In-Person or Online Learning?

I love teaching. I love learning. I love exploring learning with others. Not only do I live the learning experiences in my own life, I help others live it as well. I conduct workshops regularly. I have conducted workshops with large groups since November 2011. Some would argue that is a lot of experience. I would say it is, but I still have a ton to learn.

Since March 2020 (THE pandemic), I had to explore options for online learning. I was terrified at first and didn't really know how we would conduct our workshops online since most of the time they were really interactive with table trinkets to help keep minds focused on the learning and I spent a ton of time crafting a nice workbook to accompany the class. After having conducted hundreds of online workshops since March 2020, I would say I am experienced with that as well, but have a lot to learn. I often get asked the question, which one is better?

The question on which is better; in-person vs online learning, is not new. This issue has heated up as technology has improved and e-learning systems have become more complex. Both modalities of learning have advantages and disadvantages. So as always, it is a hard question to answer. Let me put my consultant hat on..."It depends". I thought it best to summarize some of my take-aways.

In-Person Education


  • Human Interaction: The possibility for live interaction is one of the most significant benefits of in-person learning. In real-time, students can ask questions, participate in group activities, and learn from their peers.
  • Structured Environment: A physical classroom setting gives a continuous structure and routine, which can be advantageous for students who thrive on routine.
  • Subjects that require actual application, such as lab experiments or physical demonstrations, might be taught more efficiently in person.
  • Immediate Feedback: Direct engagement with instructors provides for immediate feedback, which can be critical for grasping complex topics.

These are the typical Pros you will get when searching online, but the caveat here is that I feel our live / online classes have learned how to do much of this as well. I don't think its ever as good as an in-person class, but definitely a valuable learning experience and the student really doesn't miss out on information (unless of course they are distracted).


  • Less Flexibility: In-person learning necessitates learners' presence at specified times and locations, which can be difficult for those juggling other obligations.
  • Issues with Accessibility: Because of geographical, physical, or financial constraints, not everyone has easy access to locations.
  • Potential diversions: While classroom environments provide order, they can also be a source of diversions, ranging from chatty classmates to environmental disruptions (which we typically don't see anyway).

Online Education


  • Online learning is convenient since it can be done at any time and from any location. This is especially useful for those who have work obligations, live in different time zones, or simply like to learn at their own speed. It is amazing to have people in a class from Asia, North/South America, Europe, and Africa all at the same time.
  • Online platforms frequently provide a wealth of resources, such as video lectures, forums, and supplemental reading materials, allowing for a more personalised learning experience.
  • Online courses are often less expensive because they do not require physical infrastructure or resources.
  • Adaptable Learning Environments: Learners can study wherever they want, resulting in a more comfortable and individualized learning environment.


  • Lack of in-person connection might make it difficult to form relationships, build trust, engage in discussions, or clarify doubts quickly.
  • Online learning necessitates a high level of self-discipline because it lacks the regulated atmosphere of a typical classroom. People tend to be highly distracted because the browser and email tools are right there with the learning tool.
  • Technical concerns, ranging from weak internet connections to faulty platforms, might impair the learning experience.
  • Isolation: Without regular interactions with peers and teachers, online students may feel alone. However, in our classes we place people in small break-out teams to mitigate this, but still, if they don't outwardly try to interact it is difficult. Our classes require you to participate, so we do our best to draw these problems out.

My Take-aways

Individuals' preferences for in-person or online learning are mostly determined by their learning style, needs, and circumstances. In-person learning provides a typical, structured setting with the added benefit of human connection. Online learning, on the other hand, offers unrivaled flexibility and, in many cases, a greater selection of resources.

In an ideal educational environment, students would not have to pick between the two. We have tried our best to institute a hybrid strategy that combines the qualities of both modalities as a successful way forward for accommodating varied learning preferences and needs. I have settled on a love for both. There are times where I simply walk out of my living room and into my office 5 minutes before a class and am finished in 6 hours.

When I do on-site classes, it's much more involved and stressful (in the setup and travel), but I think much more rewarding at the end because of that work. The online classes have a bit more re-usability that makes them much less stressful in setup (immense amount of work to initially create them though). Also, the online portions have a bit of the repetitive lecture content in video format so students watch them prior to the class minimizing the time it takes to cover those topics, but the instructor has to spend a fair amount of time making sure they have been watched by the student to pass the course (adminsitrivia).

It depends, is right. It depends on what's best for the instructor at the time, the student at the time, and the organization. Having all of your people together, on-site, in one class is an invaluable learning and team building experience. I find the in-person learning, people tend to be much more focused and feel more present because they can put the rest of the world on hold. In our homes or offices while online, life just continues to flood in without any barriers. There is no perfect answer, there are times when online best suites the needs and times where in-person suits the needs. I tend to always say after an in-person class, I have missed this so much, but also say I can't believe I used to do this twice a week for 6 years.

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