Online Classes Can be Just as Effective as In-Class Programs. Here’s Why.

Monday 8 Apr 2019

Over the past few years, there has been intense debate about the effectiveness of online classes in comparison to in-class programs. Concerns, such as whether students in online classes acquire the same level of skills and knowledge as those in offline classes, has generated many research studies to answer these questions. The debate is still ongoing, but more and more research is reporting that online education can be just as, if not more, effective than in-class education!

For example, in a study done by MIT, researchers conducted a before-and-after analysis on students taking an online mechanics course and students taking the in-class course equivalent. They found that students in the online class learned more than the in-class students. In other studies, students in online classes have been found to “learn more and spend more time on tasks, are more engaged than traditional students, have higher achievements, and are performing better”.

So, what are some of the factors that make online learning effective?

1. Students Can Study at Their Own Pace

With an online curriculum, students can spend more time working on concepts they find challenging, and quickly work through easier content without having to follow a predetermined schedule. Another benefit is that because resources aren’t time-limited, students can access and repeatedly review material (e.g. readings, videos, other multimedia content, etc.) when they are ready to learn, and they can take their time with the material.

By allowing students to study at their own pace and providing them with the resources they need to succeed, students can take the time to ensure they thoroughly understand the content before moving on.

Image of a man using a laptop

2. Engaging and Interactive Multimedia Content

One of the many advantages of online learning is the variety of educational multimedia resources that are available, in comparison to offline classes where some of these formats might not be possible (e.g. computer simulation tools). Research has indicated that interactive learning environments such as virtual teams, games, problem solving/case studies, and labs are especially engaging and effective on digital platforms. By engaging students with a variety of educational tools, they are able to find which approaches work best for them, and are likelier to retain more content.

The simulation software in GBC Technical Training Certificate programs not only provides students with hands-on training, but also connects theory learning with practical applications, and provides an engaging and interactive experience to enhance learning retention.

3. Variety of Assessments

A common misconception about online classes is that they are easier to pass and require less work. However, this is not true, as schools have standardized learning outcomes that students are required to meet to be successful in the programs. This means that online class will usually have the same, or more, number of assessments as offline classes to ensure all students understand the program material.

Online assessments can have features that are unavailable to students in offline classes, such as immediate feedback and adaptive testing, and can be used to target different skills, such as problem-solving skills. Tests can also measure student growth over time based on their marks, and using analytics, can notify students if they are in danger of failing the program. Researchers have found that regular assignments and feedback are needed for success in online programs.

GBC Technical Training programs have an exam for each module to ensure students master the content, and results are immediately delivered via email for students to review and learn from their errors.

4. Student-to-Student Interactions

A study conducted on students in an online program indicated that students were able to improve their learning after online collaborative learning was implemented during the course of the program. “Online collaborative learning” referred to activities that encouraged active student conversation (posting and responding in the discussion board) about the course content and related topics, and provided students with the opportunity to connect, reiterate, and work through concepts together. Student success in this program was also attributed to the social supports that were developed from these conversations, which ultimately improved learning performance.


Online classes have been demonstrated to be just as effective as in-class programs, and students in online classes are learning just as effectively as in-class students. Online learning offers students opportunities to learn and engage with content in ways that aren’t available in offline classes, such as virtual games to 3D labs. As the population of online learners grows, it is important and reassuring to know that students in online classes are acquiring the same skills and knowledge as their in-class counterparts.

What do you think? Has your experience with online education been as effective as traditional in-class education?

If you have any questions about the programs or simulation software use in our technical training certificate programs, you can speak to a Program Consultant toll-free at 1 888-553-5333 or email us at

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