilized. The case of differentiating the specified relationships of the situation of the country, class level, and school subject variables of the study has been identified through the Q test, degree of freedom, and p significance value Fig.  1 and 2 .

3 Findings and results

The purpose of this study is to determine the effect size of online education on academic achievement. Before determining the effect sizes in the study, the probability of publication bias of this meta-analysis study was analyzed by using the funnel plot, Orwin’s Safe N Analysis, Duval and Tweedie’s Trip and Fill Analysis, and Egger’s Regression Test.

When the funnel plots are examined, it is seen that the studies included in the analysis are distributed symmetrically on both sides of the combined effect size axis, and they are generally collected in the middle and lower sections. The probability of publication bias is low according to the plots. However, since the results of the funnel scatter plots may cause subjective interpretations, they have been supported by additional analyses (Littell et al., 2008 ). Therefore, in order to provide an extra proof for the probability of publication bias, it has been analyzed through Orwin’s Safe N Analysis, Duval and Tweedie’s Trip and Fill Analysis, and Egger’s Regression Test (Table 2 ).

Table 2 consists of the results of the rates of publication bias probability before counting the effect size of online education on academic achievement. According to the table, Orwin Safe N analysis results show that it is not necessary to add new studies to the meta-analysis in order for Hedges g to reach a value outside the range of ± 0.01. The Duval and Tweedie test shows that excluding the studies that negatively affect the symmetry of the funnel scatter plots for each meta-analysis or adding their exact symmetrical equivalents does not significantly differentiate the calculated effect size. The insignificance of the Egger tests results reveals that there is no publication bias in the meta-analysis study. The results of the analysis indicate the high internal validity of the effect sizes and the adequacy of representing the studies conducted on the relevant subject.

In this study, it was aimed to determine the effect size of online education on academic achievement after testing the publication bias. In line with the first purpose of the study, the forest graph regarding the effect size of online education on academic achievement is shown in Fig.  3 , and the statistics regarding the effect size are given in Table 3 .

figure 1

The flow chart of the scanning and selection process of the studies

figure 2

Funnel plot graphics representing the effect size of the effects of online education on academic success

figure 3

Forest graph related to the effect size of online education on academic success

The square symbols in the forest graph in Fig.  3 represent the effect sizes, while the horizontal lines show the intervals in 95% confidence of the effect sizes, and the diamond symbol shows the overall effect size. When the forest graph is analyzed, it is seen that the lower and upper limits of the combined effect sizes are generally close to each other, and the study loads are similar. This similarity in terms of study loads indicates the similarity of the contribution of the combined studies to the overall effect size.

Figure  3 clearly represents that the study of Liu and others (Liu et al., 2018 ) has the lowest, and the study of Ercan and Bilen ( 2014 ) has the highest effect sizes. The forest graph shows that all the combined studies and the overall effect are positive. Furthermore, it is simply understood from the forest graph in Fig.  3 and the effect size statistics in Table 3 that the results of the meta-analysis study conducted with 27 studies and analyzing the effect of online education on academic achievement illustrate that this relationship is on average level (= 0.409).

After the analysis of the effect size in the study, whether the studies included in the analysis are distributed heterogeneously or not has also been analyzed. The heterogeneity of the combined studies was determined through the Q and I 2 tests. As a result of the heterogeneity test, Q statistical value was calculated as 29.576. With 26 degrees of freedom at 95% significance level in the chi-square table, the critical value is accepted as 38.885. The Q statistical value (29.576) counted in this study is lower than the critical value of 38.885. The I 2 value, which is the complementary of the Q statistics, is 12.100%. This value indicates that the accurate heterogeneity or the total variability that can be attributed to variability between the studies is 12%. Besides, p value is higher than (0.285) p = 0.05. All these values [Q (26) = 29.579, p = 0.285; I2 = 12.100] indicate that there is a homogeneous distribution between the effect sizes, and fixed effects model should be used to interpret these effect sizes. However, some researchers argue that even if the heterogeneity is low, it should be evaluated based on the random effects model (Borenstein et al., 2007 ). Therefore, this study gives information about both models. The heterogeneity of the combined studies has been attempted to be explained with the characteristics of the studies included in the analysis. In this context, the final purpose of the study is to determine the effect of the country, academic level, and year variables on the findings. Accordingly, the statistics regarding the comparison of the stated relations according to the countries where the studies were conducted are given in Table 4 .

As seen in Table 4 , the effect of online education on academic achievement does not differ significantly according to the countries where the studies were conducted in. Q test results indicate the heterogeneity of the relationships between the variables in terms of countries where the studies were conducted in. According to the table, the effect of online education on academic achievement was reported as the highest in other countries, and the lowest in the US. The statistics regarding the comparison of the stated relations according to the class levels are given in Table 5 .

As seen in Table 5 , the effect of online education on academic achievement does not differ according to the class level. However, the effect of online education on academic achievement is the highest in the 4 th class. The statistics regarding the comparison of the stated relations according to the class levels are given in Table 6 .

As seen in Table 6 , the effect of online education on academic achievement does not differ according to the school subjects included in the studies. However, the effect of online education on academic achievement is the highest in ICT subject.

