There is simply no escaping the fact that education has changed enormously since the arrival of the internet and in the most part for the better. Of course, it has been used to cheat, copy essays and lots of other less than ideal things but it has also given millions of teachers and students access to information as well as creating the world of E learning and EduTech. But is it all good news? Here are some of the positive aspects and negative points about this new wave of learning.
What is EduTech and E learning?
Essentially E learning is the overall term relating to any kind of course and learning platform that is online. EduTech is a term related to the specific technology involved in delivering this learning so this could include app and API development as well as voice recognition technology that could be used in online language learning for example.
The Advantages of E Learning
One of the big advantages is accessibility. Where once education was limited to people who could enrol in a school or collage and attend lessons it is now open to anyone with access to the internet. This is massively empowering for a huge range of groups from people with very low incomes, as well as people that work long hours to make ends meet who can’t attend daytime schooling. Its empowering to parents who want to re skill or upskill as well as people wishing to improve their language skills when living in another country through choice or otherwise.
E Learning also allows people to learn at their own pace and often this means they learn more and retain more. It eliminates people getting left behind because they simply stop and go back over things if they don’t understand.
There is also evidence to suggest that online learning allows for more collaboration because of the way students can feedback if they don’t like a lesson. In some e learning platforms there are collective forums and chat rooms where students can let teachers know if there are issues and these can be addressed thus helping future students.
The Disadvantages of E Learning
There is a potential problem with the quality of some of the e learning content out there. While the technology may be great if they content isn’t then the whole thing falls over. So there may be, in some cases, an unrealistic expectation on the part of the student about how much they will learn and improve. The focus is starting to be on value and accreditation rather than just volume.
While there are huge advantages to working alone and the collaborative nature of e learning there is also the simple fact that some people do not work as well like this. Commitment is a big issue and it is certainly very easy to stop e learning compared to quitting a collage course or school. Also some people really need the real time guidance of a teacher and this is where E learning can fall down.
While cheating goes on in all forms of education the ability to simply research a topic and submit answers and complete lessons is a big problem. However, it is important to appreciate the intent to cheat says more about the learner than the learning environment. If someone is willing to cheat, they will find a way or perhaps simply give up on the course if they cant get away with cheating. These people, for whatever reason, may not have ever been meant to do the course. So, cheating in any type of course hurts the learner. But does it devalue E learning? If it is rife and accreditations are given out to people who have learned very little, then yes. To combat this the E learning world is looking at ways to verify the person taking the tests are who they say they are and even being able to make sure during an exam they are not look at any other browsers or information.
E Learning is not going away and as with most things online the technology is only going to get better. More personalisation, more choice and more advanced ways to interact with teachers and other students. As the tech advances it will also make cheating harder, biometrics are likely to play a part. Will we see the end of traditional education? No, but we may see the two combine in many ways we haven’t even thought of yet.