There is recently a technological revolution, especially in the field of higher education, called E-learning. No doubt, the development and adoption of E-learning seem explosive right from the beginning, it is extraordinary, it is thrilling, and it is interesting and something new both for students and teachers. The way E-learning has been affecting and changing the scenario of traditional form of teaching and learning, the same way it has come up with its significant implications in social sector as well. Since, E-learning is rapidly and deeply penetrating into societies all over the world, its social implications appear to be an interesting and explorative subject for the experts.
Every society consists of people, belonging to diverse religions, background, values, beliefs, preferences and likes and dislikes. While studying the social implications of E-learning, it is vital to take into consideration all those factors that make up a society. E-learning’s social implications can be classified into the following kinds of issues. Palloff, Rena M., and Pratt, Keith., 2003).
- Digital divide
The cultural category includes content, writing styles, writing structures, multimedia, participant roles and web design. If a teacher is familiar with sensitive part of the material or discussion, how can that teacher lead his/her class to include or exclude that stuff? Writing styles can also affect the process of an online course.
Both the teacher and students are required to have knowledge regarding rules of written assignments. And, if expectations are not fulfilled, who will be responsible to keep homework and discussions on track?
The issues related to gender also exist in the class, despite of the fact that attendants are physically too far away from one another. Maybe it is the task of the teacher to track facilitation and shift leadership roles in various groups in order to ensure gender neutralization. Any issue identified related to behavior must be tackled and resolved immediately.
There are many forms of lifestyle changes and the teacher is required to make sure that class members are equally treated, irrespective of their preferences and lifestyles. In certain circumstances, the students take on this role themselves. The saying “diverse strokes for diverse folks” should be maintained with minimum disruption in class.
Geographical differences and issues become even more evident if we look them from a global perspective. For instance, if there is a discussion room activity to be happen, all affected time zones should be accommodates. Within this class, there would also be the thoughtless locale jokes. And also the technology issues like internet access must be taken into consideration.
Religious considerations should also be honored and addressed. Maybe, it would not be suitable for the teacher to ask students to get work done on a Saturday or a Sunday, as these are spiritual days for few religions. This is a sensitive issue where decision making is quite critical.
Literacy & Disability
It is wise to consider literacy for an online course, and it is unwise to overlook. Irrespective of the course level, there is a strong possibility that some people lack certain required skills or skills that need improvements like writing, typing, reading, using software etc. Disabilities must never be neglected. Text options and other formats might be essential.
Reducing the digital divide
Regardless of societies, there are digital gaps between major and minority groups, younger and older, men and women, disable people and rest of population, whites and blacks etc. Access to latest technology and training to utilize it also help decreasing the bridge of digital divide between haves and have-nots.
Palloff, Rena M., and Pratt, Keith. (2003). The Virtual Student: A Profile and Guide to Working with Online Learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Wiley Imprint