The effectiveness of eLearning is often argued against the traditional approach to education.
Many studies show that eLearning helps increase student motivation, engagement, attendance, student class participation, and behaviour and performance on core subjects. On the other hand, some studies reject the claims of increased efficiency in education due to eLearning.
Various factors play a key role in making eLearning effective. One that tops the list is students' self-motivation. Students' will to learn and stay motivated is key for any pedagogy to show results. However, what keeps students motivated is in the hands of an educator. A well-structured curriculum engages students with hands-on experiences and a personalized approach to keep them engaged and interested.
Needless to say, technology plays a key role in facilitating the above-mentioned factors to build the foundation for a healthy learning environment. The next important thing for effective eLearning is trained instructors. In the adoption of eLearning models, adequate training of instructors is essential. The inadequately trained staff becomes an obstacle in the learning process, often leading to difficulties in application use and student perception.
To know more about eLearning and its effects on students, let's look at some studies and see what they say:
Research On E-learning And Students' Motivation: A Research Study On The Effect Of E-learning On Higher Education
In this study, five research hypotheses were examined to determine which hypothesis should be accepted and rejected. Hypotheses are mentioned below:
H1: Students will show a preference for online activities as opposed to the traditional method of learning.
H2: Difference of attitude in students towards e-learning supported the students' degree year.
H3: Difference of attitude in students towards e-learning supported the students' faculty.
H4: Influence of exam scores on the preference for online instead of the normal approach
H5: Teacher's impact on the students' willingness to use Web-based exercise
Findings: This study has reported some important findings of online education, confuted others and presented a range of online technology predictions for educational purposes. The study shows that the prime factors influencing eLearning's effectiveness are the instructor's preparedness and student motivation. Instructors need to understand their students' motivations when teaching in online classes. However, that can be difficult to assess due to the lack of personal contact between students and instructors. The report suggests giving a web assessment-form on motivation to the students to avoid the issue. Based on the motivation assessment results, the teacher can identify several strategies to engage students and keep them motivated by the information obtained.
"Most importantly, it should be noted that more technology does not necessarily lead to better learning outcomes. Instructors who taught the study participants should be interviewed to get feedback to evaluate e-learning from a teacher's perspective."
The interview questions should focus on evaluating e-learning and its implications for enhancing learning and teaching quality in online settings.
The report suggests that the questions must include:
- Demographics of online instructors and their expectations (teaching positions, e.g. professors, instructors, and TAs)
- Emerging technologies and the effect of using course management systems (CMSs).
It is expected that improvements in Internet technology (i.e. greater bandwidth and wireless Internet connection) are likely to extend multimedia utilization in education. The question is: are online instructors ready to meet the 21st-century challenges brought by this generation's demand for use of technology?
The Positive Impact of eLearning
This paper discusses key research findings that would help educational leaders reap the benefits of eLearning and make the right decisions to develop its strategies. The paper mentions eLearning implementation challenges and brings output from various other researches and projects for additional information.
Key points from the paper are:
Student Learning Studies on the effective integration of technology in education show the opportunities ICT provides to increase student engagement, motivation, and attendance — key requirements for learning. The potential for eLearning to improve performance on core subjects and foster the development of 21st-century skills in mature and emerging economies depends on the school's ability to model student-centred, highly personalized learning environments.
Engagement, Motivation, and Attendance: The paper highlights the following stats based on various researches. Key findings and corresponding researches are mentioned below:
- Elementary teachers indicate the best impact on student success could also be attributed to their motivation to find out and learn. (62 per cent vs 44 per cent for high school teachers). (Project Tomorrow, U.S.)
- Responses from 388 district technology directors indicate that about half of those surveyed in a study on teachers' use of web technologies reported an increase in students' familiarity with technology. Similarly, almost half of these teachers indicated that the students are more motivated to learn due to Web 2.0 in their district. Other outcomes identified within the study include a rise in student academic engagement (39 per cent), and improved students' collaboration skills (38 per cent). (IESD, U.S.)
