tutorial room lecture online learning

Though attending university or TAFE on campus is the standard for many, sometimes on-campus learning isn’t the most viable option for various reasons. Deciding whether to physically attend a campus or learn online is a personal decision that should be made based on a number of factors, like your budget, location, health, and lifestyle. In recent months, due to the onset of Coronavirus and the government’s restrictions, many – primarily those that attended campus prior to them being closed – have been forced to learn the intricacies of both learning methods. This was an interesting period of time where some learned that they could maximise their time working from home and online, whereas others may have felt they needed the interpersonal interactions with their peers and teachers to learn. If you’re one of those that didn’t get a taste of both worlds, we’re here to give you a breakdown of what you missed, to get you set for the next working semester. So, for a little recap, here’s some of the key advantages and disadvantages of online learning vs on-campus learning. 

Online: The Advantages  

   1. Flexibility 

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest advantages about online learning is the flexibility it provides. If you’ve got a decent internet connection, you’re good to go. All of your classes and content is right at your fingertips. Having the ability to work from home (or pretty much anywhere) means more freedom to do other things, like exercise, spend time with friends, and other hobbies. 

For some, this bonus factor is super important as it means more than having a little extra time to sleep in – if you’ve got demanding work commitments outside of tertiary education, then having the flexibility to work from any location is a blessing. Online education is the perfect option for busy people with overblown schedules. 

   2. You Can Learn When You Want 

Much like the freedom you have with the location of where you learn, you can also personally decide when you want to learn and how much time a week you want to spend on each course. This allows busy people to designate any free time around their week to dedicate to their course and means they’ll be more inclined to stick to their schedule. Rather than being forced to work around rigid timetables, you’ll have a say over when you work through the content. 

   3. More Time for Family 

One of the most idealistic features of online learning is the extra time you have to spend with the people that matter most: your family and friends. For some, this time is more precious and means more – particularly for parents of young children, mature aged students, and people that provide care for members of their family. This is a huge plus as they have more hours to give dependents and those that rely on their care and assistance. Not to mention, there are those quality moments and memories that young families don’t want to miss. In this instance, online learning allows families to continue making memories together while young parents can further their education and careers. 

   3. Typically Cheaper 

Due to the format of your course and the fact that all your resources are online, you’ll often find the price tag that comes with online education is a whole lot cheaper than on-campus courses. On campus, you’re paying for a number of factors – the access to lecturers, tutors, the library, and other facilities and spaces. However, online it’s just you and the course content. This is a big win if you’re hoping to pay for your courses upfront or semester by semester. Many of those that attend campus have no other option but to offset the upfront costs of university of TAFE with government schemes or loans which accumulate interest over time and leave a debt to be paid off as their course finishes. Therefore, learning online can leave you in a better financial position. 

   4. More Options 

Online, you have a virtually endless supply of courses available,which is  a reason why this format is becoming extremely popular. According to IBIS World, online education was predicted to become a $8.1 billion dollar industry by 2020 – growing 8.5% over five years. And by 2024, it is projected to grow another 8%. This is due to the inexhaustible number of courses and learning areas available online. Whatever you’re looking to learn – from law, to business, and creative industries – you can find it online with a simple search. 

   5. Makes You More Independent

If you’re quite self-reliant and prefer doing things without the hand-holding, you’ll find the independent nature of online learning highly suited to your learning style. From signing up to your courses, to learning the content and completing the assessments, every task is up to you. This characteristic of online learning can also be used to demonstrate your skills on your resume for when you eventually go for your dream career; online learning demonstrates your determination, initiative, and willingness to learn. 

Online: The Disadvantages 

   1. Motivation

Having time to learn is one thing, having the motivation to is a completely different story. Without the need to physically transport yourself to an in-person class, the onus is on you to learn, and that requires a lot of self-discipline and motivation. On top of that, you have to stay organised and manage your time well so that you don’t lose track of the week or forget important dates and let your content pile up. 

   2. Can be Isolating

While you’ve got the family time, you’re still missing the extra socialisation you get with on-campus learning. If you’re a bit of an extrovert, spending so much time to yourself can be very isolating and damaging towards your mental wellbeing. It’s also not as easy to quickly ask someone next to you to share their notes or join in on group projects. 

   3. Lack of Support 

A lack of face-to-face meetings with your tutors and teachers may lead to a discord between your understanding of the course and its actual requirements. Some people benefit from interpersonal communication and in-person explanations where more meaning can be gathered rather than being left up to their own interpretation of things online. While you can schedule zoom meetings or phone calls with mentors, a lack of face-to-face interaction this can be a barrier to those that need the extra support.

