Online Learning Vs Traditional Learning: An Introduction

The emerging trends in technology and its wider applications open the doors to diverse opportunities. Presently, technology is reaching every hand in the form of various devices that help bring us together on a global platform. As a result, learning has become easier with access to different courses available at a click. The traditional form of learning is slowly slipping into the online mode, owing to its various advantages. Subsequently, this gives rise to a comparison between the two, Online Learning Vs Traditional Learning.

Both, Online Learning and Traditional Learning, have their own advantages and disadvantages. Their effects are thus registered accordingly. Let’s have a look at the comparison between the two.


What is Traditional Learning?

Traditional Learning refers to a setting where a teacher communicates with a group of students in a typical brick and mortar classroom set-up. The students attend the class for a fixed time duration and learn about specific topics, subjects, and often get hands-on experience for a job. Although many schools/institutions make use of technology, the teaching-learning process still involves hand-written notes, assignments, tests, etc. The curriculum follows a standardized pattern using textbooks approved by the government and the education board. Moreover, the students are completely dependent on the teacher for acquiring knowledge of the subject.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Learning

Traditional Learning has been there since time immemorial. It is the first and foremost approach to learning considered by educators for imparting knowledge. Though it is a primary approach to learning in contemporary times, it has certain advantages and disadvantages which make it unique.


  1. In-Person Learning:

It allows the students to build a connection with the teacher while learning. Teachers can pick up non-verbal cues about students, which helps deliver an interactive lesson.

2. Values and Discipline:

A traditional classroom allows the teacher to inculcate values and discipline in the students through story-telling and other classroom activities. Teachers can also keep a check on student behavior and work on their weak aspects.

3. Social Skills:

Students come together in a class, meet their peers and learn social behavior. Moreover, encountering different personalities helps in building a well-rounded attitude and shapes personality as well.

4. Physical and Mental Health:

The classroom environment impacts the mental health of the students. A teacher creates a positive learning environment to help students get the most out of it. Additionally, various activities including games contribute to improving the physical health of the students.

5. Experiential Learning:

Students may also receive hands-on experience for a job in a traditional learning classroom.


  1. Time-Bound:

Classes are scheduled at fixed timings, and there is rarely a provision for compensatory classes if a student misses a lecture.

2. High Cost:

The school/institution fee is extremely high (especially for colleges), owing to the infrastructure and people involved. Students often require a loan to pay for their education.

3. Student Attention Issues:

The lectures are designed in a one-size-fits-all format. Consequently, not every student might be able to understand or pay complete attention to the class, which often goes unnoticed in a large batch of students.

4. Travel Requirement:

In traditional learning, classes are held at a specific place. Thus, it requires students and teachers to travel daily. This becomes cumbersome for students who do not reside close to the institution.

5. Focused on Theory:

Although students are involved in experiential learning in a traditional classroom, it is only for a short time. The majority of the learning time is focused on attending lectures that are entirely based on theory.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Learning
Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Learning

What is Online Learning?  

Online Learning refers to a process where the students and the teacher are connected via the Internet. This implies that they are not bound by time or space. Moreover, the study material is digitally shared by the teacher, and the students also have access to varied information sources through the Internet. Unlike a traditional classroom, students get a wide range of subjects in an online learning format and are free to opt for any of them depending on their interests.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning

Online Learning is a comparatively new and emerging approach that is setting the ground for endless opportunities. Let’s take a look at some advantages and disadvantages of online learning.


  1. Readily Available Content:

Participants can access the learning content whenever they want, irrespective of the time and place. Additionally, the teacher can control the content with ease, and decide the pace at which the participants proceed with learning.

2. Allows Collaborative Content Creation:

Teachers can create learning content using a Learning Management System (LMS) in collaboration with other teachers and students so that it caters to the learning needs of all participants.

3. Familiarity with Technology:

Use of the latest devices and internet sets the participants on a global stage, thus, paving the way for endless possibilities of learning.

4. Saves Time:

Online classes are accessible anywhere and at any time as per the convenience of the participants. This eventually saves the time spent on traveling to classes and other redundant activities.

 5. Cost-Effective:

Online Learning saves money by reducing building and infrastructure requirements. Also, participants do not have to travel to attend a class, which saves traveling expenses as well.


  1. Needs Latest Devices:

Attending an online class requires internet-enabled devices with the latest technology. Without the availability of these, it is impossible to participate in Online Learning.

2. Requires Trained Professionals:

Teachers require training to design lessons in LMS. Thus, separate training sessions must be arranged for them before they can begin conducting classes online.

3. Difficult to Maintain & Monitor Student Attention:

Unlike a traditional classroom, teachers cannot depend on non-verbal cues to monitor student behavior as they are not physically present in the class. Therefore, the task of maintaining and monitoring student attention becomes difficult.

4. Content Reformatting Required:

The subject content presented in a traditional classroom requires formatting based on LMS before it can be presented to students in an online class. This demands time, labor, and patience on the part of teachers.

5. Plagiarism Issues:

With information readily available on the Internet, chances are that students may copy their assignments and tests. This might go unnoticed by a teacher as it is difficult to monitor these nuanced aspects of an online class.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning
Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning

Bottom Line

Online Learning vs Traditional Learning might seem like a highly debated topic with two opposing and fervent sides, but a deeper understanding of both gives an entirely different impression. Taking into account the different perspectives of learning, both the methods have certain pros and cons that make them unique as well as effective in different learning situations.

There are a few questions that might arise while adopting the relatively new Online Learning method, the biggest among them being, “Is online learning better than traditional learning?

Refer to our next article in this series for a response to this question.


Reference: Nitrocollege

Image credits: Shutterstock


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