E-Learning and Online Education Impact
Of all the ways digital technology is impacting the world, its effect on the classroom is often either overlooked or taken for granted. Sure, computers were introduced to schools decades ago, but they often served limited roles—in some cases as a replacement for typewriters when teaching typing skills. These days, however, education is becoming more integrated with the online world. As a result, we’re witnessing a quiet revolution in the world of education.
When we think of eLearning in the classroom, we tend to consider it in terms of the college experience. College students are, in fact, already accustomed to learning online. Many places of higher education incorporate online learning or activities as part of their everyday curricula. If you’ve gone to college, or if you know someone who has, then the concept is not new to you. However, the same kind of programs and curricula used for higher education have already made their way to younger students. K-12 education has witnessed the same kind of integration or reliance on eLearning that has fueled the success of college students for years.
A Shared Experience
In short, eLearning is the use of online technology to assist in homework, school activities, lectures, or in some cases it replaces the classroom altogether. Students use web-based programs to access information—which can include videos, games, quizzes, and so on—prepared by their teachers or schools. This technology can serve as a supplement to the traditional face-to-face experience, but it can also replace it altogether.
Some critics might warn of the isolation involved in eLearning. Taking away the human approach, the human touch, might even create isolated people who tune out the information, they might argue. Evidence, however, shows the contrary.
When students sit at their desks and listen to a teacher, they receive that information passively. Participating in an online experience changes the dynamics altogether. No longer passive, the students actively engage in the act of learning. eLearning transforms education into a shared experience.
Learning online allows the students to engage with each other, and even the teacher, to share the experience of learning. This allows for interactions between student and teachers to become more frequent and personal. Instead of addressing one student broadly so as to apply the lesson to an entire classroom, for example, teachers can now address students by tweaking their individual responses to fit the needs of that particular student.
Adhering to Standards
Another bonus of eLearning is that it enables the teachers to develop curricula that strictly adheres to standards, and to disseminate their courses to students in uniform fashion—without removing the personal, human touch. Although the interactions between students and teacher might shift from the real world to the online world, the information itself, the standards established by various governing bodies remain the same.
In some cases, eLearning can outperform in-room classes as far as standards are concerned because it can remove editorializing by teachers—or it can eliminate the chances of teachers accidentally confusing opinions as facts.
Familiarizing All Students with Technology
Even in the modern world, not all students have access to technology, and not all students have equal access. Some students on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder might not have access to computers, tablets, or even the internet. As a result, they might be left behind in the modern world if they’re not offered the chance to familiarize themselves with computers and online activities and behavior.
As a tool in the classroom, eLearning can introduce all students to computers and the online world. In addition to teaching them the educational basics they need to succeed in this day and age, online learning can also teach them tact and how to behave appropriately in the online world. Since much of our actions these days occur at least in part online, teaching students the act of using computer, tablets, or how to behave properly online isn’t insignificant.
Engaging Students in the Digital World
While some students might not have access to the digital world, most students do. Whether it’s social media, video sites, such as YouTube, or game sites, kids these days find their lives far more integrated with the digital world than some adults. The online integration of their day-to-day lives establishes an intimate relationship with the online world.
eLearning can capitalize on the intimacy or familiarity some students have with online activities. Since online learning can incorporate videos, audio, or even games into its classes, it can play to the strengths of kids who are accustomed to spending time in the digital realm. In addition to playing to kids’ strengths, the level of interactivity eLearning requires can reduce or even eliminate the tedium or boredom some kids experience.
Such a hands-on approach, as mentioned above, not only creates a shared experience, it can also keep students more active and engaged with the material, which can increase their desire to learn. Many students can even access programs on mobile devices, such as phones or tablets, so they can brush up on a class or a field of study outside the classroom, or even their homes.
While eLearning can occur in the classroom, it isn’t restricted to the classroom. It can occur anywhere, as long as the student has access to the internet. Such accessibility might increase a child’s desire to complete his or her schoolwork, or it might inspire them to learn more.