Advantages And Possible Limitations Of Online Learning - Asking an eLearning professional to point out the possible limitations of online leaning is like asking Garry Kasparov to list the disadvantages of playing chess; how can you disparage a true passion of yours? However, if we need to be fair, there might be some potential limitations of online learning, when this has not been designed properly. In this article, I'll share a complete list of advantages, as well as what might go wrong with online learning in order to present a complete picture of the online learning experience.
1. It's convenient.
This is obviously the greatest benefit of online learning; as long as you own a computer and have an internet connection, it doesn’t matter in which part of the world you are. Learners can access information from anywhere, anytime. Furthermore, distance is no longer a barrier to learning, whether academic or professional. Especially for corporate training, the ability to reach an unlimited number of employees quickly and regardless of their location has greatly benefited organizations all around the globe.
2. It's flexible.
It is simple, really; learning becomes easier when aligned with one’s learning needs and preferences. Online learning allows learners to study at their own pace, whether they are students, busy adults, or employees. Assignment due dates aside, your audience is given the freedom to personally build their own learning schedule and choose where and when to learn. Speaking of “where”, mobile learning offers your audience the ability to keep up with their learning wherever they are, at home, on a bus, in the park, as long as they have a mobile device with them.
3. It's cost effective.
Especially regarding corporate training, the cost effectiveness of online learning is quite impressive; no more travel and accommodation expenses for trainers and employees, reusable online content, budget cuts on training materials. Especially if your company has an online training budget, online learning is the ideal training option for you.
4. It can be tailored to different needs.
Different people learn in different ways, and online learning does everything in its power to ensure that all learning needs are met. Instructional Designers and eLearning professionals create online courses that address almost all learning behaviors and accommodate all learning preferences. With online learning it doesn’t matter whether your learners are visual, acoustic, or kinesthetic; there is a very wide variety of learning methods and tools that can be used to support learning while meeting all needs.
5. It's immediate.
Not only learners are able to begin their online learning immediately, but they are also able to see immediate results; whether self-paced or instructor-led, online learning provides a variety of ways to offer constructive feedback to the audience. Furthermore, online learning allows for immediate access to additional online resources, which is always a bonus.
6. It's unrestricted.
With online learning location is no longer a barrier; neither are culture and nationality. Translating and customizing your online courses to address different cultures in various languages makes possible for your eLearning content to travel all around the world and reach the widest possible audience. This is particularly effective for your online training program, as you can use the same training material for your globally distributed workforce and ensure that all of your employees are aligned with your company’s brand, values, and vision.
7. Immediate updates.
Today’s online learning is better than yesterday’s; and online learning of tomorrow will be better than today’s. Multimedia, gamification, interactivity, constantly improved technology in general, provide a wide variety of applications and tools that not only update online learning, but also they make it more effective. The best part? You know that once you update your eLearning course, your audience will have immediate access to the updated version as soon as they click a mouse button.
If eLearning, however, is not based on solid instructional design theories and models it may lead to the following limitations:
1. It may be a "solo" act.
It is true that, although online learning might be convenient and flexible, it is also a solo act. It will not be easy for all of your learners to feel comfortable when participating in online discussions and engaging more actively with their online instructors or their virtual classmates. Furthermore, some people absolutely need personal contact with their educators or trainers in order to learn successfully. Constructive feedback can be very effective, but if not given properly or in time, it might also be limited. In addition, some types of learning problems may be difficult to be addressed online, and some questions can be lost in a sea of requests and inquiries. This sometimes makes learners feel they lack support and reassurance.
2. It may be impersonal.
No matter how hard we try to fully transfer human communication to online platforms, no matter how natural it seems to form relationships behind computer screens, a virtual environment is just not human. Nothing can replace human contact.
3. Too much time spent in front of a computer screen may be harmful.
Being constantly online is the new reality, but the truth is that using a computer or a tablet all the time can cause poor vision, strain injuries, and other physical problems. Consider sending guidelines about right sitting posture, desk height, etc. along with your eLearning course; it might be very useful to your audience.
4. It requires self-discipline.
If your eLearning audience lacks self-discipline, it is unlikely that they will be motivated to self study. Traditional learning and training have the benefit of easily tracking both progress and falling behind; this works for many learners as well, as some people prefer their progress to be closely monitored in order to perform.
5. Possible lack of control.
No matter how carefully you design your eLearning course, there is no guarantee that your messages will get across. You offer your learners control over their eLearning experience and this is great, but are they going to use it effectively? There is always the risk of your learners just going through the material without paying any attention.
If your eLearning content is not built to make the most of the medium it will easily become disengaging. Furthermore, unless you know exactly what you’re doing with new technologies, it is very likely that you overwhelm or distract your audience. Creating effective online learning courses requires knowledge, time, experience, talent, commitment, great communication skills, and a true passion for learning. Have you got all that? If the answer is yes, then be sure that the advantages of your online training, outweigh its limitations.
Now that you know all the advantages and possible limitations of online learning, you may be interested in learning the pros and cons of blended learning. Read the article Blended Learning Advantages And Disadvantages In Corporate Training to take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of blended training.
This post was first published on eLearning Industry here ...