We are so sick of hearing about the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, that we want to get it over with. Panic has ensued, and with that panic comes the topic of education. In November 1999, educational technology expert Elliott Masie coined the term “eLearning.” In many states, including our own, measures have been taken to incorporate the idea that Masie propounded. eLearning is being implemented to ensure that regardless of this global pandemic, students are still participating and engaging in their material.

Technology has become much more efficient to use over the years. Therefore, it makes sense to utilize this tool to the best of our ability. The conferencing software application Zoom has been offered as a free program for educational services to virtually interact with students. Zoom provides a video/audio experience comparable to Skype or FaceTime. It is differentiated from other conferencing apps in that screen-sharing is included. This efficacious feature allows a certain picture, worksheet or presentation slide that a teacher desires to display on students’ screens.

Another neat benefit of these collaboration tools is how eco-friendly they are. In most classrooms, a plethora of worksheets, packets, notes and posters are used. These tools promote a paperless method of learning, so to an extent, we are protecting the environment with eLearning.

Lectures can be enigmatic, and it is easy to miss a pertinent point that a teacher is making. With eLearning, the lecture can be recorded so that a student can replay the lesson as many times as they would like until they fully understand the material.

As adequate of an option as eLearning tools may appear to be, it is a serious bone of contention due to disagreements on how effective it truly is. The primary thing that it lacks is face-to-face interaction. Nothing can replace the connection that talking to a student in-person has or the dynamics of a classroom. In fact, studies have proven that personally engaging with others is hard to do with technology in the way. Along with this, it is very easy for students to get distracted with the phones or laptops that they are learning on, and sidetrack to other apps on the device.

eLearning requires a significant amount of self-discipline from students. A productive learning environment will be incredibly difficult to operate if there isn’t 100% focus from every person in the class, which is hard to achieve. We also need to consider testing online and the security of how students take their tests with no supervision.

eLearning provides a straight-forward listen/lecture style of learning, which does not support people who learn in different types of methods and have special needs.

Though eLearning might not provide an identical experience to real-life school, for as long as the current situation lasts, it is a great recourse for education systems that need to keep learning alive.

Aspiring journalist Harini Senthilkumar is a ninth-grader at Eden Prairie High School. She enjoys singing and writing.