US Nanny Institute on October 6, 2020
eLearning is using electronic media (usually the internet) to facilitate learning outside of the traditional classroom environment. It generally involves structured courses or learning experiences that are delivered electronically. Courses come in a variety of formats such as recorded presentations, live lectures, videoconferences or static pages. eLearning can be used independently for homeschooling and desired individual training such as trade schools and college courses. It can also be combined with established schools and used in conjunction with traditional classroom instruction.
As with all types of learning, there are definite advantages and disadvantages to eLearning. The advantages include:
- Access to additional information on all topics. Most pages will have hyperlinks allowing the student to link to numerous, various resources across the web. Even if hyperlinks are not readily available, the student can Google the subject matter and access the web’s enormous information banks.
- While some courses will contain mandatory online sessions, many eLearning situations do not require specific times for the student to be online. In this instance, the resources are available from anywhere and at any time. This allows the student maximum scheduling flexibility. Even if specific times are required, they are often recorded and available for students who could not participate in person.
- When eLearning students are required to be online for live lectures, discussions, or to present their work, they gain interaction time with the instructor and other students. This can alleviate some of the sense of isolation that may be felt by not being in a traditional classroom environment.
- Most of the courses provided for eLearning can be rewound or paused if the student does not get the information the first time it is presented. This is a great option when students are taking notes and allows them to review the subject matter prior to quizzes, tests, exams or other forms of assessment of their progress.
- eLearning promotes active and independent learning which helps the student develop a sense of responsibility and builds their self-discipline.
Of course, eLearning is not perfect and is not for every student. Disadvantages include:
- The eLearning student does not experience in-person social interaction with the instructor and other students that is seen in a traditional classroom. For many students, this social interaction is a key part of their total learning experience.
- Technical issues can be frustrating and hinder instruction – especially if they occur during live lectures. Students new to eLearning may find computer glitches incredibly stressful, especially if the teacher is giving instructions or teaching a topic. Knowing they are missing out on potentially important information may make them anxious.
- It is almost impossible to make the work submitted by the student was accomplished by the student without help or interventions. There is not a good way to prove a student did an assignment or project on their own or if someone else helped them or even did it for them. Therefore, assessments and exams must be proctored and may have to be taken at a testing center to ensure the student is answering the questions on their own.
- During interactive sessions, student disruptions are common (especially with younger students) and harder to manage from a distance. The remote teacher cannot stop a student who continuously types while they are instructing or who is making faces or dancing around while on screen. Inadvertent disruptions – pets climbing on the desk and into the camera range – may also occur.
- As with any online application, the security of the online learning program may be an issue.
Depending on the age and grade level of the student, eLearning can be challenging. Here are a few of the challenge’s students may experience:
- Self-regulation: In the physical classroom there are regulatory systems in place that allow students to “go with the flow,” watching their peers or teachers for indications of successful behaviors. In eLearning, students have to be able to set themselves up for success – physically, materially, and emotionally. Sitting at home, they have to learn to avoid distractions, get themselves to focus on what they are supposed to do, know what time it is, and not let their school lives seep into their home lives and vice versa.
- Time awareness: Instinctively knowing the time is surprisingly hard. thing to do. For many people, this does not happen until they enter the workforce or go off to college. In the eLearning environment, students must be aware of the time and know when they are expected to be online for live sessions. Using alarms can mimic the in-school environment and ensure students are online when they have live sessions.
- Focus: Children in virtual classrooms may have access to technology beyond what they are meant to be using – like texting, Fortnite, TikTok, Byte and other forms of play and communication. In some ways, it’s fantastic that the students can communicate and socialize with friends and peers despite the fact that they are isolated in their homes, but keeping students focused on the subject at hand and teaching them how to avoid distractions are key to eLearning.
- Engagement: eLearning may cause some children to withdraw into themselves. They may be uncertain how to ‘raise their hand’ in the tech environment or may simply want to observe rather than participate. Teachers must encourage student participation in class discussions and parents and facilitators should encourage children to ‘raise their hands’ when they know the answer.
- Environment Management: Keeping track of things can be hard for some students. At school, they have a desk, cubbie and backpack. However, at home students may need parents or facilitators to help. A specified location for school materials (textbooks, notebooks, folders, pencils, etc.) is a huge help.
- Independence/Motivation: Everyone can have problems with motivation at different times in their lives. In-person school, while not perfect, is often motivating in and of itself because of the social aspects of the day. However, in the eLearning environment, some of that motivation may be missing. Teachers can help by connecting what the students are learning with what is going on in the world, what they are experiencing at home, and how they can make a difference. Connecting what they learn to what matters now is key.
- Self-Advocacy: For some students, advocating for themselves is a difficult task. Coming up to the teacher after class, asking for help, or pushing back against something that does not feel right can be hard enough in person. It can be even harder outside of physical school when there are no longer those organic and natural opportunities for interaction. Students will need this skill to make sure they are getting what they need through distance learning, but they will have to build it up. We can help students self-advocate by providing times and spaces for students to ask questions – and make sure there is equity and parity in the voices that are heard.
eLearning has become far more prevalent in the last few months. Many school districts are incorporating it into their plans during this pandemic. Understanding the advantages, disadvantages and some of the challenges faced by students can help you better facilitate the eLearning environment
The US Nanny Institute provides online childcare classes with certification programs based on a curriculum specifically designed to advance the skills of Nannies and Sitters. The Nanny Institute has over 30 college faculty with a passion for education and childcare, bringing them together to help childcare providers gain practical skills and qualifications that benefit their careers and the children in their care.
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