11 Challenges of Online Learning for Students

Online learning may be the most innovative system of education that is favorable to students, but it does have some challenges.

Online education which was once rejected is fast becoming the most popular system of education as it has now been approved by most countries of the world. The online learning industry is currently valued at about 250 billion US dollars and is expected to reach 400 billion US dollars within the next 4 years.

This article will be focused on highlighting the challenges students face in online learning amidst all the advantages so as to get these issues addressed.

The 11 challenges of online learning for students

There are so many different challenges that students face in online education, here are the most widely acknowledges ones:

Inability to adapt

Many students who have received the traditional many years of their lives may find it difficult to participate in classes and listen to teachers over their computers. This set of students are already addicted to the classroom setting, so their brains refuse to adapt to the online environment.

Most students enjoy learning in the company of their classmates, but online learning cannot offer such an opportunity. Although so many online educators have made their attempts to solve this challenge through the digital connection of students, some students still find it peculiar to be in the physical company of other students.

Partial or Full Lack of Access to Tutors

In most online education settings, especially online certificate programs, students do have partial or no access to tutors, they only get to watch videos and read documents, this is one of the biggest challenges of online learning for students.

Denying students access to tutors or allowing them partial access will result in a poor learning rate among the students, which will cause an increase in the number of school dropouts, hence this practice ought to be stooped.

Excessive flexibility

This is another of the challenges of online education for students, some of the online schools and learning platforms only care about the money they make, so they let students take courses, certificate programs, and degree programs over a prolonged period.

In most cases students forget a majority of what they already learned in the program while they are yet to complete it, this is very common for students who were not practicing as they learned.

Suspicious or Hidden Fees

Some online education platforms and degree providers have leveraged the limited regulation of the online learning industry to swindle money off students, they do this by charging the students extra fees when they are halfway through courses and programs.

Although this situation rarely occurs, it has much negative impact on students whenever it occurs and is one of the challenges of online learning for students in some regions.

Unsuitable timing

Unsuitable timing is among the challenges of online learning for students because most online courses and degree programs are either available to students from all parts of the world or from many time zones.

When students enroll in an online program with tutors from different time zones, these tutors may fix classes during the daytime in their own time zones while the classes run at midnight in the students’ time zone.

Slow or Unstable Internet Connection

Having slow or unstable internet connections is also one of the challenges of online learning for students, especially students who reside in undeveloped and underdeveloped areas. I have also listed this as one of the disadvantages and advantages of online education.

The problem of slow or unstable internet connection for students causes frustrations among them and has a severe negative impact on their online learning experience as most online courses and program material involve live and pre-recorded video high-quality videos.

Disruption of Daily Routine

In many cases of online education, students’ daily routines are disrupted because of the timing. As I mentioned earlier online classes are scheduled without consideration for the varying time zones of students, this forces many students to change their daily routine and disrupts their sleep-wake patterns.

When students do not get enough sleep or meet their daily targets, it makes a negative impactive on them and is a challenge for the students on their online learning journey.

Computer Illiteracy

Computer illiteracy is one of the challenges of online learning for students, this problem may sound odd to people who live in urban and developed areas, but not those in rural areas.

Students in rural areas rarely have access to personal computers and don’t know the right way to operate them.

Computer illiteracy is common among students in underdeveloped and undeveloped regions of the world, this problem makes it impossible for them to learn online as they can not navigate the internet properly nor engage with online education platforms.


Distraction is a serious challenge to students in online learning, especially those with poor self-discipline.

This is because online education requires the use of computer devices, whenever students get on their computers to attend online classes, they are likely to be distracted by notifications from social media websites and applications, gaming applications, etc.

Through the poll we shared with students on Telegram, 11.7 percent of students said they are easily distracted by notifications while learning online and 70.6 percent of them said it has happened to them at least 3 times.

The Slow Rate of Teacher-student Communication

In most online education settings where there is the availability of tutors, students do not enjoy fast communication with their teachers because of the system in place.

Unlike the physical classroom where students ask their questions and get answers immediately, students only get to send text and voice messages.

Increased Cost on the Students’ Side

The increase in cost is one of the challenges of online learning for students. In online education, students are required to have access to high-performing computers and stable internet connections, these resources cost the students a lot of money.

Students leaving in first-tier countries get good laptops and stable internet connections at a cheap rate, but it is not so with their counterparts in the third-tier countries of the world.



As mentioned earlier, this article is focused on the challenges of online learning for students, but I do acknowledge that online learning has so many advantages which can not be overlooked.


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