In the Online Learning vs Classroom Learning Debate, Who is the Real Winner?

In the Online Learning vs Classroom Learning Debate, Who is the Real Winner?

Is education about just landing a degree or a continuous learning process? Is education about being well-rounded or self-exploration? Or is an educati

Is education about just landing a degree or a continuous learning process? Is education about being well-rounded or self-exploration? Or is an education in a physical setting too rigid?

And, perhaps the BIGGEST question: What are the returns on education with the current situation?

All these questions move to the front as we observe the digital learning unfold during these trying times.

Today, the pandemic has forced universities and schools to close. This reality has paved the way for touting the efficiencies of online learning education model, changing the entire pedagogical landscape.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (now Education Ministry) had put forward a press release on March 21, 2020, sharing various free digital e-Learning platforms for students to continue learning during COVID-19.

Notably, according to Statista, the global e-learning market is also predicted to surpass 243 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. So, here we can see online education already setting its firm foot in the industry.

Meanwhile, the corona crisis has also made the debate between online learning versus classroom learning more relevant. Let us have a look at the advantages, differences, similarities, and conclude on the better between the two!

Pros and Cons of Traditional Education

Traditional learning focuses fundamentally on classroom education which is restricted to a decided time limit and a specific location – where the students are required to be present to attend the lecture. The complete learning process is in a controlled environment.

pros and cons traditional education


1. Availability/Accessibility

In a traditional classroom learning, the educator is accessible during the school hours and additionally for a period in school for any further explanations on any subject, if required.

Classroom-based learning yields students the chance of personal collaboration with the educators and a genuine self-understanding.

2. Discipline

Traditional learning lays focus on the significance of the order, as students are required to go to classes on time, instilling a sense of discipline.

3. Social and Educational Development

In traditional learning, students collaborate with their peers and the educator eye to eye. Also, students can approach the instructors directly with their inquiries.

Classroom learning can provide both social and instructive advancement through a steady human association.

4. Instructor-Driven Learning

Traditional classroom learning presents organized classes, opportunities for exercises within a well-prepared and controlled environment.


1. Limited Time

Since a teacher needs to communicate a fixed number of ideas in a restricted time, most classroom exercises revolve around only to get the job done.

2. Less likely for innovation:

This process does not take into consideration the ideas for new explorations.

3. Comparative increased stress

Inadequate evaluations and the disappointment over not being able to perform even after being equipped with the best infrastructure, can lead to stress and pressure.


Why is the Online Education Model a Good Alternative?

advantages of online learning

1. Flexibility

Online learning or virtual classes are inherently flexible. This is ideally an exceptional education option for working professionals, or the ones trying to intensify their educational qualifications.

Here online learning offers a route for easy access to education from anywhere, and on any device.

2. Pace

The modern online learning model has resulted in platforms that have advanced our learning capacity by leaps and bounds. You can not only study at your own pace but also do not require long hours to absorb course material.

3. Learning System that Saves Time

A significant advantage of an online education model is that every time you take a break from studies and go back doing daily chores or work part-time, you can easily pick up from where you left.

As a student, you will not get distracted and stay behind. All the progress gets automatically saved with the help of the online learning management systems of the course you are pursuing.

The Digital Divide: An Educational Concern

The most prominent concern with this digital learning expedition revolves around the digital divide.

There are some students who are not taking Chromebooks with digital lesson plans. Some do not have broadband. Some might lack structure at home while some students would need supervision.

This digital divide issue will appear at every educational phase. Whether it is about needing a webcam or something like Internet access or a computer, digital learning can never offer a structure that physical infrastructure in the traditional educational setup can offer.

Differences between Online vs Traditional Classes

1. Scheduling & Flexibility

Traditional Education – The consistency of a traditional education schedule can be vital as having too loose a schedule can cause problems with self-discipline.

Students experiencing a traditional education can spend time working on school assignments, getting help from teachers/peers or socializing with friends.

Online Education – Students pursuing online education are mostly those who need more flexibility in their schedule. Online learning encourages students to make their schedules and work around their other commitments.

2. Self-Discipline

Traditional Education – Traditional educational environments will have strict deadlines, serious accountability and stringent schedules that require you to stay on top.

Online Education – You will be expected to complete assignments and prepare for tests based on your schedule and learning time – thus fine-tuning skills of self-motivation and self-discipline.

3. Social Interaction

Traditional Education – Institutions that offer traditional education have innumerable activities for students to get involved in outside the class. From athletics to hobby clubs to academic clubs, social interaction is an enormous part of attending a traditional school.

Online Education – Discussion groups, online forums, group projects, and more are at the heart of the online pedagogy. Students learn about teamwork and collaboration, and though much of it is virtual, they still receive a good bit of social interaction.

4. Affordability

Traditional Education – A traditional education at a college level is undoubtedly more expensive than online education. However, if the name of the school or the particular program you are interested in holds weight, it may be worth it.

Online Education – As mentioned above, online education at a college level will cost less than traditional education. Completing a degree online will take away costs on transportation, meals on campus, infrastructure, and more.

How Online Learning is Impacting is the Education System in the Pandemic

In many regards, the education industry’s shift to remote learning during the pandemic has guided the way for video conferencing platforms such as WebEx, Zoom, Google Meet.

online learning

Besides, there are softwares that monitors students taking exams online. Furthermore, like the enterprises, education’s giant online education experiment is going to accelerate changes that were already in play.

Here is a look at the ripple effects of the grand online learning model that is going to affect the future education system.

1. Technology

  • A definite benefit from the Google Classroom since the channel has a common familiarity worldwide.
  • Canvas ( the online blackboard) has an ecosystem of add-ons and uninterrupted workflow.
  • Video conferencing is essential for educators and learners. Hence, there is a big opportunity for organizations such as Zoom to target the younger, professional customer base.

2. Cultural Shift

Like all transformations and technology shifts, the most prominent challenge involves cultural change.

  • Education requires discipline, but online learning has less handholding.
  • Paper and overpriced textbooks are going away. This process change means the faculty has to go digital and change teaching methodologies.
  • Analytics will become more widespread. Analytic capabilities in learning management systems will be opening a barrage of new learning metrics to think for students’ and faculty’s effectiveness.

3. Upskill

Today, time being sheltered in place due to social distancing has enabled everyone ( especially students and working professionals) to think more about their learning and interests.

With the community getting used to digital learning, it is going to make upskilling more likely and fluid. Platforms like Udemy and Coursera have already started looking promising for the learners.

LinkedIn Learning and other badge-based skill acquisition systems from companies are also emerging as quite impactful learning options.

The Bottom Line

The above-mentioned technological developments inevitably lead to wilder forms of speculation, but it is essential to note that schools and big techs are already focusing on integration rather than total replacement of a particular education system.

There will always be a spot for traditional, classroom-based teaching methods, but even these are becoming more integrated with online learning. Moreover, while it is almost impossible to predict what directions technology will take us in, online learning is sure-shortedly set to become a significant part of the learning pedagogy all around the world.

What are your thoughts on the near future of education?

Any specific trends or methodology you think will go a long way in the field?

Do share with us in the comments section, below!