What is e-learning
E-learning (or electronic learning) is a form of education or learning using digital resources. Although e-learning is based on formalized learning, it is provided through electronic devices such as computers, tablets and even cell phones that are connected to the internet. This trend of e-learning has been growing over the past few years with advancements in technology. Moreover, as people grow more accustomed to the internet and various digital resources, they realise the benefits of e-learning and become more conducive towards its use.
There are plenty of e-learning systems (also known as Learning Management Systems, or LMSs) and methods, which allow for courses to be taught and learning material to be shared. With the right tool, various teaching processes can be automated, such as courses with pre-decided materials and tests and assignments that are marked automatically. Online learning is an affordable (and sometimes free) solution which provides students with the ability to fit learning around their daily routines, allowing for flexible schedules and efficient results.
COVID 19 – A blessing for e-learning platforms
The biggest jump towards eLearning was brought about by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic across the globe. As educational institutes closed due to a worldwide lockdown, institutes were forced to shift to online teaching methodologies, with e-learning tools such as video call softwares like Zoom booming in business. Furthermore, resources such as Coursera and Google Academy became more relevant and accessible to the wider public, with people turning towards learning new things online to make their time at home more productive. While many difficulties were faced initially, people are starting to get used to this new methodology of imparting education, even with its drawbacks. However, there are clear benefits of these tools as well.
Benefits of e-learning
There are plenty of benefits associated with e-learning. A few of these advantages are listed below:
E-learning is a very convenient alternative to physical learning due to the ease felt by the learner. These tools can be accessed and taken advantage of from anywhere in the world with internet access and electronic tools to access them.
E-learning tools are accessible to anyone with internet access or a computer/laptop. This accessibility makes it available to the wider public, without any locational limitations.
This is for both students and teachers, but there is a good chance that whatever your role you had to pay exorbitant amounts of money at some point to acquire updated versions of textbooks for school or college. While textbooks often become obsolete after a certain period of time, the need to constantly acquire new editions is not present in e-learning, as all resources are available online, without the added physical burden of carrying around heavy bags full of books.
Drawbacks of e-learning
It is important to note that e-learning is not completely flawless. There are certain drawbacks to it as well, such as:
- Lack of physical interaction
Many students feel that physical interaction with their teachers makes for better learning. Physical classes in general are more interactive, with a better connection and bond forming between teacher and student as they can communicate more efficiently (without the connectivity issues e-learning may bring, for one).
- Academic dishonesty
With education shifting online, students have started cheating and finding shortcuts towards better grades. While this will be harmful for the students themselves in the long run, this is still a very prevalent problem with online education as students cheat using online resources or have others do their work.
- Lack of accessibility to remote areas
The problem with e-learning is that the tools required to impart this learning like the internet are not widely accessible in rural areas.
Future of e-learning
The future of e-learning seems bright, especially since COVID 19 has forced people’s hand to an extent. With many benefits, it could be very soon that we see e-learning not as an option but as a necessity.