The introduction of e-learning as one of the learning tools in the educational sector has had a lot of impacts on education. Researches that have been carried out in the past indicate that there are both positive and negative impacts of e-learning on education. Notably, the current technological resources that are available have both strengths and weaknesses. In this respect, these strengths and weaknesses are the ones that have contributed to the existence of both positive and negative impacts of e-learning on the state of education. Therefore, researches and studies that have been carried out in the past indicate that e-learning would be able to overcome some of the negative impacts that it has on education as further developments are made in the field of technology. In other words, the impact of e-learning on education depends heavily on the advancements that are made in the world of technology (Bates & Bates, 2005).
With this in mind, it would be appropriate to examine both positive and negative impacts of e-learning on education. More important is the fact that an understanding of these effects plays as a critical foundation for further research on how to improve or rather enhance the e-learning as an important tool in the educational sector. This involves the introduction of appropriate measures in the form of guidelines towards creating a state of the art of education. Similarly, deep foundational knowledge of e-learning and its impact on education would help in identification and utilization of the important aspects of technology in knowledge acquisition and sharing (Bates & Bates, 2005). Following this point, this paper will first examine the positive impacts and then embark on the negative impacts of e-learning on education.
Positive Impacts of E-learning on Education
The quality of education that is offered within a particular economy has been found to play a critical role in the overall development of such an economy. In essence, the quality of education in a particular country has been found to contribute positively towards economic growth. By considering this factor, it worthy to note that technological advancements have contributed greatly towards providing quality education (Bates & Bates, 2005, p.6). This is specifically so especially after the introduction of the internet as one of the learning channels.
To begin with, the accessibility to educational materials or rather data and information that can be utilized for educational purposes has been found to be one of the most important impact that e-learning has had on the educational system. Remarkably, the current internet structure has been found to create a direct avenue for researchers and scholars to access certain information and data that is required for educational purposes easily. In most cases, this data and information is credible and could be used extensively for educational purposes. In reference to Ehlers et al. (2005), quality is among the most mentioned aspects of education yet it is seldom employed or rather implemented (p.9).
One of the factors that have contributed to the modification of e-learning to become a quality approach in the educational sector is its ability to share information and data in an easy way (Garrison & Anderson, 2003, p.93). It is important to note that the internet remains as one of the most important technological inventions that has made e-learning a success. In line with this, sharing of information and data has been in the recent times been enhanced in terms of speed and accuracy. In essence, one can be able to access certain learning materials from other parts of the world in just a few seconds. Therefore, learners were found to be in a position of accessing this data and information easily within the required time of their learning. On the other hand, most colleges and universities that offer e-learning have formulated policies that entails following up on online students by giving them numerous assignments to certify that the quality of their education is raised to the required standards.
There are various challenges that the educational sector has continued to face over time. As mentioned earlier, whereas education was one of the most important areas in terms of economic development of a nation, the government support for education has been dwindling in the past few years with more money being channeled into the military and generally national security. As a result, educational facilities have continued to face a lot of challenges in regard to educational resources. This has been worsened by the fact that the rate of population growth is very high as compared to the rate of development of educational facilities. In consistent with this, there are a lot of proposals that have been made to deal with these challenges. However, one of the most appropriate solutions to this challenge is the introduction of e-learning with virtual classroom (Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, 2005, p.224).
E-learning has contributed to a substantial reduction of costs that are involved in building classrooms and other resources that are needed for learning. For instance, researchers and scholars have observed that the past trends in the educational systems required a teacher and a student to face each other while teaching. In other words, it was very difficult to teach students who were far away from their instructor. This model of the education system demands a lot of resources among them the classrooms. However, e-learning does not require a lot of resources. As a result many students can be taught at a period of time using just a few resources (Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, 2005).
