E-learning or learning by internet via computers has become very common now. So much so that buying a computer and access to internet has become a necessity for every student right from school level.
This trend was started by select elite private schools but now E-learning has percolated practically to all schools. .
E-learning is very advantageous. The student is exposed to vast infinite depths of the subject concerned just at the click of the mouse. He can browse through latest research and information about the subject needed.
But can it replace books or printed matter totally is a subject worth pondering.
I think that E-learning can never replace books. Both have their unique places and advantages. A book is so easy to manage. You can carry it anywhere and is much more easy to carry as compared to a lap top(particularly if you have other things to carry as well.).
You can open a book or journal anywhere, wherever you are or whatever you are doing. There is no problem of internet not being available, website not found or slow speed of internet, e.t.c. problems encountered with internet.
Again it is very easy to open the needed contents in a book by just looking at the index. One can put a book mark if interrupted and resume exactly the same page whenever free to read again.
These are not the only advantages of a book or journal. A book or journal or any printed matter provides a more focused form of learning. One would automatically concentrate more while reading and learning from a book because the matter is in front in a condensed form.
In case of learning from the internet, one has to spend valuable time in surfing it to look for the matter needed. If time taken for opening a select topic is compared, it would be 2 minutes for a book against 15 minutes for internet.
After opening the web site, he or she has so many things opening that it becomes confusing. In most of the times, he has to open many different links. Instead of reading all the matter opened, tendency is to, “save” the available matter to read at a later time. In doing all this activity, his mind does not remain focused on the text read and it does not pick up or retain much.
In ancient times in India (maybe in other places also), the system of learning and teaching was through oral discussion. The teacher would speak the matter being taught, students would repeat it.
Then they would ask their queries, which would be duly answered. I read a very interesting article by an education expert, that by that technique, students learnt better and retained the knowledge they gained.
This is because they would concentrate and put all their attention on the subject being taught. It is something like nursery rhymes. A small child learns it by hearing and remembers it because of repetition. Maybe for that reason majority of the people do not forget nursery rhymes even after growing up.
I do not imply that we go back to the era of verbal teaching and learning. But books still provide a medium where one can learn with better concentration.
One who reads regularly will automatically gain the speed to read faster due to practice and will be able to recall the knowledge when needed. Even his/her speed for writing will be more as compared to those who do not read much.
This is because when he sits to write, the text which he has read and revised will spontaneously come in his mind like a mirror image.
This proves a big advantage for students in their examinations. A student reading regularly will definitely have an edge over those who use the internet more, read less and do not organize the reading material obtained.
If the economics of the 2 are compared, in long term a computer may be economical to use but to buy it for first time and get personal internet connection (which is most convenient) is still a burden on many people, more so in middle and upper middle class of many countries.
In summary it can be said that E-learning has its own advantages but it cannot be a substitute for teaching and learning by books.