20 Pros and Cons of E-Learning in Live Virtual Classrooms (+ 4 Free Tools!)

Your Guide to the Pros and Cons of E-Learning

  • The 12 Pros of E-Learning
  • The 8 Cons of E-Learning
  • 4 Free Tools for the Live Virtual Classroom

The 12 Pros of E-Learning

1. Flexibility

Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?

  • Live in remote areas.
  • Have to get public transport to school.
  • Should be closer to home for medical or other reasons.

2. Huge Boost to Independent Skills

3. Preparation for a Remote Future

Of all the pros and cons of e-learning, this one will probably have the biggest long-term effect on your students’ working futures.

4. Way More Interactive

The sad truth of the modern school system is that it’s not modern at all. We’re still largely teaching our learners through the same one-way information dump that we were in Victorian times.

  • Q&A — An orderly question-and-answer session where students can anonymously (or not) ask the teacher questions about the subject matter. These Q&A sessions can be saved to revisit later.
  • Live polls — Multiple choice questions asked in real-time that students vote on from home. This can be used to gather opinions or test understanding of a topic.
  • Brainstorming — Open-ended questions and word clouds allow your students to freely offer their ideas and discuss others’.
  • Quizzes — A super fun, points-based method to test understanding in a team or solo. In some software, each students’ quiz responses can be tied into an analytics report.

5. Using Online Documents is Vastly Superior

6. Super Green

Here’s one of the e-learning pros and cons with the potential for a massive impact on your students’ futures.

7. Easy to Organise and Recap

In the offline model, classes are just very brief bursts of information that have to battle against the everyday distractions of a growing student. It’s often hard for a student to remember something they were learning about just yesterday.

  • Q&A — A written Q&A session means that all questions asked in a lesson are logged.
  • Recording sessions — Live video software allows you to record your lesson and share the whole thing, or selected parts of it, with your students.
  • Shared folders — All students can access Q&A logs, video recordings, documents, materials and so much more from shared online folders.

8. Lots of Supervision

You might assume it’s easy for kids to slack off when the only thing keeping them tethered to their learning is a camera.

9. Pandemic-Proof

You’ve probably figured this one out for yourself: e-learning will be the best way to continue education when the next pandemic hits.

10. Anonymous Participation

As teachers, we’ve all wondered how to get the shy kids to pipe up.

11. Downloadable Lesson Plans

Remember that these many pros and cons of e-learning don’t just affect the students, they affect the teacher as well.

Free Template Download: Learning Style Assessment

Free Template Download: Virtual School Book Club

  1. Click on the ‘free template download’ links above.
  2. Scroll through the preview of the template to see if it suits.
  3. Press the button to sign up to AhaSlides for free.
  4. Click ‘Copy to your Account’.
  5. Click ‘Go to Presentations’.
  6. Edit anything you like about the template and share it with your students via the unique room code. They can respond to the questions and discussions within by using their smartphones.

12. Organised Analytics

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: exams are far from the best way to assess your students’ performances.

  1. Overall results (percentage of students who answered correctly).
  2. Most difficult questions (reveals the questions with the least correct answers).
  3. Performance of each student in the quiz.
  4. Performance report for each student compared to their previous performances.

The 8 Cons of E-Learning

1. Engagement is not Easy

  • The students are still getting used to an unfamiliar setting.
  • The students are feeling overexposed by having their face on screen for everyone to see.
  • The students are distracted by things at home.
  • The students don’t have the chance to work in groups.
  • The students are used to active lessons.
  • The teacher doesn’t know how to modify their regular approach to accommodate online learners.
  • The software students are using is too confusing or hasn’t been explained to them properly.

How to Fix it…

Really, there could be any number of reasons why your students are struggling to find the focus necessary for your online lesson. As a teacher, your job is to clear these hurdles with lessons so engaging that your students can’t look away.

  • Use live interactive software (with live polls, quizzes, and all that good stuff we talked about above).
  • Use icebreaker activities in lessons to settle early tension. (We’ve got a whole bunch of ideas right here!)
  • Use breakout rooms on your video software to swap between solo and group work.

