E-learning is a relatively new concept with many developing features. It has implemented new techniques and a new angle for teaching. The traditional format of teaching has been challenged by E-learning due to its completely different approach. Development in information technology, according to Yang and Arjomand (1999), has generated more choices for today’s education.” This means that the education system will undoubtedly improve tremendous amounts with the helping hand of technology. Higher learning institutions have also intertwined technology into their teaching and they see it as a necessity for progression. The tools and equipment that technology offers students is vital for them to excel in their specific grounds.

Algahatani expressed the 3 ways in which E-learning can be implemented. He spoke about the adjunct E-learning which is where technology is employed as an assistant rather than the sole provider of information. He also introduced the blended E-learning method where both digital and traditional methods of teaching are intertwined within each other. The final method is where E-learning is the only educational provider and the reliance on technology is total. 

E-learning has had a vast amount of impact in our community. Whether they be positive or in some cases negative it has shaped the way we view our Education system today.

Advantages of E-learning 

E-learning allows the recipient of information to be vastly flexible. The person can learn whenever they want and don’t have to stick to a routine. They don’t have to worry about missing classes or not being able to make lessons, they can simply choose to be taught something whenever they please. Another aspect of flexibility lies within being able to choose a place where they want to learn, the student can be taught in the realms of their own bedroom, the luxury!

In addition, E-learning is unlimited. There are an infinite number of sources and websites which a student can find and gather to access information. The limitless amount of material on the web means that the user has the whole world at their fingertips and any small detail they want to scope out can be tracked with ease.

Another great feature of E-learning is that it allows communication between peer to peer and also student to teacher. So, in fact you are taking a dehumanising process and using it to humanise society. The irony of this is that the internet helps people communicate. People with less confidence and social disorders feel comfortable on their devices. “E-learning motivates students to interact with other, as well as exchange and respect different point of views.” Furthermore, it allows the delivery of content to be pre-planned and executed more efficiently, thus meaning the message sent is understood more profoundly by its receiver.

It has become a lot cheaper to learn. E-learning is cost effective, this due to not needing to pay for tuition fees or even if you attend a public school, avoiding travel fees. It costs a large amount of money for the Government to build learning facilities, technology has the power to wipe this out due to its accessibility. It also compensates for lack of academic staff, E-learning facilitates for everyone and it means there isn’t a shortage of supplies or materials which could hinder a student’s progress.

Finally, E-learning focuses on the individual. There are many different learning styles which exist and when a teacher is with a class of 25+ students he can’t suit everyone. Without each student being taught in a specific manor which suits them, it may subsequently lead to students not progressing. This can be a serious issue and highlights the importance of ‘self-pacing’. E-learning allows the learner to suit themselves “increasing satisfaction and decreasing stress” therefore inevitably resulting in engagement and success.

Disadvantages of E-learning 

One of the issues with learning through an online format is that it allows room for disengagement from a topic, there is no support or physical guidance when working online. The audience have to be motivated and super independent to complete their work. One of the underlying reasons people need teachers is due to the direction they are offered and the motivation students receive in class. Remoteness is created and therefore students become disconnected quickly, E-learning clearly doesn’t work for everyone!

Another aspect of teaching which E-learning lacks is the development of communication skills acquired within social spaces and teaching institutions. Some people may be extremely tech literate and bright but they may not have the necessary social skills to transfer knowledge and information to others, meaning their skills go to waste. The ability to communicate and strive in social situations is extremely important, it is essential students are able to do so comfortably. An example of this is within Job interviews, employees will hire someone based on their character and the impression they give off.

Cheating is also a crucial feature which E-learning struggles to regulate, within the means of copy pasting and sticking to guidelines etc. Students can cut corners and cheat tests easily, there is no one monitoring your work online. This factor means students can bend the rules and it may also mean assessment will change in format.

A major downside of E-learning is that it doesn’t cover all subject areas. Not everyone can learn their content online. Many skills are acquired physically through personal interaction. The practical subjects such as Engineering and science are ignored, however there are online courses which teach these subjects but the material is not useful enough for the learner to become skilled. Also other subjects such as Medics rely on developing social and practical skills as these roles involve human interaction. “Researchers have argued that e-learning is more appropriate in social science and humanities than the fields such as medical science and engineering where there is the need to develop practical skills.

Written by Luc Coulson