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

Technological development provides the opportunity to have easy and quick access to information and other people. Logically, it leads to the use of the internet for educational purposes. Various educational institutions provide access not only to traditional classroom methods of teaching but also to online studying. These courses differ from conventional approaches to learning because they allow the students to get all the necessary readings, participate in discussions, watch lectures, and pass exams without leaving their homes. Although electronic education might seem convenient and effective from first sight, it requires detailed observation of the findings of various studies.

They might allow people to understand what implicit peculiarities and difficulties of online learning expect students when they decide to choose this teaching modality. It might help them comprehend whether these two forms of studying are similar in different aspects and make the correct choices. Online learning is not as effective as face-to-face learning because it fails to guarantee cooperation with groupmates, motivation, ability to improve academic performance, comprehension of the material, reliability of technology, and interaction with faculty.

Face-to-face learning allows students to have a more effective communication and cooperation experience. It can be proved with the research results analyzing the level of satisfaction of students, which reveals that interacting with people in person contributes to cooperative learning (Tratnik et al. 4). The ability of the learners to communicate with their peers in person defines their readiness to establish more personal relationships with these people. The formation of these relationships allows the students to aim to communicate more and share their knowledge with their groupmates to develop these interactions.

In addition, such examples of help and cooperation contribute to better academic performance and satisfaction of the learners. The other evidence of this situation can be the study of Mather and Sarkans, which determined that online education impeded the establishment of effective communication between peers (68). Mainly, the students responding to the researchers’ questions emphasized the difficulties they encountered during the group work and discussions. The students never met in person and could not establish eye contact or understand the character of their companions. This fact influenced their communication negatively and impeded their rapport.

Online learning fails to make the students feel motivated and encouraged to study. The results of the research covering the feelings and emotions of students associated with their process of learning indicate that they experience neither motivation nor inspiration (Tratnik et al. 4). This statement signifies that the students’ ability to interact with their peers, compete with them in traditional educational settings, and observe the performance of others in person contribute to their educational attitude.

Online communication fails to make the learners plunge into the educational process because it allows them to distract their attention and do several unconnected tasks simultaneously, which hinders their focus. Wright supports this idea with the results of the study indicating that 58 percent of students prefer face-to-face teaching because they regard it to contribute to their enjoyment of the studying process and better focus on the issues observed (67). These findings indicate that the factor of psychological connection between people in class plays an essential role in their desire to study and improve their scores. Consequently, online learning impedes this experience, isolating the students from emotional contact with peers and lecturers.

Studying face-to-face, students learn how to improve their academic performance and have higher grades. Tratnik et al. observed the results of students’ progress, comparing the differences in scores of online and offline learners to determine that individuals studying in traditional educational settings performed better (5). This evidence provides the chance to determine that such factors as interpersonal communication, motivation, observation of the results of peers, and cooperation between the learners help to increase progress. In addition, such a factor as curiosity associated with competition between the students plays a significant role in the development of interest of the students in the discipline and the matters observed during classes.

Wright also admits that such components of traditional classroom education as motivation, ability to focus, and discipline play an essential role in better performance of the offline learners (68). This statement demonstrates that different studies focus on the role of interpersonal skills formation in the ability to achieve better results and succeed. Consequently, the undergraduates studying in classroom settings with their peers and under the professors’ supervision perform better because they feel more responsible and self-disciplined.

Studying online deprives students of effective communication with lecturers and understanding of the material studied in the course. Wright provides the evidence of this statement displaying the results of the analysis of the teaching modalities (67). The scholar signifies that the majority of students choose offline education because it enhances understanding and improves interaction with lecturers (Wright 67). These results are based on their evaluation of the experience defining the difference in their perception of the information because the lecturers explain the material better, provide more details, and answer the questions readily. Mather and Sarkans also argue for more effective students’ experiences during face-to-face learning focusing on studying outcomes. In particular, the scholars explained that students defined that “faculty-led lectures and explanations helped students build their understanding” (68).

The ability of the undergraduates to listen to the professors during lectures, participate in classroom discussions, and ask direct questions plays a significant role in their perception of knowledge. It provides the chance to understand how the lack of personal interaction influences the inability of the learners to benefit from the educational experience and master the subjects they learn.

