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The rapid evolution of the learning environment has led us to the point where we can learn almost anything we want through the Internet. The education system has adapted to new media, delivering e-learning platforms as the online basis of courses conducted at the universities. Online platforms are also a source of communication between students and lecturers in times of the current pandemic. As the adoption of online teaching methods increases, now is the proper time to define the effectiveness of e-learning in education.
E-learning platforms provide students with an online version of classroom courses that they can start and finish whenever they have time for it. Apart from online lectures, e-learning modules include all the complementary materials such as presentations, additional content, and resources. This way students have unlimited access to materials needed to prepare for an exam. What’s interesting is that despite some skepticism, there are studies that prove students can attend e-learning classes ending their degree with higher or at least the same results as those who were attending lectures in a traditional way.
The research on the effectiveness of e-learning in education was carried out at the Medical University of Bialystok. The aim of the study was to compare the effectiveness of traditional and distance teaching methods with the use of e-learning platforms. The students were divided into two groups from which one attended traditional classes and the other participated in lectures in an e-learning form. Before the final exam (that was carried out in a traditional way in both groups), students had to complete an additional questionnaire about their level of satisfaction from the learning method they attended in. The study indicated several crucial results.
First of all, e-learning students expressed much more satisfaction from their teaching method. 94% of students said the implementation of distant learning helped them in preparation for the exam. Almost 92% of the e-learning students stated that the method contributed to greater acquisition of knowledge. What’s more, e-learning students remembered theoretical knowledge better. The exam results didn’t reveal any statistically significant difference. However, the student who obtained the maximum number of points was the one from the e-learning group.
Another research was to examine the impact of e-learning on the students’ academic performance and attitude. The findings showed that the mean scores obtained by students from the e-learning group were statistically significantly higher than those of students attending traditional classes. What’s more, the mean of the students’ satisfaction from the learning method was higher among e-learning students – 8.74, compared to only 6.26 among students experiencing face-to-face lectures.
Both studies confirm the implementation of e-learning methods would not decrease the level of professional knowledge nor the effectiveness of the educational process. E-learning has proved to be at least as effective as traditional teaching methods. What’s important here is also the number of additional benefits that come along with this learning approach.
Students state that the environment of e-learning is much more comfortable as they can repeat the material as many times as they need. Unlimited access to curriculum materials gives students an opportunity to deepen the subject and obtain more explanations if needed. Students have also more convenience as without traveling to university they can acquire knowledge in the comfort of their own home. And the list of benefits of e-learning goes on and on.
What we got used to is the traditional, face to face classes, and direct contact with teachers. While many people state it’s something that can’t be replaced, e-learning platforms offer conditions under which students may acquire knowledge as effectively as when attending lectures in a traditional way. Of course, the presented studies have some limitations that make the results less reliable in some parts. But even after taking them into account, students’ results and feelings towards e-learning online courses indicate the potential of the alternative learning method.