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IS FACE TO FACE LEARNING BETTER THAN ONLINE LEARNING?

Face to face learning involves a learning arrangement in which the teacher or trainer as the case may be and the learner or trainee, are physically facing each other in person. Online learning on the other hand includes learning via online (connected to a computer network or accessible by computer) communication between the teacher and the learner. This can be in the form of videos, pictures or text documents exchanged electronically via the internet.
Different skills which range over various fields can and are taught by learning; be it language acquisition, academic knowledge, medical expertise, painting, sculpting, playing of a musical instrument or even combat.
The topic of this essay is rather apt as the world is fast becoming a global village thanks to the explosion and ubiquity of the internet which is now being employed and exploited in many areas, one of which is education. There has been a recent increase in the quest and availability of online learning worldwide. There are now many online colleges and universities and even regular universities are also inculcating online learning platforms alongside the traditional classrooms.
In my own opinion, the titular question is an emphatic yes for many reasons which I will adumbrate in subsequent paragraphs.
Over the centuries, the teacher-learner physical interaction cannot be overemphasized. It is by far the most efficient method of learning. From the days of the ancient Greek philosophers and teachers to the medieval times and even until present modern world, physical interaction of teacher and learner has consistently proved effective and efficient to bring about learning. When the teacher and learner are physically interacting, the teacher is able to monitor the progress of the learner and able to correct the learner where necessary. This is not the case in online learning platforms, where even if progress can be monitored, it is not adequately done as with face to face learning. Take for example, if a teacher is trying to teach his student how to draw, it’s easier for him to show the student what to do in person than it is to do through a video or a text article. The physical presence of the teacher gives the student confidence, helps the student to actively participate in the learning process and learn even quickly.
Furthermore, through the demonstration and gestures of the teacher, the learner can easily gain skills and knowledge. Face to face leaning maximises learning through the three routes. A teacher that is physically present will know the mental and even the emotional state of his learner and know how to pass across what is to be learned to the learner which is not the case with online learning. Skills are easily learned when they are shown to the learner in person rather than through an online medium. A good face to face teacher will impart more knowledge than a good online teacher at any day and time. The older generation can testify to this, learning in classrooms where the teacher can use examples, charts, analogies and even gestures as learning aids bring about effective impartation of skill and knowledge more than a you tube video or a lengthy step-by-step Word document ever will.
An empirical study carried out in 1999 by Scott D. Johnson, Steven R. Aragon, Najumuddin Shaik and Nilda Palma-Rivas titled “Comparative Analysis of Online vs. Face to face instruction” presented during a conference on World Wide Web and the internet proved that face to face learning students can learn more quickly and they never forget what they learnt from face to face learning as it is more memorable than online learning. Other studies has established these truths in one way or the other.
Another advantage face to face learning has over online learning is the rapidity at which learning is achieved. In face to face learning as opposed to online learning, the teacher is right beside the learner to quickly correct his/her mistakes. This makes learning effective and quicker. Also, it’s easier for the teacher to decipher if the student is learning anything or not. In face to face learning, the teacher notices the learner’s alacrity and enthusiasm and can by their levels deduce if the learner is acquiring any skills or not. The teacher-learner bond also helps to facilitate learning. According to David Jacques, face to face education helps in increasing intelligence levels of students. According to Geary, in the learning process, nonverbal modes of communication, relationship building and interaction may seem very small things but they are very effective and they are only available in face to face learning.
Face to face learning has higher efficiency when compared to online learning. Take for example, a person who learns a language by face to face learning is naturally going to be better than another individual who has learnt the language through an online medium as a lot of pertinent ingredients necessary for learning are lost during online learning. The same is applicable to an apprentice to a sculptor or an artist; because watching a maestro alone at work in person helps to hone the learner’s skills and gives the learner the opportunity to learn little things that will be left out if the learning were to be through an online medium.
In face to face learning, the learner/trainee can ask questions which are answered immediately. More light is in the process shed on concepts which are prior oblivious or confusing to the learner. This also facilitates efficient and effective learning.
In conclusion, in the insightful words of erudite Professor Wole Soyinka, Nobel Prize in Literature 1986, on the future of learning: “Nothing will ever replace the human contact between a learner and a teacher.” Nothing ever will, not even the internet.

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