2. Not Everyone has the Tech

Simply put, you can’t expect all of your students to be able to get the tech required to participate in online classes. Some of them may be from underprivileged families and might not have the funds available for a laptop, a decent internet connection or pay-to-use software.

How to Fix it…

If you have the power to do so, the best way to fix this massive e-learning disadvantage is to try asynchronous learning. That’s learning through set materials that can be accessed at any time of the day without the need for a live virtual classroom.

3. Tech Issues

We’ve all, at some point in our lives, been in a position where previously flawless technology has let us down at the precise moment that we need it.

How to Fix it…

You can never predict a tech issue, but you can always prepare to circumvent the problem:

  • Test! Seems obvious, right? Still, there are plenty of teachers who use new software without giving it a thorough look beforehand. Test every feature you plan to use twice or 3 times.
  • Backup! Even after testing, some brand new, rage-inducing problem can spring up out of nowhere. Find software that provides a similar service to your first choice and make it your second choice.

4. Harder to Control the Class

We mentioned before that one e-learning pro is that the amount of supervision students receive actually increases online. Yet, while there are classroom management tools available, they only let you deal with misbehaving students individually.

How to Fix it…

There’s no one-size-fits all for this one. Just a few ways you can approach your virtual lessons to minimise the risk of misbehaviour:

  • Set the rules clearly at the start of your course, or even the start of every lesson.
  • Maximise the student interaction in your class: both teacher-to-student and student-to-student.
  • Keep things varied — a stagnant, tedious lesson is a breeding ground for misbehaviour.

5. One-on-One Teaching can Suffer

How to Fix it…

Just because you don’t technically have an office doesn’t mean that you can’t have virtual office hours.

6. Harder for Students to Socialise

When your students look fondly back on their school days, it’s unlikely that they’ll mention anything that happened in 2020–21.

How to Fix it…

…Except for video games.

7. Zoom Fatigue

Imagine, back in the day, having all of your classes in the exact same room for 2 years straight. Not a nice idea, is it?

How to Fix it…

Of all the pros and cons of e-learning, this one’s probably the hardest to figure out. Zoom fatigue is a phenomenon that accrues over time and likewise can only be negated with consistent and long-term action.

  • Decorate your classroom — Spend lesson time with students to create themed decorations around the subject material of your class. Then, get your students to hang them up around their home classroom.
  • Themed costumes — Set as homework a task to create a themed costume based on what you’re teaching. Students can use any materials, but have to explain their costume when they arrive in class.
  • Play games — Educational games can keep focus sharp and minds off the fact that they’re in their 8th Zoom lesson of the day. We’ve got a banger list of virtual game ideas right here!

8. Lack of Movement

Did you know that after 10 minutes of sitting, children start to lose focus and feel sleepy? While the time is delayed for older students, the same principle applies: your students need to move.

How to Fix it…

Check out these top-notch brain breaks, which especially work wonders with younger students…

  • Multiple-choice movements — If you have a multiple choice question, provide each answer option with an accompanying movement. Students answer by performing the movement of their chosen answer.
  • Scavenger hunt — Give students a time limit to find all the household items on a list and then show them on camera. For older learners, the items can be more conceptual.
  • Any of the short brain breaks in this great article!

4 Free Tools for the Live Virtual Classroom

So, we’ve had a comprehensive look at some of the pros and cons of e-learning that you have to consider for the live virtual classroom. To eradicate the cons and emphasise the pros of online learning, you’re going to need a pretty large toolbox.

Tool #1 — Excalidraw

Excalidraw is a free communal whiteboard that lets you and your students draw together. It’s a great tool for illustrating stories, visualising concepts or playing games!

Tool #2 — Veyon

Many teachers are rightfully hesitant to use screen monitoring software in the virtual classroom. But, Veyon offers much more than that.

Tool #3 — Flipgrid

Flipgrid is all about keeping things social in these distanced times.

Tool #4: AhaSlides

If you’re still using one-way Google Slides or Powerpoint presentations for your online lessons, it’s time to get interactive.

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AhaSlides, the online interactive presentation tool created to turn you — the speaker — into the real star on stage. Website: ahaslides.com