Electronic Education: Advantages and Disadvantages

In today’s society, the use of technology in pedagogy has become an inescapable practice. Modern educational systems are characterized by the use of supplemental electronic devices to deliver instruction. It is no doubt that technological tools assist instructors in accelerating the understanding of concepts amongst learners. A study that was conducted amongst adults in the United States indicated that at least 58% owned a smartphone, 42% had tablets while 32% possessed e-readers. These data implied that even adults were quickly adapting to modern technologies that underpin electronic education or e-learning. Numerous studies have also shown that the use of tablets, apps, and interactive whiteboards in pedagogy motivates students to learn. Indeed, most teachers feel that technology enhances self-esteem amongst learners, which motivates them to attend school. Besides, electronic education provides students with an opportunity to learn at their pace. Nevertheless, various disadvantages arise from the use of electronic devices to deliver instruction. These drawbacks include increased technology dependency, material incompatibility, costliness, the inconsistency of content, and reduced teacher-student interactions among others. This research paper delves into the causes and effects of electronic education. It seeks to explore a problem-solving ethical strategy that can be used to resolve the detriments of technological education.

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Identification of the Problem

The impact of technological resources on education has continuously created new challenges for both instructors and learners in the last decade. The instructional process in an e-learning environment is conducted differently from the old-fashioned classroom situation (Bishop et al. 1362). These changes are rapidly posing new-fangled encounters to teachers and students. To understand the challenges that come with the adoption of eLearning, it is important to define what electronic education implies. Archambault defines electronic education as an instructional process that uses technological means to pass information to the learner (14). Successful implementation of electronic education must take into consideration various challenges that are faced by instructors and learners. Thus both the role of teacher and learner should be carefully transferred from the traditional setting to virtual space to preserve the essence of pedagogy.

Advantages of Electronic Education

Learning is an everyday activity that is influenced by both working and personal lives. It can be meant for accomplishing academic or career goals. The advent of the online learning environment provided a boundless opportunity for learning. As a result, electronic education is highly practiced in modern schools. Because of its simplicity and comfortable way of transferring knowledge in almost every academic field, many outmoded universities began offering free online courses (Jeong 390). Although many people still believe that old-style pedagogical methods are the best ways to deliver instruction, eLearning has proven to be a better alternative in several ways. However, it is worth noting that the most significant advantages of electronic education revolve around the capability of computers and smartphones to reduce time wastage, efforts, and cost.

At the outset, electronic education brings about flexibility. Learning in an online environment can be accomplished in shorter durations as compared to in-house training; hence, it can fit around daily programs. Therefore, students do not have to dedicate a whole day to the classroom environment (Arkorful and Abaidoo 29). Content is classified into modules that allow students to learn within a specified timeframe while focusing on specialized topics.

Also, eLearning enhances communication between students and teachers. Online discussion forums, chat rooms, and e-mails play an important role in passing information to groups. According to Gibson and Gibb, these tools boost motivation among students prompting them to react positively to learning (303). Students are in a position to share different viewpoints on discussion forums and chat rooms. This exchange of information enhances the learning process since students can use the opinions and suggestions of others to synthesize and integrate new ideas into their understanding of concepts (Gibson and Gibb 303; Arkorful and Abaidoo 30).

Furthermore, this form of learning ensures minimal traveling. Electronic education is facilitated by computers and smartphones among other devices that support online learning environments. Thus, it can take place at any time without a need for movement provided the learner has the appropriate technological devices and access to the internet (Arkorful and Abaidoo 31). Since eLearning can be accomplished alongside one’s daily programs, it saves money on the costs incurred while moving to and fro the classroom, especially in cases where the student has to travel. Where institutions source external courses, eLearning prevents them from incurring extra costs as the content is shared online. For instance, Hamilton Health Sciences, an affiliated college of McMaster University, established an electronic system that allows doctors to access pertinent medical information using personal computers and/or smartphones wherever they are outside their stations. Indeed, many companies today have adopted “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies to enhance information transfer amongst employers (Gibson and Gibb 306).

eLearning also promotes equality among students. The technological tools involved in the instructional process give students equal chances to express their viewpoints freely without the fear of being distraught or discomfited (Arkorful and Abaidoo 31). In outmoded teaching practices, various personal factors such as shyness or language affect the learner’s reaction to academic questions. Electronic education takes away anxiety and boots self-esteem since the learner does not deal with the instructor directly. Particularly, this feature is vital for those learners who experience fear and anxiety while searching for facts or presenting their ideas. Thus, eLearning provides an alternative way of searching for information and articulating views more effectively.