In addition to classrooms and other tangible resources, e-learning has embraced digital teaching resources such as books, journals and magazines. The introduction of the digital library has enhanced the way students learn. Note that the search for learning materials has been made even easier as this is done using computers and the internet rather than searching manually for the data and information that one needs for his or her work. As a matter of fact, it is easier to update the learning resources that are available in an online library as compared to the normal libraries. In addition, it is far much cheaper to share these learning resources as compared to printed resources (Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, 2005).
Therefore, one can argue that e-learning has impacted education in the sense that there is a substantial reduction in the overall costs that are involved in teaching. Notably, most of the costs that were incurred in the educational sector can now be substituted with cost effective online plans that can enable educational institutions to achieve their targets without necessarily having to incur some costs. Consequently, e-learning can enable academic institutions to be able to enroll a large number of students while at the same time incurring low operating or rather teaching costs.
Roles of Teachers and Academic Institutions
E-learning has been found to eliminate some of the roles that are played by teachers in academic institutions. In the conventional learning setup, teachers are required to act as instructors. With this in mind, these teachers need to be there throughout the teaching process to deliver their instructions to students. Particularly, teachers in this kind of a setup act as guardian and they have a big responsibility of ensuring that students are able to perform in the academic subjects that they have been enrolled to (Verma, 2005). Therefore, the success of a particular student will depend on an effort not only from the students but also from the teachers.
However, e-learning created new role for teachers while at the same time eliminating the former roles. In reference to Verma (2005), the responsibility of teachers has shifted from teaching academic subjects to teaching social and interpersonal skills in an e-learning setup (p.227). It is further argued that teacher would no longer need to be experts in particular subject since they do not have interactive sessions with students. Instead, they need to develop skills of a social worker and guidance counselors. With this in mind, the responsibility of the teacher would then encompass helping their students to go through their learning period by carrying out regular assessment of their progress as students.
Apart from teachers, academic institutions have also have acquired new roles. Whereas conventional learning has made academic institutions as centers of excellence where students come to acquire important knowledge and skills to develop their careers, the role of these institutions under e-learning setup has been found to shift from being academic centers to social centers. According to Verma (2005), e-learning will transform schools to become more of a social and activity center where student learn social skills through participating in group activity (p.227). More important is the fact that the white board and the black board will be replaced by the TV and computer screens. Therefore, it can be said that there is a total change of the roles of teachers and schools as a result of introducing e-learning as model of learning in schools.
E-learning: Distance Learning
To begin with, distance learning can be defined as an educational field that is geared towards utilizing technology, pedagogy, and instructional designs with a goal of delivering education to students who are not present physically in the conventional campus or rather classrooms (Bates & Bates, 2005, p.16). Therefore, it is worth to note that distance learning is one of the most important sections of learning that has embraced e-learning. In most cases, students that are enrolled in distance learning programs are in some cases continents apart from the institutions under which they have enrolled for different courses. Therefore, one can argue that distance learning remains as one of the most important components of e-learning.
E-learning is therefore an important approach towards enhancing distance learning. To begin with, it is important for one to understand that there are several approaches towards executing e-learning programs in the society. Some of the approaches towards dealing with e-learning include instructor led while in some cases, students are required to take their own initiative in learning whereas learning materials are provided to them. There are various advantages that are associated to this form of learning. In this case, distance learning as a component of e-learning eliminates the need for students to participate in classroom since the current forms of technology are able to support sharing of materials such as files over the internet. Therefore, learning materials can be send over to students over the internet irrespective of the distance or geographical locations (Bates & Bates, 2005, p.16).
Therefore, one can argue that the adaptation of e-learning in distance learning has brought a revolution in the educational sector in the sense that students are no longer required to be in class to learn. Instead, one only needs to access the appropriate technology such as the internet, intranet and personal computers that would help him or her to access appropriate learning materials at that particular period of time (Bates & Bates, 2005, p.19). In addition, the presence of the teacher in learning is no longer necessary. Notably, distance learning depends on the effort that students exert in their studies rather on the pressure that one receives from teachers.
