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Online vs. Traditional Learning: Main Differences And What Each Provide

Guest posts, TEFL

Education has changed in the past couple of decades because of technology and the internet’s opportunities and options. Now people can earn college degrees and get certified by a reputable learning institution online. Teachers can also practice their profession and passion using the internet without being connected to a brick-and-mortar academic institution.

Since the technology was integrated into the academic system, education professionals knew that it would help students and teachers adapt to the future. But they probably didn’t expect to have many opportunities open up. It’s a great thing that education has turned into what it is now because many more can now access and benefit from it worldwide.

However, questions arose with this change that centered around effectiveness. If you’re either part of the academe or a student who wants to learn, that’s a valid concern. This article will discuss the main differences between online and traditional learning and highlights what they can offer.


Traditional learning - Traditional learning is done in a classroom setting inside school premises. An instructor or teacher is present, giving the lessons based on a provided curriculum. The teacher also assesses student performance, knowledge, and understanding of the subject through written exams, quizzes, projects.

It’s restricted to a specific location and a predetermined time limit. Students have to be present in the classroom to attend lectures. They’re also required to go through assessments and participate in all discussions and activities, both individual and group. All of those quizzes, exams, projects, and activities are supervised and given by a teacher in a controlled environment.

Online learning - Online learning make use of devices that can connect to the internet. The teachers give their lessons and assess students through video calls, e-mails, and other online communication tools. There are also online courses that you can enroll in where there are no sessions for lectures. The course is outlined as a learning material uploaded on a website for consumption, including video, modules, and materials for assessing what you’ve learned.

Online education is tailored to each student’s pace of learning. As long as you have devices that can connect to the internet, view presentations, and watch videos, you can access lectures at any time. The only time you’re in a controlled environment is during discussions where the teacher needs to be present via video call. This type of learning is extensively dependent on technology more than its counterpart.


Traditional learning - Students will have to pay fees upon enrollment to a school or a learning center. They also have to consider the cost of regular commute to and from school and the things they need for learning, i.e., books, school supplies, and clothes. Teachers also need to think about those as well, especially commuting.

Besides that, as a student continues to progress, other expenses will also add up as the needs for the following learning stage change. They need to adapt to the prescribed tools that will help them develop their skills and learn better. There are also instances where a student has to transfer schools, which again will entail new expenses.

Online learning - students and teachers can see each other without commuting to a common area, as long as they have access to stable internet and a device that can connect to it. Students will have to pay to take paid online courses, but there are also many free ones to enroll. Teachers can apply to companies that offer online learning available on online job boards, just like 51talk jobs.

Style of learning and teaching

Traditional learning - Traditional learning is face-to-face and more interactive. Teachers and students can directly communicate with each other and see the progress of their learning experience. It relies on school facilities and curriculum-based programs for sources and educational aid.

Online learning - Online learning heavily relies on the internet and the use of technology. Courses also need teachers’ expertise to create the best educational content possible for students to learn properly.

Benefits of each

Traditional learning

Education in a school setting allows both the teacher and student to communicate with one another. Both parties can pick up queues and nuances through regular interactions. It’s much easier to understand the messages that both parties are trying to convey.

Teachers can also explain concepts and theories by applying them to real-life situations. They can touch on topics using practical methods and use them to assess if their students are picking up their lessons. Traditional learning also provides a healthy routine for students of all demographics, with a set schedule and order of progression.

Being in a controlled environment also helps students in developing discipline through a routine. It also allows them to practice and enhance their social skills through their interactions with other students and people inside the classroom and the school campus. They get to have a sense of community and individuality while being educated formally.

Online learning

Online learning offers more flexibility and convenient learning time. Students and teachers aren’t bound to a schedule, which means both parties can access learning content anytime they want and. It also allows them to save more money because they don’t have to commute, buy school supplies, food, and clothes. Besides money, they can also have more time to do other things since they only put in fewer hours in a week than when attending school.

Through online learning, students can learn at any time they feel convenient. They don’t have to worry too much about coping with lessons on a strict schedule because content and tools are accessible anytime online. They can also concentrate on a particular skill that they want to learn or improve without going through an extensive syllabus or curriculum.

Final thoughts

Both traditional and online learning have appealing benefits, and ultimately, it all boils down to preference. Which type of learning do you think you can thrive in as a student or a teacher? Consider each of their differences and do more research to determine which fits your lifestyle, personality, and goals.

Author’s Bio:

Angelo Castelda is a freelance writer from Asia. Besides writing, he also spends his time traveling and learning about diverse cultures, which opened his heart more to learning and imparting knowledge about ESL.