Technology issues impede the quality of online learning, making the students prefer traditional academic settings. Mather and Sarkans identified that the learners of the online courses stated that the difficulties with connection and presentation of the information on websites discouraged them and wasted their time, impeding their acquiring new knowledge (68). This comparison of the experiences of students provides the opportunity to define that online studying has a significant drawback of dependence on technologies and skills of its use by both groups, students and lecturers. Such a component of this type of education contributes to the learners’ frustration and loss of interest in the course and the information provided by the faculty.

Tratnik et al. also insist that the ease of use of technologies influences the students’ satisfaction with the learning process and their evaluation of the course in general (5). Mainly, the problems with connection and access to data impede the level of contentment of the learners with their experience of interacting with teachers and managing the course material.

Studying in classrooms enhances better interaction between the students and faculty, making the learners more involved in the learning process. Mather and Sarkans defined that the undergraduates complained of the lack of constructive feedback from the professors and the tendency of the faculty to avoid communication with the students online (70). The students argued that “faculty were disengaged and participated minimally in the course” (Mather and Sarkans 70). Mainly, the fact that online education fails to develop interpersonal relations and eye contact between individuals defines the lack of interest and enjoyment of the lecturers.

This situation, in its turn, influences the mood of the students, making them discouraged. Particularly, it becomes evident when the undergraduates receive late responses from the professors. Paulsen and McCormick also emphasize the role of interpersonal interaction in the effectiveness of experience of the students obtaining their education in classrooms (28). This analysis supports the idea about the advantage of the traditional form of education. In particular, it regards such a method of teaching as essential in the future success of the tutees learning how to communicate and establish relationships during their college years.

Although some may claim that online education is a valuable method of learning for those who are isolated from society, this concept should not influence the general understanding of this form of education. Mpungose presented the information about the readiness of the colleges to transit to online learning during the coronavirus pandemic (1). The analysis of the necessity to alter the approaches to education and the availability of the tools displayed that the internet was a valuable source of interaction between students and teachers. It may provide a chance to access education to people that have to stay at home.

It is especially essential in the period when the whole population of the countries has to keep social distance during pandemics. However, this observation of the advantages of this teaching modality might not impact the perception of online learning in general. Mainly, society has to separate the cases of emergency and specific needs of some people from the common tendencies in the electronic education impact. Since the results of various studies display the negative impact of studying at home, it should remain the complementary method of studying.

Thus, online learning should not be regarded as similar to a classroom form of studying because it deprives students of cooperation, encouragement, improved academic performance, understanding of the subjects, easiness of access, and faculty feedback. Face-to-face learning encourages people to cooperate and communicate with their peers, which allows them to share knowledge and experience. Also, it motivates students to study better because it allows them to stay more focused and enjoy the process of getting knowledge together with groupmates. Additionally, it enables students to progress in their academic performance by experiencing competition and encouragement during classes.

Next, students in the classroom have the chance to comprehend the subjects better because the lecturers may explain and answer their questions instantly during their interpersonal interaction. Furthermore, conventional methods of teaching exclude such difficulties as technical issues that may impede their learning. Finally, face-to-face interaction with faculty contributes to the formation of interpersonal skills. Some may claim that online education is a valuable teaching modality in the modern world where some people require isolation and social distancing. However, this statement can be refuted with the arguments concerning the disadvantages of online learning.

Works Cited

Mather, Meera, and Alena Sarkans. “Student Perceptions of Online and Face-to-Face Learning”. International Journal of Curriculum and Instruction, vol. 10, no. 2, 2018, pp. 61-76.

Mpungose, Cedric B. “Emergent Transition from Face-to-Face to Online Learning in a South African University in the Context of the Coronavirus Pandemic”. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020, pp. 1-9.

Paulsen, Justin, and Alexander C. McCormick. “Reassessing Disparities in Online Learner Student Engagement in Higher Education”. Educational Researcher, vol. 49, no. 1, 2020, pp. 20-29.

Tratnik, Alenka et al. “Student Satisfaction with an Online and a Face-to-Face Business English Course in a Higher Education Context”. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, vol. 56, no. 1, 2017, pp. 36-45.

Wright, Brenda M. “Blended Learning: Student Perception of Face-to-Face and Online EFL Lessons”. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics, vol. 7, no. 1, 2017, pp. 64-71.

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ChalkyPapers. "Is Online Learning as Good as Face-to-Face Learning?" April 15, 2023.