Educational institutions worldwide have had no choice but to implement remote teaching through various digital platforms. While Government restrictions keep on fluctuating, it does not seem apparent when institutions will allow students to get back into lecture halls. Meanwhile, students are required to adopt to online learning and the use of digital e-learning platforms. A new world for tuition, lecturers and students alike. With anything new comes change, with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, which we explore below.
Advantages of e-learning
Access lectures from anywhere
Students can choose where they take their online classes, without having to travel to class daily. As long as they have a strong, reliable internet connection and a study area that they can focus in, they’re good to go. Additionally, virtual learning allows physically challenged individuals more freedom to participate in lectures.
Study at your pace, at anytime
The amazing thing about e-learning is that the virtual classroom is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If a student has missed a class, they can always access the student portal at any time of day or night, and those who may need to re-read a lecture or take more time to reflect on past material, are able to do so in their own time.
Students can engage in a dialogue with the lecturer in comments and spark a dialogue within the sessions, which encourages broader conversations that result in effective learning. Some students may even be more confidant to ask questions in this way, instead of in a lecture hall full of students.
Level playing field
In the online space, learners get to be anonymous. Therefore, discriminating factors such as physical appearance, gender, age or disability do not distract from the individual ability of each learner to contribute thoughtfully and intelligently to the lecture.
Access to learning resources
Lecturers compile study materials and resources that are relevant to each course’s topic and are made accessible on the student portal for students to use at their convenience. In this way, you will never be left behind the curve.
Disadvantages of e-learning
Access to technology
Access to technology can be an issue and a barrier, especially for eligible students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. More specifically if a student cannot access online classes and course material, due to a slow or weak internet connection, and suitable digital devices, they can quickly fall behind on their work.
Computer literacy can be a barrier, especially if either the student or lecturer does not have a strong grip of the digital world. Unnecessary time will be wasted on learning how things work than getting actual work done, especially when starting to use a e-learning platform that you’re not familiar with.
Student time management
Online education can be a great way of learning, especially for the self-disciplined student, but a bit of a struggle for those who have not yet mastered the time management skills needed to keep up with their course. Discipline is imperative when it comes to “distant learning”. Should you be battling to get yourself to sit down and work, then it may be best to find a study buddy, to encourage each other to focus and get through your course material.
The facilitator has to take it upon themselves to ensure that they are creative with how they deliver their curriculum, otherwise they can easily lose the attention of their students. If they are only dependent on giving instructions and not applying other online delivery methods, they’ll be fighting a losing battle.
Course, diploma or degree
Depending on the nature of your chosen tertiary education, certain curriculums can be challenging to execute online. Although high-quality education can still be successfully executed on the online platforms provided, it is carefully tweaked and customised to meet the medium. We are finding that certain classes are still taking place at a smaller scale to limit student interaction.
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