E-learning - Bridging the strengths and limitations
“The most important principle for designing lively e-learning is to see e-learning design not as information design but as designing an experience.” - Cathy Moore
What is E-learning?
The letter “E” stands for electronic and the word “learning” means the process of acquiring new information, understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, etc. So, E-learning can be defined as the medium of acquiring education through electronic technology.
E-learning uses electronic technology like; computer hardware and software to facilitate the acquirement of knowledge or skills.
Computer hardware may include; a desktop computer, a laptop, a smartphone, an iTouch, an iPad, an MP3 player, a microphone, speakers, audio headset, earphones, a printer, a scanner, etc.
Computer software may include; Operating systems (MS-Windows, Ubuntu, Mac OS, etc.), Microsoft Office Pack (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), Adobe Acrobat (PDF file reader), Windows Media Player, etc.)
Strengths of E-learning
How does e-learning break barriers?
Since students from one hemisphere can get lessons from instructors from another hemisphere through the internet, e-learning has broken all the geographical and political barriers for learners and explorers.
For example, one of my friends, Sushil Chaudhary, who is a life strategist & a transformational speaker, currently living in Dallas, Texas, gives free online sessions on topics like; leadership, health, and language to people of the rural tarai area of Nepal. Mr. Chaudhary shares his learnings, observations, and experience of the USA with rural people, and inspires them to live a better and more fulfilling life. Through the internet (e-learning) he has broken the geographical and political barriers and has been sharing knowledge regularly on weekly basis.
Additionally, students, today can learn through audio files, real video files, and animated video files, and are not limited to a figure or image in a hardcover book.
A few free audiobooks websites are;
https://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks is one of the best cultural and educational audiobook media websites.
https://www.digitalbook.io/ is a multi-language website for audiobooks.
https://librivox.org/ is one of the biggest free pubic audiobook domains.
https://www.overdrive.com/ is an award-winning learning app.
Best Video classes
A few educational video resources are;
https://www.youtube.com/c/LearnNepaliwithBarsha is a popular Nepali language learning channel.
https://www.youtube.com/c/EnglishClass101 is one of the best English language learning channels.
https://www.youtube.com/c/BobRossIncVideos is the channel for you if you want to learn art and painting.
https://www.youtube.com/c/ProfessorDaveExplains is a great channel for learning Mathematics.
https://www.youtube.com/c/AumSum is a fantastic channel full of animated video lessons about Science.
Ways E-learning Save Time
With the facilitation of e-learning, students can enroll in short-term courses or enroll in long-term courses at times and intervals of their convenience. Through the use of recording and storing devices, the content in texts, audio files, and video files can be reused and shared easily. The internet provides real-time access to Live classes at scheduled dates and times. All of these have expanded our learning horizon and saved tons of hours.
Ways E-learning Saves Money
To attend an e-learning class, there is no need to travel to and from the institutions. It saves money of both those who travel via public transportation or on their private vehicle. In an e-learning class, there is less or no use of hardcover books, notebooks, pens, and pencils. With a one-time investment on a laptop, students can access an infinite number of e-books, and use software like Microsoft word can minimize expenses of academic supplies, accessories, and stationeries. Online courses are much cheaper compared to physical classes because institutions include expenses on building and staff in the tuition fees of physical classes.
Limitations of E-learning
How does e-learning limit learning?
Unlike physical class, in an e-learning class, students’ social interaction is limited for now (2022). Knowledge is not just about collecting information. It is a social science where students learn through interacting with other people in a social setting which teach them real-life communication skills and how to appreciate relationships in everyday life. E-learning cannot teach non-verbal communication which involves communication through the use of gestures, and body movements.
Feedback to students is limited
In a physical classroom, teachers can give students immediate face-to-face feedback. Students who are experiencing challenges in understanding course content can immediately ask questions during their class. In this environment, teachers can provide personalized feedback which has a positive impact on students. This makes the learning process interactive and meaningful.
By contrast, the process of e-learning can be full of challenges. Proper interaction can be possible only if the internet signal is strong at both ends. Even if the internet signal is strong and the live video class goes smoothly, it can never substitute the physical presence of a teacher.
E-Learning requires strong self-motivation
In a physical class, several factors motivate students to keep learning. A few motivational factors are direct communication with teachers, group work/projects, and peer influence.
In e-learning, the degree of these kinds of motivation is less which results in a lack of attention. For example, one of my neighbor’s daughters feels sleepy during online class because there are 20 plus students in her class and the teachers cannot monitor all of them at once and give attention. Additionally, the degree of communication and discussion among friends is limited.
Cheating during online exams
One of the biggest disadvantages of e-learning is that students can cheat in exams through different methods. Even if the camera is on during the exam, the camera frame does not cover everything. Students keep resources in blind spots and easily cheat.
Additionally, if the identity verification system is not strong enough, students giving the online examination may be able to let a third party give the whole test for them.
Bridging the strengths and limitations
Development is an ongoing process and no matter how advanced humans or technology become, there shall always be an infinity to discover and explore.
E-learning has broken the geographical and political barriers, and people from thousands of miles away can share knowledge yet there is always a crucial need of the physical presence of teachers and students.
Free and inexpensive PDF, audio, video, and web resources are available, yet people still love the smell and touch of a hardcover book.
Typing with auto-correction has made preparing documents easy yet the essence of calligraphy must be realized.
E-learning has saved time and money, but everything good has a price and everything best is priceless.
Physical interaction is important for social learning yet e-learning has given us access to teachers and resources which otherwise would not have been possible.
Direct communication and peer influence are significant in the learning process, but it must be understood that e-learning gives us the power to become independent.
Cheating in online exams is easy but learning is a choice and if students are true to themselves, they will use e-learning for self-growth and exploration.
So, the limitations of e-learning must be gracefully accepted as a mystery to unlock through innovations and creativity, thus gradually achieving new milestones in the field of education.