Is Online Learning as Effective as Face-to-Face Learning?

Public health emergency! Places across the globe are declaring for people to self-isolate after an infectious disease, referred to as COVID-19, caused a pandemic. COVID-19 is a disease that attacks your respiratory system. The pandemic has caused schools to switch to distant learning. Teachers and students around the globe have switched to online learning using tools such as Canvas and Zoom. However, a question is being asked more frequently: is online learning as effective as face-to-face learning?

Online learning has advantages over face-to-face learning.

Online learning allows students to work at their own pace. Working at their own pace allows students to not get left behind. Pace can allow students to obtain the knowledge and take more notes. Along with pace, online learning allows students to work around their busy schedules. Online learning takes less of a time investment allowing students to have more time to review. Furthermore, online learning can be more comfortable for a student which can make it easier to pay attention.

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Next, online is easier for students to communicate at different times of the day. Lastly, online learning is more green by reducing the amount of CO2 emissions by 85% and uses 90% less energy.

Face-to-face learning can offer aspects that online learning can’t. Headspace says “face to face learning is a really effective way to learn knowledge and skills because it often combines different ways of learning including writing, reading, discussion, presentations, projects, group work, film clips, demonstration and practice.” Face-to-face learning allows students to get interactions with classmates.

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Interactions with students can create a stronger bond and can offer real-world examples. Interactions can also allow students to present their own ideas and obtain feedback from both peers and an instructor. Additionally, face-to-face learning can provide guidance. According to Brown, “Students depend even more on the facilitation, assignment clarification, and feedback provided by their instructor.” Guidance can allow an instructor to redirect a student if necessary. Also, completion rates for traditional learning is 5x higher than online learning. Lastly, face-to-face learning gives a scheduled time to create a consistent schedule for students.

In addition to its advantages, online learning also has disadvantages. Online learning doesn’t allow students to interact with other students the same way as face-to-face learning. Students aren’t able to present their ideas and get feedback the same way face-to-face learners can. Online learners can be at a disadvantage if they are not committed. A student must “be motivated, disciplined, self-directed, and good at time management” (Brown). Without the commitment of the student, the student will most likely fail. Next, online learning disconnects students from their peers.

Students are left with no bond with classmates or feedback from classmates. Furthermore, “there’s some things that online learning just can’t offer. The learner has to be fairly dedicated, as online it can be much easier to disengage from the task at hand. It’s also harder to check if they’re paying attention to the instructor” (Walton). Another disadvantage is that online learning allows students to get an idea of the material but fails to put the information into play. Lastly, it is easier for a student to become distracted by their surroundings. If the student becomes uninterested in the topic, the items around them can be more interesting than the subject.

As well as online learning, face-to-face has its disadvantages, too. Similarly to online learning, face-to-face learners can run into distractions from other students. This can pull their attention towards something else. Next, the teacher doesn’t have time to sit with students one-on-one frequently to catch a struggle and help. Students can get left behind during lectures. Furthermore, if a student gets sick or misses class for personal reasons, they are left to catch up on their own or are left missing out on important tests. Lastly, face-to-face learning is more costly. If a family of a student or a student is struggling with being able to provide the needed materials to learn in the class, the student will be unable to retain knowledge and fall behind.

While both ways of learning have advantages and disadvantages, what is more effective is based off of the student themselves. Students can weigh the costs and benefits between online learning and face-to-face learning. They can decide for themselves what would be best for them. Online learning can be as effective as face-to-face learning if the student is committed to putting their time and effort to study alone.


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
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Is Online Learning as Effective as Face-to-Face Learning?. (2021, Dec 17). Retrieved from

Is Online Learning as Effective as Face-to-Face Learning? essay
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