Can Online Learning Replace Traditional Learning? (7 Facts to Know!)

Can Online Learning Replace Traditional Learning? (7 Facts to Know!)

Online learning can only partially replace traditional education, but many factors need to be considered first. Students do often miss out on social moments when they learn online, but they benefit from things like faster learning. Online learning also makes education more accessible to students everywhere, at all levels, from childhood to adulthood.

Let’s explore a few critical facts about online learning versus traditional education!

Fact 1) It Can Improve Digital Literacy

Can Online Learning Replace Traditional Learning? (7 Facts to Know!)

digital literacy
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One of the great things about online learning is that students will also improve their digital literacy. Being asked to use different programs and navigate the learning space can encourage students to practice their computer skills and increase their confidence.

Related: Developing students’ digital skills through online learning

Even without digital literacy courses, students are much more likely to get comfortable with the computer. This can improve their employability and expand their skills, increasing their ability to take future online learning courses.

Students of all ages benefit from practicing their digital skills. However, this may be particularly useful for older students in corporate settings, who may need to become more familiar with computers and more confident using them at the start of the course.

Fact 2) It’s More Efficient

Can Online Learning Replace Traditional Learning? (7 Facts to Know!)

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Various studies have looked at the efficiency of e-learning and have consistently found that it’s a more efficient way of learning in many instances. Estimates vary, but some studies have suggested that students might require between 40 and 60 percent less time to learn the same material.

This is important for students at all levels, whether they are in K-12 or higher ed or even at a corporate level.

It’s thought that this is because students can be more flexible about learning when it suits them and may experience fewer interruptions as a result.

Retention rates are also higher with online learning rather than face-to-face learning. This might be because students have more control over the learning process and are more engaged. Online learning also lets students go back over material more quickly when they need to. 

Studies have shown that it’s difficult for people to pay attention to the screen for long periods and that increased screen time can trigger anxiety. It’s therefore essential to balance the efficiency increase with this awareness. Hopefully that helps with the question, can online learning replace traditional learning?

Fact 3) It Can Be More Flexible

Can Online Learning Replace Traditional Learning? (7 Facts to Know!)

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One of the biggest benefits of online learning is that it’s more flexible, mainly when the lessons are pre-recorded rather than live, as is common for corporate learning.

Related: Students appreciate flexibility of distance learning

Students can access the materials when needed rather than when it’s convenient for the teacher and the other students. This makes them much more likely to look at the materials frequently and can give them a greater understanding of the information being covered.

It also helps students who may have health issues to catch up because they don’t need to attend classes when they are ill and can work on material when it suits them. The flexibility helps students who need to work or who have other commitments, such as family or caring responsibilities.

Students who are still in school are less likely to benefit from this but may be able to access recorded versions of classes, even if the classes happened in real-time.

Fact 4) It’s Cost-Effective

Can Online Learning Replace Traditional Learning? (7 Facts to Know!)

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Online learning has a significant benefit when it comes to cost. It can be far cheaper because it can remove many of the limits of traditional learning (such as class sizes and commuting). Where traditional learning at a higher level is often prohibitively expensive for students, online learning may be available at a fraction of the cost.

This helps to make education more widely available for people in all income brackets and allows people from the lower classes to increase their education levels. In many ways, this can help equalize society and benefit everyone

Digital learning also reduces other educational costs, such as commuting costs. Where students might otherwise have to pay for expensive travel or rent accommodation near the school or college, online learning can be done from home, provided you have a good internet connection.

The cost-effectiveness is essential even for school-age children, as it can reduce costs for local governments and free up funding to be used in other aspects of education, so thinking about that, can online learning replace traditional learning, uhhh kinda. 

Fact 5) It Improves Accessibility

Can Online Learning Replace Traditional Learning? (7 Facts to Know!)

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Online learning is far more accessible to many of the groups that are usually denied access to education.

For example, people who are disabled are more likely to struggle to attend a traditional learning setting and therefore are less likely to go to college or university. There may be both physical and mental barriers that make it hard for them to go to traditional classes.

Online learning is far more accessible from both a physical and a mental perspective. Students can learn when they can do so and take breaks when necessary. They also don’t need to contend with barriers like stairs, public transport, etc. They can learn in an environment that is comfortable and accessible to them.

Others who might be unlikely to access traditional learning include those raising families – both men and women. That’s especially true for single parents of both sexes. Attending physical classes may be impossible for these individuals, while online learning is far more accessible.

Online learning can also help school-age children keep up, allowing them to supplement traditional education if they regularly struggle to attend classes due to health issues.

Fact 6) Content Can Be Easily Updated

Can Online Learning Replace Traditional Learning? (7 Facts to Know!)

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Another significant benefit of online learning is that content can easily be updated as information changes. Regarding traditional learning, students often purchase physical textbooks, which cannot be easily updated when information changes.

This can be problematic in fields that move quickly and undergo rapid change. It’s important, therefore, to consider the advantage of online learning. Digital textbooks and online resources can be updated by the tutor as needed.

Students can also more easily look up information when they are unsure about something, allowing them to cross-reference things. This takes advantage of the benefits offered by the internet and increases the quality of learning.

Of course, ensuring that students have good online literacy and are using reliable sources is crucial.

Fact 7) It’s More Eco-Friendly

Can Online Learning Replace Traditional Learning? (7 Facts to Know!)

Eco friendly
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Digital learning can be more eco-friendly. For starters, you don’t have hundreds or even thousands of students commuting to classes every day of the week, which reduces the number of vehicles on the road.

There’s also no need to heat and power centralized buildings, which can result in lower CO2 emissions. Although students will be heating and powering their homes, this is generally estimated to cost less overall, helping to make the learning experience more environmentally friendly.

Related: Is Online Learning Better for the Planet?

Additionally, accessing information digitally rather than via paper or textbooks reduces deforestation and waste. Resources can be used multiple times and have a minimal environmental footprint, although there is a power aspect to consider.

The total environmental cost of online learning versus traditional learning has yet to be thoroughly documented, but the reduction in commuting alone is significant, as is the reduction in paper. Other things, like using typed documents instead of pens for taking notes, will lower the environmental impact of this kind of learning.

Final Thoughts

So, can online learning replace traditional learning? 

Related: LinkedIn Learning vs Pluralsight

As you can see, learning online has many benefits, although it is likely that this will only partially replace traditional learning for a long time, especially for school-aged children. Students get improved efficiency, lower costs, improved accessibility, and more.

There are also drawbacks to consider, such as increased screen time and reduced opportunities to socialize as a result. The pros and cons should be weighed carefully before making decisions about digital learning.

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