Guide: Choosing between online or in-person classes for your Early Childhood Education

18 February 2024
Posted in News
18 February 2024 Capital College

The technology of online education

Traditional in-person classes were the norm until recent years. The pandemic accelerated the education system’s introduction and reliance on online courses students can take from anywhere. Online courses existed before the pandemic, but technology and our society’s acceptance of online classes have evolved in the years since.

Online classes are usually delivered through a virtual course platform or software. Classes often include:

  • Live video lectures
  • Recorded lessons
  • Online forum chats with peers and instructors
  • Reading digital and/or physical books and resources
  • Submitting written papers
  • Taking digital tests and exams
  • Group projects and papers 

Due to the popularity of online courses today, some programs are turning traditionally in-person programs into online programs to provide students with the flexibility of class styles based on their needs. 

Here are some favourable comparisons between online learning and in-person learning, compiled by

  • 70% of students say online learning is better than traditional learning.
  • Online learning is more efficient, often requiring as much as 40-60% less time learning.
  • Online learning can help students remember 25-60% more information.
  • Online learning uses 87% less energy and 85% fewer CO2 emissions per student.

Often, some programs will have primarily online classes but require students to come for short, pre-determined periods for in-person instruction on campus. These hybrid courses provide a good mix of the benefits of both teaching methods. 

Pros and cons of online classes

Online classes offer great flexibility that many students need. Online courses may include a mix of live lectures or open office hours (over a video conferencing system like Zoom), pre-recorded lessons, reading, assignments, and digital quizzes. 

Online classes have many great benefits for students: 

  • Taking courses not offered at schools in your community
  • Taking courses while travelling or living a nomadic lifestyle
  • Connecting with peers around the world
  • Getting immediate feedback from educators
  • Students save money on gas and transport because they can take classes from home
  • Make-up classes can be possible when lessons are recorded 
  • Tuition for virtual courses is often lower than in-person
  • More support for students with learning or physical disabilities
  • It provides a broader range of course options than in-person

Even with these benefits, you miss some of the “perks” of in-person instruction, including:

  • Missing the interpersonal connection of sitting next to peers in a traditional classroom setting.
  • Group work and physical projects can be tricky if they must be done online.
  • Online live classes can be difficult if you have distractions at home (such as children or pets)
  • Often requires greater self-motivation to attend classes and do assignments

Online classes offer a flexibility that in-person classes can’t accommodate. This makes online courses great for those with busy schedules or who work full-time, new parents, and those who can’t otherwise attend classes regularly in person. 

Pros and cons of in-person classes

In-person instruction has been, and still is, the primary way of educating K-12 and post-secondary students. Students are given a class schedule and are expected to appear in person for every class. 

The benefits of in-person education include:

  • You benefit from the interpersonal communication of sitting next to peers. 
  • Working on group projects can be easier than face-to-face
  • Hands-on learning is more accessible (great for those who are tactile learners)
  • You can more easily “shut off” distractions from the outside world by turning off your phone.
  • You can ask instruction questions and get immediate feedback (during or before/after classes)

In-person education has several disadvantages:

  • Students must travel to classrooms (taking time and money)
  • Making up missed classes is not possible. 
  • Educators have a strict schedule, which leaves less time for 1:1 support. 
  • In-person courses can have more expensive tuition. 
  • Less accommodatable for those with physical and mental disabilities that make in-person learning difficult.

How to select the right class format for your ECE program

There is no right or wrong answer to your choice of online or in-person classes for your ECE program. However, if you can attend classes in person, you may benefit from in-person courses. If your life is busier and attending in-person isn’t possible, virtual classes can provide you with the same course material on a more flexible schedule. 

The Montessori Programs at Capital College are hybrid, meaning half the courses are completed online. Regarding your practicum, this curriculum prequirement must be done in person in BC. 

At Capital College, we expect students to attend classes regularly. Our student handbook states that you can miss a maximum of 20% of your classes. You may be required to take make-up classes or provide a note for “excused” absences. 

For more details about the curriculum and prerequisites for our ECE program, visit our website.