Why Teach through E-Learning?

elearning[1]By Paul Silli
What are some of the reasons you would want to create or teach an eLearning program? There are many advantages and some disadvantages to eLearning.

Advantages of e-Learning

  • Anytime & Place: A participant can access the learning program at any time that is convenient -not just during the specific 1-3-hour period that is set for a conventional course. That means they can be anywhere to do the needed work.
  • Asynchronous Interactions: Unlike face-to-face or telephone conversations, electronic mail does not require participants to respond immediately. As a result, interactions can be more succinct and to-the-point, discussion can stay more on-track, and people can get a chance to craft their responses. This can lead to more thoughtful and creative conversations.
  • Ongoing Assessment Opportunities: Learning is checked everyday by activities and interactions among learners. You can easily see if students are learning through input.
  • Group Collaboration: Electronic messaging creates new opportunities for groups to work together, creating shared electronic conversations that can be thoughtful and more permanent than voice conversations.
  • New Educational Methods: Many new tools and programs like using Web 2.0 applications can offer innovative learning strategies that can become economically feasible through online courses. For instance, the technology makes it feasible to utilize faculty anywhere in the world and to put together faculty teams that include master teachers, researchers, scientists, and experienced professional developers. Approach is global and media rich.
  • Access to Vast Web Resources: Through instructor’s webliographies, del.icio.us and many search engines, the student has the unprecedented advantage of knowledge resources immediately available at the click of a button.
  • Integration of Computers: The online learner has access to a computer (hopefully), so computer applications can be used without excluding some participants. This means, for instance, that a mathematical model implemented in a spreadsheet can easily be incorporated into a lesson and downloaded so all participants can run, explore, and refine the model and then share their findings with others.
  • Lower Cost: The cost and budget needs are far lower than a traditional summer school program or office setting. This is because the cost to hire an instructor, allocate digital and Internet resources and maintenance are much lower to maintain. The instructor’s salary can be a bit lower, there is little to no insurance, security, paperwork, electricity bills, or support staff needed for an e-Learning program. Because the course is online, costs are greatly reduced.

Disadvantages 

  • Access to a Computer /Internet: Some learners may not have a computer or the needed computer skills with programs such as word processing, Internet browsers, and e-mail. Without these skills and software it is not possible for the learner to succeed in eLearning.
  • Comfort Levels: Another issue is e-Learners need to be very comfortable using a computer. Slow Internet connections or older computers may make accessing course materials difficult. This may cause the learners to get frustrated and give up. In many cases a students also needs an Internet connection and printer to do assigned work.
  • Self Motivation Issues: ELearning also requires time to complete work, especially those with assignments and interactive collaborations. This means students have to be highly motivated and responsible because all work performed is on their own. Learners with low motivation may not complete work on time or at all…
  • Isolation: One more disadvantage of e-learning is students may feel isolated or unsupported while learning. Instructors are not always available to help the learner so students need to have good discipline to work independently – without direct assistance. ELearners may become bored or overwhelmed because of the lack of  interactions that can take place within a course setting. 

What do you think? Is eLearning worth the fuss, or is it just a trend?

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17 Responses to “Why Teach through E-Learning?”

  1. Jony Beloe Says:

    Thanks for this. I needed some ideas for my grant proposal for my primary school in Ohio. You are great for doing this.

  2. gatorball Says:

    No prob. I am glad it was helpful. There are a lot of resouces about this topic online… 😉

  3. Jamie Walker Says:

    A refreshing overview of the basics.

    Even in a brief overview like this you begin to see the advantages of e-learning in a business or other organisational setting.

    A great starting point, or a good refresher for anyone feeling swamped by the volume of material available out there!

    I’m all for keeping e-learning accessible to those who are not experts in the field.

    Thanks.

    Jamie Walker
    Director
    Tertiary Education New Zealand.

  4. gatorball Says:

    Great input and wonderful comment. Thanks. 😉 wow! New Zealand. How’s the weather…?

  5. Jamie Walker Says:

    Cold! I’m in the southern end of the country . snow on the hills during the week – though they tell me winter is over…

  6. Why use elearning? The basics : Tertiary Education New Zealand Says:

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  7. Why use elearning? The basics. : Tertiary Education New Zealand Says:

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  8. Kathleen Says:

    I stumbled across your blog today and, so far, like what I see. Your reflections are thoughtful and useful as I consider whether or not to go ahead with developing an e-learning course in remedial writing for incoming college students.

    However, you said, “The instructor’s salary can be a bit lower…”

    Why?

    Does the computer hold graduate degrees? Does it have years of experience? Did the computer buy itself and its software? Does the computer pay for its Internet provider? Does it pay its own electricity bills? Did the computer take courses to learn how to develop e-learning lesson plans and design the website they’re on? Does the computer read and evaluate each student’s work? Give personal feedback, recommendations, and encouragement to each and every one? Does the computer evaluate its own effectiveness, tweak those lessons plans, make changes and improvements to keep each new wave of students engaged? Does the computer respond to student e-mails? Keep necessary records? Attend unpaid meetings? Turn in grades?

