What is online learning?
The meaning of online learning (or e-learning) is all in its name. It refers to any kind of learning that takes place digitally — whether it’s a corporate training program or a university degree. All you typically need is a stable internet connection and a device, like a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Apart from that, learners can log on from anywhere.
Online learning can happen either synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous learning happens in real-time, like through a live training session on Zoom. An instructor is usually required to facilitate this type of learning environment. Asynchronous learning, on the other hand, doesn’t depend on the presence of an instructor, enabling learners to engage with their learning materials at their own pace, in their own time. This could be through recorded video lectures, an e-learning course, downloaded PDF resources.
Depending on your goals, you can tailor online learning to a wide range of learning styles.
What is face-to-face learning?
Face-to-face learning, by definition, takes place in person. This means both learners and instructors need to be in the same room at the same time to be able to engage with each other. As a result, face-to-face learning can only be facilitated synchronously.
The traditional classroom setup is probably the most familiar example of the benefits of face-to-face learning. This is where an instructor delivers a timed lesson as learners sit in the same room, taking in the content. Face-to-face learning could also involve group discussions or collaborative work with peers, so long as it takes place during the scheduled period at a set location.
The key differences between face-to-face learning and online learning
Besides where and how the courses take place, there are several important differences between face-to-face and online learning (or eLearning). They each come with unique advantages and challenges for learners. So, let’s compare face-to-face and online learning: