E-learning: The Advantages and Challenges
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The global COVID-19 pandemic has triggered new ways of conducting the teaching-learning process online. For some this has been a small move but for others, this is a completely new way of education. Most nations have already initiated e-learning in their schools. Many schools in India have also adapted to the new normal of e-learning with varying degrees of success. Many progressive schools had already done a lot for the adoption of technology in their schools, which helped in quickly transitioning to a completely online delivery of teaching during the current crisis and with significant success. A recent survey conducted by us showed that more than 92% of students and parents were happy with the online delivery of lessons.
With the advent of Covid19, e-learning seems to be one of the safest and easiest ways to impart education for acquiring new skills, explore new career options, or for that matter new hobby development. E-learning is now applicable not only to learn academics but also to conduct extra-curricular activities for students, informative online sessions, online conferences, and webinars. The demand for e-learning has risen significantly and will continue doing so as society starts adapting to ‘social distancing’ post this pandemic.
As with most teaching methods, e-learning also has its positives and negatives. Understanding these will help in creating strategies for more efficient delivery of the lessons and measuring its effectiveness.
Here are some, and in no way exhaustive, key pros and cons -
Efficiency – E-learning offers a very efficient way to deliver lessons. Use of videos, sharing of resource links, serving assessment tests can all be done at the click of a button. Additionally, the lectures can be recorded and shared for reference with a wide range of audiences. It also allows for a much larger set of children to be taught.
Affordability – E-learning is far more affordable as compared to physical learning. E-learning primarily eliminates 2 major cost points – real estate and transportation. The course or study material is all available online and you can access it as many times as you want.
Less absenteeism – There are fewer chances of students missing out on classes, as they can access easily anytime from the comfort of their home.
Increased Access & Reach – E-learning can happen in any place, as long as there is a device and connectivity. A physical class requires the student to come to school but in this mode, the student can access lessons sitting anywhere in the world.
Encourages shy kids – We have seen that many children who are usually withdrawn in a class environment, open up in the online classes. They are far more forthcoming with their questions and participation. This could be because of a comfortable home environment.
Not appropriate for all – It is a well-known fact that students have a dominant learning style. Some a visual, some auditory, some kinesthetic, etc. E-learning which requires a child to sit in front of a device and understand the lesson, may not be suited to all learning styles.
Focus Deficit – Some students tend to lose focus for a longer period during virtual lectures. Boredom occurs easily as there is a lack of face to face interaction. It becomes imperative for the teachers to keep their online sessions crisp and interactive enough to help students grasp everything.
Technology issues – While internet penetration has grown over the past 12 months in India, the current infrastructure, especially in smaller towns, can pose a problem. Any break in the data connectivity can cause a lack of continuity in the learning for the child, which can be detrimental. Additionally, if a child is technophobic, he may face difficulties in learning.
Lack of social interaction – Human beings learn a lot by simply being around other human beings. Unfortunately, e-learning takes away all physical interactions that students and teachers might have on the school premises. It’s always better for students to be around other students to talk or discuss ideas, which is an essential part of learning. Peer learning certainly takes a hit.
Teacher training – E-learning demands the teachers to be technology-friendly, which, unfortunately, is not the case always. Teachers need to invest more time in aligning themselves with the latest technology updates to ensure they can conduct their online classes seamlessly.
Manage Screen time – health hazards of staring at a screen continuously for hours
While all modes of learning have their benefits and drawbacks, after the current crisis, it is clear that some form of blended learning will evolve with e-learning forming a crucial part of the overall teaching-learning process.