Technology has taken over our lives like never before. Rapidly spreading low cost internet technology enables and ensures that Online learning influences students’ life for good. The learning process is now more effective and reachable among all locations and all ages. A sudden shift from the classroom in many parts of the globe during these pandemic times has brought a drastic change in the Indian education market.
According to the World Economic Forum, the overall market for online education is projected to reach $350 Billion by 2025. Many are already touting the benefits of online learning methods. The changing ways allow institutes and teachers to reach out to many students in more effective ways. The chat groups, video meetings, document sharing methods look much easier to communicate.
In fact, e-learning was majorly restricted to academics in pre-covid times but the enormous swing has now started to possess extra-curricular activities too. Informative sessions, online conferences, and webinars are a few examples.
In the last few years, e-learning is particularly being applied and encouraged for vocational pieces of training as there are traveling and accommodation costs that apprentice and employers are able to save via this podium. So there is greater flexibility and lower costs that e-learning could provide.
Like in the case of all the teaching methods, e-learning also has its advantages and disadvantages. Here is a bit of research on positives and negatives of e-learning so that one may be able to measure its effectiveness and suitability.
Benefits of Online Education:
E-learning is much affordable than physical learning majorly due to the cost benefits by way of invalidation in real estate, study material, and transportation costs. The material is also available online for access as many times as you want.
Businesses and apprentices find value through this mode of education. Now we see an ever increasing competitive workforce that is continuously learning and improving. E-learning very efficiently takes care of the knowledge management components producing more and more learning individuals and companies. This has not just benefitted the knowledge seekers but their employers also in many ways.
E-learning fits well with the needs of those individuals who could not enter higher education due to personal or academic reasons. They get access to education while still taking care of their personal and family responsibilities.
E-learning more effectively allows the social construction of knowledge through tools like online discussion forums, reflection, and dialogues over topics at different times and locations. The link between theories and technology facilitates a better learning experience. This is precisely what is required in a knowledge based economy.
Compared to a conventional education system, distant e-learning can provide quality education to large number of students. This makes lower unit costs possible letting the institutes distribute this benefits to its students and assembling a reasonable educational cost.
For a sparsely located area, it is not feasibly possible to provide training opportunities through traditional training methods. E-learning proves to be on the mend at such locations. Till the time there is a device and connectivity this mode can get accessibility to students sitting anywhere in the world.
Every learner has individual learning goals. This platform allows learners to choose their learning path and pace. While still being invested in the course, learners can decide what to learn and when.
Challenges of Online Education
However, there has been a range of arguments about the rapid development of e-learning in recent times. There can be very varied and contradictory arguments for each one of the above points depending upon the perspective of individuals. Some very common arguments against e-learning are the dipping student engagements and monotonous learning experience online.
This is a very young universe and being new, e-Learning is vulnerable to many challenges. What are these e-Learning challenges and how can e-Learning be made more productive and engaging.
Less Motivation in Classroom
E-learning requires a lot of self-motivation among students. This is one important factor for which students fail to complete online courses. On the other hand, face-to-face regular communications in the conventional form of learning, peer-to-peer activities, and schedules keep the students on track during their sessions.
Lack of Accreditation & Quality Assurance in Online Education
If E-Learning was considered as effective, all online schools would have been qualified and accredited. Unfortunately, a lot of online learning platforms are still unaccredited, the materials are not quality checked and the quality assurance is not there. This has actually weakened the legitimacy of online education.
Inaccessibility to Computer Illiterate People
The computer literacy rates are still far from good. A major chunk of the population still struggles to appropriately use computer devices making it difficult for them to access. In parts of the world that are still underdeveloped, the situation is often direr. Our country, for example, is one of the major players in the world of E-Learning, but there is a large gap in computer literacy in the population. This makes many people believe that online learning is an addition and not a replacement for traditional education.
Since all the disciplines are not created equal and some can be easy but others difficult to grasp, e-leaning cannot be applied successfully to all the education fields. In today’s scenario, E-Learning tends to be less suitable for scientific fields like medical science and engineering; while it can be conveniently applied to social sciences and humanities. It does not also reimburse for real-life industrial training for engineers.
Lack of Face to Face Communication
Lack of upfront communication with the instructor hinders student feedback. There is a lack of pressure that primes the reasons for the abandonment of courses by the students. Nudging by professors may seem undesired but is one effective method for student retention.
No Emphasis on Practice
Online instructions are based more on theories than practices. Although this can be fixed by more inventive methods of teaching, still a large part of E-Learning focuses on developing theoretical knowledge.
Poor Student Engagements
Not all the students are as committed. Many get distracted and busy very easily because at our age we have access to much more information than what we can consume. This brings in a lot of hurdles and there is poor engagement. Online learning brings up more challenges when compared to a traditional classroom in terms of engagement because students are detached from their instructors.
So there have to be proper measures to prevent feelings of isolation and keep them motivated. Online teachers must be more alert about maintaining the same levels of engagement and may need to use many more tools in their classrooms for good involvement from students.
E-learning is a fast-growing industry and will change the education system radically. There are ever-growing enrolments in evidence of the bright progress of this arena. Failures of e-learning however have temporarily, overshadowed the prospects of this field. But the fact that E-learning is super beneficial for many students cannot be denied and, especially in this COVID-19 pandemic situation.
At present, it may be correct to say that e-learning continues to grow in scale but it is also reflective of the poor utility of this economy. So far it does not seem to be a sustainable alternative to classrooms due to its infant stage. Also, it is largely used as a supplement and there needs to be a lot of improvement in terms of costs, faculty time, competition, and learning models. Although online learning has several challenges to address these limitations can be overcome gradually by the upgrade
Therefore it can be concluded that online learning is beneficial to the students, tutors, and the institution and can be implemented in all learning institutions but research must be carried out on how to improve this learning process.