The obtained effect size in the study was formed as a result of the findings attained from primary studies conducted in 7 different countries. In addition, these studies are the ones on different approaches to online education (online learning environments, social networks, blended learning, etc.). In this respect, the results may raise some questions about the validity and generalizability of the results of the study. However, the moderator analyzes, whether for the country variable or for the approaches covered by online education, did not create significant differences in terms of the effect sizes. If significant differences were to occur in terms of effect sizes, we could say that the comparisons we will make by comparing countries under the umbrella of online education would raise doubts in terms of generalizability. Moreover, no study has been found in the literature that is not based on a special approach or does not contain a specific technique conducted under the name of online education alone. For instance, one of the commonly used definitions is blended education which is defined as an educational model in which online education is combined with traditional education method (Colis & Moonen, 2001 ). Similarly, Rasmussen ( 2003 ) defines blended learning as “a distance education method that combines technology (high technology such as television, internet, or low technology such as voice e-mail, conferences) with traditional education and training.” Further, Kerres and Witt (2003) define blended learning as “combining face-to-face learning with technology-assisted learning.” As it is clearly observed, online education, which has a wider scope, includes many approaches.

As seen in Table 7 , the effect of online education on academic achievement does not differ according to online education approaches included in the studies. However, the effect of online education on academic achievement is the highest in Web Based Problem Solving Approach.

4 Conclusions and discussion

Considering the developments during the pandemics, it is thought that the diversity in online education applications as an interdisciplinary pragmatist field will increase, and the learning content and processes will be enriched with the integration of new technologies into online education processes. Another prediction is that more flexible and accessible learning opportunities will be created in online education processes, and in this way, lifelong learning processes will be strengthened. As a result, it is predicted that in the near future, online education and even digital learning with a newer name will turn into the main ground of education instead of being an alternative or having a support function in face-to-face learning. The lessons learned from the early period online learning experience, which was passed with rapid adaptation due to the Covid19 epidemic, will serve to develop this method all over the world, and in the near future, online learning will become the main learning structure through increasing its functionality with the contribution of new technologies and systems. If we look at it from this point of view, there is a necessity to strengthen online education.

In this study, the effect of online learning on academic achievement is at a moderate level. To increase this effect, the implementation of online learning requires support from teachers to prepare learning materials, to design learning appropriately, and to utilize various digital-based media such as websites, software technology and various other tools to support the effectiveness of online learning (Rolisca & Achadiyah, 2014 ). According to research conducted by Rahayu et al. ( 2017 ), it has been proven that the use of various types of software increases the effectiveness and quality of online learning. Implementation of online learning can affect students' ability to adapt to technological developments in that it makes students use various learning resources on the internet to access various types of information, and enables them to get used to performing inquiry learning and active learning (Hart et al., 2019 ; Prestiadi et al., 2019 ). In addition, there may be many reasons for the low level of effect in this study. The moderator variables examined in this study could be a guide in increasing the level of practical effect. However, the effect size did not differ significantly for all moderator variables. Different moderator analyzes can be evaluated in order to increase the level of impact of online education on academic success. If confounding variables that significantly change the effect level are detected, it can be spoken more precisely in order to increase this level. In addition to the technical and financial problems, the level of impact will increase if a few other difficulties are eliminated such as students, lack of interaction with the instructor, response time, and lack of traditional classroom socialization.

In addition, COVID-19 pandemic related social distancing has posed extreme difficulties for all stakeholders to get online as they have to work in time constraints and resource constraints. Adopting the online learning environment is not just a technical issue, it is a pedagogical and instructive challenge as well. Therefore, extensive preparation of teaching materials, curriculum, and assessment is vital in online education. Technology is the delivery tool and requires close cross-collaboration between teaching, content and technology teams (CoSN, 2020 ).

Online education applications have been used for many years. However, it has come to the fore more during the pandemic process. This result of necessity has brought with it the discussion of using online education instead of traditional education methods in the future. However, with this research, it has been revealed that online education applications are moderately effective. The use of online education instead of face-to-face education applications can only be possible with an increase in the level of success. This may have been possible with the experience and knowledge gained during the pandemic process. Therefore, the meta-analysis of experimental studies conducted in the coming years will guide us. In this context, experimental studies using online education applications should be analyzed well. It would be useful to identify variables that can change the level of impacts with different moderators. Moderator analyzes are valuable in meta-analysis studies (for example, the role of moderators in Karl Pearson's typhoid vaccine studies). In this context, each analysis study sheds light on future studies. In meta-analyses to be made about online education, it would be beneficial to go beyond the moderators determined in this study. Thus, the contribution of similar studies to the field will increase more.

