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Disadvantages of eLearning

Potential drawbacks are that elearning can be:

  • Technology dependent: learners will need access to a machine of minimum specification as dictated by the elearning supplier or access to a service with a high bandwidth to transfer the course materials in a timely way. 
  • Material Incompatibility: some materials designed for one particular system will not function properly on another (for example, the Apple Macintosh and the Windows PC). Standards will help in the area.
  • Unsuitable for Certain Types of Training: any skill that relies heavily on inter-personal contact although these courses could be supplemented by elearning.
  • Unsuitable for Certain Types of Learners: elearning requires a high-level of self-discipline and personal time management. eLearners need to be highly self-motivated to take full advantage of the medium as often the online learning experience can be impersonal. Working through 'packaged' programmes can be irritating.
  • Reliant of the Quality of the Content: it is too easy for some institutions to defer the photocopying costs onto the learner by placing all lecture notes and course handouts online. Such practices often mean that the course materials are in an inappropriate format for online learning. Course providers need to develop new technical skills and course design skills to suit the new medium.
  • Expensive: start-up cost of an elearning service is expensive and the cost of production of online training materials is very high. Teachers must be confident that the extra costs are balance with the benefits of delivering a course online. Significant time needs to be invested in course set-up and in ongoing maintenance (checking links, updating course content etc.).
  • Reliant on Human Support: elearning is still dependent on help on either the course materials or the software.
  • Social/economic disadvantage: can limit or prevent access by some student groups (for example, cost of equipment, online access and printing).
  • No Match for Face-to-Face Teaching: Electronic communication does not necessarily provide a good match for face-to-face communication and is more linear than face-to-face discussion.
  • Too Reliant on IT Skills: learners may have limited IT skills, or be uncomfortable with electronic communication and need to learn how to use the medium effectively.
  • Disabilities: Students with visual or physical impairments may be disadvantaged.
  • Inflexible: Flexibility may be lost as adjustments to the course in response to student reaction are not easy to make once the course is underway.
  • Pedagogically Unsound: The electronic environment does not per se offer a pedagogically enhancing learning environment.
Task/Activity

Can you think of any more disadvantages of elearning over traditional face-to-face teaching?

 

Richard Mobbs, December, 2003