What is e-learning? Benefits and Drawbacks of E-learning

Anyone who has learned something through e-learning will tell you how convenient and life-changing it is. The term e-learning was coined by Elliott Maisie in 1999. E-learning and online learning is the same thing.  But what is online learning? What are the benefits or drawbacks of e-learning? How does e-learning work? Whom does e-learning benefit?

Yes, I know you have all of these questions in your mind right now. That’s why I am here.

In this article, I’m going to give you an overview of online learning, i.e.- the definition, its benefits and how it works. Let’s get started.

What is E-learning?

E-learning is also referred to as online learning or electronic learning. Since the invention of the internet, online learning has continued to transform the world of knowledge transfer.

Put simply, e-learning is learning something through the use of the internet and digital resources. The best thing about learning online is that we can break all the geographical barriers of normal education.

You can sit at your home, having a nice cup of coffee while attending lessons from anywhere in the world. Most of the time, e-learning is in the form of online courses, online conferences, or online programs.

Benefits of E-learning

Welcome to your e-learning course

Electronic Learning has a lot more advantages than traditional learning. Some people think that online learning doesn’t have the human element that is necessary in the learning process.

Even though this isn’t completely false, e-learning has many other benefits that overcome this simple problem. The following are some of the benefits of e-learning:

Self-paced Learning

In online learning, the learners can make use of self-paced learning. In the traditional method, there is a specified pace of learning for a group of students.

But as you know, everyone doesn’t learn at the same pace. This makes online learning much more effective for individual learners.

E-learning costs less

E-learning is both cost-effective and cost-efficient. There are both free resources and paid resources for learning online. Both of these are more than sufficient for an individual learner to consume.

If you are just looking to learn about a certain topic, you will find plenty of free resources by using a search engine like Google. The paid resources also cost less than printed resources or traditional resources. And the cost of the internet is not a big deal either.

E-learning removes Geographical Obstacles

E-learning removes geographical boundaries and obstacles. Suppose you want to learn about something that is offered online by a university in the USA.

You don’t have to go to the USA to take that course or program, thanks to e-learning. You are most likely to find an online version of that program that you can access from your computer.

Online learning has proven to be very effective

Whether it’s people of an organization or individual students taking online education, e-learning has proven to be an effective learning method.

In a traditional learning environment, students sometimes focus on passing the exams and acquiring a certificate. But online learning curriculums have been designed in a way so that students can focus on learning more than passing exams.

This works because students have a clear choice between various learning resources and they can choose whatever they find interesting. They don’t have to abide by a mandatory curriculum like in the traditional learning environments.

Disadvantages of E-learning

It shouldn’t be surprising that e-learning isn’t perfect either. I think it’s important to discuss the disadvantages of e-learning in this article alongside the benefits. So, here are the disadvantages of e-learning:

Limited feedback from students

There is limited feedback in a lot of e-learning websites

The disadvantages of online learning boil down to the lack of human connection. In a traditional learning environment, the student/learner can give immediate feedback to the teacher and vice versa.

Students can solve the problems they are facing during the lecture or outside of classrooms connecting with the teacher.

But e-learning has drawbacks when it comes to student feedback. A lack of personalized feedback discourages the inspiration and rhythm of the student.

The idea of completing regular assessments becomes dull and monotonous for the student.

But many online platforms are working towards solving this problem by implementing successful feedback systems. The simplest solution includes direct interaction through video conferencing mediums and so on.

E-learning can’t develop communicational skills of students

Online learning does a good job of helping students learn something or acquire knowledge on a certain topic. But most of the forms of online learning don’t focus on personal developments of the students.

Communicational skill is a very important skill to have in the current world. While traditional learning has various ways of developing this skill among the students, very few online learning methods focus on this.

The communication between student-to-student is also important because that helps the student work as a team. Learning through a team effort is very essential for developing communicational skills.

Even the most popular online learning websites like udemy, lynda.com, etc. don’t focus much on learning through peer-to-peer feedback.

Cheating prevention is hard for online assessments

When you are given the freedom of taking a test when sitting at your home, you will find various methods to cheat your way through the test.

In the case of assessments, all the teacher can do is check for plagiarism. But a plagiarism check is not enough to ensure the assessments are original.

The solution to this problem requires radical changes in the learning environment. For example, we have to leave our traditional “writing and submitting pdf” methods of assessments.

An effective alternative method is through a website software that tracks the activities on the user’s screen. This method is already being implemented in many online learning platforms because it has shown significant promise to prevent cheating.


Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of online learning, you can see that e-learning is a much better alternative than traditional learning. And the disadvantages of e-learning aren’t permanent either. Researchers are continuously working on improving the online learning environment as we speak.

I hope this article has been helpful. If you have any feedback or opinion about this article, please let me know in the comment section below.

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