E-learning refers to learning conducted by the use of computers, laptops, tablets and various mobile devices.
Technology facilitates the learning process through e-books and online videos providing visual and auditory presentation of courses.
The benefits of e-learning are mainly the cost efficiency, accessibility and flexibility in terms of time and place. E-learning allows learning to take place when the lecturer and the learner are separated both in time and space.
Can the use of information technology, with the use of online courses, like Khan Academy and Coursera, make secondary and tertiary institutions redundant?
A question as to whether e-learning threatens to displace the teacher, was raised at an international conference in Nairobi. If the role of the teacher becomes redundant, then will the institute become redundant?
Jenny Cole, of South African-based Net Learn, dispelled this concern by stating “e-learning does not take the teacher out of the classroom. You need a teacher to drive e-Learning,” But Chris Smith, a lecturer at the United Kingdom-based University of Bolton, said “African teachers risked being made irrelevant by the adoption of e-learning”.
The major challenges to overcome the implementation of e-learning are:
- Changes to pedagogy.
- Students possessing adequate technical skills to use e-learning tools effectively
- Financial constraints
- Inadequate ICT and e-learning infrastructure
- Lack of affordable and adequate internet bandwidth
E-learning can provide a solution to overcome the education challenges South Africa faces. There is still a need for teachers and lecturers to provide the learning. The challenges South Africa faces in bringing e-learning to the disadvantaged still outweighs the benefits thereof. Thus secondary and tertiary institutions will still have to provide the necessary learning securing their existence. A future in which lecturer-less physical institutions are only necessary as e-learning hubs may not be that far-fetched.
Contribution by: Kashief Harris (703147)