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Written by:
Martin Barrett
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What Are The Biggest Challenges Facing Online Education Today

What Are The Biggest Challenges Facing Online Education Today?

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?

Online Learning vs Traditional Learning

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

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

Biggest Challenges For Schools Today

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?

Setting yourself easy, realistic goals is a great way to keep you motivated. You should also make a list of all the reasons why you want to pass this course and the benefits you can earn from it.

You can also talk to other people you trust such as friends and family about how you are feeling demotivated and they will be able to help encourage you to keep to it. 

Course Quality

There are a lot of different online courses and education providers out there and the market has become flooded with them – but not all offer high quality resources for a fair price.

Some courses are super affordable because they are short and offer nothing that a long YouTube video can provide you. Other providers may offer you the same but for a much, much higher price. 

This is why research is vital when choosing an online course. Not only do you want to choose a subject and topic which will benefit you the most, but you also want to sign up through a renowned provider. 

So, check the reviews, the numbers of students passed, the course structure, and make sure you have covered any free educational resources such as YouTube or LinkedIn Learning.

You may not even have to sign up to a paid course to learn the things you want to learn – the resources you need could be available for free through a different platform! 

Lack Of Accreditation 

If you want to take up online education because you are passionate about a certain subject or just want to learn for the sake of learning, then this is not a challenge you will probably face.

However, if you want to take up some courses to get extra qualifications to put on your CV and boost your employability – then you need to check for this issue. 

A lot of courses and educational programmes online do not come with accreditation. This means that while you might get a certificate at the end of it, a lot of businesses and universities do not recognize the certificate.

This basically means  that you took the course for nothing and although you have the knowledge from it, you don’t have anything to prove it to employers.

There are courses that come with accreditation but these courses are more costly than their affordable counterparts. However, some businesses may still like the fact that you have gone out of your way to take up additional courses even without accreditation.

It shows you have a passion for what you do and are always eager to learn more. 

So, if you want proper accreditation, then make sure you sign up to a course that offers it. If you are taking up a course such as first aid just so you can learn some valuable skills, then accreditation probably isn’t at the top of your list – unless you need it for your career!

The Benefits Of Online Education

Despite all of these challenges, online education is still a great path for many to learn more and boost their employability.

It offers a ton of benefits which makes it an ideal choice for a lot of people – so let’s take a look at some of the pros of online education to balance out the challenges we have discussed. 

Ease Of Access

Trying to access additional education can mean traveling long distances and sometimes even moving across the country in order to attend the education institution of your choice. However, with online education, anyone across the world can sign up to any course and learn from it. 

This means students who wish to stay at home or to study while traveling abroad can do just that as long as they have access to the right device and a steady internet connection.

This also lowers the cost of education for many people as funds for maintenance and living are no longer necessary from learning from home. 


Online education also costs a lot less than traditional educational courses. The lack of a physical classroom and tutor means that the course provider can save a lot on costs, and so this brings down the average price for an online educational course. 

This means students who could not afford to access additional education now can do so thanks to the affordability of online education. 


A lot of online courses offer total flexibility with their study hours, meaning that every student can tailor their course into their time as they wish.

You could be working night shifts and fit your learning in during the late evening, or only fit in an hour of study a day around parenting or work. 

This again makes additional education more available to those who cannot attend classes or meet deadlines due to other commitments. 

Final Thoughts

So, there are a lot of challenges facing online education right now, but there are steps students can take to overcome them. Take a look at the suggestions above and keep in mind all the ways you can benefit from online education!

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