E-learning: The Silver Bullet that Can Miss the Target

Have you noticed the similarity between the promise of e-learning and the promises made in advertising?

Much like the advocates of e-learning, advertising sells us on the benefits of a product. For example, did you have a bad night’s sleep last night? Lack of sleep could lead to poor grades, drowsiness while driving, decreased social activity, and inattentiveness at work, which could put your career at risk. The solution is buying the sleep-e-z pillow for only $29.99

Much the same way, e-learning was touted to be the cure-all for the ills of education.

E-learning has not provided learners, teachers, and society with the answer we all so desperately hoped it would. There are number of valid reasons this didn’t happen:

  1. Not all learners have the mental ability to concentrate on a YouTube lecture. Many professors are not entertaining enough to warrant their own three-hour weekly TV show for 12 to 14 hours. Students are not engaged and quickly lose interested with watching a talking head.
  2. Sometimes the technological learning curve inhibits the learner from concentrating on the course material. As teachers, we are familiar with using an LMS, such as Blackboard, but for some students, the LMS is a foreign territory and they desperately need a tour guide. Entering into e-rooms with other students may be new to them, as is knowing how to upload documents, where to find assignments, and how to navigate through the threads on forums.
  3. Some educators may need to be brought up to date with simple technologies because there is no impetus for them to learn and use technology – until they are told to re-create their course in an online environment. Some educators simply find technology beyond basic MS Office functions or posting grades on the LMS to be a challenge. Teachers need to learn how to use the technology that their students use and be able and ready to help students through the LMS.
  4. Both educators and educational institutions must realize that creating engaging e-lessons means re-creating in-class curriculum. E-learning material and lesson plans are not simply the transfer of in-class materials onto the LMS. Time, effort, and planning are required to ensure that students can learn in a variety of learning styles, which means more than one teaching style must be used. Variety in e-learning is important to learners because they are isolated and use only one form of communications – the computer.

E-learning may not be the panacea that learners and teachers hoped for, but, as with many other educational tools, it can be used to augment in-class education, and also be of use to learners who are disciplined and focused.

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