E-Learning: Definition, Benefits, Disadvantages & How to Use it

In this era that is dominated by electronics, with everything that is completely digital, of course we are no strangers to the term E-Learning. E-Learning or  electronic learning  is a learning method by utilizing electronic devices online or  online.

E-Learning allows the teaching and learning process to be carried out by anyone, anytime and anywhere. Like the principles of  other online  activities, distance and time are no longer a barrier to carrying out activities, including learning in this case.

E-Learning itself is now widely used by almost all schools and colleges. Apart from the changing times to become completely digital, the recent situation, where there is a Covid-19 pandemic that is happening throughout the world, requires us to do everything  online.

So that you can understand more deeply about the meaning of e-learning, the history of the creation of e-learning, what are its characteristics, the types of e-learning, the benefits of e-learning, the disadvantages of e-learning, and how to use e-learning, see the explanation below !

Definition of E-Learning

E-Learning Definition, Benefits, Disadvantages & How to Use it

E-learning  consists of 2 words, namely  electronic  and  learning. The literal definition of e-learning is a learning system using electronics or teaching and learning processes that are carried out in a network, or  online. E -learning, is a learning and teaching process, which utilizes electronic media, specifically the internet, as a learning system. In general, e-learning is an electronic-based learning process.

In practice, e-learning uses information technology as a learning tool. In general, e learning is carried out using internet-based media and websites. The material presented by elearning can be in the form of text formed in document format, in the form of learning videos, in the form of audio or sound explanations only, some are even in the form of  streaming  videos on YouTube. All of these learning materials, both learning materials such as notes, quizzes, and exams can be accessed through a website.

E-learning is also defined by several experts. According to Naidu (2006:1), E-learning usually refers to the use of network information and communication technologies that are deliberately set up for teaching and learning. E-learning, defined by Bullen & Janes (2007: 176) as a process of teaching and being taught that occurs when using internet technology to convey, facilitate, and enable the learning process even though it is hindered by long distances.

Freire & Pereira (2008) put forward a more general definition of e-learning, namely e learning is a learning activity in an education or training system that is carried out using electronic means. Darmawan (2011: 12) defines elearning as a form of conventional learning which is essentially presented through Information Technology and in digital formats.

According to Darmawan, e learning must be created to resemble conventional education, as if students are learning face to face, it’s just that the format has changed, namely through the internet in a digital system. E-learning has a prominent advantage, with its ability to enable efficiency in the use of space and time. Education is no longer dependent on space and time, thanks to elearning. This means that there are no more obstacles to carrying out cross-regional or even cross-country learning activities.

Darmawan (2014: 10) re-defined e learning as an internet-based application that is able to connect educators and students  online. E-learning was created to overcome all obstacles that educators and students might encounter, namely in terms of space, time, circumstances, and conditions. Thanks to elearning, the education system can operate anytime and anywhere, and ignores the dimensions of space and time.

History of E-Learning

E-learning was first introduced by the University of Illinois located in Urbana-Champaign. The University of Illinois introduced elearning that uses a computer called PLATO, in a computer-assisted instruction system. The development of e learning since then has continued to go hand in hand with developments and advances in technology.

In 1990, the Era of  Computer-Based Training  (CBT) began, in which many e-learning applications emerged that used standalone PCs or were packaged on CD-ROMs. The material presented can be in written or multimedia form, such as audio and video, in mpeg-1, avi, or mov format.

Until 1994,  Computer-Based Training  continued to be accepted by the wider community. Because of that,  Computer-Based Training  began to appear in several more attractive package forms and CBT began to be produced massively.

In 1997,  the Learning Management System  (LMS) was introduced. This LMS comes along with the development of internet technology, where people in the world are starting to switch to using the internet. At that time too, people began to feel the need for information that could be obtained quickly as an absolute necessity, which allowed location and distance to no longer be obstacles.

Based on that need,  the Learning Management System  is finally here. The rapid development of LMS has given rise to a new standard of thinking that can overcome  interoperability  problems that occur between LMSs with one another. Several examples of emerging standards are standards issued by  the Airline Industry CBT Committee  (AICC), standards from IEEE LOM, ARIADNE, and IMS standards.

1999 was stated as the birth year of the website-based e-learning application. The development of  the Learning Management System  into a website-based elearning application is a total development, which changes the learning system and administration of teaching and learning. The Learning Management System  began to be combined with magazines, newspapers and other information sites.

The content of e-learning is also getting richer, with a mix of multimedia such as video streaming and interactive presentations, which come in a wide selection of smaller, more standardized data formats. E-learning allows flexibility and effectiveness in the learning process. Therefore, e learning is said to be a future learning system that will continue to develop from time to time.

Characteristics of E-Learning

E-learning has several characteristics that are formed from the implementation system. The first characteristic, when we refer to language literally or in terms of the epistemology of e-learning itself, which means online  or  electronic learning, it can be said that the characteristic of e-learning is the use of digital media and electronic technology services.

The second characteristic of e learning is seen from the learning material. Learning material in e-learning is usually in the form of learning material in digital form that is independent. Then, the learning material is stored in the form of a computing system. This means, this learning material can be accessed by students or educators anytime and anywhere.

The third characteristic of e-learning, namely elearning makes it possible to create curricula, utilize learning schedules, as well as create an education administration system that can be accessed at any time via a computer network.

