This is how online environments are evolving

E-learning tools have become very popular in the last decade.

Technology has made the transition from face-to-face learning environments to virtual classrooms smoother, yet the usage of e-Learning tools has continued to decrease over the last five years. A study made by Statistia shows that the use of LMS platforms decreased from 70 percent in 2016 to 56 percent in 2018. The complexity and hidden costs of implementing e-Learning tools have led decision-makers and professors to invest thousands of dollars in technology that should not be costly.

You may wonder why we are transitioning from face-to-face (F2F) environments to online spaces. Here is why:

In a study conducted in 4,700 public colleges and universities in the United States, the research found that more than 6.3 million students have enrolled in at least one online course. The shortcomings of face-to-face environments are leading to the implementation of virtual spaces to conduct classes. The University of Washington conducted research to describe the advantages and disadvantages of face-to-face environments.

Advantages: The first advantage of a face-to-face classroom experience is the student tendency to post questions and professors having immediate feedback on the misunderstood material. Secondly, the familiarity of face-to-face environments already exists, and students have access to on-campus support services.

Disadvantages: Some of the disadvantages of face-to-face environments beginning with the significant distance in pace. All students do not learn most efficiently in the same way, and modifying a classroom to fit the needs of each individual student is impossible. Students often feel intimidated to ask questions, especially in large classroom settings, which can make management for an educator difficult.

More than two-thirds of educators want to increase the use of technology, and 74 percent of instructors admit technology is a huge student motivator.

Why is transitioning so tricky? 

The biggest drawback when transitioning from face to face to online is cost, time, and architecture. On average, it can take up to 86 days to implement a new LMS platform. In addition to the time spent transitioning, there are packages directed only towards training. The cost to train individuals to use an LMS varies depending on the company.  Some e-learning companies offer packages that range from $300 training sessions for an hour to $12,000 for on-site training. The technology is available and inexpensive to these companies, yet the cost of them continue to increase.

Who did the platforms have in mind? Did they consider the architecture of the virtual classroom important?

The most popular e-Learning companies have focused on designing MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) without thinking of the engagement problem these virtual portals are creating. The lack of intimacy and engagement is transferring from F2F to online as well. Smaller cohort groups and video chat seem to be gaining popularity among educators and students, yet e-Learning companies are failing to mix all of the components.  

Many educators are using social media accounts to conduct classes where students feel comfortable discussing and engaging with their peers. The rise of social learning spaces and changing pedagogical trends is rapidly increasing. The costs and lack of functionality of this multibillion-dollar industry continue to grow, making it harder for the end-user to implement sustainable portals where learning can happen. The future of education is online, and building platforms that are designed to encourage the exchange and search of content at a low cost need to happen. 

Ana Gonzalez

Ana Gonzalez was born and raised in Panamá. She is a student, turned educator. She loves learning new languages and writing about how education can be innovative and dynamic when implementing the right teaching methods. She is a millennial and likes to talk about issues related to the generational gap and how we can solve them.

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