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Online Education vs Offline Education: Who Wins?

Millions of articles and books are devoted to comparing the pros and cons of online and offline education. We offer to compare the two educational approaches in an unusual way – by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of online education only. The disadvantages then automatically become the advantages of offline education. In the end, you choose which approach is more beneficial and attractive for your specific needs and individual preferences. 

Advantages of Online Education

  • Attractive price. The lower price is the main factor for many students. Especially when they do not yet know how much they need to master a discipline, whether they will be interested while immersing themselves in the material, and perhaps they want to “just try.” If after several online seminars, the topic turns out to be attractive, then a deeper study of the material can be continued in the classic offline mode.
  • Territorial freedom. It is extremely difficult for a person from a region far from the capital to travel to an in-person seminar or training. Instead, you can take part in online training from anywhere in the world – all you need is a good Internet connection. Such a “world without borders” is convenient both for the organizers of online education and for participants.
  • Schedule flexibility. The modern consumer wants the world to adapt to him, and the online format in this sense is very flexible: you can choose a convenient day, time, topic of interest, and speaker, or simply download the recording and watch at any convenient time. Many people listen to recordings of classes while on the road or while standing in line.
  • Confidentiality of the process. Some people do not like unfamiliar places, noisy companies, and active parties. The offline format is uncomfortable for such listeners: you have to go somewhere, to some unfamiliar place, be among strangers all day, answer various questions, maintain a social conversation, and worry about who will look and how to evaluate what they will say. It is much more comfortable to access the online broadcast while sitting at home on the sofa or at the usual workplace with a cup of coffee. You can do some other things at the same time, make an order on the table or sort the mail.
  • The ability to choose an information exchange channel. For some, a Skype conference is convenient, for others it is more suitable to join an online webinar. Additional questions can be asked to the teacher in any messenger, and the new assignment can be received by email.
  • Learning pace. You can return to a difficult topic by reviewing the seminar recording or correspondence with the teacher. At the same time, you can skip a familiar topic or a few altogether. A difficult material one can take incrementally, while an easy one takes in one go.

Disadvantages of Online Education

Note: each of the below statements if formulated adversely becomes the advantage of offline education!

  • Insufficient level of professionalism. Most online educational activities are not licensed or certified today. Anyone who has the desire and ability can become a speaker in an online educational program. The availability of such a format often leads to the fact that the person who teaches marketing gets lost in the special terminology, the time management consultant starts the class a quarter of an hour late, and the cooking guru teaches how to knead the dough, not ashamed of the dirt under the nails and the mess in the kitchen.
  • Weak educational material. When preparing an online program, many teachers and speakers do not have enough time or energy for quality preparation of the educational material. Unfortunately, there is often a lot of “water” in online programs, and they are more like a monologue of the speaker “How I did something cool…”. This style of presentation is suitable for an interview or public speaking, but not for a training course. For this reason, trainees are often disappointed and refuse to participate in the seminar.
  • Low level of technical support. Poor connection quality, “bubbles” and “whistles” in the microphone, image freezes, the sound disappears, poor lighting in the room – this is not a complete list of problems that arise during online education. At the same time, the bandwidth of many Internet subscription plans is still not powerful enough, and most of the time participants of online courses spend finding out: “Can you see me? Do you hear me?”
  • “Undisguised” advertising. Another sin of online learning, especially cheap or free, is its blatantly promotional nature. During two hours, listeners are energetically promised mountains of gold: to reveal the secrets of longevity, reduce costs, optimize the management structure, and find true love – all you have to do is sign up for a cycle of 10 classes or an offline seminar or a consultation with a management guru. The main thing is to pay the tuition in advance.
  • Lack of certificates. Most online programs, unfortunately, do not issue their students with documents confirming completion of the course. Or they send beautiful JPEG “certificates” that have no legal value. Exceptions may be made only by online programs conducted by certified higher education institutions, training centers, and business schools. If students are studying “for themselves”, the lack of a certificate is not a problem, but if they expect further academic promotion, job change, career growth, etc., the lack of certificates becomes a real downside of online education.
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