The total shift to online instruction and learning is done on an emergency basis, and while the country is gradually opening learning institutions and industries to face-to-face transactions, its prominence will probably here to stay.
But even before the pandemic hits, the potential of online learning is already growing – with the rise of the internet. Regardless of the many potential benefits of e-learning, it is critical to acknowledge potential drawbacks and barriers to its development and implementation, because, despite years of technological innovation and trends, these barriers hinder online learners from appreciating its full benefits.
Here are the most common barriers to e-Learning and the possible ways to overcome them:
1. Lack of Social Interaction
Sustained interactions between students and instructors, and students and their peers, are the cornerstone of effective learning. Many will appreciate the significance of social interaction in the classroom, and the way ‘connectedness’ helps learners build the skills they need to engage with others. This feeling of ‘connectedness’ helps learners develop a community of inquiry to effectively absorb their lessons and eventually apply it to everyday situations.
But with the rapid pivot to online teaching, there is a fear that this method of learning may risk losing social engagement. Despite having different features like cameras, mics, and breakout rooms to facilitate interaction, learners may feel hesitant or forced to socialize, which may develop a “panic response” from getting all the attention in a virtual room.
2. Administrative Issues
Online learning becomes even more challenging when learners are not instructed on how and when to contact their professors or tutors, along with poor communication about coursework expectations.
In a situation like this, connection with classmates comes in handy. Create a group chat or directly message them for inquiries to get much-needed clarity.
3. Lack of Technical Skills and Connectivity Issues
Some of your online learners may breeze through the eLearning program on their own, but some may be hesitant to leap because they don't have much experience navigating through technologies and the internet.
In addition, although the internet allows students to be in constant contact with their instructors and peers through chat forums, messaging apps, and social media, there are also challenges in accessing it. Without a strong internet connection or high bandwidth, online learning becomes nearly impossible and keeping up with requirements for a chosen course that involves research or online tools can be stressful.
The best way to address this is to ensure that you have the basic or fundamental skills and knowledge on computer hardware and its function, the programs you will be using most often, to look for when technical issues arise.
4. Difficulty in Managing Time
The main advantage of online education is flexibility. When you enroll in online classes, you will be able to study and review course materials during your own time, while also doing other things.
However, the same flexibility creates the inevitable dilemma of when exactly classes time – or even work! – begins and ends each day. This blurring of boundaries challenges our work-life balance. It can also encourage procrastination since you have “all the time” to learn at home.
Ward off procrastination by building a study or assignment schedule (and follow it religiously!) to maximize your time and hit your deadlines with ease.
5. Online Learning Boredom and Lack of Motivation
Motivation is hard to maintain without in-person involvement or intervention with instructors. Further, learners are bound to view lectures boring if they are heavy on facts, not engaging, and push learners with too much content without follow-up or evaluation. And when boredom sets in, online learners check out.
There's no secret method to make eLearning courses inspiring and engaging. But there are ways to prevent boredom. Short surveys and pre-assessments can be integrated before each session to identify the expectations, needs, and goals of the students, and using eLearning feedback to create relevant and relatable eLearning experiences can be placed after sessions to assess the possible focus areas for the next lesson, and identify which topic best interests the learners.
Mini-games and activities to make lessons fun and creative while distance learning will also do the work.