Types of E-Learning

Based on the time of learning implementation, Clark & ​​Mayer in Klinger (2008: 179) divides e learning into two classifications, namely:

  1. Synchronous learning or synchronous e-learning,  namely educators and students carry out teaching and learning activities at the same time. For example, through  online conversations, video conferencing, or  real time video.
  2. Asynchronous learning or  asynchronous e-learning, in which educators and students carry out teaching and learning activities at different times. For example, by providing or sending learning materials, activities in the form of blogs, forums, or wikis, via  file sharing, e-mail, or certain sites.

Benefits of E-Learning

1. Save Cost

E-learning allows the learning process to be carried out anywhere and anytime. Therefore, learning through elearning is considered very efficient in terms of costs, because educators and students do not need to pay a number of costs that are usually incurred in conventional education, such as transportation costs, food costs, buying books, and so on. The capital or costs that must be incurred for e learning needs are only  capable devices or gadgets  and internet costs.

2. Study Time is Flexible and Self-Adjustable

Basically, e-learning allows learning activities to be carried out in a timely manner like conventional learning. Therefore, it is one of the solutions for students who often face difficulties in determining the most appropriate study time for them, plus having to sort and choose the material they have to study. does not require the necessity to be on time like a regular class.

E-learning allows students to flexibly pursue their educational process whenever they want, they can set their own time, and access elearning websites according to their effective study time. What’s more, e learning provides convenience in terms of access, where educators or students can interact intensely anytime and anywhere. This also allows students to repeat learning material when they do not understand the material well.

3. Allows to Monitor Performance

For educators, elearning allows them to monitor or monitor student progress, specifically in assessing achievement of the material provided. E-learning has analysis and reporting features about the difficulties faced by students. The presence of this feature is useful for educators to be able to evaluate things or problems that need to be fixed and solutions in the form of appropriate methods, which need to be applied to students.

From here, educators and learning managers can then seek and find a joint solution to the problems found in the teaching and learning process.

For example, when there are students who do not pass one of the exams, the teacher can offer or provide learning methods that are considered suitable for the needs of these students.

4. Increasing Interactivity Between Educators and Students in the Learning Process

If e-learning is created properly and carefully, elearning can increase interactivity between educators and students, also between students and other students, during the learning process.

E-learning allows different interactions with conventional or face-to-face learning. In conventional learning, we often find students who do not dare or do not have the opportunity to express their opinions or ask questions during discussions. E learning allows students to be bolder, because they appear indirectly, and can express their opinions or questions at any time.

5. Wider Reach 

The flexibility of e-learning in terms of time and place makes it possible to reach more or a wider range of students. In e-learning, space and time are no longer a barrier. Anyone, anywhere, and anytime, can learn through e learning, because all interactions with learning resources are done online  via  the internet. Opportunities to learn are wide open to anyone who needs and wants.

6. Storage and Completion of Learning Materials Becomes Easier

The features available in digital media and electronic software that are used as e-learning tools allow educators and students to be able to store, change or enhance learning materials easily and quickly.

7. Add Network

As previously explained, the reach of e-learning is very wide, enabling those who use it to be able to meet many people from various regions, even various countries. This is because e-learning is internet-based and through websites that can be accessed worldwide.

So, if you use e-learning, you can meet and add connections or networks by getting to know fellow students from across regions or across countries. Sometimes there are also certain e-learning groups or communities that you can join to find and share information.

Disadvantages of E-Learning

Launching from the University of Illinois in the Illinois Online Network (2012), there are several deficiencies in e-learning that can be considered and need to be anticipated in its development. The disadvantages of e-learning are divided into six main categories,  the technology, the facilitator, the administration and faculty, the student, the curriculum,  and  the online environment.  Some of the factors that are the weaknesses of e-learning itself are technology, students, facilitators, and curricula that are not ready to adopt e-learning systems.

Bullen and Beam in Suyanto (2010: 7) further criticized several other deficiencies of e-learning, namely:

  • There are some places that do not have internet access.
  • There is still a shortage of resources or personnel who have knowledge and skills in accessing the internet.
  • There is a lack of computer language skills.
  • A quite drastic change in the role of the teacher, who previously mastered conventional learning systems, now has to master internet-based learning systems.
  • There is a tendency to encourage the development of commercial and business aspects, and instead ignore social and academic aspects.
  • Depending on the motivation of the learner, if the learner does not have high learning motivation, then he will most likely fail.
  • The process of learning and teaching is more likely to be a training system, not education.
  • Interactivity between educators and students can be very high, but can also be very low. Because, virtual presence can make students simplify the learning process and then be passive.

How to Use E-Learning

E-learning that is used by each sector from various different fields may indeed be different. Some use their own website, some use applications, and so on. However, in general how to use e learning is as follows.

  • Open an e-learning website.
  • Register yourself or if already registered, fill in your email address and password.
  • Complete personal data, such as full name, name of institution or school, contact, home address, and others.
  • Waiting for a reply email from the e learning website regarding the successful registration that you have done. If it has been declared successful, then you will be directed to verify your email.
  • If the e-learning website that you choose is paid, then you will then be asked to pay a fee for the package you choose.
  • After successful registration and payment, you can access the e-learning website and all of its contents anywhere and anytime.

So, that’s the explanation of e-learning that you must know. Hopefully the explanation above can add to your knowledge about e learning systems. As #FriendsWithoutLimits, we are always ready to provide the latest and most complete information for those of you who want to add insight.

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