Technology and Education
The modern world is characterized by polarization of technology in nearly every sector of the economy. Since the invention of personal computers and the internet in the second half of the 20th century, people have been inclined towards adopting different types of technology in the their home and work. More so, there are tremendous advancements in the corporate world with different businesses and organizations across the globe. Currently, any business or organization that has endeavors of succeeding in the corporate world has to adopt a certain type of technology in order to be able to meet the requirements of clients in an efficient way (Iskander, 2007, p.175).
Previously, the issue of learning some of the basic technological courses was left to professionals who were pursuing technical courses such as engineering, computer science and Information Technology. However, current trends have proved otherwise. In particular, every professional that has a desire to remain relevant in the society has to learn basic knowledge in technology.
Following the above arguments, e-learning is an adaptation of technological advancements into the educational sector. Whereas the issue of technology has arguably been the center of focus in the corporate world, this cannot in any way be achieved without have an educational system that has embraced a technological approach towards delivering knowledge and skills to students (Brandon & William, 2008). For this reason, it can be noted that traditional form of education only worked on ways of delivering skills and knowledge to students without necessarily maximizing on the opportunities that are available in the educational system. However, just as in the corporate whereby technology has influenced business activity and processes, e-learning can be termed as a technological approach towards enhancing the deliver of skills and knowledge to clients, in this case the students.
The future of education lies in the in the integration of technological development into the educational sector (Brandon & William, 2008). As a result, e-learning is an appropriate approach towards enhancing the educational sector from a technological perspective. Remarkably, people go to school to acquire knowledge and skills that can then be applied in the corporate world. However, the modern corporate world has adapted different forms of technology in order to deliver their services in an efficient way. With this in mind, e-learning has impacted the educational sector in such as way that students are prepared in advance to join the workforce with a mentality that nothing is efficient without technology. As a result, these students are able to adapt quickly to the corporate structure due to their background in using technology as a learning tool.
The development of skills and knowledge that are needed in research can also be learnt when one is enrolled to an e-learning course. Consequently, e-learning has been found to increase the research capabilities of students making it possible for these students to conduct extensive research in areas that interest them. On the other hand, there is a general increase in productivity in the educational sector whenever appropriate technological developments are implemented. For instance, the productivity of teachers would increase when using e-learning as their mode of learning as compared to using the traditional forms of learning. In addition to this, the demand of the corporate world for professionals in different field can only be met by a high supply of professionals that have been produced from e-learning programs. Notably, the conventional learning methods are not able to meet the high demand of professionals by the corporate world and therefore, e-learning is a boost to this demand (Brandon & William, 2008, p.135).
Negative Impacts of E-learning on Education
Quality of E-learning Education
Regardless of the many researches that have provided that e-learning translates to quality of education, several challenges still occur as it regards quality and especially for distance learners. Unquestionably, the issue of distance learning has posed a challenge to the world of education considering the fact that face to face interaction of the tutor or instructor with the learner is not defined. Taking the example of the US, many students are enrolled in online education along with the fact that they have attracted a lot of demand from the globe due to part time offer of the education (Carr-Chellman, 2005).
As a result, this has posed a challenge to the instructor who at the same time enjoys the large some of cash given when many students register as part time students. In connection to this point, research has pointed out that many instructors major on quantity or rather volume rather than quality. Therefore, it comes out clearly that quality may not be guaranteed and therefore this point disqualifies all the factors of quality that are often campaigned for (Bullen & Janes, 2007). As a matter of fact, it is required of any distance learner to maintain discipline in matters of how faithful one may be on providing accurate information in case of an assignment.
This is to suggest that in most cases one may decide to employ somebody to do for him or her the online course of which it is not easy to prove whether the registered person is the one who does the examination or not. Needless to say, this is a direct translation that one may possess a degree that he or she is not the one who has done. Eventually, employing such a person may lead to low performance as he or she is not acquainted with the skills and the educational experience required for the position given. Over and over, there have been a lot of online advertisements for part time and full time courses of which they seem attractive but in reality, they only encourage a lack of commitment in the studies (Carr-Chellman, 2005).
