Are you worrying that online learning is less effective than traditional face to face?

Nowadays, adult education faces difficulties because of the pandemic, financial barriers, family obligations, responsibilities, and distance. Online Adult Learning provides the solution for these life situations. It offers flexibility, self-directed study options, access to the best university degree programs, specific qualifications, and adult training courses anywhere in the world.

In this post, you will read about 13 ways to compare it and why online studying is even more effective in some cases, and why YOU should start it!


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Traditional vs. Online Learning Explained

Group of adults are learning in a classroom with a teacher

Traditional Adult Learning

Face-to-face learning is the traditional method, involves interactions between teacher and student in the same physical location, in a classroom, or on-campus.

The traditional programs’ primary benefit is the personal cooperation between learners, professors, and fellow students. Social activity is an essential part of the learning process, even for adults, and it is partly missing from the online sessions.


Online Adult Learning

Online learning or eLearning can be any learning method delivered and administered over the Internet on a virtual platform. It could be an online university degree program, specific qualification, supplemental training course, or self-studying.

Distance learning is more about the geographical location where a physical institution manages the program. However, due to particular circumstances, like distance, weather conditions, or the pandemic, the program entirely leads online.

Blended learning, or Hybrid learning, is the practice of using both online and in-person teaching experiences.

In many cases, online studying is asynchronous, means students can learn in different time according to their schedule. It is possible because students have access to recorded classes, ebooks, audios, text, images, and other related resources. They can exercise with interactive tools, using discussion forums, projects, and self-tested quizzes, targeting engagement and encouraging collaboration. All the lectures, assignments, presentations, tests are enabled via these virtual platforms.


13 Ways to Compare How Effective Online vs. Face-to-Face Learning

A man is learning from home using multiple device 

1. Personal Interaction, Social Impact

The biggest difference between online and face-to-face learning has always been facilitating contact and collaboration between learners. The most significant advantage of face-to-face training is discussing, interacting, and cooperating in person with guidance. Forming a community, being part of a group creates engagement and accountability. This opportunity for personal contact is missing from the online studying.

Direct social interaction can be very motivating and encouraging. On the other hand, using video conferencing, virtual classrooms, discussion forums,  and other telecommunication tools via increasingly growing technology, the online environment is as powerful and useful as the traditional one.


2. Comfort of Location

Online studying is location independent, unlike a traditional in-person class, enabling you to stay in your home’s comfort or wherever you choose to be. You don’t need to travel if you live a distance from the institution. You can avoid the frustration of being late to class or getting distracted during the course.


3. Schedule

The flexibility of time is vital since limited free time, childcare responsibilities, busy working hours. With online studying, you have total control over your schedule. You can choose courses according to the profession you target, your timetable, and other obligations.

Furthermore face to face learning is synchronous, done at the same time at the same physical location. In comparison, digital studies are mostly asynchronous. It means you can access your lecture location, time, and instructor independently when it is the best for you. The course modules are pre-recorded, the materials and resources, such as presentations, tutorials, ebooks, and audios, are available all the time.


4. Family Obligations

A woman is studying online while taking care of her kids

If you already have a family and decide to change career, learn a new skill, it is really challenging to go back to a traditional college or get a qualification next to your childcare responsibilities. Online learning provides a more suitable option because you can stay in your home without commuting, losing time staying in the traffic, and waiting for late classmates. You can improve at your own pace, access your studies while your kids are taking a nap.


5. Accessibility

Unlike face-to-face learning where has a restriction on the number of registered students, eLearning allows an unlimited number of learners at the same time.

Furthermore, virtual classrooms are attainable at any location where you can find a reliable internet connection. That way, you don’t have to wait for the right number of people to sign up or for the new course to start.


6. Own Pace

Often, tutors in classroom-based learning fill the lecture time with nonrelevant details or catch up with slower students, while faster students could be using that time to work on valuable tasks for their learning. In digital learning, there is no need to hold up the lesson for just one student. You have full control over your speed, can move in your own rhythm when it is the most appropriate for you. Spend less time on easy topics, areas you understand, and spend more time and repeat difficult ones. You can decide what to dig deeper into.

According to a Brandon Hall Group study 1, employees typically take 40 – 60 % less time to study a particular material in e-learning than in a traditional environment. This is because employees can access education online whenever they need it and acquire it in their way.


7. Providing Knowledge

In traditional education, teachers are usually just delivering knowledge and then assessing the knowledge’s understanding later.

In contrast, eLearning, where instructors are seen more as facilitators of improvement. Tutors help you understand the course material through provided online resources.


8. Financial Barriers

Online adult learning costs less than traditional. There is no need for traveling, parking expenses, campus living, meal plans, books. It is a more affordable option.