The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of online education on academic achievement. In line with this purpose, the studies that analyze the effect of online education approaches on academic achievement have been included in the meta-analysis. The total sample size of the studies included in the meta-analysis is 1772. While the studies included in the meta-analysis were conducted in the US, Taiwan, Turkey, China, Philippines, Ireland, and Georgia, the studies carried out in Europe could not be reached. The reason may be attributed to that there may be more use of quantitative research methods from a positivist perspective in the countries with an American academic tradition. As a result of the study, it was found out that the effect size of online education on academic achievement (g = 0.409) was moderate. In the studies included in the present research, we found that online education approaches were more effective than traditional ones. However, contrary to the present study, the analysis of comparisons between online and traditional education in some studies shows that face-to-face traditional learning is still considered effective compared to online learning (Ahmad et al., 2016 ; Hamdani & Priatna, 2020 ; Wei & Chou, 2020 ). Online education has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of online learning compared to face-to-face learning in the classroom is the flexibility of learning time in online learning, the learning time does not include a single program, and it can be shaped according to circumstances (Lai et al., 2019 ). The next advantage is the ease of collecting assignments for students, as these can be done without having to talk to the teacher. Despite this, online education has several weaknesses, such as students having difficulty in understanding the material, teachers' inability to control students, and students’ still having difficulty interacting with teachers in case of internet network cuts (Swan, 2007 ). According to Astuti et al ( 2019 ), face-to-face education method is still considered better by students than e-learning because it is easier to understand the material and easier to interact with teachers. The results of the study illustrated that the effect size (g = 0.409) of online education on academic achievement is of medium level. Therefore, the results of the moderator analysis showed that the effect of online education on academic achievement does not differ in terms of country, lecture, class level, and online education approaches variables. After analyzing the literature, several meta-analyses on online education were published (Bernard et al., 2004 ; Machtmes & Asher, 2000 ; Zhao et al., 2005 ). Typically, these meta-analyzes also include the studies of older generation technologies such as audio, video, or satellite transmission. One of the most comprehensive studies on online education was conducted by Bernard et al. ( 2004 ). In this study, 699 independent effect sizes of 232 studies published from 1985 to 2001 were analyzed, and face-to-face education was compared to online education, with respect to success criteria and attitudes of various learners from young children to adults. In this meta-analysis, an overall effect size close to zero was found for the students' achievement (g +  = 0.01).

In another meta-analysis study carried out by Zhao et al. ( 2005 ), 98 effect sizes were examined, including 51 studies on online education conducted between 1996 and 2002. According to the study of Bernard et al. ( 2004 ), this meta-analysis focuses on the activities done in online education lectures. As a result of the research, an overall effect size close to zero was found for online education utilizing more than one generation technology for students at different levels. However, the salient point of the meta-analysis study of Zhao et al. is that it takes the average of different types of results used in a study to calculate an overall effect size. This practice is problematic because the factors that develop one type of learner outcome (e.g. learner rehabilitation), particularly course characteristics and practices, may be quite different from those that develop another type of outcome (e.g. learner's achievement), and it may even cause damage to the latter outcome. While mixing the studies with different types of results, this implementation may obscure the relationship between practices and learning.

Some meta-analytical studies have focused on the effectiveness of the new generation distance learning courses accessed through the internet for specific student populations. For instance, Sitzmann and others (Sitzmann et al., 2006 ) reviewed 96 studies published from 1996 to 2005, comparing web-based education of job-related knowledge or skills with face-to-face one. The researchers found that web-based education in general was slightly more effective than face-to-face education, but it is insufficient in terms of applicability ("knowing how to apply"). In addition, Sitzmann et al. ( 2006 ) revealed that Internet-based education has a positive effect on theoretical knowledge in quasi-experimental studies; however, it positively affects face-to-face education in experimental studies performed by random assignment. This moderator analysis emphasizes the need to pay attention to the factors of designs of the studies included in the meta-analysis. The designs of the studies included in this meta-analysis study were ignored. This can be presented as a suggestion to the new studies that will be conducted.

Another meta-analysis study was conducted by Cavanaugh et al. ( 2004 ), in which they focused on online education. In this study on internet-based distance education programs for students under 12 years of age, the researchers combined 116 results from 14 studies published between 1999 and 2004 to calculate an overall effect that was not statistically different from zero. The moderator analysis carried out in this study showed that there was no significant factor affecting the students' success. This meta-analysis used multiple results of the same study, ignoring the fact that different results of the same student would not be independent from each other.

In conclusion, some meta-analytical studies analyzed the consequences of online education for a wide range of students (Bernard et al., 2004 ; Zhao et al., 2005 ), and the effect sizes were generally low in these studies. Furthermore, none of the large-scale meta-analyzes considered the moderators, database quality standards or class levels in the selection of the studies, while some of them just referred to the country and lecture moderators. Advances in internet-based learning tools, the pandemic process, and increasing popularity in different learning contexts have required a precise meta-analysis of students' learning outcomes through online learning. Previous meta-analysis studies were typically based on the studies, involving narrow range of confounding variables. In the present study, common but significant moderators such as class level and lectures during the pandemic process were discussed. For instance, the problems have been experienced especially in terms of eligibility of class levels in online education platforms during the pandemic process. It was found that there is a need to study and make suggestions on whether online education can meet the needs of teachers and students.

Besides, the main forms of online education in the past were to watch the open lectures of famous universities and educational videos of institutions. In addition, online education is mainly a classroom-based teaching implemented by teachers in their own schools during the pandemic period, which is an extension of the original school education. This meta-analysis study will stand as a source to compare the effect size of the online education forms of the past decade with what is done today, and what will be done in the future.

