The Pros (& Cons) of an e-Learning

Before discussing some of the advances (and the dis-advantages) of the e-learning approach, it is useful to think over the format in general:

Concept & Administration

A strategic approach to e-Learning is the key to successful integration of interactive web-based learning processes into a training organisation. The ACWUA/ONEE-WANT Water e-Learning courses had to be planned carefully before they were implemented.

The GIZ and their regional partners ACWUA and ONEE tried to answer the following questions: 

  • What are the objectives for e-Learning?
  • What does the GIZ, ACWUA and ONEE want to gain with e-Learning? What are the reasons for e-Learning?
  • Who is the target group?
  • What kind of qualification does GIZ, ACWUA and ONEE offer and how to certify the learners?
  • How does the instructional model look like:
    • How do we implement eLearning as a method?
    • How to support the learners?
    • How to prepare the material for the chosen media (instructional design)?
  • Which learning technology suits the needs best (learning management system)?

To clearly decide about an implementation of e-Learning, an organization needs to know more on the costs and the needs of their client. Also, it should be informed about the

Advantages

  • Saving Resources (e.g. saving in travel costs, working time, lecture time);
  • Learner-friendly (e.g. no overcrowded classrooms, learning at you own convenience);
  • New and broader target-groups (e.g. more and other students per course, wider reach);
  • Easy to update learning content/using existing content (e.g. Content can be re-used and shared within the organisation or exchanged with partner organisations -> in-House training, Content of partners can be tied in);
  • Networking among experts, alumni etc.;
  • Development of new/better instructional methods and levelling instructional quality;
  • Different modes of distribution (Blended Learning: face-to-face, online, offline); and

Disadvantages of an e-Learning

  • Bad acceptance from the target group (e.g. due to lack of skills or technical infrastructure; Rejection from trainers / teachers)
  • Learning curve too low (e-Learning beside normal workload allows only a very restricted learning-time);
  • Financial constraints (Server, other related IT cost, Internet access, ...)
  • Technical problems (Severe technical problems, no infrastructure or related services available);
  • Administrational Problems (e.g. Rejection within the organisation itself, due to lack of information, transparency, cost; Not enough human resources like e-tutors);
  • Lack of Motivation (which is the most common problem in e-Learning, where the drop-out rate is normally 60-70% (in MOOV even much more). ACWUA/ONEE tries to avoid this problem by the company of especially trained e-tutors)

There will probably be other challenges, depending on the situation and on a possible institutional setup. A well-planned implementation process will help to avoid most of them.