As the world is shifting its in-person education to online learning, the disadvantages are becoming a realization to parents, teachers, and students. Although it enables classes to be taught at home, providing comfort and lowering costs, there are new problems that schools are struggling to solve. One 2015 study found that 92 percent of online education is at least as effective or more effective than traditional education. Educators are revising their teaching styles to improve the physical and mental disadvantages of online learning.

Disadvantages of Online Learning

Online learning has been viewed as the future of education. Teachers can provide a wider variety of subjects, instruct more students, and save on more costs than a traditional classroom. There are unfortunately some disadvantages of online learning.

Causes Isolation

In an online learning environment, students lack human connection, which can lead to mental issues such as negative thoughts, anxiety, and heightened stress. Many are finding it difficult when they don’t hear words of encouragement face to face from teachers or receive feedback from their peers.

Requires Time Management and Self-Motivation Skills

In a traditional classroom setting, students are held accountable by their teachers. During remote learning, students may find it difficult to get out of bed or change their attire since they are simply logging onto a nearby computer. Working from home without self-motivation can cause distractions. Students may find it difficult to hit deadlines or complete assignments without assistance or motivation from teachers, classmates, and routine schedules.

Difficult to Prevent Cheating

Unfortunately, it’s easier for students to cheat on online tests versus in-person exams. Without the watchful eye of their teacher, they can use their devices or notes to cheat. Additionally, students can let another person help or take the test for them. Without having the proper system in place to prevent cheating, students can easily pass their courses.

Educators Focus on Theoretical Knowledge Instead of Practice

Online learning can cause students to lose hands-on activities. For example, it’s difficult for science teachers to conduct experiments without a physical classroom. Students require practical applications to comprehend abstract theories. One 2014 study by Harris Interactive reported that 52 percent of Americans prefer hands-on training, followed by 28 percent for visual training. Although aimed at adults, the statistics still bear relevance. While visual presentations are effective learning methods, online learning should not limit how students should be taught the information.

Difficulty Teaching Particular Subjects

Due to circumstances, some subjects are much harder to teach in an online setting. Subjects such as humanities and social sciences are much more favorable in an online learning environment than engineering and the medical field. In addition, many extracurricular activities will be removed, such as arts, music, and physical education.

Students may Neglect Exercise and Physical Health

Under a traditional school setting, students get a fair amount of exercise throughout a school day. This activity includes walking to get to their next class, running during recess, or playing sports in gym class. Schools also have extra-curricular sports teams, such as football, baseball, track, swimming, basketball, soccer, etc. Without a dedicated P.E. class, online students have to find their own ways of getting much-needed exercise. Besides the physical benefits of exercise, it also helps relieve stress and gives students confidence. Online learning forces students to sit still and stare at screens for long periods. This can harm their vision and prevent them from getting enough exercise.

Solutions to the Disadvantages of Online Learning

To combat these disadvantages of online learning, educators can incorporate creative strategies to engage students. This will solve some of the challenges of isolation, unproductivity, and lack of hands-on learning.

Use a Live Proctoring Software or Classroom Management System to Prevent Cheating

Cheating is one of the biggest disadvantages of eLearning and hurts a school’s reputation. Live proctoring software can verify students’ identity and even examine their desks. Any suspicious behavior will automatically be reported to the educator. Classroom management software, such as GoGuardian Teacher™, can help teachers monitor students’ screens to see if they are on-task. This application allows teachers to monitor and control students’ tabs so that they are only on the examination website. Teachers can even request that students turn on their video screen while taking the test for more supervision.

Use Blended Learning

A full-fledged online learning program isn’t always feasible in most scenarios. Blended learning involves some online learning, while also providing similar aspects of a traditional classroom. For example, lab instructors can opt to rotate their lab days so that only a small group of students meet at the lab on select days throughout the week.

Assign Self-Directed Projects

One issue of online learning is the way that students learn theories and memorize information. Real learning is understanding concepts and being able to apply them in the real world. With theory-based learning, students only attempt to remember knowledge that will be on a test. Project-based learning requires students to create their own projects to deepen their knowledge about an idea or concept. For example, instead of teaching students about microorganisms, teachers can designate groups of students to teach elementary children how to prevent the spread of diseases. One group might create a video demonstrating proper hand-washing, while another group might create posters.

Have Open Discussions and Use an Open Forum Platform

With blended and online learning, students may feel less socially connected to their instructor and other classmates. Educators can ask open-ended questions, such as discussing a particular video or even posing friendly debates. Students can come up with facts and information to support their viewpoints and arguments. Additionally, students should have access to an online support group where they can post questions and their peers can contribute.

Emphasize the Importance of Minimizing Distractions and Time Management

It’s quite easy for students to get lost in distractions when learning from home. Depending on the type of learner, television in the background can make it more difficult for a student to focus. Explain the importance of having a clean workstation and turning off all other electronic devices during class. Help students stay organized by keeping separate folders for different classes and sending out calendars with all the due dates for homework assignments in advance. 

Include Gamified Learning in the Lesson Plan

One creative solution to keep students motivated is to gamify your class. A 2015 article by eLearning Industry relayed that 67 percent of students claimed gamified courses boosted their motivation compared to a traditional course. Gamification is an excellent way to keep students engaged by incorporating leaderboards, badges, scores, challenges, and levels.

Enhancing Online Learning

Although online learning can provide initial benefits in terms of costs and time, it does produce some educational disadvantages. Furthermore, it requires more student self-discipline while lacking the hands-on activities and social collaboration of a traditional classroom environment. By incorporating more project-based assignments, having an open online forum, or using other creative strategies, students can learn effectively in an online learning environment. 

Want more resources to make online learning more effective? Check out GoGuardian’s Distance Learning Resource Center.