E-Learning: The Pros and Cons


Clint Bishop

The field of teaching has become revolutionized with the concept of E-learning. What is E-learning? E-learning, (which is also known as electronic learning), is when computers are used to assist in the learning process. The concept can be expressed in a variety of ways including through use of separate software, utilization of the Internet or even simulated ‘virtual’ environments. This article will discuss each of these aspects of E-learning.

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Before the Internet became popular, E-learning was done through special software programs known as ‘edutainment.’ As its namesake would indicate, E-learning through edutainment involved teaching people things while also entertaining them. Popular edutainment titles included Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing and The Miracle Piano System. In its heyday there were edutainment programs that allowed for E-learning through both computers and video game consoles. Today, E-learning through edutainment has died down, though it has been revived a little bit through Leapster. This is a video game system that features edutainment for children in elementary school.

So, if E-learning through edutainment has lost popularity over the years, what is the current venue used for this method of education? The answer is the Internet. With the availability of the Internet, E-learning goes in a direction that edutainment could not. This direction involves interactivity with a professor. In a typical Internet E-learning setup, professors communicate with their students through message boards, chat rooms and e-mail. In fact, Internet E-learning is so effective it is possible to earn a high school diploma or a college degree right from the comfort of your own home. Of course, this is only if you want to take Internet E-learning this far. Internet E-learning can also be used for less intense forms of learning such as tutoring or research for academic papers.

The other form commonly used for E-learning is through interaction with a simulated virtual environment. This involves placing students in a computerized scenario where they have to use both their wits and knowledge of whatever subject they are learning to successfully achieve the simulation. E-learning through simulated virtual environments is commonly done for helicopter or airplane pilots, who may have to fly a ‘plane’ through virtual airspace sometime during the course of their training. It is also used in the military. In terms of individual usage on personal computers, there aren’t too many simulated virtual environments available. And the ones that are would be more in the realm of edutainment, as an ‘official’ simulated virtual environment must have both realistic controls and a 3D environment. Granted, personal computers can produce 3D graphics, but they cannot provide the types of controls that are available with industrial-grade simulated virtual environments.

In conclusion, E-learning can be done through software, the Internet or through simulated virtual environments. Whichever method you choose for your E-learning needs, you will find that the E-learning process in general is much more convenient than traditional classroom teaching. Whether you are learning through edutainment software, chatting with a professor in an online classroom or virtually flying an airplane, with E-learning you can learn at your own pace at your own time. You can even have a little bit of fun in the process. Indeed, no other concept has revolutionized people’s academic experiences as E-learning.

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E-Learning: The Pros and Cons