Technological tools has greatly changed the way people across the world live and have also changed the way people learn as well. Education sector has witnessed a unique change, given the changing demographics, changing industry expectations and a brave new world of youngsters who seek the power of knowledge in transforming their lives, with desires for distance learning. Classroom learning is effective, but not the only option in the present world. With Internet playing the great equalizer of our times, options like distance learning and self-pace learning programs are much more effective, than they were with offline option.
On the other hand, electronic learning, or e-learning, is education based on modern methods of communication including the computer and its networks, various audio-visual materials, search engines, electronic libraries, and websites, whether accomplished in the classroom or at a distance.
Hitherto, this type of education is delivered through the medium of the World Wide Web where the educational institution makes its programs and materials available on a special website in such a way that students are able to make use of them and interact with them with ease through closed or shared, networks, or the Internet, and through use of e-mail and online discussion forums. E-learning appeared in the early 1990s, with the first entirely online school and university courses. The student using the e-learning training option is able to access real time educational materials globally.
Let’s take a quick look at the definition of the phrase “electronic learning (E-learning)” before discussing its features, benefits and drawbacks. According to the Larousse Definition, “E-learning is defined as a learning method requiring the use of multimedia and providing access to interactive training on the Internet”. E-learning is the term used to describe all online, electronic learning, including academic and professional training. The media, however, can come in a variety of forms, including written texts, audio recordings, films, etc.
FEATURES OF E-LEARNING
The following are some of the major features of E-learning:
- Learning is self-paced and gives students a chance to speed up or slow down as necessary
- Learning is self-directed, allowing students to choose content and tools appropriate to their differing interests, needs, and skill levels
- Accommodates multiple learning styles using a variety of delivery methods.
- Designed around the learner
- Geographical barriers are eliminated, opening up broader education options
- Potentially lower costs for individuals needing training, and for the providers
- Fosters greater student interaction and collaboration
- Fosters greater student/instructor contact
- Enhances computer and Internet skills
- 24/7 accessibility makes scheduling easy and allows a greater number of people to attend and participates in classes.
- On-demand access means learning can happen precisely when needed
The benefits of E-Learning are quite numerous. However, we’ve compiled a summary of them to make it simple for you. So let’s take a look at these benefits;
- E-learning is flexible:- One of the biggest advantages of E-learning is that it is flexible. Everybody learns in different ways and from research, students tend to learn more effectively when it is convenient for them. It doesn’t have to be a set time every day or every week, which is a lifesaver if you have other priorities. With E-learning, learning is fun and productivity rate is high. Also with this learning option most students can easily sponsor themselves as they have the pace to reschedule their time which in turn enable them to study while working.
- Cost effective: – Online learning is usually cheaper than in-person learning and it also produces good results. With E-learning, there are no travel costs for Students and that of the teachers, no classroom costs, including all associated maintenance costs, etc. With E-learning, a limited number of teachers or facilitators and books are needed. Students can effectively provide instructional materials with ease since transportation cost to physical offline learning center or venue is no longer in the picture. Many online courses are very in-depth, because it’s easy for the teacher to share additional resources, materials and worksheets with students at no cost.
- Time saving :- E-learning reduces the amount of time needed to accomplish a task.
.Travel times are not applicable to students that are engage in E-learning. Interestingly, the hours that would have been use by the students to travel to different offline learning centers, are used more tangibly for their online studies. This of course enhances productivity since the energy that could have been used for travelling is now been used judiciously for the online study.
- Customized learning:- With e-learning it is possible for everyone to learn at his or her own pace. There are many students who become demotivated by either slow or fast pace of the classroom. With online education, one can easily fix this issue because there is free will which allowed one to learn at his or her own pace as well as take a day off when necessary. The teacher or trainer also have the option to moderate the course outline and also provide additional tailor-made help to suit the desire of the students.
- More fun learning:- Everything is becoming more digital and handling projects digitally is easier and fun. An online learning environment is more comfortable for young people than a traditional classroom settings. This is partially attributed to online learning systems been up to date with aesthetically pleasing design. Additionally, learning at the comfort of your home and having a better overall view of the learning platform makes E-learning more fun and enjoyable.
- Performance overview:- With E-learning it is much easier to keep a good track record and a perfect overview of the progress made while learning is taking place. It indicate clearly the learning methodology that is going well and areas that needs more attentions.
- More interaction:- People are generally less shy and more open online than they are in public settings. Because of this, people can participate more conveniently and with less embarrassment in an online setting. Therefore, more engagement is possible, which tend to improve the performance of the students.
- Current teaching material is easy to implement: – E-learning makes it much simpler to schedule webinars. Additionally, the online learning system makes it simple for teachers to give real time update and news. For instance, assignment and copies of worksheets can be distributed with ease. The teacher only needs to press a button to transmit this via electronic learning! Naturally, this saves time, which in turn saves money.
After all these advantages, one would wonder if there are any disadvantages to online learning at all. Taking a quick review, the following are some of the drawbacks when it comes to E-learning in the educational sector.
- E-Learning requires strong self-motivation and time management skills:- self–motivation and Time management are inter-related or, you can call it a smart choice for brilliant and excellent students. Lack of self-motivation among students continues to be one of the primary reasons why students fail to complete online courses. In traditional classrooms, there are numerous factors that constantly push students toward their learning goals. Face-to-face communication with trainers, peer-to-peer activities, and strict schedules all help keep the students from falling off track during their studies.
In the setting of an online learning environment, however, there are fewer external factors that push the students to perform well. In many cases, the students are left to fend for themselves during their learning activities, without anyone constantly urging them towards their learning Objectives and set goals.
- Limited online feedback:- personalized or Physical feedback has a positive impact on students, as it makes learning processes easier and more significant while raising the motivation levels of the students. However, E-Learning tends to struggle with student feedback. Students completing regular assessments become dissatisfied when they experience a lack of personalized feedback. The traditional methods of providing student feedback don’t always work in an E-Learning environment, and because of this, online education providers are forced to look towards alternative methods for providing feedback such as the use of online communication forum.
- Self-discipline required:- If you are using the online training or learning platform you have to discipline yourself to be able to achieve your learning objectives and set goals. It is worth to note that there is no teacher to push you around. It is therefore important that you are enthusiastic enough about your studies, so that you will easily find enough motivation to put in the study hours every day.
4) Lack of Peer-to peer Interaction:- Another disadvantage of online learning may be that you do not always have personal interactions with your teacher or fellow students. However, this can be filled through forums or other communication options that you will find in your online learning system (LMS).
5) Working independently:- The basis of online learning is that you work independently. This can be a problem for some students because they might need the supervision and guidance of a teacher which is not applicable to online classes. However, for other students E-learning is a plus, because they can go through the learning materials at their convenient.
E-Learning can be considered as one of the best strategies to be adopted for teaching and learning because it has the potential to improve and even revolutionize teaching and learning. With E-learning one can acquire the right knowledgeable skills, at the right time as well as been acquainted with real time information. E-learning save time, cost less and make learning fun. Any disadvantages associated with online learning can easily be eliminated by taking the right precautions.