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Moreover, eLearning provides instructors with helpful teaching and learning tools that are available timelessly. In this scenario, both learners and teachers are in a position to exchange information outside the normal classroom environment (Arkorful and Abaidoo 35). In cases where some students prefer visible methods, electronic education platforms allow the lecturer to record content and present it to them via online video channels such as YouTube. Learners can also post questions about challenging subject areas on chat rooms or discussion forums, provoking diverse viewpoints from both the instructor and fellow students.

Electronic education reduces the cost of learning. There is less usage of an instructor’s time and no special equipment or space is needed for the delivery of content. Learning takes place provided both the teacher and learner possess personal computers or smartphones that can access the internet (Arkorful and Abaidoo 32). Since knowledge acquisition is also encouraged in the workplace, companies at advantage as electronic education reduces the cost per head of offering special training to employees. The range of technologies used in electronic education offers a variety of ways that are used to assess the learner’s progress. For instance, direct evaluation methods enable instructors to sort information and assess learner’s assignments quickly and efficiently. This approach saves time for the teacher, which can be used in other administrative activities that support learning.

Last but not least, eLearning is a student-centered approach. Courses offered in online platforms are not confined to the needs of the majority as seen in traditional modes of training (Arkorful and Abaidoo 33). A student who feels that he or she understands a specific area can either skip or skim over it and spent more time on areas that need additional research and synthesis of information. Students are also allowed to learn at their pace. However, eLearning comes with various drawbacks.

Disadvantages of Electronic Education

Despite the above pros of eLearning, the detriments that come with this mode of pedagogy cannot be undermined as they have varying effects on the instructional process. At the outset, there is a lack of control. Students with low self-esteem and motivation lag behind others since there is no specific time of learning (Arkorful and Abaidoo 32). The absence of routine lessons as seen in traditional instructional environments poses a challenge to students who are poor time managers.

Also, some electronic education is not appealing to every learner. For instance, powerful activists and pragmatists prefer traditional modes of instruction where they can challenge viewpoints one-to-one (Arkorful and Abaidoo 32). As a result, eLearning poses a challenge to these groups as they hit the books well using other styles of instruction. While some learners can be good at reading content online, others are comfortable with direct lectures offered in a classroom environment.

Another disadvantage of electronic education is that it subdues learner’s abilities. According to Jeong, communication between the teacher and student is paramount to the effective delivery of instruction (399). For instance, some learners require more time to understand content than others. Therefore, eLearning distances the instructor who is endowed with the ability to explain content explicitly to the student. Electronic education puts aside the acquisition of verbal skills; hence, it lessens the phonetic capabilities of the learners.

eLearning weakens social interactions as the student spends more time with electronic machines than with the teacher. Although social media, chat rooms, and discussion forums create an opportunity for connecting with many people at a glance, the human factor is omitted as it is absent in personal computers and smartphones. This aspect delimits social learning that is practiced in traditional modes of learning. However, these disadvantages can be addressed by several strategies that can leverage eLearning in both schools and work environments.

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Problem- Solving Ethical Strategy that should be followed to resolve the Detriments of Electronic Education

It is irrefutable that electronic education has become an inescapable part of the teaching-learning process. The escalating pace of technology round-the-clock is continuously creating new ways of delivering instruction electronically. Social learning is a highly regarded ethical strategy in pedagogy that is supported by many cognitive scientists (Rosenthal and Zimmerman 121). Therefore, the essence of social learning cannot be underestimated in the success of electronic education. Encouraging this practice can assist in addressing the disadvantages of eLearning while reinforcing its virtues.

Based on this research paper, the integration of social learning theory into eLearning can be used as a problem-solving ethical strategy to resolve the detriments associated with electronic education. This strategy underpins the development of informal learning where students can link, share, cooperate, and exchange thoughts on diverse academic issues. Rosenthal and Zimmerman define social learning as a method that entails the interactive acquisition of knowledge from one another through direct observation, imitation, and demonstrations (123). The modern world is characterized by the increased sophistication of knowledge. Thus, people need elite learning skills that will allow them to react appropriately to ever-shifting environmental situations. As the world continues to become more and more multifaceted and nuanced, the accomplishment of both academic and career goals will be determined by one’s creative thinking, pertinent reaction, adaptation, and effective communication (Rosenthal and Zimmerman 134; Al‐Qahtani and Higgins 220; Bishop et al. 1361). As a result, students must be prepared to match the demands of new changes in pedagogy. To achieve this objective, eLearning should be organized in a way that allows them to use higher-order thinking.

