In the present day, following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, most operations are being conducted online to control the spread. The education sector is one area that was greatly affected by the pandemic, which disrupted learning amongst learners (Zhang et al., 2020). Most countries opted to learn online, where learners interact with their teachers virtually to regulate the spread of Covid-19. However, the questions of quality learning and training of learners remain a cause of the problem.
Student-teacher interactions are the main contrast between online learning and physical learning. Though it is being argued that online classes have no human interactions, this is not technically true (Lewis, 2021). Students and teachers only lack a one-on-one physical interaction, but there is a virtual interaction through various platforms such as google meet (Adnan et al., 2020). Students can consult the teacher and classmates through the platform and even hold chats. Unlike in class, the students conduct group discussions through face-to-face video workshops.
Access to learning and revision is an aspect of contrast in blended learning. While conducting physical classes, the students have access to various learning materials through their school libraries (Yen et al., 2018). The students can easily access and borrow course books for their studying. On the other hand, online learning has limited access to books. The only option students have to try is finding e-books online (Hou, 2017). Sometimes the students will not find some books or be charged to access them. Making payments to access e-books will be an extra expense on students that would have been avoided had it been physical classes.
In higher learning institutions, such as universities and colleges, online learning has impacted learning significantly. The same effects are being faced in teaching technical and science subjects (Baber, 2020). Physical learning-enabled access to school laboratories for practical work and demonstration of various skills. In online learning, the students are denied the opportunity to practice the skills learned practically (Castro et al., 2021). The quality of education is also reduced, especially in technical courses that entirely require mastery of practical skills. Learners are only able to practice the obtained knowledge when they join the workforce.
The adoption of online learning has caused some changes in the manner of student learning assessment. In face-to-face learning, teachers assess students’ understanding by giving quizzes and exams and marking them (Clayton et al., 2018). The student scores could indicate the level of knowledge of each student. When giving exams, teachers could be in the exam rooms to invigilate and prevent exam cheating (Clayton et al., 2018). Learning assessment in online learning is through assignments, online tests, and open-book exams. Such a method is not very efficient as students can cheat when doing exams, making the teacher have a wrong assessment. This has led to the compromise of examination integrity, as students will score highly because of cheating.
Effective learning and understanding are based on how well teachers guide and communicate with students during teaching sessions. During face-to-face learning teachers were able to offer proper guidance during physical classes and communicate effectively with students. When teaching in class, teachers can identify the specific needs of each student and their understanding capacity. As such, the teacher could emphasize or use other teaching methods to enable the learner to understand better. After-class interactions were easy during physical learning to help students learn (Singh et al., 2018). Online teaching has limited the teachers to one-time interactions and where they have to assume each child has the same understanding abilities. The personalized approach to learning that could help students presumed to be slow learners is therefore compromised.
Online classes are considered to be more convenient than physical learning classes. This is because, unlike face-to-face, online teaching does not have a fixed timetable (Dumford et al., 2018). Learners and tutors can organize courses to suit their programs. If one has other engagements, such as side jobs, online learning balances work and studying. Various challenges, such as traveling to school, accommodation, and meals, are eliminated through virtual learning.
The online teaching method is considered to be more cost-efficient than physical learning. The expenses of education are reduced for parents, students, teachers, and institutions. The amount parents use to facilitate learning, such as paying for accommodation, is minimized (Yulia, 2020). The extra-curriculum activities financed by the schools are not available when conducting teaching online. This, therefore, saves the money that was initially used in the funding of such activities (Akbarov et al., 2018). Services of nonteaching members are regulated to essential ones only.
In conclusion, online learning holds various contrasts with physical education. However, the differences are not very major, and they do not affect the quality of learning. This is because virtual learning has brought pragmatic changes to education. Physical classes are considered to be more effective as tutors can control the discipline of learners. When away from teacher, learners tend to be undisciplined in conducting their studies. For instance, they may not take the lessons and assignments seriously, and some may miss attending classes intentionally.
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