You want the best for your child’s education, but you’ve come to a crossroad in the modern maze of tutoring options. On one path you have traditional face-to-face learning (direct in-person interaction between students and teachers in a physical classroom setting), and on the other, online learning (accessing educational resources and interacting with instructors through internet-based, digital platforms).
Is one path superior? Or, would a hybridised/blended learning approach suit your child and family? Both systems have unique pros and cons, so let’s break them down to help you decide.
Benefits of face-to-face learning
Structured learning environment. For a younger cohort, especially, a structured, physical environment with tutor presence can help keep them on task and hold them accountable. Busy families, or families struggling to create a focused environment at home for their child, may also welcome passing control over to a teacher in a classroom-setting.
The ‘human’ element. Non-verbal communication, such as body language, gesturing, direct eye contact and other wordless signals all send strong messages during human interaction to help foster trust and connection. Tutors can instantly gauge their students’ responses and interest levels to course material by reading these cues face-to-face, and students can obtain direct feedback from their tutors.
Friendship opportunities. Children connecting face-to-face can build potentially long-lasting relationships with local peers.
Collaborative discussion. Students learning together have the opportunity to work on their collaboration, problem solving, and networking skills through in-person discussion. This helps build overall social confidence.
Predictability. Traditional classroom learning with a live instructor is familiar to students and families, helping children build routine by getting to a certain place by a certain time each week. This also employs their time management and self-discipline skills.
Drawbacks of face-to-face learning
Peer distraction. Some students may find working in a group distracting, and children who are shy might engage less frequently in a class setting.
Rigid pacing. Children each learn at different speeds, and face-to-face environments tend to be more ‘one-size-fits-all’. This means a student may fall behind in some lessons they haven’t grasped properly, or have to wait for their peers to catch up if they’re ahead.
Less overall flexibility. To ensure the lesson can go ahead, both tutor and student need to be present at the same time, healthy (so as not to spread illness), and free of interruptions like bus delays or other unforeseen circumstances.
A limited mentor network. Geographical barriers mean children aren’t able to learn from tutors beyond their local area.
“A lot of people who do go to tutoring (in-person) might live in, say, Cronulla, and so they stick to the services in that area. But online – you have choice. Now you can have tutoring with, for example, Mr Paul, who is based in the Lower North Shore,” explains James, co-owner of C3 Education Group.
Benefits of online learning
Effective and efficient. With collaborative tools and engaging media such as images, videos, and animations, online learning enhances retention by 25-60% compared to traditional classrooms and handwritten notes. Learning via a self-paced, online format is estimated to cut down learning time by 40-60%, especially amongst older students.
Highly personalised. In replicating physical classes via video meetings and group chats, online learning can be more inclusive and personalised. This approach capitalises on tailoring education to a child’s strengths.
Diverse social encounters. Online learning alters social engagement through virtual tools like breakout groups, messaging, and forums to connect students both locally and globally.
“There’s so much community, so much activity, and the way that we deliver our lessons are so dynamic and full of discussion that they actually go by quickly and are very interactive,” says James, co-owner of C3.
Family involvement. Evidence tells us that parental support plays a pivotal role in shaping children’s learning outcomes. Online learning provides a front row view of your child’s learning style, needs, and curriculum so you can help nurture a positive attitude towards education in your own home.
Convenience factor. The 10 metre e-learning commute from lounge room to study desk is the time-friendliest option for students and families alike. Adding in a lesson that fits their schedule well can boost engagement and save travel time, money, and reduce carbon footprint for families.
Accessibility. Children living with physical disability, chronic illness, learning or developmental disorders can optimise their set up to be comfortable and equipped with the aids they need to succeed. For example, James observes that for some children, like those with ADHD, being able to book a virtual lesson last minute can be a lifesaver.
“When it comes to being able to solve a problem with any kid, I think it’s that online part that makes it really accessible to everyone, anywhere, from home,” he says.
Drawbacks of online learning
Distractions at home. The home environment influences a child’s learning ability, and some households may be noisy, stressful, or lacking the appropriate resources.
Unstructured. If a child struggles with self-directed learning and study they may have challenges making time for and optimising their virtual learning experience. Parental involvement may be necessary.
Lacks real-world social skill development. Socialising in-person is fundamental for both personal and professional growth, and young children especially should be exposed to peer-to-peer communication and direct mentor interaction.
A hybrid approach
Thankfully, the rise of hybrid and online learning models to supplement face-to-face education has empowered students and families with the freedom of choice. This is invaluable as research demonstrates that having greater autonomy strengthens understanding and commitment to learning.
Plus, given that workplaces and universities worldwide are embracing hybrid and online learning models, exposing children to virtual education and its etiquette will help set them up for long-term success.
Being a parent and a teacher herself, Christine, co-founder of C3, has set up the online services to prioritise high-quality student-teacher interactions which effectively nurture a child’s potential. She also understands the value of including families in the process, which is why she integrates ongoing progress updates in C3’s e-learning model.
“In our system, parents get reports every week. It could just be two lines, such as ‘Evie’s doing really well recently’, or ‘Evie’s struggling to read simple words and we will continue working on it’. That sort of feedback loop, from an online perspective, is very helpful,” she says.
Parents can choose their involvement level and offer their child the support and encouragement they need to flourish. This might involve trawling through lesson recordings and resources together or simply listening as a child unwinds after a tricky topic.
A hybrid approach also gives children access to 24-7 support. For example, students can hop online and use C3’s Essay Marking service, connecting them with experienced markers for comprehensive feedback in one click.
The bottom line?
Weighing the pros and cons of online and face-to-face learning reveals a nuanced landscape where factors like flexibility, personalised attention, and social interaction are vital considerations. For families wanting more flexibility, or families bound by distance, time and other commitments, embracing a hybrid model may be key.
To learn more about the learning opportunities available at C3, feel free to get in touch with us today. With physical locations in key Australian cities and a wealth of online tutoring choices, courses, and resources, we can offer your child a tailored program that supports their academic success.