Online vs. Remote Learning: What’s the Difference?

During these pandemic days, education as we once knew it has changed. Schools are closed, but resilience, innovation and modification keep the learning going. Many schools offer online learning, and some offer remote learning. Wait … isn’t that the same thing?

What’s the difference between online and remote learning?

Online learning usually is a course or program that has been specifically planned over a period of perhaps six to nine months that can be accessed with a computer. It is also used in combination with some in-person meetings. Remote learning (or distance learning) is a replacement for face-to-face classroom learning and is often used when in-person learning is not possible, such as now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are really three major differences between online and remote learning:

  • Location of the learning. Students who use online learning may be together with the instructor in the classroom using digital lessons. Students who are learning remotely get their assignments from the instructors digitally, and they do their lessons online at home. The instructor then checks in on their progress digitally.
  • Interaction requirement. Online learning requires students to meet in-person regularly with an instructor, whereas remote learning does not.
  • Intention of the learning. Online’s intent is a combination of computer-based learning and in-person learning; it’s supplemental to a regular classroom program. Distance or remote learning is completely online. In the case of Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT), it’s a shift of the way instruction is delivered just to keep education going.

What are the advantages of online and remote learning?

Both online and remote learning offer flexibility because it can be done at an individual pace and at the time that’s most convenient for the student. However, there are specific advantages of each.

Online learning has its own advantages:

  • It helps students engage with the learning process when it supplements the learning/teaching techniques.
  • Using online tools makes it easier for instructors to differentiate their lessons (via study guides, tiered lessons, grouping students based on topic knowledge, etc.) without having to spend additional evening or weekend time.
  • It’s a time saver for planning and grading because many of the tools include lesson plans, training materials and assessments.

Remote learning also has some unique benefits and advantages:

  • Remote learning can continue without disruption caused by crisis or pandemic. It just means the instructor presents the lessons/lectures via computer rather than in the classroom.
  • There’s more flexibility for students to work at their own pace and review their work when they need to. Since they can access the material digitally, they can do it when it is most convenient to them.

What are the disadvantages of online and remote learning?

Both online and remote learning result in more screen time for students and can also make it easier for students to cheat when they use online learning tools. Moreover, neither method works if students are not connected; they must have computers and Internet access. Another challenge with remote learning is that instructors are unable to keep tabs on students and know that they are actually working on their assignments. That’s why remote learning is generally better for older students or adult learners with technology access who are self-disciplined and take responsibility for their learning.

How is Brookline College coping with learning challenges during the pandemic?

Brookline has moved all of its training programs online, with several diploma and Associate’s degree programs (including some nursing and healthcare programs) on a remote learning platform. Programs that require lab and clinical courses will start online, and externships can be completed later. Additionally, Brookline provided unconnected students with Google Chromebooks to use so their education could stay on track. The school also employs a combination of synchronous teaching methods—when students and instructors are online at the same time with live lectures—and asynchronous methods—when students can access information on their own time—to provide great education.

Brookline has taken other measures to bring some semblance of normalcy to education during these tough times. The school is conducting classroom polling to ensure continuous feedback from students and is implementing virtual meeting rooms to continue the feeling of in-classroom engagement. Additionally, there is the “Brookline Backyard,” a virtual “hang out” where students can discuss their classes, lives or challenges during this tumultuous time.

Online courses in all programs are available to start now because Brookline College is committed to helping student fulfill their career and educational goals—even in times of crisis. To find the program that is right for you, contact Brookline College today.