Studies Reveal Online Learning is Detrimental to Learning

Jo-Musulyn Banks


Pros and cons of online learning (photo taken from google)

Today we live in a digital world which allows us to have easy access to almost anything and everything. In this case, the internet is one of the many reasons why online learning exists today. Online learning, also called “Distant Learning,” gives students the opportunity to learn from anywhere while obtaining an education.

Definitely, there are advantages of online learning such as having a flexible schedule, completing the coursework in a faster time frame compared to traditional learning, not having to commute to a specific place to learn, inexpensive, etc. Available data, report about 5.8 million people are registered through online college courses.

 Online learning is a choice, but what happens when it becomes mandatory due to a pandemic? This is the new reality for students across the world — schools shutting down their campus because of COVID-19, now transitioning to remote online learning. For students who are accustomed to traditional learning and thrive in this particular setting, it is a serious challenge to suddenly move to online learning.


(photo taken from Google)

While there are pros of online learning, we have to look at the downside of it, which can affect students’ education success. One of the biggest factors that play a role in student success is face-to- face interaction with their professors and fellow classmates. It can be seen in a traditional learning setting how students are able to connect with other people, whereas in an online learning environment, there’s little to no social interaction.

Lack of face-to-face interaction can greatly affect a student’s overall mental health, work ethic and quality of work as a student. In addition, online learning can be detrimental to students’ GPA.

In a research conducted throughout 17 Chicago high schools, summer school for students who had failed algebra was implemented. Those students were asked to attend a few classes in a traditional classroom environment then, they were either placed in online learning or a regular classroom. It was reported that, “students in the online course did substantially worse in end-of-course tests, scoring 0.2 standard deviations lower than students in the face-to-face classes.” The students who were placed in online learning, were at greater risk of failing the class.

Eric Bettinger and Susanna Loeb, conducted a study at DeVry 

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Research done by Eric Bettinger and Susanna Loeb about online learning vs traditional learning

University to compare and contrast online learning students vs traditional learning students. They concluded that taking an online class decreases one’s grades by “0.44 on the traditional four point grading system scale, approximately a 0.33 standard deviation decline relative to taking a course in-person.” In other words  students who were in the traditional learning environment class earned a B-, but if they were doing online learning, their grade would have been a C.

We also have to take into consideration that not every student has access to the internet at home and technology devices such as computers. An article,  stated that“In what has become known as the homework gap, an estimated 17% of U.S. students do not have access to computers at home and 18% do not have home access to broadband internet, according to an Associated Press analysis of census data.” 

Majority of students are academically successful in school when they are in an actual classroom, being able to physically see their professors and classmates in face-to-face interaction.

It is no doubt that online learning is an easy access for education, but it cannot and will never be able to replace traditional learning in the sense that we need social interaction.

In the current COVID-19 crisis that is taking place throughout the world, forcing schools to resort to remote learning is an obstacle for those students who do not have access to internet and computers at home. Lack of these resources can affect a student’s grade. So, the question is, is online learning during a global pandemic the best choice? One can argue that continuing with school will help students be “productive,” during this time but let’s be real, with so much news about the virus, death tolls being announced almost everyday and negativity being spewed, a lot of students are not going to be in the right headspace to complete coursework assignments.  

Categories: Education, Technology

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