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In-person Learning v/s Online Learning: What’s Better?

Updated: June 19, 2024 | Published: April 19, 2022

Updated: June 19, 2024

Published: April 19, 2022

In-person Learning v/s Online Learning: What’s Better? Hero Image


When you think of education, you likely picture a classroom setting with a teacher upfront by the board and students watching the lecture or lesson. The typical picture of in-person learning has shifted greatly, however, with the advent of online learning and the power of technology. 



For anyone who is questioning whether online learning or in-person instruction is better, we are going to share the pros and cons of each learning environment. 



Source: Unsplash 



What is In-Person Learning?


In-person learning is just what it sounds like – it’s learning that takes place face-to-face. This means that instruction and learning happen in the same place and at the same time.



What is Online Learning?


Thanks to technological innovations, online learning is growing in popularity. Online learning is education that happens over the internet. It’s also called remote learning, e-learning, or distance learning. 


Online learning may be synchronous learning or asynchronous. Synchronous learning describes any type of education or instruction that occurs at the same time, but not in the same place. For example, learning is considered synchronous if a lesson is taught via online video streaming from a teacher who is in one location to the students who are all logging on to learn from home. Asynchronous learning happens when both learning and instruction occur at different locations and also at different times. This could be the case when a teacher records a lecture and students log on to view it at a later time. 



Pros of In-Person Learning 


Let’s consider some of the benefits of in-person learning:




Academic experience 


Some people look forward to the academic experience they have when they are in-person with their peers and instructor. For some, it’s because it allows for hands-on learning and collaboration with peers at the same time and in the same place. For others, they may feel more comfortable asking questions in-person. When it comes to college, some students want the experience of living in a dorm, sitting in lecture halls, partaking in labs, and engaging in social activities. 




Distraction-free environment 


Entering a classroom comes along with fewer distractions. The space is designed and intended for learning and since a teacher is there, you may feel more inclined to focus. It can be harder to be distracted by cellphones or anything else inside a classroom. 



Cons of In-Person Learning 


Now that we’ve covered the upsides of in-person instruction, it’s time to look at some of the drawbacks. After reading these drawbacks, it may become more clear why so many people are eager to learn online. 



Lack of scheduling control 


When it comes to learning within an institution’s walls, students have no say as to when or where the class is offered. You simply receive a schedule and have to be there at that time. This can clash with one’s existing responsibilities. 



More expensive 


In the case of college, in-person learning tends to be much more expensive than online alternatives. That’s mostly because schools have high overhead costs, but they also can charge the tuition and fees that they want to, especially when they are privately owned. 



Commuting time


Since you have to be in a designated space at a certain time for traditional in-person learning, you have to factor in commuting time (and costs). 



Source: Unsplash 



Pros of Online Learning 


In 2021, 75% of schools planned to operate online in the United States. Granted, the pandemic had a major impact on this decision, but even so, many students realized the benefits of learning online (just as people witnessed how it was to work from home). 


The benefits of online learning are plenty and include:





Since education takes place online, you have more flexibility in setting your own schedule. This is especially the case with pre-recorded lectures. Even without pre-recorded lectures, you have more flexibility in your schedule because you don’t have to commute anymore to a location to learn. 





For students in many countries, obtaining an education seems like a dream when there are no physical school locations or geographical barriers to making it to a specific place. With online learning, accessibility to education has been maximized, allowing for people from all over to take part in obtaining an education. 





Given less overhead costs, online education tends to be much more cost-effective than in-person learning. In some cases, online learning can be totally free, such as from platforms like YouTube. If you’re seeking to earn a degree online, you can do so at a tuition-free institution like the University of the People. 



Networking globally 


Online learning removes geographic barriers. As such, you can learn alongside students from all over the world. The internet has made it possible to connect to people from every corner of the globe, and when it comes to doing so in an educational setting, students benefit from diverse perspectives. Additionally, you could connect with someone in another location that might become your next business partner or employer. 



Cons of Online Learning


Despite the immense upsides of online learning, students need to be aware of potential hurdles. While all these are possible to overcome, it requires awareness and a desire to do so. 



Technical issues 


It’s of utmost importance that students who wish to learn online have the capability to do so with a strong internet connection and a compatible device. If technical issues occur, students should know what steps to take to resolve them in a timely manner so as to not miss out on learning. 





Since online learning can take place from anywhere, it’s up to students to choose a distraction-free environment. Check out these tips for finding a quiet study place near you. 





It takes self-motivation to succeed in any educational environment. But, when it comes to online learning, there may be a new level of self-motivation necessary since you have the freedom to choose when to learn and how much time you dedicate to doing so. 



Closing Thoughts


When comparing in-person learning to online learning, it’s hard to say that one is better than the other. That’s because it typically comes down to a student’s preference. 


As you can see from this entire article, there are pros and cons to both styles of learning. Depending on your unique situation, you can determine which feels more fitting for you and your goals. 


If you’re interested in learning more about online, accredited, and tuition-free educational opportunities at the University of the People, check out our program offerings here



At UoPeople, our blog writers are thinkers, researchers, and experts dedicated to curating articles relevant to our mission: making higher education accessible to everyone.