Online learning has shown incredible growth over the last decade thanks to the rise of technology and prevalence of the internet. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and online learning has become even more popular – even if it wasn’t always by choice with schools, colleges and universities going online during the peak of the pandemic. And yet, even before the pandemic, Research and Markets forecast the online education market as $US 350 Billion by 2025.

And now, as we return to normal life, you might be considering undertaking a new course. While the type of course is an important consideration, you might also be wondering what type of class structure is best for you: in-person or online classes? There are certainly pros and cons to both options, and the best option for you will really depend on your ability to be organised and self-disciplined.

The reality is, everyone has their own preference when it comes to study, and both paths have advantages and disadvantages. The most important thing is both paths are valued by modern employees across a range of industries, so you can’t really go wrong in the path you choose. In this article, we’ll take a look at some important considerations when deciding whether online classes or in-person classes are best for you. 

Online vs. In-Person Classes 

Recent research has shown more than 75 percent of academic leaders feel that online education is equal or superior to on-campus learning. There are a range of benefits to studying online, and it’s especially useful to people who are working full-time, have family obligations, or who live far from the campus. Meanwhile, online classes also give students greater autonomy over their learning, and allow them to work at their own pace.

However, it’s not for everyone. About a quarter of students say they learn better via online classes, which means 75 percent of students feel they learn better in a traditional, in-person class setting. 

At the end of the day, you need to consider your own unique learning style and scheduling needs. Here’s how to determine whether online or in-person classes are best for you. 

1. Class Scheduling

One of the main benefits of online classes is the amount of flexibility you have. This is a great advantage for those who are studying while working, or have family obligations and can’t spare the time to travel to campus several times a week. While there are still assessments and other deadlines when studying online, there is still much more flexibility – students can choose when they will study, complete assignments, listen to lectures, and so on. With in-person classes, lectures and tutorials are scheduled during specific times, and while many classes offer a play-back of lectures, not all do, so if you don’t attend the lecture, you miss out on learning course material. 

2. Self-Discipline

Studying online sounds like a great option, and it is! However, it is crucial you have a hefty amount of self-discipline, self-motivation and organisational skills if you wish to study online. In an online course, you need to be able to motivate yourself to complete required reading and assignments and hold yourself accountable. You need to be able to manage and regulate your time, as your success in an online course will depend on it.  While these skills are also required in traditional class settings, with in-person classes, study time is scheduled for you, and you don’t have to motivate yourself to block at a period of study time.

3. Social Aspect

Depending on your age and social situation, you might want the traditional in-person study experience. Some students – no matter what age – prefer to be surrounded by like-minded individuals and enjoy the social aspect of study. If you’re more of a social learner, studying in-person might be the best option for you. However, that’s not to say there’s no social interaction with online courses. Most online courses still utilise collaborative resources like video conferencing tools to encourage regular communications and discussions amongst students. 

4. Course Variety 

Sometimes whether you choose an online class or in-person class will depend on the course you choose. Sometimes, even if you want to study online, the subject you want to study can only be done in-person, or vice versa. The reality is, not all classes can be taken physically and offered at the same campus, which means you’ll often find a bigger variety of classes online. You’re spoilt for choice for online classes these days, and can usually take the exact number of courses you need that will count toward your certificate or degree, without worrying about missing out on a class.

Still Can’t Decide? Opt for a Hybrid Course 

If you’re still unsure whether online or in-person study is best for you, you should consider taking a hybrid course. Not all courses offer a mix of in-person and online study, but if you do find a course that offers both, it could be a great option if you want to pick and choose when you study online and when you attend in-person. Hybrid courses give you the best of both worlds, with online resources readily available to you while you also have the ability to meet with teachers and other students in-person. For example, Edith Cowan University, ACU, Flinders and Griffith University are just some examples of places where you can undertake a course both online and in-person.

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