Today’s globalized and ever changing access to knowledge has proven to be an irreplaceable asset. Notions like “Lifelong Learning,” “E-Learning,” and “Self-Directed Learning” have become part of our everyday vocabulary. Since technology dominates most of our lives and we are seeing kids holding smartphones and tablets rather than books, one question comes to mind: “Can e-learning replace the classroom?”
A “yes” or “no” answer to this question is not so easy since there are different aspects that need to be taken into account: age of the learner, their location, accessibility to online resources, etc. However, there isn’t any doubt that e-learning is an essential part of our lives and it is a great way for kids to enrich their knowledge in a way which seems more suitable for them. There are a few factors that influence the quality of the e-learning process such as the combination of technology with actual teachers, the concept of the flipped room, and the proper translation of materials known as e-learning localization.
E-Learning for Kids: Technology vs. Teachers
Technology has invaded every part of our lives and teaching and learning are no exception. The possibility of gaining new knowledge, regardless of the topic, from the comfort of your sofa has attracted a lot of people of different ages to e-learning courses. Since children seem to know everything about smartphones, laptops, tablets, computers and generally any modern gadget from the very first months of their life, it is tempting to assume that e-learning will be more suitable for them than going to an actual school with teachers.
Does this mean that teachers will become obsolete? An article in the Guardian titled “Can technology replace teachers?” argues that while technology will play a greater role in education, the virtual classroom will not be able to replace the actual classroom and the human teacher at least in the near future. There are many pros and cons for both traditional and e-learning methods and the best option depends on each individual case.
E-learning is a great opportunity for kids to develop skills and learn new material while perceiving it as a fun game on the tablet. It also gives those children struggling with disease, poverty, armed conflicts, etc. opportunity to have access to education. While it is fair to say that technology doesn’t judge individuals based on age, background, or origin, it is important not to dismiss the human factor of a teacher standing in front of a class. A teacher can show empathy, recognize which student needs more attention or assistance, react quickly to an unexpected situation, and offer a different approach or solution to a given task. In that respect, we can say that technology will never replace a teacher. However, any teacher who uses technology and teams up with the different e-learning modules and platforms will replace a teacher who is afraid to explore the new horizons of teaching and learning.
E-Learning and the Flipped Classroom
The idea of the flipped classroom has gained more and more popularity these days, as it seems to be a good combination of innovative and traditional teaching methods. For those who are not familiar with the flipped classroom idea, it can simply be described as switching the role of the classroom and home. Kids learn the new lessons online at home and then come to school to do their homework to discuss and ask questions of their teacher and peers. The Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching describes the flipped classroom as a “reversal of traditional teaching where students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then class time is used to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge through strategies such as problem-solving, discussion, or debates.” According to eLearning Industry there are several advantages for kids with this approach.
The three most important benefits are:
- Class time can be repurposed and used more efficiently. Teachers provide more support and guidance and less time training.
- Learners will come to the lesson prepared having gone through materials at home on their own schedule and at their own pace.
- There is an opportunity to integrate technology. Using games, e-learning modules, and videos helps to stimulate creativity among young learners and makes the process more interesting and attractive.
The flipped classroom is just one example of how e-learning can be beneficial for kids. While in this case e-learning does not completely replace the classroom, it does help to break the traditional perspective we have for it.
Why is E-Learning Localization Important?
Developing the materials for an e-learning course is time consuming work, no matter who your target user is. You need to research the proper program elements that will make the education of your group both accessible and successful. Once you have developed an excellent e-learning module in your native language, you can offer it to foreign language speakers as well when it is translated into their language. The process, however, should not only include mere translation, but also account for the specific concepts and ideas typical of the target language. That is why e-learning localization is so important and even more so when we are preparing a teaching module for children. In order to be able to grasp the new material, it should include notions and ideas that are a part of their everyday. E-learning localization uses different tools and technologies – Adobe Captivate, eLogic, Blackboard, etc. – in order to make the translated content “native” to the learner. The proper translation and localization of your e-learning material adds value and helps you achieve your ultimate goal – to make learning enjoyable for both children and adults.
While it is not possible to simply answer “Yes. E-learning will replace the traditional classroom,” it is definitely safe to say that e-learning can and will complement the traditional way of learning for kids.