Students learn best when they enjoy learning. This immutable fact has defined teaching methodologies ever since education became student centric. Today, e-learning has emerged as an inextricable part of education, and the endeavour of teachers and innovators is to make it more engaging and efficient for students. E-learning has been around for almost two decades, but its prominence peaked during the Covid-19 pandemic. There were false starts, tech glitches, poor connectivity and lack of digital competence in the beginning of this transformation, but teachers and students have gradually streamlined e-learning.
The changing student perceptions about e-learning were highlighted in a recent empirical study published on MDPI. Conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic, the study involved responses from 182 students of Indian colleges, including many business schools. According to the results published, the students rated e-learning quite favourably with regards to certain variables, such as flexibility, ease of sharing educational material, and access to study resources.
However, only 33% of the respondents felt that e-learning improves collaboration and interactivity among students. Likewise, only 46% thought that e-learning provides equal access to higher education for all applicants. This study gives us a lead into what we need to do to make e-learning more engaging and efficient. As much as possible, teachers should try to elicit greater response and participation from students. This can be done in multiple ways.
Make it social: Teachers should encourage students to engage in debates and discussions online. Additionally, peer reviews and evaluations among students bring in a social element to online engagement.
Smaller groups for better learning: Online interaction is always better in smaller groups than larger ones.
Discussion rooms: Digital platforms and tools such as Breakout Rooms and Discussion Rooms can encourage interaction.
Giving learners greater control: Students should have a say in deciding the pace of a lesson. Teachers should be facilitators of education rather than providers of information. Supervision by faculty must not be too overbearing for students.
Teachers as communicators: Teachers may employ different teaching styles involving activities, exercises, quizzes and polls to ensure greater participation.
Shorter content delivery: Lessons can be divided into parts to ensure better learning outcomes. Efficiency depends on optimum utilisation of available resources.
Right blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning: Synchronous learning demands simultaneous participation of students in an online session, whereas asynchronous learning comprises recorded lessons that students may access at their comfort and pace. We need to find the right blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning to make it most efficient. For e-learning to be equitable and efficient, all stakeholders must contribute to build a better IT infrastructure for smooth and seamless delivery of online education.
Digitally trained teachers: Teachers may need to acquire digital competence to conduct online classes confidently. Teacher training and upskilling may help enhance efficiency.