Lastly, the heterogeneity test results of the meta-analysis study display that the effect size does not differ in terms of class level, country, online education approaches, and lecture moderators.

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  • Published: 25 January 2021

Online education in the post-COVID era

  • Barbara B. Lockee 1  

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The coronavirus pandemic has forced students and educators across all levels of education to rapidly adapt to online learning. The impact of this — and the developments required to make it work — could permanently change how education is delivered.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to engage in the ubiquitous use of virtual learning. And while online and distance learning has been used before to maintain continuity in education, such as in the aftermath of earthquakes 1 , the scale of the current crisis is unprecedented. Speculation has now also begun about what the lasting effects of this will be and what education may look like in the post-COVID era. For some, an immediate retreat to the traditions of the physical classroom is required. But for others, the forced shift to online education is a moment of change and a time to reimagine how education could be delivered 2 .

essay advantages of online learning

Looking back

Online education has traditionally been viewed as an alternative pathway, one that is particularly well suited to adult learners seeking higher education opportunities. However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has required educators and students across all levels of education to adapt quickly to virtual courses. (The term ‘emergency remote teaching’ was coined in the early stages of the pandemic to describe the temporary nature of this transition 3 .) In some cases, instruction shifted online, then returned to the physical classroom, and then shifted back online due to further surges in the rate of infection. In other cases, instruction was offered using a combination of remote delivery and face-to-face: that is, students can attend online or in person (referred to as the HyFlex model 4 ). In either case, instructors just had to figure out how to make it work, considering the affordances and constraints of the specific learning environment to create learning experiences that were feasible and effective.

The use of varied delivery modes does, in fact, have a long history in education. Mechanical (and then later electronic) teaching machines have provided individualized learning programmes since the 1950s and the work of B. F. Skinner 5 , who proposed using technology to walk individual learners through carefully designed sequences of instruction with immediate feedback indicating the accuracy of their response. Skinner’s notions formed the first formalized representations of programmed learning, or ‘designed’ learning experiences. Then, in the 1960s, Fred Keller developed a personalized system of instruction 6 , in which students first read assigned course materials on their own, followed by one-on-one assessment sessions with a tutor, gaining permission to move ahead only after demonstrating mastery of the instructional material. Occasional class meetings were held to discuss concepts, answer questions and provide opportunities for social interaction. A personalized system of instruction was designed on the premise that initial engagement with content could be done independently, then discussed and applied in the social context of a classroom.

These predecessors to contemporary online education leveraged key principles of instructional design — the systematic process of applying psychological principles of human learning to the creation of effective instructional solutions — to consider which methods (and their corresponding learning environments) would effectively engage students to attain the targeted learning outcomes. In other words, they considered what choices about the planning and implementation of the learning experience can lead to student success. Such early educational innovations laid the groundwork for contemporary virtual learning, which itself incorporates a variety of instructional approaches and combinations of delivery modes.

Online learning and the pandemic

Fast forward to 2020, and various further educational innovations have occurred to make the universal adoption of remote learning a possibility. One key challenge is access. Here, extensive problems remain, including the lack of Internet connectivity in some locations, especially rural ones, and the competing needs among family members for the use of home technology. However, creative solutions have emerged to provide students and families with the facilities and resources needed to engage in and successfully complete coursework 7 . For example, school buses have been used to provide mobile hotspots, and class packets have been sent by mail and instructional presentations aired on local public broadcasting stations. The year 2020 has also seen increased availability and adoption of electronic resources and activities that can now be integrated into online learning experiences. Synchronous online conferencing systems, such as Zoom and Google Meet, have allowed experts from anywhere in the world to join online classrooms 8 and have allowed presentations to be recorded for individual learners to watch at a time most convenient for them. Furthermore, the importance of hands-on, experiential learning has led to innovations such as virtual field trips and virtual labs 9 . A capacity to serve learners of all ages has thus now been effectively established, and the next generation of online education can move from an enterprise that largely serves adult learners and higher education to one that increasingly serves younger learners, in primary and secondary education and from ages 5 to 18.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to have a lasting effect on lesson design. The constraints of the pandemic provided an opportunity for educators to consider new strategies to teach targeted concepts. Though rethinking of instructional approaches was forced and hurried, the experience has served as a rare chance to reconsider strategies that best facilitate learning within the affordances and constraints of the online context. In particular, greater variance in teaching and learning activities will continue to question the importance of ‘seat time’ as the standard on which educational credits are based 10 — lengthy Zoom sessions are seldom instructionally necessary and are not aligned with the psychological principles of how humans learn. Interaction is important for learning but forced interactions among students for the sake of interaction is neither motivating nor beneficial.

While the blurring of the lines between traditional and distance education has been noted for several decades 11 , the pandemic has quickly advanced the erasure of these boundaries. Less single mode, more multi-mode (and thus more educator choices) is becoming the norm due to enhanced infrastructure and developed skill sets that allow people to move across different delivery systems 12 . The well-established best practices of hybrid or blended teaching and learning 13 have served as a guide for new combinations of instructional delivery that have developed in response to the shift to virtual learning. The use of multiple delivery modes is likely to remain, and will be a feature employed with learners of all ages 14 , 15 . Future iterations of online education will no longer be bound to the traditions of single teaching modes, as educators can support pedagogical approaches from a menu of instructional delivery options, a mix that has been supported by previous generations of online educators 16 .

