A Closer Look at Remote Learning: Advantages and Disadvantages

Last updated Mar 2, 2023 

Sam had a busy week. From Monday to Friday, she attended her local high school, and on Wednesdays she had piano lessons in her home. She also spent every other day watching video lectures and submitting assignments for her online AP Art History course. Wow! Not only is Sam’s work ethic impressive, but so is the variety of methods she is using to learn both online and offline. For students and their parents, having so many options is exciting—and intimidating—because it can be hard to know what each option is like and what best suits you. It can be especially difficult to decide whether or not to go against tradition and embrace something as relatively new as remote learning. So, read on to familiarize yourself with remote learning and how it measures up to in-person learning. 

What are the Types of Remote Learning?

Remote learning, which is also known as virtual learning or online learning, is learning that occurs online instead of in-person or in a traditional classroom setting. With remote learning, students of various ages and abilities can receive instruction on a wide range of subjects. Lessons can be one-on-one, in a group, synchronous, or asynchronous. While synchronous lessons occur at a predetermined time using virtual meeting platforms so students can interact with instructors in real time, asynchronous lessons are completed at a student’s convenience (students log on to a course page and complete assignments independently). Some programs offer a combination of these methods too. 

For an even better understanding of remote learning, let’s take a closer look at its pros and cons.

What are the Disadvantages of Remote Learning?

  • Technical Requirements and Difficulties: It might seem obvious, but to access and be successful with remote learning you have to be able to go online and handle any glitches that occur. For students without a stable internet connection or who have devices that are slow or unreliable, remote learning will either be challenging or inaccessible. To solve such problems, you can try to do your remote lessons at school, at someone else’s house, or at a library. However, generally speaking, working WiFi and devices at home are essential. Also important is knowing how to use the applications and platforms involved with remote learning, such as Google Drive, Zoom, Canvas, and more. So, if you have doubts about your technology and your technological expertise, remote learning may not be the right choice.
  • Adds Screen Time: Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Whether it’s phones, tablets, laptops, video games, or televisions, people are staring at screens frequently. Those who are serious about reducing screen time wherever possible, would be understandably wary of adding more screen time with remote learning. 
  • Less Social and Less Hands On: Direct interaction with others benefits mental health and social skill development. Remote learning, especially asynchronous lessons, naturally restricts opportunities to collaborate and engage with teachers and classmates. It also limits how much hands-on learning a student can do; when it comes to subjects like art and science it can be particularly difficult to replicate the effectiveness of in-person instruction. Likewise, it’s more of a challenge to virtually assist a student who needs help using tools (e.g. calculators) or organizing their school supplies.
  • Distractions: From family members, to pets, to a movie or music blaring in a nearby room, there’s a chance that remote learning exposes students to distractions they wouldn’t have in a well-controlled classroom setting. Those distractions would still potentially exist tutoring a student in their home, however. Some students could also struggle to pay attention when learning via a screen, while some actually find technology more engaging. In other words, how well a student can focus and adapt to remote learning depends on the student and their home learning environment.

What are the Advantages of Remote Learning?

  • Cost (Financial and Environmental): Although not guaranteed, some remote learning is offered at a reduced rate because instructors don’t have fuel and other vehicle expenses or the need for hard copies of learning materials. The environmental cost is similarly reduced when students and tutors aren’t creating emissions from their commutes or consuming resources like paper and pencils.
  • Convenience: Perhaps the most significant benefit of remote learning is its flexibility and convenience compared to learning in a classroom or an office. No commute means you can complete lessons almost anywhere (and with asynchronous lessons at almost any time). Lessons are easier to schedule, and you save yourself time and hassle. In-home tutoring naturally doesn’t require that a student commute, but it does require that a parent or other adult be present; remote learning eliminates the need for such supervision. 
  • Accessibility: Remote learning allows you to expand your search for instructors and classes beyond a set mile radius from your home and take advantage of courses not offered at your school. For example, if you live in Maine and want help with a college essay from someone who has more knowledge and experience of the University of California system from living and working in the area, you can get it. 

If your school doesn’t offer an AP class you want, or you can’t fit it into your schedule, you can take it online. Once engaged in remote learning, students can benefit from working on a document with an instructor simultaneously or improve their understanding with videos, audiobooks, charts, and other visual aids at the click of a button. Students can record and rewatch their online lessons too. For students who are more introverted or who have physical or mental health reasons for struggling in a more traditional face-to-face learning environment, remote learning offers a solution. 

  • Comfort: Learning can cause anxiety for those who struggle with certain subjects, and the social nature of in-person learning can add stress. Remote learning removes some of that social stress and helps students to feel more comfortable by allowing them to learn in the privacy of their own homes or even bedrooms.

What type of learning is best?

The best type of learning is what best suits an individual student’s needs. When it comes to remote learning versus in-person learning, there are benefits and drawbacks to both. Online learning can be less costly and more convenient, while in-person learning can be more interactive and inflexible. Whatever you choose, A+ Test Prep and Tutoring is ready to support you. We offer both in-person (either at one of our offices or in-home) and online tutoring programs that include test prep, executive function skills coaching, college essay help, and academic subject help. Reach out and we’ll work with you to pick the right program, tutor, and tutoring method for you.

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Director Joelle Faucette can be reached at 215-886-9188 or email us at office@aplustutoring.com.


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