Face to face vs remote learning: The best way to learn?

The move to remote learning during the pandemic was positioned as a necessary but unwanted alternative to traditional teaching methods. However, is face to face learning actually better, or have we stumbled upon a more effective way to help students learn? To find out, we’ve compared four common aspects of the learning styles and compiled our findings. Read on to discover which method comes out on top.

1. Flexible learning

If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us to be more flexible. We’ve had to change most aspects of our lives to fit with the changing regulations, including the way we learn. Online courses became more popular as educational bodies were forced to embrace remote learning and, with them, flexible learning opportunities grew. 

Since then, increased flexibility has become one of the most important aspects of learning for students. This is especially true in employee training and professional qualifications, which are often undertaken by busy professionals. Taking eLearning courses enables students to work in a way that suits them, without committing to specific time frames or locations. 

Plus, this added flexibility isn’t only a benefit for students. eLearning courses require less active time from teachers, as well as offering better scalability for course managers and assessment bodies.

2. Improved prospects

In both education and professional development, the opportunities unlocked by eLearning are an important factor. Students expect a course, remote or in person, to open new doors for them. These opportunities can be seen in a variety of ways, but some main ones include networking, experience and credibility.


It might seem as though traditional, in-person classrooms would offer more opportunities to network with like-minded people. This can be the case, and many can find meaningful professional relationships through in-person learning and training courses. However, that doesn’t mean that online learning methods are completely devoid of networking options.

In fact, eLearning software can also offer a wealth of networking opportunities. Platform scalability means that more people can take the same course, creating a greater pool of potential for networking. There are also often eLearning tools which enable communication between students, such as forums and chat functions.


For many students, the possibility of gaining real-world experience through their training content is a large benefit to studying. Of course, some can only be completed in person, such as practising medical procedures or other hands-on situations. However, there may be more opportunities using eLearning tools than you’d think.

For example, today’s workforce requires excellent computing skills, including specific software competencies and general digital understanding. Online learning can help students to increase their digital confidence by becoming more familiar with different online tools and software.


Historically, in-person learning has been seen as the more credible approach when compared to eLearning. However, the pandemic blurred the lines between the two formats, and many reputable institutions now offer online learning as an alternative. Having said this, there are still many online services which do not provide credible training or qualifications. That’s why it’s crucial that students are using trusted online sources that are endorsed by legitimate awarding bodies.

3. Individual learning

Traditional education has long been criticised for its lack of individuality. Everyone learns at the same rate, studies the same materials and takes the same test. But does this model provide the best learning environment for all students? 

Because online courses are available to study in your own time, students can also choose how quickly they complete their learning. This means taking more time on modules they find more challenging, and breeze through those which come naturally to them. Plus, online courses can present information in a variety of formats including video, text and interactive activities, optimising learning for a range of students. 
Overall, this can considerably streamline the learning process on an individual basis, making the course more engaging and motivating. And it seems to be working – research has shown that online courses are associated with higher retention rates than their in-person counterparts.

4. Progress tracking

In classroom-based courses, it can be difficult for students to know how they’re performing throughout the course. Tests tend to be completed at the end of a module or topic, and feedback is often centred around specific work. This can make it tricky to understand overall progress, especially when marks are weighted in a complicated way. 

However, most eLearning software options offer analytics that can help students understand their progression in clear, visual formats, making them aware of any potential issues as they occur. This can help to make the course more manageable for students, as they’re less likely to be surprised by a low mark at the end of a module. 

And it’s not just students that can benefit from analytics. Teachers can view them by class or by individual to understand who needs extra support, as well as gauging how well their class is doing overall. Plus, institutions can use this data to inform future courses, showing them what worked and what didn’t work in a particular module.

So, what’s the verdict?

It’s unlikely that traditional classroom teaching will disappear any time soon. However, the popularity of remote learning is growing and students are expecting more from their courses. Although online courses have much further to go, they already represent an exciting new era for education and offer a more flexible approach to learning that seems to resonate with today’s learners.

Do you want to find out whether your students could benefit from eLearning? Check out our dedicated eLearning webpage or get in touch to request a demo.