Also significant are the changes to how learning outcomes are determined in online settings. Many educators have altered the ways in which student achievement is measured, eliminating assignments and changing assessment strategies altogether 17 . Such alterations include determining learning through strategies that leverage the online delivery mode, such as interactive discussions, student-led teaching and the use of games to increase motivation and attention. Specific changes that are likely to continue include flexible or extended deadlines for assignment completion 18 , more student choice regarding measures of learning, and more authentic experiences that involve the meaningful application of newly learned skills and knowledge 19 , for example, team-based projects that involve multiple creative and social media tools in support of collaborative problem solving.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, technological and administrative systems for implementing online learning, and the infrastructure that supports its access and delivery, had to adapt quickly. While access remains a significant issue for many, extensive resources have been allocated and processes developed to connect learners with course activities and materials, to facilitate communication between instructors and students, and to manage the administration of online learning. Paths for greater access and opportunities to online education have now been forged, and there is a clear route for the next generation of adopters of online education.

Before the pandemic, the primary purpose of distance and online education was providing access to instruction for those otherwise unable to participate in a traditional, place-based academic programme. As its purpose has shifted to supporting continuity of instruction, its audience, as well as the wider learning ecosystem, has changed. It will be interesting to see which aspects of emergency remote teaching remain in the next generation of education, when the threat of COVID-19 is no longer a factor. But online education will undoubtedly find new audiences. And the flexibility and learning possibilities that have emerged from necessity are likely to shift the expectations of students and educators, diminishing further the line between classroom-based instruction and virtual learning.

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essay advantages of online learning

Going the Distance: Why Online Learning Works

Learn more about the benefits of online learning, what online learning involves, and why it could be a good option for you.

Mary Sharp Emerson

There’s no debate that online learning has become a staple of higher education. And today’s online courses encompass a wide range of subjects and are more accessible than ever.

From current college students to people seeking a career change to professionals looking to update their skills, there is an online program for everyone. 

More than 6.5 million people were enrolled in some type of distance learning course offered through a degree-granting college or university in 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.  

But why is online learning so popular, what methods make it effective, and where did it all begin? And most critically, how does the online educational experience match up to the traditional classroom? 

Let’s dig into the answers to these questions.

Distance Learning: New Technologies for an Old Practice

Distance learning online may be new, but the desire to learn from field experts from afar is not. In fact, all that’s really changed over the centuries—yes, centuries!—is the speed and style of communication.

For instance, in 1728, distance learning took place through correspondence courses in shorthand. Assignments were distributed and collected via parcel post.

In the early 1900s, radio emerged as a new educational opportunity. In 1919, for example, University of Wisconsin professors began the first federally licensed radio station dedicated to educational broadcasting.

However, truly functional distance learning remained little more than a fringe endeavor until the birth of the World Wide Web in 1991. 

Today, online learning is the fastest growing segment of education , even as overall enrollment at postsecondary institutions declines. It’s no wonder that 65 percent of institutions report that online learning is critical to their long-term strategic plans.

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Why Students Choose Online Courses

Learning styles are as varied as people themselves. While there’s no one “best” course format, research suggests that for some, online learning can be a rich experience. 

For instance, studies show that high self-efficacy often leads to success in online courses. In addition, computer literacy, good time management skills, and a positive attitude toward e-learning have been shown to be key characteristics of students who learn effectively in a blended learning environment.

In most cases, online and blended learning are as effective as a traditional classroom setting. But they may offer unmatched benefits for students studying part time or from a distance.

Scheduling flexibility

Most people agree that the biggest benefit of online courses is their flexibility. According to a recent study by Best Colleges , more than half of online learners have children at home or are currently working. Online courses offer the opportunity to complete classwork when it is most convenient, without sacrificing the quality of the educational experience.

Many online courses can be completed in the evenings, over the weekend, or during lunch hour. Assignments can be finished in large blocks or broken down into small sessions over the course of the day or the week. 

In other words, students can choose the schedule that works best for their particular situation.

Easy-to-use technologies facilitate collaboration

Many online courses today rely heavily on online learning platforms or learning management systems that allow collaboration between students and instructors. These are coupled with online discussion boards, one-on-one messaging, and of course, email for soliciting feedback, discussing concepts, and networking.

Most of these technologies are easy to use, a far cry from the unwieldy online conferencing tools of even a decade ago. Most can be downloaded as an app on a smartphone and/or laptop. And once installed, navigating through the course materials—whether live or recorded—is remarkably simple.  

Best of all, the technology used in online courses makes it possible for students with disabilities (whether they be visual, auditory, or physical) to participate fully in classes and discussions.

Plenty of career-boosting course options

Online learning offers thousands of courses designed to meet just about any individual goal, from anywhere with an internet connection. 

Online course technology lets institutions extend their opportunities to people living in regions with limited options. This not only expands educational options for those in remote or under-resourced areas, it allows them to network with professionals and experts in their desired field. 

Plus, the availability of workshops, individual courses, microcredentials, certificates, and degrees lets students tailor their pathway to fill particular gaps. 

