E-Learning : Pros and Cons

The whole educational system has been collapsed due to spread of novel coronavirus disease  2019 (COVID-19) not only in India but all over the world. The COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease or illness caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

E-Learning : Pros and Cons

COVID-19 is referred as pandemic due to its severity and widespread effect. It has become the greatest global health crisis devastating the world economies. To contain the spread of Covid-19, the lockdown was imposed. Lockdown is a state of the emergency protocol implemented by the competent authorities to restrict the movement of people resulting in mass quarantines. In India, the fear of spread of corona virus triggered the first phase nationwide lockdown which began on March 25, 2020.


As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, there was a shift towards online teaching because of shutting down of schools, colleges and universities for an indefinite time. The situation thus compelled the authorities to rethink, revamp and redesign our education system to meet the needs of these unprecedented situations. It is a well-established fact that no pedagogical approach can replace the system of formal education but covid-19 crisis compelled to adopt online teaching as this was the only mode through which teaching could resume. Thus Covid-19 crisis, taught to switch from traditional methods to the modern approach and teaching-learning process shifted from traditional classroom to Zoom, from personal to virtual and from seminars to webinars.

Though, virtual classrooms are not new concepts now; the current pandemic has forced the entire education system to adopt online teaching-learning mode until we are out of danger from the corona pandemic. Not only teachers and students but people around the globe from other sectors also have adapted to this new normal of working from home. But a question arises- Are we prepared to enjoy the shift with ease and work as per our convenience? Are we happy because we got the much-needed family time or are we feeling bored and exhausted because of too much work? There would be mixed reactions to these questions from the stakeholders. 

Many universities and colleges are investing in online teaching on a large scale. Many universities and colleges have started to invest heavily in online teaching. Is the investment justified? There are many rationales for offering and investing in online education, ranging from increasing access, to improving the quality of learning, to reducing costs, to preparing students better for a knowledge-based society, to responding to market demand, to “lifelong” learning opportunity, to collaborative learning across the world, to profit making. But we have to assess that to what extent, the reality matches the rhetoric? This article attempts to answer these questions by weighing out the potential benefits and limitations of online learning in the context of the student, the instructor, and the tenured faculty.

Advantages of online learning:


Online learning gives the teachers an opportunity to teach in an effective manner. A number of tools such as videos, PDFs, podcasts can be used by the teachers to prepare their lesson plans. By extending the lesson plan beyond traditional textbooks to include online resources, teachers can become more efficient educators.


Online education can be accessed from any location. It also allows schools to reach out to a more extensive network of students, instead of being restricted by geographical boundaries. Additionally, online lectures can be recorded, archived, and shared for future reference. This allows students to access the learning material at a time of their comfort.


Online education eliminates the cost points of student transportation, student meals, and most importantly, real estate. Additionally, all the course or study materials are available online, thus creating a paperless learning environment which is more affordable, while also being beneficial to the environment.


Since online classes can be taken from home or location of choice, there are fewer chances of students missing out on lessons.


Online learning can be beneficial to students with varied learning styles. Some students are visual learners, while some students prefer to learn through audio. Similarly, some students thrive in the classroom, and other students are solo learners who get distracted by large groups. The online learning system, with its range of options and resources, can be personalized in many ways.


Students can learn from educators across the globe without travelling to them. They can listen to lectures from best educators without spending much money.

Disadvantages of online learning:


A physical classroom allows seeing each other, exchanging ideas instantly or discussing doubts then and there itself. One of the most significant advantages of a physical classroom is eye contact. From the eye contact, the teacher knows whether students could follow the instructions in the class and accordingly she/he modifies the style of explanation and expression. We communicate more non-verbally than verbally. Many children in the class don't ask questions fearing to be judged by others. Face to face interactions in the classroom is a boon for  them. Through online courses, both the teacher and the student lose the opportunity to understand the viewpoint of each other. This would result in disinterest in studies and poor performance in the examination.


Educational institutes follow a specific time-table to teach. There is more than one period per day. For example, if there are eight periods per day and each period spanning for about 50 minutes, there would be a total class hour of 6.667 hours every day. Besides, they would spend some 5 to 6 hours for self-study and other activities. Being exposed to the screen for more than 11 to 12 hours per day is certainly not a healthy habit. Moreover, it is going to happen all of a sudden and sitting for long hours in front of the digital devices increases the risk of developing many lifestyle diseases which would affect their performance and productivity in the long-run.


Incidents of virtual cheating while attending an online class have become very common. Most of the people join webinars for a certificate only. Since there isn’t any robust mechanism to control this behaviour thus whole purpose of disseminating information is then lost in this process.


Classroom exercises are more spontaneous and creative which can't be edited as a film to bring about the best part of the entire activity. Editing the recorded videos is a big headache for all the stakeholders. It takes more than 4-5hours to edit and upload a 1-hour video. If we want less of editing, the charm of teaching would be lost, and the whole exercise would become monotonous and boring.


Work from home is an excellent idea. Writing research proposals, books, project proposals, reviewing articles, preparing class presentations and notes for future use, reading, handing out online assignments and checking them can be done with ease. Most of the Indian houses do not have dedicated and enough separate rooms where teaching-learning can happen without any disturbance. Further, there could be the presence of the old and disabled family members, small children and patients in some homes which may pose problems for online learning and teaching. To make virtual classes successful and productive, we need requisite gadgets like the computer, tablet, desktop with all required programs, a broadband internet connection and most importantly- an uninterrupted power supply. Expecting these facilities in the remotest areas seems quite impractical, at least for now. Thus lack of suitable infrastructure may put some learners and teachers in a disadvantaged position.


All individuals are unique. Students special needs are side-lined in the process of online learning.


E-Learning tends to struggle with student feedback. Students completing regular assessments become dissatisfied when they experience a lack of personalized feedback.


Students while studying online experience social isolation and miss the classroom interaction. Social isolation coupled with a lack of communication often leads to several mental health issues such as heightened stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts. There are many other glitches of the online teaching-learning process, which is beyond the scope of discussion here. However, for the lack of better alternative, at present online education is the way to go. Organizations and institutions must look into their specific needs, challenges, opportunities and accordingly bring the best out of the situation that is healthy and productive in the long run for all the stakeholders.

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