9. Environment Friendliness

Online courses provide a greener option for its learners. It saves on paper consumption and electricity use, and carbon emissions, too, as there is no need to buy physical materials, stay in a class, or commute.

According to studies 2, distance learning courses consumed 90% less energy and produced 85% less carbon emission than face-to-face classes.


10. Discipline and Motivation

In traditional education, you gain momentum by the social pressure. It assists the rhythm of delivering the educational materials by instructors, the community itself, the common goals, your fellow students’ speed, exams, and knowledge checks. You feel you want to keep the rhythm with the course. In online learning looks harder to succeed, as you are the one who dictates the speed. You have to be more disciplined, determined, self-motivated, and encourage yourself, often without external help.


11. Digital Content

Technology can be very challenging for many of us. It is often easier to use traditional tools, like a book, notes, and a pen, rather than being frustrated by using difficult software.

If you feel lost in the virtual world and wish to improve your online learning experience, the book of Bob Wilson M.Ed. will assist you: Making the Shift to Online Learning: 5 Keys to Success.

On the other hand, many of you are busy and overwhelmed, so you prefer digital content rather than traditional, even if it takes more time, in the beginning, to learn to use the necessary tools. Online courses can provide you high-value content that is customized and relevant to your needs. The future of adult learning is online. Next to the convenience, it gives you the possibility to develop specific skills interacting with technology, making your work and personal life more manageable.

According to statistics 3, online education is estimated to become a $325 billion industry by 2025.


12. Measuring Performance

In traditional learning, instructors can measure advancement by the submitted assignments, administered tests, exams, and knowledge checks. eLearning helps educators and learners track their progress more efficiently and more punctually.  Digital platforms, applications, and analytical tools provide detailed reports about the learner’s interests, speed, engagement level, performance, and development.

13. Retention

According to the American Research Institute 4, e-learning can increase knowledge retention by 25-60% compared to classroom-based training.

The online material is better adapted to individual learning styles through its multimedia content. It is visually stimulating, interactive, and brief. It is easily accessible on any device. Studies have shown that it is more likely that a student can complete the program when physical and time limitations are removed.


Which Learning Method to Choose?

Students are learning in a park

Are you thinking right now, which one is more effective for YOU? Face to face or Online?

Having fun in person with your fellow students and professor, using the traditional way of studying?

Or staying at the comfort of your home in front of your computer, overwhelmed with modern technology, all alone?

Virtual learning is an effective, convenient option. However, it is not for everyone.


Choose Face-to-Face Studying or Blended Learning

Student ask a question from the teacher

  • If you find it hard to be disciplined, to motivate yourself, manage your time well without external pressure
  • If you find it difficult studying by yourself, you need personal contact, social interaction with your teachers and classmates in a classroom.
  • If you are an extroverted person and feel the need to connect with others
  • If you have no clue about digital technology and you prefer to commute and adapt to the curriculum rather than learn the online world

Choose Online and Distance Learning

A woman is learning from home

  • If you can easily direct and motivate yourself, and you are organized
  • If you have financial barriers, family obligation, full-time job
  • If you want to enjoy the comfort and flexibility that online learning offers
  • If you are more of an introverted person
  • If you want to adapt to the new technology in advance, as companies and organizations are looking for a digitally skilled workforce
  • If you are already a tech guru and prefer to use digital technology all the time
  • If you care a lot about the environmentally friendly solutions

Read here more about why Online Learning is so important nowadays. 

Final Thoughts

To wrap up, here are the 13 ways again, how to compare the effectiveness of online learning to face-to-face:

  1. Personal interaction, social impact
  2. Comfort of location
  3. Schedule
  4. Family obligations
  5. Accessibility
  6. Own pace
  7. Providing knowledge
  8. Financial barriers
  9. Environment friendliness
  10. Discipline and motivation
  11. Digital content
  12. Measuring performance
  13. Retention

The benefits of the traditional learning programs are the personal interactions with your classmates and professors and at the same time avoiding the use of digital technology.

Although many companies, universities, industry leaders, employees, and students recognize eLearning’s importance, it is worth considering. It is a more comfortable, cheaper, personalized, accessible, and more practical option, especially for adults. It offers flexibility, comfort, and time-saving.

It looks like Online learning is more effective than face-to-face traditional.

Online learning gives You the fastest, easiest, most convenient way to grow!



(1)(4) Forbes – Rethinking Your Approach To Employee Training
(2)The Open University
(3) Forbes – E-Learning Climbing To $325 Billion By 2025
Making the Shift to Online Learning: 5 Keys to Success by Bob Wilson M.Ed.


Which learning method do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.