Distance programs put learners of every age and background solidly in control of their development, allowing them to take just the courses they need to reach their goals. These factors are why online education is a foundation of the lifelong learning philosophy . 

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What are the different types of online courses? 

Today’s modern online classes offer the same quality of instruction, educational experience, and networking opportunities as the traditional classroom.

Generally speaking, there are three different types of online classes or courses to choose from:

  • Asynchronous: Learners read or listen to course material on their own, at their own pace, completing assignments independently
  • Synchronous: Students use video-conferencing platforms to interact in real-time with both instructors and classmates
  • Blended: A mix of recorded lectures, slideshows, and PDFs can be accessed at any time for self-paced learning, coupled with regularly scheduled video conferencing for real-time interaction; some courses may even include campus visits for additional collaboration

The range of online formats ensures that anyone seeking to enrich their educational background outside of the traditional classroom can do so in the way that best suits them, without sacrificing the quality of the educational experience.

Moreover, the availability of self-paced, yet still interactive, distance education reflects a larger shift in education as a whole toward student-centered learning.

Why Distance Learning Works

Pedagogical theory in general has shifted away from behaviorism, in which learners were viewed as blank slates which could be filled with information and habits through drill and reward.

Today’s cognitive theory and constructivist teaching seek to understand how people build new knowledge within the framework of what they already know and understand. 

Constructivism in particular dictates that learners be at the helm of their own education, while instructors act as mediators who introduce ideas, ask questions, and encourage students to explore new ways of thinking on their own.

Online courses present a rich opportunity for this kind of teaching and learning. Students can absorb new information independently and come together to synthesize that information into real-world knowledge with classmates and instructors.

This ideal match between the theory of learning and the actual implementation of instruction may explain the success of students in online classes. 

Yet whatever the reason, this is certain: Online education is fundamentally changing the paradigm of higher education. It is opening up learning possibilities to students everywhere, in nearly every circumstance, and delivering that education in a way that is proving to be effective, convenient, and empowering.

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Argumentative Essay: Online Learning and Educational Access

Conventional learning is evolving with the help of computers and online technology. New ways of learning are now available, and improved access is one of the most important benefits available. People all around the world are experiencing improved mobility as a result of the freedom and potential that online learning provides, and as academic institutions and learning organisations adopt online learning technologies and remote-access learning, formal academic education is becoming increasingly legitimate. This essay argues the contemporary benefits of online learning, and that these benefits significantly outweigh the issues, challenges and disadvantages of online learning.

Online learning is giving people new choices and newfound flexibility with their personal learning and development. Whereas before, formal academic qualifications could only be gained by participating in a full time course on site, the internet has allowed institutions to expand their reach and offer recognized courses on a contact-partial, or totally virtual, basis. Institutions can do so with relatively few extra resources, and for paid courses this constitutes excellent value, and the student benefits with greater educational access and greater flexibility to learn and get qualified even when there lots of other personal commitments to deal with.

Flexibility is certainly one of the most important benefits, but just as important is educational access. On top of the internet’s widespread presence in developed countries, the internet is becoming increasingly available in newly developed and developing countries. Even without considering the general informational exposure that the internet delivers, online academic courses and learning initiatives are becoming more aware of the needs of people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and this means that people from such backgrounds are in a much better position to learn and progress than they used to be.

The biggest argument that raises doubt over online learning is the quality of online courses in comparison to conventional courses. Are such online courses good enough for employers to take notice? The second biggest argument is the current reality that faces many people from disadvantaged backgrounds, despite the improvements made in this area in recent years – they do not have the level of basic access needed to benefit from online learning. In fact, there are numerous sources of evidence that claim disadvantaged students are not receiving anywhere near the sort of benefits that online learning institutions and promoters are trying to instigate. Currently there are many organisations, campaigns and initiatives that are working to expand access to higher education. With such high participation, it can be argued that it is only a matter of time before the benefits are truly realised, but what about the global online infrastructure?

There is another argument that is very difficult to dispel, and that is the response of different types of students to the online learning paradigm. Evidence shows that there are certain groups of students that benefit from college distance learning much more than other groups. In essence, students must be highly motivated and highly disciplined if they are to learn effectively in their own private environment.

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Essays About Online Learning: Top 6 Examples And Prompts

If you are writing essays about online learning, you can start by reading some essay examples and prompts in this article. 

People often regard online learning as kids stuck at home, glued to their devices. However, there is so much more to it than this simplistic concept. Many parents may see it as an “easy way out” for students to slack off on their studies while still passing their classes, but online learning has not reached its full potential yet. 

It has dramatically impacted how education is handled globally, for better or worse. It has forced teachers to take on extra work , while students say it has helped reduce their stress levels. It is undoubtedly a contentious topic. 

If you need help writing an essay about online learning, here are some essay examples you can use for inspiration.

