E-learning, A Paradigm Shift in Education
By Abdelmjid Seghir
Morocco News Tribune
Larache, Morocco | Interactive whiteboards, tablets, smart phones, social networks and the incredible amount of software and hardware that is available now has been reshaping education for the last decade. Thus, with this incredible advancement in technology, taking education to cyberspace has become an inescapable fate. Hereafter is a very brief discussion of E-learning’s potentials and limitations.
Generally speaking, E-learning can be broadly defined as the teaching and learning that take place online. This might include classes on online platforms such as Moodle, Wiziq, Coursera and Facebook educational pages and groups or even Skype conversations with tutors in other parts of the world. Also, there are now some universities who have started giving online classes and students can now get university degrees from the comfort of their homes. A prominent example is the University of Phoenix.
Synchronous and asynchronous learning is therefore the main source of E-learning’s power and charm. That is; if you’re too overwhelmed with responsibilities but still have the motivation to pursue your studies, E-learning can be a perfect alternative to campus-based universities. Furthermore, E-learning can be a self-confidence booster for introvert people who tend to prefer to work alone.
Financially speaking; E-learning is a lot more affordable than attending traditional universities – especially in Europe and the USA. For example; an accredited online MA’s program fees might be around 15.000$ whereas studying the same program in a campus-based university might cost up to 60.000$ or even more.
On the other hand, E-learning has its limitations, too. The first and major one is that it lacks social interaction. That is; no face-to-face discussions or conversations take place and no humanistic aspects are there to ease and comfort the learner who is dealing mainly with machines. This lack of human interaction can be very demotivating to certain types of learners, especially extrovert learners who always look for interaction and need to feel that they are surrounded by real people.
Also, students with limited computing knowledge are denied the opportunity to take advantage of this new medium. This is mainly due to E-learning’s reliance on new technologies that many students are not acquainted with. This reliance on machines (computers, video cameras, microphones…) is the main cause of E-learning’s third major limitation which is the various technical problems that learners might face. Slow internet connection, virused computers, crashed cameras, electricity cut offs and so on are a few examples.
All things considered, E-learning remains an excellent option for many people around the world. Banks, markets and newspapers have inhabited the World Wide Web, so why not schools, too? Another question that still lingers is in my mind is; will E-learning set foot in Morocco soon? And if yes, will it be accredited by the ministry of education?
Abdelmjid Seghir is a teacher of English, writer and public speaker. He holds a BA in TEFL and ICT from Ibn Zohr university, Agadir in 2010. His areas of interest include a variety of topics such as ICT, education, culture and cultural issues, photography and sports. His articles, papers and short stories have been published in many paper-based as well as electronic outlets. These include the American Language Center’s magazine “Oasis” and MATE’s (Moroccan Association of Teachers of English) 2012 conference proceedings. Seghir speaks in seminars and gives presentations at MATE’s conferences on a regular basis.