Why Online Education Is Not The Future Of Education?

Why Online Education Is Not The Future Of Education?

More than 1 billion learners have been affected in 143 countries due to countrywide closure (UNESCO). Most of the world is still in lockdown and unsure when it will be over. People are desperately waiting for this crisis to end and move freely without fear of infection. It's a well-known fact that all the sectors have been affected by COVID-19 to a varying extent. Among many, the education sector is directly affected and schools and governments are trying their best to provide online education but the effectiveness of these classes remains doubtful. So, is online education future of education system ?

Why online education is not the future of education ? - Boy placing one hand on his head and using laptop
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Not yet. There's no doubt it has and it will revolutionize learning but replacing the current "physical/traditional" learning is a different thing. Fast forward 5-6 months, attitude towards online learning has started to alter. What seemed fun for a few hours is completely different when you sit alone in front of your computer screen for a whole day. 

People have started to question if it is even possible to think that online education itself is sustainable and if it really is the future of the education sector? Even the developed countries are struggling to provide effective online classes than there is very little hope for developing nations. Before this COVID-19 crisis, there was/still is a hype about online education being the future of the education sector and how it will revolutionize the learning. 

Online Education/Learning

The education sector which was slowly transitioning to online platforms has been suddenly disrupted and has left the education sector in chaos. There's no doubt that online learning has increased the scope and reach of education to the far greater horizon than previously imagined. 

Plenty of new-age digital platforms like Edx, Udemy, Udacity, Khan Academy, and others are available for online learning for Pre-k to graduate and professional level. Even governments and institutions have started to accredit online courses and degrees. Especially during this crisis, online education has been the light in the darkness for the education sector as it's one of the worst-hit sectors [1]. Many people are guessing that this will bring a permanent change and a huge amount of investment in this sector [2]. However, one should remember the expectations and behaviors differ from an individual to another and it's not as easy as it sounds. 

Online learning - Notebook and pen in front of a laptop
Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash
Currently, online education is at its zenith. Schools and governments are trying their best to support students so that the learning doesn't stop. Thanks to the internet and technology, being physically present is not the only option for learning. Now, we don't need a huge building with daunting classrooms and multiple whiteboards to teach and learn. 

"Quality education wherever and whenever you want" is the motto of online education providers and this has been true to a great extent at sharpening and learning new skills. This increased in popularity is due to the flexibility and accessibility that online learning offers. Students can learn infinite subjects ranging from music to quantum physics at their own pace in their preferred time from the luxury of their home. There's no time constraint or strict schedule to follow. This improves time management skills and provides more autonomy to students which might be a good or bad thing. 

Customized learning and cost-effectiveness are other benefits of online education. This learning meets individual requirements and levels of ability, providing a more dynamic and tailored education. Also, there is economical benefit for students. Generally, the cost of traditional education is much higher because of infrastructures like building, on-campus facilities, transportation, and class materials. While most of these facilities are non-existent in online education;  this explains why online degrees are cheaper compared to traditional education degrees. 

Additionally, students can decide the courses and time according to their needs and goals and this has been the most appealing aspect of online education. Other benefits of online education are enhanced learning, fostering problem-solving skills, developing future technology leaders, and access to information, etc. The conclusion from one of the surveys (which was done before the COVID-19 outbreak) was that 90% of the students thought that online education is the same or better than traditional education [3]. 

Person studying online with his laptop
Photo by fauxels from Pexels
Billions of dollars are invested in building these online learning platforms and convincing the schools and public that online education is just as good as face-to-face learning [4]. Many technology advocates and online learning platforms are promoting online education as the permanent and sustainable replacement of traditional education. Online vs face-to-face (traditional) education has been the hot topic of discussion for many years. And, online learning has been advertised as the best fit for digital natives - who are addicted to their phones and screens. 

Before the outbreak, online education was considered as a hobby or a part-time learning experience. 

However, the current shift from onsite to online education has been ugly at times because of rushed transition, lack of digital expertise, access to the internet, and unstable living environment [5]. Generally, it takes instructors and universities more than a year to prepare an online course, whereas today, they have to prepare and deliver in a week or two. The outcome of the recent survey (conducted during this outbreak) shows that online learning was the least effective and beneficial [6]. 

It has left students lost and adrift and many hated prerecorded videos and podcasts. Distractions at home and the web might be other influencing factors that resulted in this bitter experience. Most of them complained that they have to sit in front of the screen alone doing everything by themselves with no immediate interaction with others. And, this situation is more challenging for differently able students compared to others. 

Students have been habituated for many years for classes that are structured and start and end at the same time every week. This sudden change in habit might have contributed to this discontent. Just now, "camera should be on" policy is introduced in online classes to make things look normal by at least seeing each other. 

School students posing for a picture
Photo by Rebecca Zaal from Pexels-min
This time it was a rushed transition due to the virus outbreak. Things might get easier and people might develop a habit as time goes by but now, after the recent experience, the perspective towards online education has started to change and people are skeptical. 

Online learning requires more time than on-campus learning and it's much easier to procrastinate. This also creates a sense of isolation and provides more freedom than one can handle. There's no human interaction or personal touch in online learning. It's very hard to learn or get inspired by others in this setting and the level of intimacy which can only be felt in face-to-face education doesn't occur. Nearly all of us remember our schools and colleges not only for education but mostly for human connections (friends/colleagues) and memories. We still have a sense of trust with our friends from schools and colleges which is possible only by the person to person contact. 

However, everything around us is online and the way we survive has completely changed in this digital age. It's hard to find a single sector which is not influenced by technology and the internet. From food to medicine, you can get everything online. This has made our life much easier but the negative or side effect of this technology can not be ignored. 

