Advantages & Disadvantages of Using the Internet for Education

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Upon reflection, it may be difficult for most people to think back and remember what life was like without the Internet or online capabilities. The world of education has also seen major changes since the advent of the Internet.

Now, students have the capability to go to school anywhere at any time through online education programs. As with nearly any educational program, online education has advantages and disadvantages for students.

Advantages Part One

Obtaining an education online can have distinct advantages for the right student. First, being an online student allows people great flexibility with their schedules. Most online courses allow students to check in at a time that works with their personal schedule. While assignments and tests can still have hard deadlines, online students can fit their schooling around their work and personal lives. With this idea, the next benefit of online schooling is that it can be done anywhere Internet access is available. A student can sneak in time nearly anywhere to write a discussion board post, study or work on an assignment. This flexibility can be very helpful for people who work full-time, are parents or travel frequently and want to continue their education.

Advantages Part Two

Another advantage of an online education includes not having to travel to a campus to attend courses. Students no longer have to move large distances to attend a college with a program that peaks their interest -- they simply need an Internet connection and computer. This advantage can also benefit students with disabilities that make it difficult to travel. Working adults who are thinking about advancing their education online should check with their employer to see if they offer any type of tuition reimbursement. Some employers encourage their employees to pursue higher education through online learning, as the classes can be attended from anywhere and the employee will not have to miss work.

Disadvantages Part One

There are potential disadvantages to seeking an online education. First, being as you work independently from your computer, there is less person-to-person interaction as you make your way through your courses. While many courses require discussion boards and posts to ensure students communicate with each other, it is not at the level of a traditional classroom. Another area where an online education poses a possible disadvantage is the availability of your professor. With no physical office hours to attend, it can be a bit challenging to pin down your professor when you need a question answered or have a concern about the course.

Disadvantages Part Two

As an online education does not take part in a classroom, students miss the opportunity to see the non-verbal communication cues from their peers and professors. Non-verbal communication is an important part of the communication process as it demonstrates tone, mood and intent. These tools are especially important in classroom debates which can be difficult to do through discussion posts. Another potential drawback of an online education is that students have fewer opportunities to network as there are much less college organisations to join in an online setting. For many students, networking can help gain valuable contacts when you are job seeking at the end of your education.