Online education has seen a huge boost in popularity in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While schools and universities were forced to shut their doors, students took to learning online – and the model took off, allowing all kinds of people to pick up new subjects and learn new skills all through online education.
While there are plenty of positives to online education, it’s definitely not perfect. There are problems and challenges that the industry faces – so what are they and how can students overcome them?
If you are worried about the downsides of online education, then take a look at the information below to find out what you need to know and how you can avoid suffering from the cons of online education.
This way, you can find out if online education is really for you or how you can have the best online learning experience possible and what are the biggest challenges facing online education today?
What Are The Challenges Of Online Education?
Technological And Connectivity Issues
To access online education, you will need two things – an electronic device with internet connectivity, and a strong and steady internet connection.
However, not everyone has access to these two things and thus they become two large challenges most people need to find a way around if they want to access online education.
Luckily, most people have some kind of device they can use for online education. You no longer need a computer or laptop as many online courses can also be accessed and completed through other smart devices such as tablets or smartphones.
If not, then some libraries offer computers for free use or you can even rent a laptop – but this does mean you are limited to working on your course whenever you can access your local library.
As for internet connectivity, we’ve all been in the situation where the Wi-Fi keeps dropping when we are trying to get something done online.
It’s frustrating and as some courses come with time restraints or deadlines, this can be a huge issue for a lot of students.
Libraries offer a steady internet connection so if you are ever stuck, you can visit your local library and ask to access their internet. Alternatively, there are Wi-Fi cafes where you can access their internet just by buying a coffee.
Despite this, technological issues remain one of the biggest challenges for a lot of students.
Poor Learning Environments
In-person learning means that you are given a safe place where you can limit your distractions and focus on your work. Is In-person learning better than online?
From classrooms to lecture halls, educators go out of their way to provide their students with a comfortable learning environment to help boost their concentration.
At home, however, things can be very different.
Online education means that you have to complete your work and learn from home and not everyone has a home with a great learning environment.
Some students are distracted by their gadgets or hobbies which surround them, others will live with other people who can cause lots of noise.
Some students are even parents and responsible for children – and this means that they must divide their attention between their work and caring for others. Poor heating and lighting can also contribute to making it more difficult to focus on your learning.
This issue is not just limited to how many distractions there are around you. Learning from home also might mean that you don’t have access to a proper desk and chair so you’re stuck learning with poor posture, or you don’t have the right materials like pens or paper.
Of course, there will be students who have no issue with this. They will have a private space where they can engage with their education, a desk to sit at, and everything they need at their fingertips – but not everyone has that privilege.
The best alternative would be to visit your local library.
Some libraries offer private study rooms where you can access a desk, internet access, heating, air conditioning, proper lighting – everything you need to create a good learning environment. Perhaps you prefer a little bit of background noise and bustle.
If so, then an internet cafe is the next best place for you to go.
Isolation And Loneliness
A lot of online courses do not offer face-to-face learning. This means that the course is almost entirely done through recorded lectures, seminars, guidebooks, and more.
As a result, most students do not get access to a tutor or real person to talk to – nor do they get to chat with their fellow students.
This can make taking up an online education very lonely and isolating.
Online education takes away the social element of education in general and means that students cannot work in groups or projects. It takes away their opportunity to make friends and to work in teams, instead relying on independent work.
For some people with social issues or anxieties, this can be a plus but a lot of people report feeling isolated and lonely when undergoing online education.
Luckily, some courses do offer face to face learning. You may be fortunate enough to find a course where you get to video call with a tutor, or join a weekly group meeting and connect with others undertaking the same course as you.
If not, then you can resort to other methods to fight loneliness. Look for groups and clubs in your local area such as a book club or sports club.
You can join your local gym and meet others there, or check out forums online related to your course so you can discuss topics with other like-minded people.
This does mean you will have to step out of your comfort zone and take time out of your daily routine to try and make new friends – but this is worth it compared to the alternative of sitting at home alone.
Data security is often an afterthought for students but it’s such a vital part of online education.
Choosing the right course provider which offers security protection and uses tools which come with proper data security precautions (passwords, security questions, malware scanners, firewalls, etc) can save you a lot of trouble.
So, when looking at the course you want to take, look at what tools the course uses to store your information and send you resources – then check what security precautions the company has made.
You can also make sure that your own devices are up to date with their security to help protect your personal information further.
Lack Of Motivation
Another big challenge with online learning and education is how much easier it is to become demotivated and give up on your course.
Online courses have a lot of text to read, quizzes to take, and students have complete control over when they decide to learn.
This means that they also have complete control to give their education less and less attention and can give it up altogether with little consequences other than losing the money they have spent.
Not only that, but the lack of interpersonal communication with online education means that there is no one else where to motivate students.
Very few online courses offer tutors, even fewer allow students to talk to one other online – and this means that students have no one else to engage with about their course.
All of these factors can contribute to demotivating students – so how can you keep your own motivation up?