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Plus & Minus of E-Learning

Nowadays, online learning/classes turns out to be more and more practice. Many traditional universities started to share their courses online for free. It represents an easy and comfortable method to achieve knowledge in almost every field, from Law and accounting, to human sciences such as psychology and sociology or history. Online learning is a great alternative to traditional universities, especially for people who can’t afford the time and money to take real courses. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of online learning?
Although many people still consider traditional Universities are the best way to achieve knowledge and get a diploma. Online learning proves to be a great alternative. Students have the chance to study in their own time and especially for free. It represent a great way to study many fields and to boost-the level of self-motivation. Online learning is so effective because students can finish their homework quickly and there is more time left for hobbies or for finding a job. An access to all resources of a traditional course helps participants learn wherever they are, leaving them the freedom to choose the time for study. With basically an internet connection, a person can attend different courses. Among the advantages of online learning, there are the responsibility and self-discipline of students. Apart from this, online learning provides: save of time; learn from anywhere on the globe; fostered convenience ; reduce expenses; less tiring and less boring; readily available materials; fast and easy sharing of resources; reaches a wider audiences ; supports flexible schedules ; offers a variety of courses on one platform; builds a learning character.
On the other hand, in online learning mode, only in a small group, a person can develop properly. At school, students learn how to make friends, be patient, and get rid of disappointment and especially to compete. Competition between colleagues can be very stimulating and students will only benefit from it. Online learning cannot offer human interaction. Another disadvantage refer to the fact that online courses cannot cope with thousands of students that try to join discussions. Online learning can be difficult for disciplines that involve practice. Online learning should be seen as a complement and extension of classical forms of learning. Not even the best online course can fully replace the personal contact with a teacher or the human relationship that develop in a group. In fact disadvantages of online learning are: requires a good group of tech skills; internet connection problems; lacks the warmth of face to face interaction; unsuitable for hands-on fields; stressful for those with character of weak grasping power; possibility of distraction and cheating. So, traditional classes shouldn’t be replaced with online learning. In class room learning, you can ask questions (assuming the instructor welcome questions). You can discuss issues with fellow students. There is ample opportunities for social interaction and support. You have access to on-campus student facilities like library, co-curricular activities along with game & sports. On the other hand traditional class have constraint in travel time and cost. Attendance times can be restrictive or inconvenient. Shy students may have trouble approaching instructor with questions. You usually have to sit through each lecture even if you already know most of the material and you may be required to buy compulsory textbooks.
Since, humans are social creatures, the society experience of online learning can be a major hurdle for some students. It can be lonely unless you have a friend who is taking the course with you. Many courses attempts to address this by encouraging discussion in course forums which can be general discussion forums where students can introduce themselves ,as well as focussed discussion on particular aspects of the course. Posting your comments and thoughts to the forums can be helpful to overcome these feelings of isolation, particularly in courses that use community mentors or teaching assistants to respond to students’ posts. In some courses, participation in discussion is sluggish. To stimulate online social interaction, write plenty of comments in the students’ discussion forums. Fellow students are more likely to engage with you if you have comments in several threads. You may need to be patient, though because it may take days for replies to be posted.
Do you live in a large city? You may be able to join or start up a community meeting or hangout. Always keep personal safety in mind while meeting internet acquaintances. Another option is to create your own support network amongst your own family members and friends. Even if they aren’t studying with you, you may be able to talk about your study ups and downs. Every little bit of support can help. If you are having trouble understanding something, have you listened to the videos more than once? Have you taken a break, perhaps left it until the next day to look at the material again? Sometimes when we look at it after a break, the meaning suddenly become clear. Is the meaning still eluding you? You can post your questions to the course forums, but sometimes it can take hours or days for an answer. Sometimes, your questions simply remain unanswered. So, you may need a different strategy. Have you checked all of the course resources? Many courses have lists of supplementary materials. Books or research articles may be able to be ordered through your local library. Type your questions into your favourite Search Engine. Read the result but be aware that not all internet posts are reliable, even Wikipedia. They can be used as a starting point, though and cross checking your research with the course materials can help sort the wheat from the chaff. “Google Scholar” can be a useful source of reliable research papers. Most of the above comments about online learning refer to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). If you are enrolled in a paid online subject as a part of small class, you should have online access to course staff who can answer your individual queries in online chat form or perhaps via Skype or similar. The very nature of MOOCs means that direct interaction between instructor and individual students is virtually non-existent. The only exception is if the instructor participates in the course discussion forum. Coming down to our poor State Manipur,the so call e-learning/online classes at the moment(may improve later)seems to be a fashion like tuition culture.The questions is: do all the schools have enough infrastructurs to conduct such classes? Even initiative taken up by government ,don’t have enough resources & they are facing acute problems.What I observed & commented by many parrents of private schools(forget about government schools /Colleges,Govt.or private where there is no students or few students generally attend the classes even during normal time & many of whose parents don’t have radio forgetting about mobile phone) students,that respective schools are sending ,so many assignment questions in whatapps,which studemts are to practice and submit accordingly.Parents are running here & there to get the questions to download and print out & then Xerox it.However such facilitating centres are closed due to lockdown,then what to do? What about the students at remote & hilly areas where there  is bad network or no network and even no radios? What about those students & parents having no smart phone & even know nothing about how to open whataps? As many parents said,it’s nothing but real mockery to majority of our innocent parents. Whatever the arguments there are,the online classes/ learning is a pain killer for the students during prolong lockdown due to natural disasters like floods, earthquake, war and pandemic Covid-19 and which cannot be the elixir for the permanent relief.
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Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. Presently, he is teaching Mathematics at NIELIT. Jugeshwor can be reached at: [email protected] Or WhatsApp’s No: 9612891339.

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