Pros & Cons of Online Learning

What was once reserved for higher education is now a growing trend among K-12 students nationwide – online learning.  More than 2.7 million students in grades K-12 across the United States are taking part in online learning and are getting a quality education completely online. Online learning is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology. Learn more about the pros and cons of this non- traditional, rapidly growing approach to education and see if enrolling in a virtual online school is the right decision for your children.

What is Online Learning?

An online school is a school or program where students take their classes online. Most of these classes are completely online, but sometimes, students are required to visit a testing center or other location to take tests or hand in assignments. Some of these programs are affiliated with traditional brick and mortar schools while others are solely online.

Pros of Online Learning:

  • Flexible schedule: Students do not need to attend school during regular school hours. There are deadlines to meet, but students can complete their course work when it works for their schedule. This is ideal for students who are ill or travel frequently.
  • Learn at your own pace: This is beneficial for students who want to work at a slower pace to make sure they understand the material completely and/or may struggle with some learning or comprehension issues.
  • Option for different classes: There is an endless variety of classes offered through online schools. Online schools have more class options than traditional ones because they are not restricted by a limited number of classrooms or teachers like traditional schools are.
  • Fewer Social pressures:  There is less peer-to-peer interaction with online learning. This is beneficial if the student has had difficulties with classmates or has been bullied.  There is no pressure of worrying about “fitting in” with other students, what to wear or who was invited to the big party this weekend.
  • May earn degree and be able to graduate sooner: Students who prefer a faster pace have the option of working faster and earning their high school diploma ahead of schedule.

Cons of Online Learning:

  • Not always a quality education: Not all online schools will provide a quality education, and some will award a diploma that is not valid, as long as their fee is paid. Make sure to only attend an online high school that is accredited.
  • Can be expensive: Some virtual schools are free,but others can cost thousands of dollars.
  • Less social interaction: Students will experience much less social interaction. There are no friends sitting next to you in class, no sports teams, no lunch in the cafeteria.
  • Must have self motivation: Students need to be able to be self-directed to get through all the material. This can be a struggle for those that tend to procrastinate.
  • No teacher present to assist student: There is no teacher present in the room to ask for help if questions arise. Students will need to wait until the online teacher is available to assist them.

Is online learning the right choice for your children? There is no right or wrong answer. It can be a great way for people who need a non-traditional school setting and a flexible pace, but there is also the risk of enrolling in a disreputable school, feeling isolated, and having to spend thousands of dollars. If you are considering online learning, do your research and make sure you choose an accredited school. Community for Accredited Online Schools is a good place to start your research and get more of your questions answered.