The Pros and Cons of Elearning
By Matt Brennan
Elearning is everywhere. It’s popping into K-12 curriculum, gaining prevalence in colleges and universities, and it is an increasingly popular way to learn job skills. It’s even a growing way to learn new personal development skills.
Simply put, elearning offers a way to access educational materials through technology, outside of a classroom. In K-12 it might be something as simple as taking home a device for the evening. In the college or professional environments, it entire curriculums may be found online.
Technology offers a wider access to materials and can turn education into a more convenient experience – one that can be accessed from anywhere. While it offers tremendous advantages, it’s not for everyone. There are pros and cons to this style of learning.
The Advantages of Elearning
- Improved Access – Institutions that offer elearning programs gain access to a larger number of students. Students in turn gain access to larger amounts of information, that can be accessed from nearly any physical location. Both sides gain a tremendous advantage because of this.
- Easy to Use – When the platform is easy for students to use, it can streamline the whole process and improve learning results. This is important when students pay a significant amount in tuition costs to participate in the course. It’s also important when a company is depending on their employees to learn valuable course information.
- Customization – Elearning courses can be tailored to fit the needs of the institution or the company. There is a certain amount of flexibility built in, to meet students’ needs. Students can learn at their own pace without having to worry about the technology itself becoming a distraction to learning.
- Lowering Costs – When elearning is taking place outside a classroom setting, the costs can be significantly lower. There are no textbook or equipment costs, unless you are providing the technology to learn on. This can be a tremendous advantage for companies offering an elearning program to thousands of employees.
The Disadvantages of Elearning
- Incompatible Learning Styles – For some people, the classroom setting is precisely what makes the material click in their minds. They may favor a more hands on approach, or at least benefit from a teacher who is present to explain the information. It may be harder for them to pick up the information based on what they read over a device screen.
- A Lack of Social Interaction – For some, the best part of school or work is being in a room of peers. It may be a difficult adjustment to learn solely from an online platform.
- No Team-Building Benefits – Whether students are part of an academic classroom or your company’s department, creating a learning environment is inherently a team-building exercise. Students and coworkers learn to interact with each other in a cohesive manner that works to the benefit of everyone. This component is missing from elearning, which is more isolated.
- It Requires Self Discipline – When required learning can be done from the comfort of your own home, it is mixed into a world that is full of distractions. Students may be tempted to move on to other activities instead of sticking with the coursework. For this reason, elearning requires a strong dose of self-discipline to stay on task.
Elearning platforms should be carefully thought out to factor in both the advantages and disadvantages of the medium. For instance, if the material is more engaging, it may be more likely to hold students’ attention.
Elearning programs can have a tremendous advantage, but make sure the nuances are carefully considered before the program is implemented.