Comparing in-person learning and online learning


Globally, nations recognize the significant role of education in its impact on development and growth. With technological advancement, education has become more accessible, with various learning options teachers and institutions can explore to assist students. Online learning is a consequence of modern technology that has flexibility in learning as students interact with instructors through video, audio, and text. However, there is constant debate on whether online learning should replace in-person learning. Whereas there is a great appreciation of online learning, proponents of in-person learning argue it is a more viable approach to learning where interpersonal interactions with the instructor are guaranteed. In addition, in-person learning is better for students in terms of supporting stronger connections, academic experiences, and mental health than online learning.

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In-Person Learning

First, it is worth noting that in-person learning helps facilitate students’ development and socialization in classroom settings rather than online learning. According to Dung (2020), students within class settings are privileged to learn more about their peers, form lasting relationships and build empathy. In addition, a statement released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed the development of children emotionally and socially is best achieved when interpersonal connections are encouraged (Kozakowski, 2019). Even better, the teacher is suited to identify the students’ development and behavioral needs during learning sessions. Furthermore, considering students come from various cultures and backgrounds, Tomasik, Helbling, and Moser (2021) add that in-person learning provides a platform where they can appreciate each other’s origins. Moreover, the teacher can intervene and teach students the importance of respecting each other and living harmoniously.

Consequently, in-person learning helps create more robust academic experiences than online learning. Research by Tomasik, Helbling, and Moser (2021) shows that students in a class are less likely to fall behind academically as learning is more personalized and direct there. Moreover, in-person learning guarantees increased concentration as there are fewer distractions. According to Mayer (2019)interactivity is one crucial ingredient facilitating more robust academic experiences. Interactivity can be more challenging if students do not physically spend time together in class. Personalized interactions between individual students in the class make coaching by teachers easier as a collaborative learning environment is fostered (Dung, 2020). Additionally, in-person learning makes it easier for students to solve problems directly and ask questions.

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Again, in-person learning is better suited for improving students’ mental health than online learning. Singh and Thurman (2019) explain that students need healthy food, sunlight, human interaction, and physical activity for optimal mental health. In-person learning has the upper hand, allowing students to get much more apart from academics. Teachers play a significant role in ensuring students learn emotional and social skills. Mayer (2019) collaborates these assertions by affirming it’s impossible to replicate the online mental health support services to those that in-person learning provides. In addition, it is worth noting in-person learning provides more inclusive learning approaches where the needs of students are prioritized. For instance, teachers can employ specific learning styles and physical techniques to ensure students retain information taught in class (Dung, 2020). The teachers can also identify students’ unique abilities by fostering positive mental health.

Online Learning

Opponents of in-person learning argue that online learning offers more flexibility and accessibility. According to Dung (2020), online learning is an excellent alternative for students with other commitments who need to receive formal education. Whereas there are no interpersonal interactions, students taking up online classes can rely on video and text to connect. Technology has significantly ensured students’ interaction through apps such as WeChat, Zoom, FaceTime, and WhatsApp (Tomasik et al., 2021). Proponents of in-person learning disagree that online platforms can be beneficial as they create fatigue among students. There is little or no activity with students solely focused on attending online meetings. Additionally, Kozakowski (2019) explains it’s challenging to establish interpersonal relationships during online classes.

Another claim by supporters of online learning is self-paced learning. As a strategy for enhancing more substantial academic experiences, online learning ensures students learn at their own pace (Dung, 2020). According to Kozakowski (2019), students have the freedom to develop their schedules. Great flexibility in scheduling allows students to mold their learning environment with ease. Whereas self-paced learning is guaranteed in online learning, proponents of in-person learning highlight the lack of engagement as the most significant downside. Virtual classrooms deprive learners of an opportunity to build relationships or participate in collaborative learning approaches (Mayer, 2019). At the same time, there is a high likelihood that students taking online classes will be distracted following the absence of a physical classroom.

In conclusion, the benefits of in-person learning outweigh those of online learning. In-person learning has numerous benefits ranging from stronger interpersonal connections, better academic experiences, and improved students’ mental health. Whereas advancement in technology is inevitable, it is recommended that those taking online classes combine them with physical classes. The education sector must identify creative solutions on how online learning can become more engaging and productive, like in-person learning.

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  1. Dung, D. T. H. (2020). The advantages and disadvantages of virtual learning. IOSR Journal of Research & Method in Education10(3), 45-48.
  2. Kozakowski, W. (2019). Moving the classroom to the computer lab: Can online learning with in-person support improve outcomes in community colleges? Economics of Education Review70, 159-172.
  3. Mayer, R. E. (2019). Thirty years of research on online learning. Applied Cognitive Psychology33(2), 152-159.
  4. Singh, V., & Thurman, A. (2019). How many ways can we define online learning? A systematic literature review of definitions of online learning (1988-2018). American Journal of Distance Education33(4), 289-306.
  5. Tomasik, M. J., Helbling, L. A., & Moser, U. (2021). Educational gains of in‐person vs. distance learning in primary and secondary schools: A natural experiment during the COVID‐19 pandemic school closures in Switzerland. International Journal of Psychology56(4), 566-576.
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