In-Person vs. Online Learning: What's Better for Medical Careers? Is One Better Than the Other?

It is easy to see why the debate of online vs. in-person learning is currently in the mind of many students and educators. 

Given recent global challenges, the world is seeking answers to how best to continue the education of students. 

The vocational education system temporarily resorted to online education as an alternative to resolve the challenges presented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, experts argue that students should return to the classroom as soon and safely as possible. 

In-person advocates mention online learning for certifications like medical assistant (MA)massage therapypractical nursing (LPN), or nursing assistant (CNA) do not provide the hands-on experience that is needed to master specific tasks.

It could be difficult for anyone wishing to become a clinical medical assistant to learn the right skills. Additionally, there might be limited assistance with passing a certification exam.

The push to return to in-person classes is partly due to many students from historically under-resourced communities falling behind this past year. According to experts, this drop is due to a lack of access to digital resources and support in online learning.

What's the difference? 

Online learning is thru the internet using a computer, without a teacher physically present or other students in a classroom. 

Online learning provides greater flexibility since most courses don't require students to be online at a specific time. However, it also requires self-discipline, self-motivation and integrity. 

In-person learning is where the teacher and the student meet in a set place for a set time, most commonly in a group class. 

This method effectively teaches knowledge and skills because it combines writing, reading, discussion, presentations, projects, group work, film clips, demonstrations, practice and supervision

Benefits of in-person learning. 

  • Fewer distractions.
  • More understanding thru hands-on exercises. 
  • 5X more like to complete the course.
  • Familiar, traditional classroom situation.
  • Connect with, problem solve and network.

Let's explore the research. One good reason is that there are fewer distractions when you are physically present in a school classroom, and you are less likely to leave the classroom than when at home. 

In-person learning also results in more teacher-student time compared to simply submitting assignments. 

The teacher can provide a deeper understanding of the material and give the student the help they need using visual clues provided by body language. 

In-person learning also allows the students to network with people from many different backgrounds and share problem-solving strategies, among many other things.

Benefits of online learning.

  • Access from anywhere at any time.
  • Less travel and parking costs.
  • It is timed around your life, family and work.
  • Learn digital skills.

For people who don't need the structure of in-person classroom meetings, online learning enables them to set their schedules around their responsibilities, especially when parenting or having a full-time job. 

It also provides great accessibility for people who don't have the means to attend in-person classes.

Online learning can be cheaper than in-person learning. For example, students don't have to cover the costs of travel or parking.

The compromise.

Many experts agree that the debate is missing the point. They argue that it should not be framed as either online OR in-person but as online AND in-person.

In a classroom setting, a teacher's value extends beyond the class being delivered. They also motivate, encourage and supervise. The latter is particularly difficult to do through video conferencing. 

Technology can be brought into the classroom to complement in-person learning by including videos, game-based education and animations. These all provide the benefits of online training tools with the interactivity, personalization and effective communication of an in-person learning environment. 

Do you have questions about in-person learning that Google can't seem to answer for you honestly? Our very own Admissions Director, Anthony, will be in touch with you for a one-on-one conversation. Submit your information here, and he will be in touch with you soon. 

Blog Post written by:
Dr. Eida Lopez
Medical Assistant Instructor