Ah, eLearning. Is there anything more fabulous than earning credits or certifications in your pajamas? eLearning refers to the use of electronic means such as computers and internet for education or training, replacing the physical classrooms and textbooks. It has been around for decades, but we’ve seen a steady increase in availability and participation with the advent of new technological opportunities, and also due to necessity with the COVID-19 pandemic. In this blog, we’ll talk about some of the pros and cons to eLearning.
There are many benefits to eLearning, but most of them boil down to two multifaceted attributes: accessibility to resources and environmental impact. With traditional education or training, the student is limited to the geographical location and time/date of the classes. You need to be physically present in a designated place at a set time on a given day, and the class is only held once at an established progression. With eLearning, you can take a course virtually anywhere you have the technological means at anytime. Further, you can repeat a class or training as many times as you need to digest the material, and the pace is set by you, not the instructor or other students. And without going into a detailed discussion on pedagogy, we’ll just note here that thanks to the nature of digital materials, the learning experience can be much more interactive, immersive, and stimulating.
There are clear environmental advantages to e-learning as well. Notably, without physical course materials such as textbooks, handouts, notes, assignments and tests, there is less paper used and potentially wasted. Since there is no need to travel to a classroom, there’s less greenhouse gases produced by commuting (assuming you use a vehicle that burns fossil fuels). And although it does require energy to run the technology used to access e-learning, it is likely less than running an entire facility necessary for a traditional classes.
While there are some great benefits to eLearning, there are also disadvantages to take into consideration, which again, boil down to three domains: productivity variables, human interactions, and technological barriers. Productivity variables have to do with things like self-discipline, motivation, and time management. Because eLearning is all self-driven, the students must have the ability to get themselves to participate in a way that ensures successful course completion. The lack of human interactions is a deterrent for some students. Though great for social distancing in the event of a pandemic, eLearning reduces the social aspect of classes, making friendships and networking difficult. Additionally, some students prefer asking questions in person which can be answered immediately. Another issue with e-learning is technological barriers. This can be a student’s aversion to technology or a lack of resources like internet access or computers.
We have covered some pros and cons, now let’s talk about some of the double-edged swords with eLearning. One area is the financial aspect. While the enrollment and materials for online courses may be cheaper, there is cost of technology to consider (computers, internet, electricity). For those students unfamiliar with e-learning, there is the advantage of gaining experience with digital formats, learning both the course subject matter and a new skill at once. This, however, may be the very reason that someone chooses not to participate in eLearning and could potentially slow things down and frustrate the student. It is worth noting, however, that research has shown that students unaccustomed to the online format of courses were capable of learning the subject matter just as well as those accustomed. And eLearning can be an engaging experience with a wide variety of activities, but so can traditional learning. Some students may hesitate at the change, but with the trend of classes and training shifting towards digital formats, it is to the students’ advantage to embrace eLearning.
As you may know, MenuTrinfo® offers a variety of food allergy, gluten-free and food handling training options through AllerTrainTM for the food service industry. We provide these immersive and interactive courses through an online portal, utilizing the digital platform to its fullest. Not ready to take the e-learning plunge? Not to worry! Our courses are also available in the traditional classroom format, taught by our outstanding AllerTrainers nationwide. No matter what your need or preference, MenuTrinfo® has you covered.