For a distance learner, it gives him or her tendency to relax and not study hard as there is no instructor to do a follow up. A lot of uncertainties surround distance learning. Another point to note is the fact that the role played by culture is often ignored (Lau, 2005). This is given to the reason that setting of the courses is done on a different culture that the ones who actually do it. As a result, culture may limit the quality of education and thus it may translate to poor quality of education which is contrary to what is often said.
Cheating in E-learning Education
Outstandingly, it is almost impossible to ascertain the one who is sitting for an examination since there is no monitoring that is assigned to this duty. In consistent with this, e-learning has led to increased global cheating on assignments as many people who register for e-learning have jobs and only attends to studies partly (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2005). Above and beyond, many of distance learners in most part opt to pay or rather hire somebody to do the assignments as well as examinations for them as they lack enough time to commit to the studies.
The only motivating factor is the issue to do with efficiency and the short time within which they attain the degree or the academic qualification to be precise. This has as a result led to cheating of which many get academic qualifications of which they do not belong to them. Generally, many people own academic qualifications of which they do not merit. Therefore, this has brought about a generation of many people who are committed to cheat in order to prevail academically. This means that education with cheating has lost meaning and it is only done for the benefit of getting the papers alone without developing personal skills in the field of education. This translates to the polarization of education as a qualifying factor for performance in any work (Bullen & Janes, 2007).
Limited Physical and Social Development in E-learning
From a broader point of view, with e-learning physical activity which is necessary in education, it is not usually taken care of. In fact, education is meant to development a person in all spheres of life. This is to suggest that physical education which is required for good health is not considered and therefore in this sense, education becomes limited in this aspect. On the other hand, socialization is so much developed by means of interacting with each other in schools and higher institutions of higher learning (Malone, 2003).
Markedly, with distance learners, chances of developing in social aspect of life become almost impossible. This is given to the reason that if every one decides to go for a distance learning course chances of interacting will be limited. Also, the impact of the instructor to the learner will be reduced since in some subjects, learning is enhanced through the interaction that exists between the two parties. In addition, the environment of e-learning does not offer the right setting for education as in most cases, environment contributes to the learning proves of an individual (Bullen & Janes, 2007).
Group work, influence and development of each other through face to face interaction while learning may limit the efficiency of education are developing the learner socially. Research has pointed out that e-learning requires that one should have minimal qualifications which necessitate entrance in to it. However, this may limit the individuals who come from remote areas without such prior knowledge and skills. Taking the example of communication skills which need some training and English language as well, there may be limitation which may arise as a result of absentia of face to face interaction with the teacher (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2005).
In summation, it is evident from written research that e-learning has brought about much improvement in education. Its impact is far much great and thus it cannot be underrated. Erratically, it has come to the scene with numerous advantages which cannot be ignored. So to speak, written research has pointed out that e-learning has brought about a lot of advantages taking in the issue of quality of which e-learning has added quality to education. As compared to the past traditional classroom alone, e-learning has added quality to education. More to this point, educational resources have been reduced by e-learning making it possible for many to access education without much of a struggle.
Besides, e-learning has brought about the changing roles of teachers and academic institutions. Furthermore, e-learning has brought about distance learning as part and parcel of e-learning. Consequently, this has brought about the efficiency and the fact that it is not a must for one to attend a class in order to learn. As well, technology and education have become so important in the society in that e-learning remains to be the only way out. At the same time, there are some disadvantages that have been associated with e-learning. In simple terms they are termed as negative impacts of e-learning. As earlier on stipulated, there is the aspect of poor quality owing to institutions themselves preferring volumes to quality. Additionally, e-learning has greatly encouraged cheating among learners and especially for distance learning whereby one is not certain of the one doing the assignments and examinations online. In the long run, the e-learning is associated with limited physical and social development which should be made provision for by education. It is from this point of view that research should be done in order to address the challenges of cheating, poor quality and inefficiency that has so far been witnessed at the advent of e-learning. Culture should as well be considered while making programs to be utilized in e-learning.