Pros and Cons of the Online Learning Experience

Blogger Scott Young is in the process of trying to complete MIT’s entire four year computer science program online in just twelve months. In his week ten video, he summarizes what he perceives to be the pros and cons of this online, self-directed learning approach:


  1. You set your own pace, experience better learning “flow”
  2. Way cheaper
  3. No bureaucracy to deal with
  4. Brings out your own intrinsic curiosity


  1. Hard to find complete curriculums online for many subjects, as opposed to just scattered courses. (Defeater: More and more learning resources are going online every day.)
  2. No direct access to help. (Defeater: There’s not necessarily much access to one-on-one help at many real-space universities. Also, some help is in fact available online in the form of forums, etc.)
  3. Few objective criteria available for evaluating yourself. (Defeater: People are working on this issue. Hopefully it will be a solvable problem in the near future.)

In the end, Scott Young comes out as overwhelmingly positive regarding his experience. The price differential alone is so enormous that one can easily overlook many of the minor drawbacks. In my case, I think the biggest thing I’d miss about not attending a university in person is the social experience. But I’d be perfectly willing to expend a tiny bit of effort and manufacture my own social experiences, if it meant not being saddled with crippling debt!

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