Last updated: 08.12.11

Compulsory e-learning in schools 'could have its downfalls'

The mandating of e-learning in schools and colleges has been dismissed by one educational professional who states that compulsory online learning inclusion in curriculums could diminish some of its effectiveness.

Michael Horn, co-founder of the Innosight Institute, a non-profit thinktank that aims to apply theories of disruptive innovation to problems in the social sector, suggested that although online learning is innovative and a proven success in educational facilities, making it mandatory could compromise some students who learn better offline.

Writing for Forbes magazine, he said: "Digital learning, I argue, provides the platform to do this at scale, but in many cases, students may learn better offline, and a system powered by digital learning should be able to accommodate that."

He added that the virtual classroom should never just be implemented for "technology's sake", but should complement the existing learning environment and give an extra, beneficial dimension to it.

A national campaign in the US, Digital Learning Now!, encouraged institutions to get on board with e-learning solutions. Since its launch some years ago, the initiative has gained the support of states such as Michigan, Florida and Idaho, which have all continued to encourage continued learning through the internet.

Mr Horn commented that the outcome of taking online classes can enable students to gain valuable skills such as independence and the ability to be self-driven.

David Haugh, a professor at Missouri State University and a former college dean, suggested in a column for the News Leader that key issues of quality control and usability are important when implementing virtual resources.

He added that adapting learning materials to student needs is also a vital tool for success and will help to further the development of a user's experience.