Digital eye strain, Musculoskeletal problems, Sleep problems, Emotional and Social problems, Suicide, Impact on mental growth of children are a few of the problems caused due to excessive use of technology [7]. Nowadays, there's a spike in these cases due to lockdown as other activities are restricted. As technology and the internet are the backbones of online education, these issues will be ever present.

Small trail in forest in between trees - Nature
Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash
There's another aspect: nature. No matter what or how advance it is, it will never replace the healing and calmness factor of the real world. When used for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual betterment of human beings and nature technology will always be a blessing. And, it all depends on how it's used. The focus should be on the long term gain not on immediate pleasure from the technology and internet.

Still, the role of technology and the internet can not be undermined in the 21st century as it has become a part of our daily life directly, indirectly, knowingly, and unknowingly. There's no doubt that it would be impossible to achieve what we have achieved as a society without technological advancement. Industries, healthcare, environment, agriculture, business, education, transportation, communication, and whatnot, it has uplifted each and every sector that it has touched. 

"Your own time, your own pace, your path " - Online Education

Verdict - Is online education the future?

Sudden boost to online learning due to COVID-19 might backfire because of the dissatisfaction and rough time students and instructors are having. Perspective and attitude have started to change regarding online education. 

It is possible that as the demand for online education increases so will the preference for a better education. The price of tutoring, mentoring, and direct personal intervention will increase slowly over time in online education and it might be the same situation as the current education system i.e divided (rich and poor) if it's not regulated timely [8]. 

Aerial view of the earth showing how technology and internet has impacted of lives around the globe
Photo by NASA on Unsplash-min
Online and face-to-face (traditional learning) both have their strengths and limitations and the focus should be on utilizing the strengths.The next step or the focus of online education should not be on replacing the current education system rather transforming it. ( We are so familiar with traditional education, I didn't see the need to explain)

The role of online education in the development and enhancement of the education sector can not be disregarded. Though it might not be the replacement of the current education system, it'll continue to elevate and transform the education sector. There's no doubt that it's useful for specific courses, short term learning, specialization, and career advancement courses. And, the use of technology frees up precious class time which can be used for engaging discussions and building personal connection which will last a lifetime. 

One can't deny the significance of online education in this century but it should be considered as a backup rather than an alternative or competitive replacement to traditional learning. This doesn't mean traditional learning is all perfect with no flaws; it has its flaws but something like Blended learning might be a sustainable solution. Blended learning (Hybrid learning) combines online learning with face-to-face learning as it's student-focused rather than teacher-focused which is the case in traditional learning. 

Blended learning - A group having discussion about the project using technology
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash
Now, the emphasis should be on how institutions will adapt to become more resilient in the face of potential future closure. It' safe to say that a mix of face-to-face (traditional) and online learning certainly is the future of education. 

One should always remember: Learning is not limited to schools, classrooms, online platforms, computer, and books, it can be practiced anywhere in any form. 

This experience should have taught every nation to create a backup structure in case of a crisis and be prepared as Singapore is after the 2003 SARS outbreak. Developing countries like Nepal should invest more in the education sector so that the learning of students is not hindered. And, this crisis has taught a lesson to everyone about the importance of online infrastructure and how neglecting it might halt the development. 

Country focus - Nepal

In Nepal, around 8,795,624 learners ranging from Pre-primary to Tertiary level are affected due to this crisis (UNESCO). "Sikai Chautari " Learning portal has been launched by National Center for Educational Development (NCED) which covers the curriculum from grade 1 to grade 10. 

But, how effective has it been? At the moment, it's not wise to expect a lot but few alternations could have made this transition much easier. These alternations or aspects have been completely ignored after the launch of the portal. The focus and duty of the government should be to increase it's effectiveness and make an upgrade or change wherever and whenever necessary. 

Internet connection/mobile data packages is the most important thing required for online education which is in governments' direct control [9]. The government should have been able to regulate ISPs to provide a cheaper and stable internet connection, specially for learners. 

Digital illiteracy has been another problem that has downgraded the quality of online learning in Nepal. Neither students nor teachers can be blamed for this because no one could predict this situation. However, a valuable lesson should be learned from this; especially teachers need to up their game and should familiarize themselves with online technology. 


Lack of internet, proper schools, quality teachers, and infrastructures are the real problems in Nepal's education sector. Lack of online services in Nepal is visible not only in the education sector but in all other sectors as well. The online system creates transparency which helps in corruption and irregularities control; one might suspect: is this delay in online services deliberate or just another example of slow development? 

Primary students in school uniform posing for a picture, Nepal
Source: UNICEF
What about the public schools and students below the poverty line who are barely surviving? How reasonable it is to think they would have a phone or computer and internet connection for personal use? Spending Rs.15-20,000 annually on the internet connection is not viable for most of the households in Nepal. A huge question mark remains over the efficiency and effectiveness of the online portal in Nepal!

What do you think ? What is the future of education ? Is it traditional or online or blended education ? Feel free to share your thoughts. 

Thank you for your visit. I hope everything was clear, if not please do not hesitate to contact me for suggestions or queries regarding this topic. Honest feedback is highly appreciated. You can contact me via “ashishworks2020@gmail.com “. Thanks again.


  1. good read Ashish,the most trending topic of 2020. Being currently attending virutal classes I can totally relate online learning with my experience. Even at graduate level study in western country, the e-learning is not as effective as it was thought to be, specially learning technical stuff online being catastrophic. It's definitely a great challenge for public sector in Nepal, there is simply no other ways than returning to traditional education with proper precaution and planning.

    1. Glad you liked it, Puksar ! This outbreak might cause a great setback to online education platforms. I completely agree with your point that it's even harder to learn practical courses and technical stuff online and one might only wonder how hard it has been for differently able learners. Hope everything returns to normal very soon ! Stay safe !


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