- In a study of the educational impacts of the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative (BWLI), teachers overwhelmingly reported improvements in student engagement and motivation resulting from their participation in a pilot program. This pilot program provided 1:1 technology access to all students and teachers across five public and private middle schools in western Massachusetts. As per the report, teacher survey responses indicate that 83 per cent of the teachers witnessed improved engagement from their traditional students, 84 per cent for at-risk/low achieving students, and 71 per cent for high achieving students.
Like student engagement results, teachers overwhelmingly found that the 1:1 pilot program enhanced their students' motivation. 76 per cent of 1:1 program teachers reported improved student motivation for their low achieving students compared to 73 per cent for traditional students and 59 per cent for top achieving students. (Bebell & Kay, U.S.)
Read the full paper here.
A Study On The Student's Perspective On The Effectiveness Of Using E-learning
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of using eLearning among secondary school students. The research was conducted on 45 students studying in Shah Alam, Selangor. Copies of a questionnaire consisting of four sections were used as instruments to collect data.
Section 1 of the questionnaire contained the demographic factors of the students.
Section 2 identified the student's exposure to eLearning.
Section 3 investigated the effectiveness of using eLearning among secondary school students.
The last section of the questionnaire determined eLearning's advantages and disadvantages from the students' perspectives.
Results from the study show that most respondents were exposed to eLearning. They preferred to learn via eLearning because it provided them greater flexibility with selecting either instructor-led or self-study courses and provided them with the flexibility to learn per their availability; time-place no bar. The one disadvantage of using eLearning was the reduced face to face interactions.
Check out in-depth stats here.
Does eLearning Work? What the Scientific Research Says! By Will Thalheimer, PhD
Will Thalheimer is a learning expert, researcher, instructional designer, consultant, speaker, and writer. Dr Thalheimer has worked in the learning-and-performance field since 1985.
This research is divided into four sections:
1. Comparison of eLearning with Traditional Classroom Instruction
2. Examples of Single Research Studies Comparing eLearning to Classroom Instruction
3. Examples of Other eLearning-Relevant Research Studies
4. Meta-Analyses of Other Technologies Relevant to eLearning including all the research articles covered in the meta-analyses examined.
In this post, we will take you through the first and fourth sections of the study.
In the first section of the report, five meta-analyses are summarized, comparing eLearning and learning technologies to traditional classroom practice. The analyses state that eLearning tends to outperform classroom instruction, and blended learning (using online learning and classroom instruction) creates the largest benefits. The results give clear evidence that eLearning modality is not the sole reason that improves learning. The reason for eLearning to outperform classroom instruction and blended learning to outperform both is the learning methods and strategies used in eLearning. Typically, these strategies are not used in traditional classroom instruction, but when used in a blended learning model, they are more beneficial than when used in only eLearning. These learning methods include providing learners with realistic practice, spaced repetitions, contextually-meaningful scenarios, and feedback.
The last section of the report looks at other meta-analyses—those examining topics relevant to eLearning. The section sees the variety of learning methods on which researchers focus on eLearning domains, including factors such as simulations, simulation games, feedback, animations, digital games, learner control, computer-mediated language learning, interactivity, and eLearning acceptance.
All in all, the following pointers mention the conclusions of the research:
- eLearning and classroom instructions, both produce similar results when learning methods are held constant.
- In instances where no special efforts are made to hold learning methods constant, eLearning tends to outperform traditional classroom instruction.
- A great deal of variability is evident in the research. The research mentions the possibility of eLearning producing better results than classroom instruction. However, it often produces results worse or sometimes similar.
- In terms of learning effectiveness, what matters is NOT the learning modality (eLearning vs classroom); it is the learning methods that matter, including such factors as realistic practice, spaced repetitions, real-world contexts, and feedback.
- Blended learning tends to outperform classroom learning by relatively large magnitudes. This is probably because the eLearning strategies used in blended learning often uses more effective learning methods.
Check out the detailed report here.
The studies mentioned above show the effectiveness of eLearning for student learning. Important factors like student engagement, collaboration, peer interaction, feedback, flexibility, and motivation are prominent in the eLearning setting compared to the traditional teaching model. As per studies, students have responded positively, and their results improve under the online learning approach. However, what drives students to succeed in an online learning environment is self-motivation. With studies mentioned above in consideration, eLearning has a positive impact on students learning.
Do share your take in the comments section below.