This report was commissioned to analyze how Westminster Business School could improve its communication arrangements. The research focuses on the benefits and disadvantages of using new technology for e-learning and compares it with traditional teaching methods.
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Investigations reveal that e-learning solutions could improve communications within the institution, and enhance the mode of learning in virtual classrooms. Therefore, it is recommended that Westminster Business School take immediate measures to rollout an e-learning system in its learning environment.
Westminster University is one of the most competent colleges in London because it offers a wide range of courses in almost all levels. The institution has been competing with other universities, and it has increased the number of student admissions over the years. The increase in the number of students has made the management of Westminster Business School to look for alternative ways of dealing with challenges in their communication system.
The problem lies in the school’s inability to provide all the facilities required by the students. For instance, the boarding facilities are already congested and thus there should be another way of achieving the same results. In this regard, the college is in pursuit of a better way of transmitting knowledge to the learners. An efficient e-learning system would solve the mentioned problem because the benefits of e-learning, as discussed in this report, outweigh the benefits of traditional learning methods.
Advantages of Traditional Teaching Method
Traditional learning methods are still popular in learning institutions. According to Pollard (2002), the teacher is the one who sets the time and duration of lessons and this is appropriate for freshmen because most of them are not disciplined, and thus if they were left to attend classes as they wished most of them would never show up. In addition, there are no interruptions in the classroom, unlike home based lessons where the learner’s attention can be disrupted by small things like the television and mobile phones.
In traditional learning the names of the students who are present during a given lesson are written down and they are referred to while students are sitting for their final exams. This is because it would be inappropriate for a lecturer to allow a student who has missed most of the lessons to sit for an exam with the rest because chances of failure are absolute.
Likewise, the lecturers can monitor the progress of their learners easily as opposed to e-learning, because in virtual classes you cannot tell when a learner has understood the lesson or not. Some students require to be guided, and thus this is the most suitable method for such learners. Furthermore, the teacher can identify the strengths and the weaknesses of the student and hence help him/her to work on them.
Additionally, the teacher is the one who commands what is to be studied in the classroom. This is logical because he/she is the most knowledgeable and experienced, and thus knows where the examiners draw their questions. Similarly, if the students were left to choose the topics that they should cover on their own they would choose the ones that sound interesting to them, and hence they would end failing in exams.
This means that the entire curriculum will not be covered. Again, the lecturer can help learners to understand the topics better by asking them questions at random. The students can also correct one another in the classroom if there is misunderstanding the subjects covered (Petrina, 2001).
Disadvantages of Traditional Teaching Method
According to Muijs and Reynolds (2005), direct teaching can make the lecturers to lack creativity. This is because they have to stick to the guidelines of the course outline.
Without the course outline the lecturers can engineer their own approaches because they know the particular areas that are examined but the course outlines force them to cover areas that are never examined. This is important especially when there is limited time for going through the syllabus.
Direct teaching requires the person who is transmitting knowledge to have excellent verbal communication skills. This may sound funny, but it is very sound because there are some lecturers who are highly educated but they lack communication skills, and thus cannot explain the issues that require discussions. In addition, the lack of good communication skills can cause the lecturer to mislead the students.
Petrina (2007) argues that at times the lecturer may be biased without knowing, by paying attention to only fast learners and leaving the slow learners behind.
The smart students may use the classroom to show off their skills to the poor learners, which could demoralize them from attending their classes because they are made to believe they are failures. The students who fail exams often become the laughing stock which would not be the case in e-learning because their results would be confidential, and there would be no time for such nonsense because they do not interact physically.
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Moreover, there are students who are very selfish such that they cannot share what they know with their classmates because they think by keeping the information to themselves they will be able to lead their faculty in exams.
This is wrong because they may be having the wrong answers that could be corrected if only they could share them with their classmates. In light of this, traditional teaching methods deny the students an opportunity to think because they develop a perception that the lecturer will always guide them on the topics they are supposed to cover.
Another shortcoming of traditional teaching method is that the lecturers are most likely to be manipulated by the students to award them the scores that they do not deserve in their final exams. This is very common among female students who engage in casual sex with lecturers so that they can be awarded better grades in exams.
Male students also engage in this malpractice but from a different angle because they use money to manipulate the lecturers. In the long run direct teaching is considered expensive by students because they have to pay for their accommodation and transport (Petrina, 2001).
E-Learning and Advantages
E-learning is carried out virtually on the Internet. All that is needed in this method of learning is a computer and Internet connection. In e-learning both the students and the lecturers are free because they can interact with the learning system from any geographical location since they have Internet access.
E-learning helps both the learners and the lecturers to save the money they usually spend on transport because they can both learn and teach at the comfort of their houses. All that is required in this method is time management skills so that the learner has ample time for learning. This means that the learners can engage in other activities without interfering with their learning (Laudon & Laudon, 2006).
Pollard (2010) explains that e-learning enables the learners to proceed at their own pace without having to rush like for classrooms where they struggle to be on the same level with their peers. This is because they have optical discs that they can always be replayed from time to time to ensure they grasp what they are supposed to learn. This method enables the students to select learning materials that they are familiar to unlike in traditional methods where the lecturers expect one size to fit all.
In addition, E-learning enables the learners to acquire a lot of skills in computer applications because they interact with computers frequnently. This knowledge can later be employed in other areas. E-learning makes students to be creative and make their own decisions without the influence of the lecturer. The students who manage to complete their studies through e-learning are very bold and they believe in their abilities so much because they consider their responsibility to be achievement.
E-learning students enjoy an opportunity to interact with their lecturers and fellow students through the chat rooms, thus improving communication between the university and learners. Finally, slow learners are best suited for this method because no one will laugh at them in a classroom, and besides that if they fail in exams no one will get to know it apart from the lecturer. If the student has any weakness the lecturer can assist him/her because the interaction between the two entities is one on one basis.
Disadvantages of E-learning
E-learning demands a lot of self discipline on the learners and this means they have to avoid any interruptions such as television, phone calls and frequent visitors. For learners who do not know how to plan their time this method of learning may not work for them. This is because there is no one to follow them around hence they may abuse their freedom.
The other hindrance to e-learning is access to computers and the Internet. Most students are not able to purchase a computer and pay for internet subscription. In addition, not all students are computer literate and thus they would have to go for computer lessons first which comes with extra costs.
- Westminster Business School should adopt e-learning because it is cost efficient, and students and lecturers would benefit from reduced cost of transport.
- Westminster Business School should adopt e-learning because it will solve the problem of congestion in its campus.
- Westminster should emphasize on the need of self discipline among its students to enhance communication in the new system.
- Adopting e-learning will help Westminster to go beyond borders. International students will be able to enroll in this college because learning takes place virtually.
- Westminster should help the students to acquire computers by giving them soft loans. Most students are interested in this system but then they do not have enough money to buy computers.
- Westminster should provide computer literacy lessons and make it mandatory to all learners so that there is smooth transition. This is because majority of students lack basic skills in computing and Internet.
Laudon, K. & Laudon, P., 2006, Management information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm,. 9th Ed. Pearson Prentice Hall Inc: Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Muijs, D. & Reynolds, D., 2005, Effective Teaching: Evidence and Practice, London: Sage Publications.
Petrina, S., 2001, Advanced Teaching Methods for the Technology Classroom, London: Idea Group Inc.
Pollard, A., 2002, Readings for Reflective Teaching, New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.