Here I will list some of the advantages and disadvantages of Web Based Learning
- Distance learning: can learn over great distaances
- Asynchronous: the production of the education content can occur at one time or over a period of time. The learner(s) can access this content at any time thereafter at their convenience.
- Economies of scale: one educator can reach countless learners at low cost.
- Consistent message: there is uniformity and consistency in the content delivered to different learners
- Multi-format: can provide content in a range of formats including text, audio, video, interactive question/answer (eg online quiz, exams), multi media interactive (audio/video conferencing).
- Easy Access: web based content is now easily accessible to most parts of the world through a range of devices including computers, tablets and smartphones.
- Sharing: Provides easy ability for different educators to share and reference each other’s work. This prevents unnecessary duplication.
- Ease of updating: web content is easily updated and new versions can easily replace old.
- Access restrictions: web technology allows the educator to restrict access to certain learners or for certain periods of time, which amongst other things can be required to effectively provided paid educational content and therefore needing to minimise free access.
- Up to date: web content can be kept up to date at a faster pace that older methodologies such as text books and journals.
- Discussion groups: this can provide a forum of users to question and answer as well as collaborate on learning and work. Some learners find interacting in this way less threatening and feel less vulnerable compared with face to face interactions such as putting one’s hand up in class or speaking out loud publicly. Thus this can enhance learning for such learners
- Repeatable learning: education can be reviewed multiple times
- Multi-lingual: online translators can easily allow the ability for content to be viewed in different language
- Assessment efficiency: the efficiency of assessment conduct and marking can be greatly enhanced through the computer interface
- Record keeping: the web provides excellent capacity for the leaner’s educational records and resources to be stored and easily accessed both by the learner and by other institutions relevant to the learner
- “Cold, impersonal”, less engaging and motivating for some learners compared to face to face learning.
- Social isolation: not attending formal face-face learning with other learner’s can reduce capacity for the making of friends, colleagues and networks that may enhance both personal and professional life.
- Less ability to interact compared with face-face learning. However some improvements in audio and video conferencing can mitigate some of this issue.
- Technical limitations: the ability to access content is dependant on the user having satisfied a full set of infrastructural technical requirements ranging from a suitably fast internet connection, to an appropriately powered device and relevant software on the device. The ability to achieve these requirements can be limited by geographical access to hardware/software, financial means and region specific IT infrastructure. In addition a minimum standard of IT literacy is required on the part of the learner which can provide a barrier to learning. Further even after achieving the minimum requirements, new content can often lift the requirements preventing further access without upgrades, breaking the learning experience.
- Technical problems: a range of different technical problem on the both the user and producer’s side can interfere with efficient learning of prevent it all together eg internet connection fails, website malfunctions etc
- Lack of individualisation: web learning is often a standard package not tailored to the individual that face to face learning can individualise better. However in someways individualisation can be improved by allowing the learner to access different content that is most relevant to them while ignoring others, however that is a one-way individualisation – the educator is not responding to the learner’s needs. However interactive audio/visual learning, can help deal with this issue
- Overuse of technology: the high tech feel and glamour of technological solutions can often drive the creation of content rather than the education objectives themselves which may be better reached in a low tech fashion.
- Lack of recognition: online learning may not be properly recognised by various training and learning institutions.
- Lack of peer view: often a problem for many websites
- Perpetual accessibility: while also an advantage, this can be a problem where new learner’s may be able to access content that gives them “the answers” before they have done the necessary research to find out for themselves. However there are various ways to restrict content that can help mitigate this
- Sharing control: it can be difficult to easily prevent widespread sharing and duplication of content which may be a particular problem if the content is paid content.
- Audience control: it is difficult to control who sees material that is posted publicly as it may not be appropriate for the consumption of many eg medical information intended for practitioners may be inappropriate and misleading for lay public; also some material may be age appropriate only.