    Several years ago I was the first person hired by my local community college to be trained as an e-tutor of college writing across the curriculum. Two days later, another person was hired as well. Both of us were experienced face-to-face tutors and workshop facilitators at the writing center that initiated the online tutoring program. Within a few days of starting our online training, we realized that developers of the training program had grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to complete each training module. Where they had thought that each module could be completed in an hour or so (and we were paid on that premise), we found that each module and its sub-sets could take as much as five hours to complete!

    Supervisors made the same egregious assumptions about how long it would take to complete an average response to a single student’s paper, following the protocols (for reading, evaluation, feedback, giving examples, recommending pertinent tutorial websites, posing Socratic questions as well as adding “bells and whistles” like highlighted and colored text, smiley face gifs, call-outs, etc.) that they had laid down. Guessing that a response could be knocked out in 20 minutes, they offered us an extremely low rate for each response completed. In fact, each response took an average of one full hour, occasionally more. There was no way that $7.50 per response was acceptable. The enterprise would not have been worth our time and work (and would have been dead in the water) had they not caved in to pay us more.

    No other type of tutoring or teaching requires a 500+ word essay as a response. But, that’s exactly what asynchronous online tutoring does require. Each response has to be well thought out, well organized, focused, clearly written, and fully developed with enough details for the student to be able to work with the recommendations independently.

    No other type of tutoring or teaching requires expertise across the college curriculum. Biology professors evaluate biology papers. History professors evaluate history papers. Engineering professors evaluate engineering papers. Whether MLA. APA, or CSE reports, online tutors evaluate them all.

    I love technology, but I really hate it when others denigrate the myriad skills of those of us who use it. Pay less? I think not.

    I do hope you will reconsider that phrase…

  9. Kathleen Says:

    Hi. Did you receive my message of the 10th? Just curious.

  10. gatorball Says:

    Yes, Oh, and big thanks for the comments. I appreciate your input. I have worked in the Tech Industry and am a teacher who teaches IT in both the K12 and College level. Unfortunately, I have found many eLearning positions, especially in the K12 arena — are paid much less than they should. My sister-in-law makes less than $28,000 a year and she has a Masters Degree who is teaching in an wealthy Colorado district. Also, if a company is looking to cut-costs a eLearning dept and /or tech support personnel are the first to get let go. They are often considered important, but not a profit income based dept. area… I hope this changes. Believe me, I do not want to come off negative about the K12 eLearning industry, however, in the education field or corporate setting eLearning is simply a resource, not a vital part of the growth of many companies.

    • Kathleen Says:

      When you said, “but not a profit income based dept,” you hit the nail right on the head. As more and more drastic budget (and staff) cuts were made to the free tutoring center at my college, it got to a point where I was afraid they might close the center altogether. Did the smart thing and applied for a part-time adjunct position that I felt lucky to get in this economy. As the economy tanked, enrollment in the community college hit an all-time high, ensuring my continued employment as an adjunct for the time being. I love working in the classroom, but still keep my hand in online writing tutoring. Next step: getting ready for the funding that will be had for developing online courses. There are plenty of signs the college is headed in that market direction, and I’m hoping to take a workshop in Dreamweaver this semester. Gotta stay one step ahead. : )

  11. isaias a Says:

    well it sounds like eLearning is aneasier way to get education.Where do I sign up?!

    • Kathleen Says:

      I’m not sure that eLearning is “easier,” but it’s definitely more convenient. No schlepping out in all kinds of miserable weather; don’t even have to get dressed if you don’t want to. Best bet is to check out your college of choice to see what they’re offering in online courses. Some are optional; some are even required to be online. Some are fully online; others are partly online with two or three ftf meetings during the semester. Good luck!

  12. brenda t. Says:

    i think that elearning is better cause as it siad in the first line, anytime any where. And is better than going to place to go see a teacher talk.

  13. Nunu Says:

    I think e-learning allowing students to choose content and tools appropriate to their differing interests, needs, and skill levels….in other words, e-learning accommodates our preferences and needs so it is regaded as a student-centered…. And I can said that actually technology tools make collaboration among students much easier actually..that’s all. and All the best.

  14. Ludolf Schramm Says:

    Hi

    I’m writing a paper on e-learning and I’m having trouble finding some reasons (not pros and cons) on why people would prefer e-learning instead of normal class going. I was wondering if you could help tell me where I could find this out?

    Thanks

    Ludolf Schramm

    • Kathleen Says:

      Pros and cons ARE reasons. Have you considered Googling your question? As a professor, I’ll remind you to make sure that you properly cite your sources to avoid any appearance of plagiarism. You could also ask yourself the critical thinking question, “Why would I want to take an e-learning course or not?” Use your imagination. 🙂


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