The internet is taking over everything. If you have an eye infection, before you even visit the eye specialist for a diagnosis, you can self-diagnose yourself using research from the internet. In the same vein, high school and university students seek solace from the internet when they feel like they are finding it too hard to study a specific subject.

Online support has been receiving much attention lately as most students are relying solely on online sites and online tutors to be taught subject content.

The worldwide web is filled with free content that you can use to learn new concepts and recall unfamiliar concepts.

There are many advantages of learning online. While online tutorials and online learning resources have always been seen as positive, there are some disadvantages of the online learning platform.

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1. Online Education Disadvantages: The Role of the Teacher

An online tutor fulfills the same role as a teacher. This is the belief of many parents. If the school seems to be getting too tough for children, children can surely resort to the online learning option.  However, in no way can an online tutor replace the face-to-face relationship that children form when they are physically interacting with a teacher. While children can see their tutor online, there is still that element of distance associated with online learning.

A face-to-face teacher, for some reason, has an impact on learners and can negatively or positively influence a learner’s progress. Academic support online can also affect the learner’s progress but the interaction still remains different and more aloof with an online tutor. The motivation that a face-to-face tutor can offer is far more impactful than the motivation offered by an online tutor.

Thinking back to old fashion learning
Traditional face-to-face lessons outweigh online tutorials because of the teacher/tutor interaction.                Source: Unsplash

The child sitting in front of a computer screen feels far more alone than when he or she is sitting in front of a teacher. Having the physical presence of a teacher scaffolding the learning process is far more encouraging than an online tutor probing from a distance.

The learner engaging in online learning must have the needed personality that will make online learning a breeze. Normally, an autonomous learner does well studying with a tutor based a distance away.

However, some of the more complex subjects like mathematics can be more easily understood when sums are done in-person on a class board and when children get to see the teacher actually demonstrating corrections.

The ease of availability of these online tutorials means that you can take a tutorial class from anywhere in the world. This also means that you can take tutorials for science while you are away on holiday. Being in a holiday mood may make it far more difficult to grasp concepts that are taught via online classes.

2. Learning Online Disadvantages: Children Being Left Unsupervised

If you are a working parent, you may think that it is easier to find an online tutor so your child can take lessons online. This sounds all well and good but if you are working, who is monitoring your child during online interactions?

It is never good to leave children (especially younger children) to use the internet unsupervised. Your child may be keen to research a concept that he or she uncovered during the Natural Science and Technology online lesson but he or she may find something entirely different when researching alone. The content that may pop up via online interaction may be far from age-appropriate or may even be too confusing for the child causing him or her to feel demotivated and even more isolated from the learning situation as there will be no one to ask questions when they are in doubt.

High school students will benefit more from the online tutorials as from Grade 8 onwards, high school children are advised to learn alone without too much parental supervision. However, it is advisable to assist primary school learners when they are interacting with online sources. The reason we advocate monitored online interaction for younger children is because

  • Not all sources online are trustworthy
  • Not all content is censored or even relevant to the subject discipline of the child
  • The internet can be an overwhelming place for young minds
Never leave your child unsupervised
Parents need to supervise children while they are online. Source: Unsplash

While parental controls for your younger child’s device are encouraged, you also need to ensure that you are at your child’s back and call when he or she is researching on the internet or taking online classes.

Many South African online tutors use sites like Class Dojo to stay connected to children and their families. These sites are great for parents to check up on their children and receive feedback from tutors about learner performance.

However, you must also keep a check on the messages that your child posts on class discussion boards and forums. This will also help you to understand if your child’s attention is drifting away or if he or she is still focused on the task of learning.

When using sites like Edpuzzles and Youtube, children can find many helpful animated videos on subject-related content. However, due to the broad scope of Youtube, children may find inappropriate content too.

3. Learning Online Disadvantages: Overwhelming Influx of Information

The advantage of using online forums and resources for learning is that you can find content related to almost any subject discipline:

  • Maths
  • Science (chemistry, physics, biology)
  • Humanities
  • English, French, Spanish, German, etc. (grammar, reading, writing, speaking, and listening)
  • French
  • Psychology

You can access tons of free resources as well. Not all resources available online require you to pay for them so it makes access to learning so easy and you would think finding tons of resources on one specific topic is better than finding multiple resources, right?

Well…

The difficulty with using online platforms to access materials on your own comes from the fact that you may not know where to look. The biggest struggle is to find the right resources. When you search the internet with no idea where to source the work from, you would find that you spend far too much time searching and less time reaping full benefit from the content.

Working with an overwhelming amount of content and still having to sift through content to find the right work for your level can be frustrating. While you may think it is okay for students to find content for the next few grades and learn that too, this is never a great suggestion. The reason is that experts say that good students become average when he or she explores work beyond their grade level all at once. The reason certain content is specifically meant for a certain grade is that curriculum developers have considered the maturity levels of students when they set the curriculum, so try to only source content specific to your grade.

Teachers of specific subjects know exactly how deep to go with their content. That is why they rush through certain concepts and spend more time tackling others. It is always best to choose a tutor who is a subject specialist. For example, opt for an English tutor to teach English.

Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The hare got overconfident and lost the race. When viewing online content be like the tortoise and slowly consume only the content necessary for you. Never let over-confidence overpower you so you end up soaking up content meant for higher grades and getting a lower average at the end.

Tortoise and the Hare
In the learning situation, be like the tortoise and learn at your own pace. Source: Unsplash

Instead of spoiling your child for choice with ways of learning (video content, interactive media, etc.) always go for one online method that you know works well. An online tutorial lesson with a professional tutor surely is a stepping stone in the right direction.

4. Disadvantages of Studying Online

If your child is struggling at school and you feel that the only beneficial option is to seek out a private tutor, go for the option. If a private face-to-face tutor offers too costly services, perhaps settle for an online tutor who will be much more affordable. This is a recommended method as the online tutor can still help the child academically and wholeheartedly support the learning process. Leaving your child in front of a computer and expecting him or her to learn on his or her own using available online resources is never a suggestion.

However, we cannot help but assert how vital online resources (including free resources) can be when used as supplementary resources to in-person learning. Provided you have obtained the right resources, your child will surely perform to the best of your capabilities.

Online learning
When online learning to be effective, use unconventional learning tools. Source: Unsplash

When it comes to your child's academic success, you should find a tutor within your budget, preferably one who seems to have great expertise in the subject that your child is having difficulty with. You may just even need an English tutor who focuses solely on creative writing.

Online private tutors offer classes for as long as need be.

If you're on a budget, there are plenty of advantages to using MOOCs for online academic support. While these are mainly for undergraduate students, more and more of them are offering courses for secondary and primary school students too.

Why not look into some MOOCs?

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Laila

Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.