Unlike traditional learning, whereby students physically attend school in order for them to learn; e-learning is conducted through internet-enabled devices. The system is based on formalized teaching on an electronic platform therefore, one has to have a computer and internet to access e-learning. There is a lot of educational content on the internet, most of it free and one could use a phone, computer, tablet to gain access to it. Students from any part of the world can attend classes or lectures and sit exams.
One of the first instances of online learning in the world can be traced back to 1960, at the University of Illinois, USA. The internet had not yet been introduced back then but the students were learning from a terminal interlinked to form a network. E-learning was later on introduced in November 1999, by Elliot Masie during his TechLearn conference at Disney World and that was the first time the word was used in a professional context.
Online learning has not been very popular over the years but the global e-learning sector has currently witnessed a meteoric rise. This is as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that began in December 2019 at Wuhan in China. This pandemic has brought nations all over the world to their knees. Nations have had to enforce lockdowns, curfews and deal with the tough economic crisis brought about by curfews and lockdowns. Those fortunate enough had the opportunity to work from home, while others, unfortunately, lost their jobs. The students also had to stay home as they did not have access to their schools; this is what brought about the introduction of e-learning in most learning institutions as a backup plan.
By April 2020, 1.3 billion learners had been affected. 78.3% of the learners from 186 countries. 17 million of them from Kenya. The education system had to find an alternative method so that the students would get back to their learning.
During the census held in Kenya it was discovered that smartphone ownership in Kenyan households was at 47.3%. Kenya was also ranking third highest in the number of internet subscribers in Africa. The internet also served as a system with a large amount of educational content. As a result of all this, the education board saw it best to use e-learning and catch up on the time they had lost with their students during the lockdown.
However, not everyone had access to the internet, phones, tablets or computers and these factors saw some students get left behind by their colleagues who had access. The government was asked to expand the internet infrastructure and make both internet and digital devices more affordable so as to increase access to online platforms.
Some schools like the United States International University-Africa had found ways to do this for their institutions and online learning has thrived and is still being used as a platform to educate their students.
E-learning seemed suitable because of its great access thus could reach students from any part of the country. It also aided in resource scalability as it helped save time and money as all the educational institutions needed was the internet and a phone, tablet, or computer. Better results were also achieved from e-learning as students found it easier to grasp concepts due to the use of audiovisuals and the variable media formats thus better retention of the information. The pace of the students was also improved as students could research and read ahead of their instructors and those who had not grasped concepts could revisit in their free time and catch up. It was also cost-effective. There was instant upskilling of information and content available for the students and the teachers so they were always up to date with key information. It was environment friendly as unlike Offline School, it didn’t need paper that is cut from trees. It had traceable outcomes as the sources are clearly stated. A quick lesson delivery was in place, unlike the school timetables that would take long to prepare.
The cons however were that it promoted social isolation. The students lacked communication skills. It got easier to cheat during exams as the supervisor was not physically present for invigilation. Not completely accessible to everyone as people in extremely rural areas did not have access to the internet or electronic devices required for online learning. Lacked face to face communication. Required strong self-motivation and time management from both the student and the parents as maximum supervision was required. Students could also get exposed to the wrong material as everything was out there for them to find.
All in all the pros outweighed the cons and online learning became adapted by all institutions. Now with E-learning, students save time and can learn on the go. Classroom boundaries have been eliminated. It is extensive, we can learn about different parts of the world and gain better skills. Students are also encouraged to go out of their way as it demands more from them since they are exposed to vast information.
Should E-learning be incorporated in the education system in the near future?
If it was, COSEKE (K) LIMITED would be in a position to facilitate the process. The company is ready to assist with storage services such as instant servers and cloud space. These would ensure that information from previous classes would be stored. The student information would be made readily available to the schools and the parents. They would also be in a position to issue good quality high-performance laptops at reasonable prices.
Coseke (k) limited also has a Service Level Agreement (SLA) whereby they maintain the servers, cloud space and laptops for a year at no cost. They also train your staff so that they may be well conversant with the devices for the best results.