1. Disabled Students Urge Universities To Make Online Learning More Accessible by Lucia Posteraro

2. why are more and more students taking online classes by perry mullins, 3. the benefits of online learning: 7 advantages of online degrees by kelsey miller, 4. why is online learning important by clare scott, 5. is online learning as effective as face-to-face learning by kelli wilkins, 6. i’m a high school student. i don’t want online learning to end. by rory selinger, prompts on essays about online learning, 1. how has online learning affected you, 2. compare and contrast online and in-person classes., 3. what can you learn from an online setup, 4. what is the future of online learning, 5. which is better- online or face-to-face learning, 6. can online learning be sustained long-term.

“Autism may hinder the ability to follow complex conversations, especially with background noise – but Charli’s lectures did not have subtitles. Moreover, extensions for group projects were too short for her extenuating circumstances.’

Posteraro tells the stories of students who want online learning to be more accessible. For example, Charli, a student with autism, was greatly affected by the transition from in-person to online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, online learning has not catered to her special needs, so she urges schools to take action to make online education more inclusive. You might also be interested in these essays about knowledge .

“The result of taking online classes is that students who take them become more proficient and comfortable with using computers. Students can learn to connect with one another online and with information in meaningful and useful ways. With that said more and more students are taking online classes because it’s the best way to save money work at your own pace and not have to be stressed about going to class.”

In his essay, Mullins discusses why more students prefer online learning. First, it lessens expenses, as students learn from the comfort of their rooms. Second, it helps students avert the fear of talking to strangers face-to-face, helping them communicate better. 

“It’s clear, then, that learning online helps prepare professionals for this shift toward online work. Below, explore what online courses entail, explore seven key benefits, and get the advice you need to determine if online courses are right for you.”

Miller briefly explains what online learning is, then proceeds to discuss its advantages. These include a self-paced schedule, improved communication, and new technical skills. However, he reminds readers that everyone is different; regardless of the benefits, they should only choose online learning if they believe it will work for them.

“Boil it right down and the answer is simple: change is constant. You must move with it. The true beauty of online learning is that it lends itself perfectly to your lifestyle. By its very nature, it can fit around you. Also, no longer are we taught how to do a job, it’s usually a case of figuring it out for yourself—and that’s where online learning can amplify your skills.”

Scott presents the importance of online learning. Similar to Miller, she mentions self-paced, giving students new skills. However, the most important lesson is that change is constant. Online learning exemplifies this precept, and these skills help us move along.

“While both ways of learning have advantages and disadvantages, what is more effective is based off of the student themselves. Students can weigh the costs and benefits between online learning and face-to-face learning. They can decide for themselves what would be best for them. Online learning can be as effective as face-to-face learning if the student is committed to putting their time and effort to study alone.”

Wilkins questions the notion that online learning is inferior to a face-to-face classes. She begins by listing the benefits of online classes, including comfort and easier schedules, as with Miller and Scott. However, she also mentions its disadvantages, such as the possibility of students being distracted and a lack of bonding between classmates. But, of course, it’s all up to the student in the end: they should decide which type of education they prefer.

“One thing I hope people now realize is that education is not a one-size-fits-all model. While the self-disciplined nature of remote learning is not for everyone, it has allowed students like me to flourish unimpeded by the challenges presented by typical classroom settings.”

A 14-year-old student, Selinger wishes to continue her education online as schools return to physical classes amid the pandemic. She discusses the relief she feels from the lack of peer pressure, judgment, and a rigorous schedule. Controlling your study schedule relieves students of pressure, and Selinger believes this is optimal for success. She believes online learning opens a path to be better rather than to “return to normal.”

Essays about Online Learning: How has online learning affected you?

In this essay, you can write about your experience of online learning. Whether you have had online coursework from school or college or taken an online course for your own interests, we’ve all had some experience learning online. Discuss how you benefited from online learning and the challenges you faced. For a compelling essay, conduct interviews to back up your experience by showing others who felt the same way.

Create an exciting comparative essay between online and in-person learning. You can compare and contrast the experiences and show the positives and negatives of each. Start by making a list or Venn diagram, and organize your essay. Include the structure, advantages, and disadvantages of each method of learning. 

Online learning can teach you some skills to succeed in the real world. In this essay, write about the unique skills you can gain from online learning. Perhaps you learn valuable IT skills, virtual note-taking, and basic administrative skills. Then, look into how these skills can benefit you in future studies or when trying to step into a new career path. 

We have barely scratched the surface of technology. In this essay, look to the future and imagine how online education will look. Then, research up-and-coming online learning technologies and see what will come next. Will the development of more online learning technology benefit students? Look into this exciting topic for an engaging discussion.

For this topic, writing an excellent argumentative essay is easy. First, from research and your own experience, list the benefits and downsides of each type of learning and determine which is more effective. Then, you can use Google and the essay examples above to support your argument.  

Online learning is most commonly used for students who are ill or during situations such as a global pandemic. It is meant to be temporary; however, can schools stick to a completely-online method of instruction? Include some advantages and disadvantages of online learning in your essay.

Tip: If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead.

If you’re still stuck, check out our general resource of essay writing topics .

essay advantages of online learning

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Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Learning Essay

Online learning has become a popular means of studying in the wake of COVID-19. Many educators have been reluctant and skeptical about it, but a majority have accepted it with open arms. The skeptics have put good enough reasons against it. Supporters say that the benefits far out way the disadvantages. Amidst that confusion, it would be important to take a deep look into the subject and see the disadvantages and the advantages of online learning.

