Remote Learning Versus Online Learning. Yes, There Is A Difference

Posted on: 15 Apr 2020

As the majority of families across the globe are forced into a homeschool-style education, many are finding it more complicated than they had anticipated.

But there is a light at the end of the self-isolated education tunnel. And if nothing else, it is simply an understanding that what many are experiencing is remote learning, and not the much more evolved online learning.

What Is the Difference Between Remote Learning and Online Learning?

The difference is quite obvious between remote and online learning. Remote learning is based on a model whereby students are given or sent learning materials and are expected to digest it all before taking an exam or test of some kind to gain a corresponding qualification. The onus is entirely on them (and more often than not, the parents) to stay on track and ‘find all the right answers.

That’s a lot of pressure (on everyone involved). 

To put it another way, Susan Grajek of Educause – the association of education technologists, puts it that remote learning is a “quick, ad hoc, low-fidelity mitigation strategy.”

Even with the advent of the ‘Zoom classroom’, this is the type of learning we are seeing globally at the moment, remote. And it’s far from perfect. Whereas, online learning truly stands apart, that it is fundamentally a learning environment designed and created to exist online. 

Classes, curriculum, campuses and teachers all play their part in an experience that is as close to the real world as one can imagine, and in a lot of ways, even better. Online learning incorporates what is known as synchronous learning, which means the learning process happens at a learner’s own pace while also taking the form of live classes with teachers and most importantly, fellow students.

Which Out of The Two Is Better for Our Students?

Remote learning can put a lot of pressure on the students since they are supposed to complete their courses online. The absence of synchronized sessions can make it hard for students to grasp all the concepts and the learning method won’t be that effective. However, online learning can facilitate students by providing them a near to reality experience. Synchronized classrooms and the active participation of teachers and fellow students can make the learning process more interesting and effective. 

Founder and CEO of Freedom Learning Group (FLG), Nathan Ecelbarger, has outlined what they believe a well-designed online course does:

-     It prioritises engagement by utilising real-world, recent topics and case studies to stir discussion and even emotion while incorporating interactivity and immediate, measurable achievement.

-     It makes organisation and navigation easy, removing unnecessary steps and clicks that don’t contribute anything to learning.

-     It allows for rethinking of assessment by encouraging research and original thinking instead of memorization.

-     It always answers the “what’s in it for me?” question for students by building intentional learning experiences and getting straight to the point.

What Are the Common Misconceptions About Online Learning?

When it comes to online learning, you will come across many speculations and misconceptions that can leave you confused about the learning process altogether. To give you a clearer picture of this notion, here are misconceptions that you must not believe in regarding online learning:

-     It is easier than on-campus learning: Many people believe that online learning is a lot easier than on-campus learning, but the truth is, it is not everyone’s cup of tea. It needs the same level of dedication and hard work to make the most of online learning. 

-     No Guidance: Online learning programs do have teachers whom you can contact even after classes via email. They can provide you with sound guidance just as regular teachers can. 

-    You Can’t Network: This is considered to be one of the major drawbacks of online learning. It is believed that we cannot socialize or make new friends. However, the synchronized learning sessions included in online learning programs let you talk to other students as well. You can make new friends or network with other people just as in any on-campus learning program.

-     You Have to be a Tech Wizard: If you can shop online, use social media platforms aptly, you can cope with online learning programs effortlessly.

How Should the Institutes Adopt the New Education Trends?

The surprising turn of events in 2020 has brought to the forefront new methods of learning that were alien to us earlier. The on-campus learning was preferred by everyone and it was believed that no other method can replace the credibility of the traditional learning method.

However, the coronavirus outbreak has now forced every institute to turn into online high schools and facilitate their students while being in quarantine. The institutes must follow the new educational trends by making the most of technology and designing a platform where students can take online classes, submit assignments, and contact teachers for queries. In a nutshell, every institute must have a virtual presence. 

Why haven’t we been doing this for a while then? The truth is, we have. 

Institutes like Harvard and MIT amongst others have introduced online classes that follow this well-defined, highly interactive, and engaging method. Now, for the first time, we are seeing completely online high schools offering a fully realized international faculty, student body, and accreditation for learners which rival some of the best private schools.  

How Can Education Amidst The COVID-19 Be Made Seamless and Effective?

No one knows how long this coronavirus situation is going to stay; therefore, extra effort is needed on the part of the educational institute’s administration to make education seamless and effective for the students. Firstly, an efficient virtual platform is needed that can facilitate synchronized classrooms and enable students and teachers to have near-to-reality experience of studying online. Moreover, the changes in the curriculum can be made as per the ease of students. Difficult and lengthy topics can be omitted. Likewise, more marks must be allocated for assignments instead of exams to maximize the student’s chance of passing their terms. 

Online education has become a lifesaver for students and teachers amid this COVID-19 situation. No wonder if we will be seeing more institutes offering online degree programs in the next few years. 

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