- Interaction among peers is absent - A healthy competition and interaction with classmates is what motivates many young learners across the world. Interacting with peers often involves exchange of notes, scheduling group discussions and organizing study circles too. In an online course, a student has to study on his/her own, and might end up feeling isolated, and even depressed.
- Sense of discipline can go out the window - Regular tests, assignments and homework form a vital part of online education. There is, however, no one to monitor whether students are indeed completing such tasks in the manner they are meant to. Unless the sense of self-discipline is strong, the temptation of peeping into books and online resources during online tests can be overpowering. Such ‘cheating’ defeats the very purpose of education.
- Online courses can be more time-consuming - Irregardless of whether a student has enrolled in an educational website, or is trying to learn something through apps created by leading iPhone application development companies - guidance isn't always available. The entire process of getting clarifications and query-resolutions can take much more time than what is required in a traditional classroom. Learners have to ping instructors, post their doubts in forums, or send text messages to the teachers. Replies may not be immediately provided.
- Risks of information overload - Although properly designed course curriculums do keep things organized, students might feel just a tad overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information on the World Wide Web. Since there are no teachers to filter the most relevant information and references for the learners - the maze of online data can leave a young kid well and truly confused. Trying to read too much can be a definite waste of time as well.
- Online learning often encourages procrastination - Feel that your teachers/parents go a little overboard with their daily warnings about the semester exams coming up? Well, the publisher of online texts, or a professional from the field of academics-based iPhone app development in India is not going to take such troubles - and that’s not necessarily a good thing. While following an online course, it is common to feel that there is ‘more time in hand’ - and the task of actually getting down to studying can be postponed. There won’t be anyone to keep warning you - if you do not follow a strict routine, your grades and learning will suffer.
- Basic technological expertise is an absolute must - It’s all very well to have a video learning website, complete with online chatting and materials to download. But what about the students who are not particularly web-savvy and/or are not familiar with all the features available on the site? These students would not be able to derive optimal benefits from the course - which, in turn, would make the monetary investment involved a bit of a waste. It always makes sense to get a grasp of what a course is all about, and the website/mobile app on which it would be available. Online classes are not always particularly cheap - you need to be able to get maximum value out of them.
- Chances of more distractions - Be it for little children or grad students, there is no way of glossing over the importance of brick-and-mortar classrooms. The environment in a proper physical class is almost always more conducive for learning - thanks to the emphasis on classroom discipline, and the general quietness and attention of fellow-students. While reading an online text, the chances of getting distracted are much higher. If you are trying to study while your family-members/roommates are happily chattering away - concentrating can be nearly impossible!
- Too much of flexibility? - A classic case of the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ phenomenon. Regular college-attendees keep complaining about the set routines they have to follow - while full-time online courses can offer excessive freedom. As such, academics advise that students who are not particularly good at time-management should stay away from holistic web-based learning. Successfully pursuing an online/distance learning course is all about prioritizing the various lessons, assignments and other study modules. A flexible learning schedule need not always be a good thing.
- Chance for fraudulent practices - There are tricksters in every professional field - and the idea of luring young students into paying hefty upfront enrollment fees for online classes can be a lucrative one. A snazzy website appearance and unverified promises about round-the-clock support and placement assistance should never be enough for a student to select any particular course. There are discussion forums online - where you can find out the names of the best online courses for the subject(s) you are interested in. Otherwise, you might find that your learning website has disappeared after a few months!
- Probable problems in bagging a job - In many countries (including India), web learning courses are still considered to be of much lower value than mainstream classroom courses. Prospective employers might be skeptical about the credibility of even well-known online learning facilities and mobile educational apps for kids - and prefer recruiting candidates with more ‘traditional’ qualifications. Students have to be prepared to face a few initial hiccups, if they are planning to invest time and money on online coaching.
For slightly rarer subjects/more specialized fields of study, online courses may simply not be available - while getting adequate help from guides can also be a problem. Spending hours on end in front of the computer/smartphone screen might cause a student to be isolated from his/her friend-circle as well. Thanks to the efforts of new-age academics, website owners and app development companies, online courses have emerged as a viable alternative to classroom education. However, certain disadvantages are still associated with this mode of learning which should not be overlooked.
Ross Smythe is the chief concept developer at Teknowledge Mobile Studio. He regularly writes on the web, specifically on various topics related to education technology.