Social learning can play a central role in harnessing the significance of technology in education with a view of alleviating the negative aspects that arise from virtual instructional methods. Rosenthal and Zimmerman posit that technologically rich learning environments boost self-confidence and passion amongst learners (132). This situation creates a positive learning attitude, which can trigger higher-order thinking. However, it is hard to replace the role of the instructor in eLearning methods as they are charged with the responsibility of overcoming challenges, offering support, and sustaining the success of students.

Practical Solutions to Offshoots and Consequences of Electronic Education

Addressing the New Digital Divide

This concept is often used to refer to the gap between people who can successfully access information using digital devices and those who are uninformed. Electronic learning goes beyond mere access to computers and connectivity to the ability to utilize a range of remote resources that allow people to maximize technology. Therefore, students should not only have access to digital devices but should also know how to use them effectively for learning purposes (Al‐Qahtani and Higgins 224). In education, instructors should focus on bridging the gap between access to digital devices and the usage of technological resources to seek valuable educational upshots. The digital divide is a current challenge for instructors and students in eLearning environments. This challenge can be addressed by establishing an instructional environment that promotes cooperation (Al‐Qahtani and Higgins 224). Learners should be offered a chance to collaborate, share, and develop creative skills with a view of increasing their abilities to use diverse educational technologies that enhance the understanding of concepts (Rosenthal and Zimmerman 135). The instructor should take into consideration the learner’s capabilities and/or ineffectiveness in the use of technological resources to obtain information from online sources. Learners should also be encouraged to seek pertinent information and relate it to the standpoints of others in academic discourse based on online learning purposes.

Development of Pertinent Course Designs

Poorly developed course designs can result in insufficient learning experiences that can pose critical challenges for both learners and instructors. The time taken to develop, design, and implement an online lesson is paramount to the success of electronic education. A research that was conducted by Archambault revealed that instructors reportedly spend more time developing eLearning lessons to ensure that they integrated proper ways of engaging learners into online learning portals (142). Online courses should also offer opportunities for students to interact with the physical world by creating sub-courses that allow them to familiarize themselves with work environments. To overcome the challenge of time insufficiency in the development of online courses, instructors should collaborate with eLearning professional societies to share, develop, and create pertinent content that captivates students (Archambault 143).

The development of appropriate course designs for online learning can be regarded as the most relevant solution to the challenges faced by students and instructors in digital educational environments. At the outset, a pertinent online course package offers the learner an opportunity to collaborate with others in academic discourse. Second, it establishes a sound protocol for communication, which underpins the acquisition and transfer of newly learned information. Next, it encourages vibrant performance prospects besides offering the learners chances to select desired modes of creating and presenting academic tasks. Overall, the success of electronic education is specifically dependent on the appropriateness of course design in the intended eLearning platform.

Conclusion

Electronic education is undeniably an innovative approach to the delivery of instruction. Indeed, it is regarded as an all-inclusive technique of pedagogy that addresses today’s changing educational demands mainly due to the need to integrate technological instruments in learning. Online learning environments call for collaboration, sharing, and pooling of various scientific resources that fortify fruitful delivery of instruction through virtual means. Nevertheless, the success of learners in eLearning settings depends on a variety of approaches to resolve challenges that hinder the delivery of content. Such challenges include the digital divide and provision of unfitting content among others. Instructors play a primary role in addressing these challenges since the use of technological resources to deliver education can overwhelm students. Therefore, the development and implementation of eLearning resources should entail an examination of the overall aspects of a suitably developed course.

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Works Cited

Al‐Qahtani, Awadh AY, and Steven E. Higgins. “Effects of traditional, blended and e‐learning on students’ achievement in higher education.” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 29.3 (2013): 220-234.

Archambault, L. (2010). Identifying and addressing teaching challenges in k-12 online environments. Distance Learning, 7(2), pp. 13-17

Arkorful, Valentina, and Nelly Abaidoo. “The role of e-learning, advantages and disadvantages of its adoption in higher education.” International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning 12.1 (2015): 29-42.

Bishop, Tara F., et al. “Electronic communication improves access, but barriers to its widespread adoption remain.” Health Affairs 32.8 (2013): 1361-1367.

Gibson, C. and Gibb, F. (2011). “An evaluation of second generation e-book readers”. The Electronic Library, 29(3), 303-19.

Jeong, H. (2012). “A comparison of the influence of electronic books and paper books on reading comprehension, eye fatigue, and perception”. Electronic Library, 30(3), 390-408.

Rosenthal, Ted L., and Barry J. Zimmerman. Social learning and cognition. Academic Press, 2014.

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