Organizations of every type have to come to terms with the coronavirus reality quickly. Social distancing and stay at home advisories meant most students didn’t go back to class after their spring break. This forced teachers, administrators, and students to start adopting solutions that allow them to attend classes using e-learning tools.
What is E-Learning?
The rise of e-learning over the last two decades was depended on technological developments. The cost of computers, development of CD-ROMs, and widespread adoption of the World Wide Web all enabled e-learning platforms and solutions to enhance educational services. Institutions utilized electronic technologies to provide access to academic curriculums via online platforms.
With advances in technology, teachers could interact with students who couldn’t attend classes due to illness or other reasons. This same reality now applies to most students around the country as education adapts to the coronavirus pandemic.
How is E-Learning Different from the Classroom?
The biggest difference between the two models is social interaction. The classroom usually consists of an instructor and a group of students following the lecture. In the past, e-learning was distinct in this regard by letting students access lectures individually from an online service. They could set their own pace, conduct their own research, and request additional clarifications from instructors on an ad-hoc basis.
The e-learning industry was on its own development path until the COVID-19 virus appeared. It forced institutions of all types to reconsider their approach to e-learning. The term e-learning now broadly refers to a variety of experiments conducted by educators to limit the academic disruption the pandemic is causing to their students.
Technological Challenges for E-Learning Initiatives
Some teachers were already using online tools to improve their students’ educational experience. This makes them better prepared to deal with the current situation. For others, it’s a brave new world where teachers are also learning how to provide lectures using e-learning solutions.
The technological challenges facing educators include:
- Students having access to high-speed internet.
- Access to devices on which students can do their assignments.
- Ensuring student data privacy while they study online.
- Document management and secure online storage solutions for assignments.
Additionally, teachers also need resources that help them develop lectures and provide lessons to students that remain engaging. The Department of Education in Ohio provides a variety of resources for remote learning on their website to help educators overcome the challenges during the pandemic.
Benefits and Disadvantageous of E-Learning
Although educators have little choice in the matter during this pandemic, most analysts agree that approaches to education will change permanently. Institutions tended to view e-learning solutions as a convenience instead of a necessity in the past. That view will no longer be acceptable. Being able to switch between the two modes or having an educational contingency plan will become more important for institutions in the future.
Benefits of E-Learning for Students
As institutions try to navigate the new reality, it’s important to remember that e-learning can be beneficial to students. Since the technologies that enabled remote learning became available, various studies sought to quantify the effects of e-learning for academic performance and retaining educational information.
As far back as 2010, the U.S. Department of Education found that online learning increased the performance of students, especially those at the college level. It’s safe to say that the quality of the experience, the academic levels involved, and the student’s home environment all play a role in how well they perform when having to resort to e-learning for education.
Some of the less obvious benefits of e-learning solutions include:
- If done correctly, e-learning can be an efficient alternative to in-person education.
- Institutions who invest in e-learning solutions usually get a greater ROI with reduced costs.
- The convenience of e-learning may improve information retention in students.
- E-learning reduces carbon emissions, making it a greener way to learn.
Disadvantageous of E-Learning
One of the main challenges for e-learning in the past was cultural resistance. While administrators and educators can no longer make their decisions based on an opinion, there are still some disadvantages that they will need to know about and attempt to overcome.
The main disadvantages of e-learning are:
- Students need an environment where they can remain disciplined about their studies.
- There will be IT barriers that some students will need to overcome.
- Peer-to-peer engagement drops when there’s less direct social interaction between students.
- May require more effort from teachers to engage with students on an individual level.
How Education Should Adapt and Overcome the E-Learning Challenges with Technology
For education to adapt to the new normal, it will require institutions to adopt new technologies quickly. At Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises, we work with academic institutions to leverage digital solutions and streamline educational workflows. Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises provides Managed IT Services, Managed Print Services, and business productivity tools that can help today’s educators provide a quality school-at-home experience.
To discuss our range of products that help improve a school’s e-learning capabilities, contact Donnellon McCarthy Enterprises today.