Weaknesses of Online Learning

Online learning, like many other emerging technological advancements, comes with its share of problems. First, the technology needed for this learning is expensive, and many cannot afford the needed resources (Dhawan, 2020). Apart from costs, Online learning makes a student be left isolated, leading to poor interpersonal skills; hence most end up not being team players (Arkorful & Abaidoo, 2014). The absence of interpersonal interactions is also a major factor for dissatisfaction in online classes; this affects both students and educators and may lead to depression (Islam, Beer, and Slack, 2015). Lack of motivation due to the absence of the personal presence of fellow students and teachers is observed in online classes (al Rawashdeh et al., 2021). Online classes are also known to encourage some unethical learning behaviors like cheating.

Some students also don’t have self-discipline, making them less underprivileged than their fellow students. This can also be observed in some educators’ slight online classes, and thus interruptions become common. Some educators do not uphold the level of professionalism required in an online class but do in traditional classes. Apart from discipline, some students are deprived of proper technology. Some have low-quality devices, and some don’t have WIFI, and others are constantly disrupted by technicalities. Some of the other reasons why some educators are skeptical about online classes include; More screen time on computers leading to eye problems and insomnia. Other reasons include some educators not internet survey hence additional training is required, online classes make learners easily procrastinate, practical classes are not well supported by online learning, and perhaps some educators fear it may make them lose jobs.

Strengths of Online Learning

Despite the obvious disadvantages, the advantages that online learning comes with are clear. First, online learning reduces the use of traveling resources and other expenses such as the time one incurs when going to and from classes. In research from Mukhtar et al. (2020), “Faculty opined that online learning helped ensure remote learning, it was manageable, and students could conveniently access teachers and teaching materials” (p.3). Online learning has a particular benefit to university and college students compared to junior learning institutions. The benefits of e-learning to higher learning institutions are many and include: increased enrollment, learning online promotes the institutions, it increases productivity, saving time, and encourages innovation (Quyen & Phong, 2019). It would be interesting to see the benefits online learning brings to universities being transferred to eight-year old’s as they need more time with their parents.

Critics say that online learning comes with much freedom leading to negligence. Students are known to love being in control of their learning schedule, but some do not have discipline. This is the reason why many students are for it because they can learn when they want to (St. John Fisher College, 2015). This trait helps the students to achieve great work, school, and play balance, optimizing their productivity. Freedom can come with many benefits, including having time to spend with loved ones, exercising, and building good habits. Online learning also brings a degree of discipline to the learners. Since learners have to make their own timetable and office, a student is able to practice organizational skills needed in the workplace.

Online classes give students the choice of selection of preferred teachers. Assuming a school has three educators, in the traditional setting, students would normally be allocated randomly and freedom to change class minimized. In online classes, students can easily request a transfer online or just get a link to their preferred educator. The benefits are many and are not only associated with students but also educators, school management, and particularly online learning facilitators who get a source of income. For instance, lecturers can record more lessons than they would have time to in a classroom setting and send the link addresses to the students.

All advancements come with many disadvantages and gain a fair share of critics, and so does online learning. Nevertheless, with technological advancement, some of the disadvantages seem to be mitigated further with each passing day. The critics of the method of learning had their nails bitten in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the method stopped being an alternative but the main method of study. Having proved their use, more and more people are now more open to learning online. Some circumstances make online learning the ideal method, while others favor the face-to-face method. It is thus the role of educators to do research and find out the ones that best fit online learning.

Arkorful, V., & Abaidoo, N. (2014). The Role of e-Learning, the Advantages, and Disadvantages of Its Adoption in Higher Education. Journal of Computer and Communications , 3 (12), 397–410.

Islam, N., Beer, M., & Slack, F. (2015). E-Learning Challenges Faced by Academics in Higher Education: A Literature Review . Journal of Education and Training Studies , 3 (5).

Dhawan, S. (2020). Online Learning: A Panacea in the Time of COVID-19 Crisis. Journal of Educational Technology Systems , 49 (1), 5–22.

Mukhtar, K., Javed, K., Arooj, M., & Sethi, A. (2020). Advantages, Limitations, and Recommendations for online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic era.

Quyen, L. H. T., & Phong, T. G. (2019). Roles of E-learning in Higher Education. Journal of Critical Reviews , 6 (4), 7–13. Web.

Rawashdeh, A. L., Z, A., et al., (2021). Advantages and Disadvantages of Using e-Learning in University Education: Analyzing Students’ Perspectives . The Electronic Journal of E-Learning , 19 (3), 107–117.

St. John Fisher College. (2015). Online Learning Revealing the Benefits and Challenges (Masters dissertation). Fisher Digital Publications. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2023, February 2). Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Learning.

"Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Learning." IvyPanda , 2 Feb. 2023,

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IvyPanda . "Strengths and Weaknesses of Online Learning." February 2, 2023.

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Home / Essay Samples / Education / Online Courses / The Advantages of Online Learning: Comprehensive Review

The Advantages of Online Learning: Comprehensive Review

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  • Topic: E-Learning , Online Courses , Online Vs. Traditional Classes

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