   4. On the Contrary – Online Can Lack Options Too

Some classes simply require on-campus attendance; for example, a degree in medicine requires a certain amount of practical courses or lab hours that need to be completed towards credits and just cannot be completed solely online. Online you’re better off doing theory-based or internet-based courses. Some popular fields include creative industries, business, law and communications. 

texbooks for uni

   5. If You Have Poor Access to Resources 

Not everyone has access to a solid wifi connection, the texts required, or the equipment needed to complete their course; however, most campuses will supply these resources to some degree. On the other hand, another great option is to save money by buying second hand equipment. There are many articles that explain how purchasing second hand can be as good as buying new (if not better sometimes) and in the case of completing an online degree or certificate, it makes sense to shop for a good deal when buying your office equipment – particularly if you’re looking to maximise your savings. Be weary though – there are lots of second hand vendors out there, so make sure you go to a trusted retailer to find your new tech. 

On-Campus Learning: The Advantages 

   1. Immersive Experience

Attending campus is the traditional way to experience university of TAFE. It’s an entirely immersive experience that depends on you getting involved by going to classes and workshops, participating in discussions, collaborating with peers on projects, and exploring new buildings and facilities. This is an enriching experience and something you tend to miss with online learning. 

   2. No Lag Like With Online – Real Time Learning

Attending a class in real time means that your learning session isn’t dependent on the strength of your internet connection. You are getting all the content you need, right now. On the plus side, if you need to, you will also have the option of reviewing a recording later should you have missed important details. 

   3. More Feedback and Guidance From Teachers 

With the opportunity to discuss your assessments in person and ask real time questions, you may feel more supported attending on-campus courses. Due to the setting and accessibility to the course coordinators or teachers, you can get the exact information you need communicated to you clearly and verbally – we’ve all felt the sting of online misunderstandings! 

university cafe

   4. Change of Scenery

If you need a good backdrop to work on your assessment, then a campus can provide the goods. From the tranquility of the library, to the hustle and bustle of the central court, to the cosy warmth of one of the many boutique cafes, there’s an aesthetic to suit every mood and level of concentration needed.  

   5. Make Friends 

For all the social butterflies out there, attending on-campus classes can be a great way to meet new people and make friends with like-minded people. Obviously, attending campus comes with a lot more social interaction, so if you’re a natural people-person, this is the perfect setting for you. 

   6. Join Clubs 

Speaking of meeting like-minded people, if you’re impartial to getting involved in clubs and groups based on specific interests, then again, campus is the place to be. Universities usually have a lot of societies, clubs, and groups you can join to share your interests and passions with others. 

On-Campus Learning: The Disadvantages 

   1. More Expensive

With on-campus learning, you’re not just paying for the content, you’re paying for the entire university or TAFE experience – and it ain’t cheap. While there are options to defer your payments thanks for government schemes, you’ll start repaying the government sooner rather than later. Depending on how quickly you repay your loan, expect to be in debt for at least a few years. 

   2. More Interaction 

For some this is a plus, for others, not so much. On top of having to brave extra social interaction, there’s other problems that come with having a lot of people in one place. The traffic, for one, will be constantly congested. As will the queue for the cafeteria. Also, if you’re considering driving, you may experience issues with parking spaces (or lack thereof). Overall, there will be lots of awkward ‘trying to navigate through a large crowd of people while in a hurry’ experiences. 

   3. Not Always Guaranteed Entry

With campus learning, sometimes you won’t make the cut into the course you want because you don’t have the right end result from high school, or the right prerequisites, or experience. There may also be a quota for the institution to meet. Not getting into your dream course can be heartbreaking; however, there are other options out there, and online learning should definitely be considered as one of them. 

   4. You Have to Buy Textbooks  

On top of paying top-dollar for your degree, you will also sometimes be required to purchase textbooks for certain courses. These can easily add up as certain classes need a specific edition or use particular readings for assessment or as a compulsory learning material. That being said, this can also be said for online courses which may require an online text. 

   5. If You’re Introverted

Not everyone is the socially adventurous type; some of us intentionally limit our social interactions and can find them a little daunting. Unless you’re wanting to get out of your comfort zone and try new things, introverts or shy people may prefer to stay within the comfortable bubble of their familiar surroundings. It can also be nerve wracking asking your lecturer in person for help or meeting up with your tutor to discuss assessment. 

In Summary

As you can see, there’s a strong case for both learning formats. In the end, it very much depends on your lifestyle, personality, and learning style. For those that do opt for online, consider grabbing your new laptop or computer from The Computer Market, a trusted retailer of refurbished tech. Browse through our online catalogue today and enquire about our services. 

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