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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