Remote vs. in-person Learning

By Dina Usanovic

(Berkman Hall, Cleveland State University, Source: Luke Peters)

We are in uncharted territory. The Coronavirus has caused a significant disruption in daily life for the past six months, and Cleveland State University has not been immune. When the governor of Ohio, Mike Dewine, announced in March that education was to be delivered online, it was difficult to imagine how it would look. The idea of school had to be reimagined. Now, in-person learning is difficult to imagine. 

With many health concerns, students wonder if returning to the status quo is the best idea. In-person learning requires a restructuring of how the typical classroom looks. Students must spread out with assigned seating, students and teachers must wear face masks, and hand sanitizer is the new hot commodity. These changes beg the question: should remote learning be the new normal, or is it better to return to in-person classes despite the difficult changes?

In-person learning has dominated the world for many years, so there must be some benefits surrounding it. First and foremost, in-person learning provides a level of communication that online learning cannot offer. For instance, in a classroom, teachers have the opportunity to answer questions and explain difficult concepts instantly, instead of responding in an hour or two via email. Along with that, teachers can better determine whether their students are grasping a difficult topic when the students are in front of them. In-person classes also allow teachers to meet their students and have a more personal relationship with each of them. It is also easier to set a schedule and follow it with in-person classes than online classes.

That being said, remote learning offers certain benefits that in-person learning does not. With online learning, students can revisit material they might have missed. Along with that, students can do schoolwork while being sick or otherwise unable to physically attend classes, since physical attendance is not necessary. Online learning also provides students with the opportunity to complete work at their own pace, within reason of course. Possibly the most appealing aspect of online learning is the fact that students do not need to wear masks, worry about social distancing, or even change out of their pajamas.

While in-person learning provides a certain structure to students’ lives that is not to be ignored, online learning seems to be a suitable replacement. It is difficult to determine which mode of education is best for students and faculty. As the semester progresses, however, a clear winner may present itself.