Teaching and Learning with Technology

5 Effective Online Learning

Learning with Social Media

Mahdia Ahmadi and Fatima Ameri

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter you will be able to:
  • Comprehend the effectiveness of online learning.
  • Be familiar with different learning platforms.
  • Understand and identify different components of online learning.
  • Increase your overall technological literacy.
  • Identify the next generation of distance learning/education trends.
  • Apply effective strategies for online learning time management.
  • Be able to demonstrate the importance of online courses for deprived people with disabilities.


Online learning is becoming more common in the age of smartphones and technological tools. From K-12 education learners to higher education and adult learners, online learning is an approach that helps learners of all ages to learn at any time and anywhere based on their interests, skills, and backgrounds with more materials. Distance education and its approach (online learning) are expanding day by day with their advantages, it has many followers because of providing multiple contents, resources, and benefits with quality and convenience. A variety of learning styles, feedback from peers, teachers, and technology greatly affect readers’ satisfaction and interests. Using active learning strategies would ensure the quality of learning continues growing and appealing to a wide variety of learning needs. Moreover, online education includes flexibility and convenience for students which is favored likely by students. Online education facilitates communication between students, brings more adaptation to the needs of each learner, and more variety of learning experiences that can be controlled by employers themselves is important.


Technology integration has taken place in every aspect of our daily lives and work. In today’s era, learners engage in various online learning platforms for different purposes. Learning online provides more in-depth guides to different forms and applications from K-12 to higher education. Many educational institutes offer online courses that students in different parts of the world can learn and complete their courses virtually. Providing an engaging and powerful learning experience in terms of contents, resources, and assessments measures the level of students’ achievements in a complete and meaningful way than face-to-face instruction. Therefore, the number of enrollments in online courses has grown at a higher pace than in-person education in the past several years. It also improves the education system by generating data that better enhances learners’ learning experience.

Online learning technology is rapidly changing because of various platforms’ products, resources, and systems. In the very first stage MOOCs topic was not known to educational technology followers by 2012. The K-12 school system benighted more than other sectors in online learning, this sector is now proceeding rapidly. The majority of K-12 students receive brick-and-mortar education whereas they received part of their education online. The exponential growth of online learning is at its peak.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted technology integration in the education system. The emergence phase of the pandemic started in the year 2020 when educators faced a forced condition to continue teaching students through the online system. The online system caused issues for educators and learners in rural areas who are away from internet access such as a weak signal or no internet accessibility that causes disturbances in the teaching and learning process. Thus, the effectiveness of online learning is determined by the quality of online instruction. A well-designed and implemented course leads to a superior experience for a better performance of students.

Online learning often refers to e-learning, an education that takes place on the internet. Online learning, a type of distance learning that doesn’t take place in traditional classrooms. The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped education in a disruptive way that educators rethink the education sector where technology integration has breached and continues to play a key role to educate future generations. The world is changing rapidly and there is a need for change in educators’ roles to make it digital or integrate it with technology. Many educational institutions around the globe were closed because of the impact of the virus reached far more than expected, COVID-19 pandemic can still be seen in some countries of the world. COVID-19 had a significant impact on educational institutions being closed for an unknown period of time which led educators to rethink educating future generations.  Many conversations took place between educators’ communication, teacher and student interaction, delivering lectures, and how learning should be for generation Z.

The majority of students enrolled in educational institutions are from generation Z, who has grown up in a globalized world of technology. Many from this generation were truly impacted because of the global pandemic facing issues such as exam cancellations, sports events, and graduation ceremonies. Instant feedback and communication from apps including WhatsApp, Messenger, Snapchat, Telegram, and Facetime have been amplified with remote learning or e-learning.

Education, a sector influenced by the global pandemic. For some countries, online learning wasn’t easy to apply but the condition forced teachers to do so. Without online learning, educators didn’t have any other option to follow because students would miss months of their curriculum being out of school for too long which leads students to further fall behind. The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates how globally the world is connected and related to global issues and actions to be taken. The understanding of interrelatedness and working globally across boundaries in a collaborative way can overcome the issues and redefines the educator’s role. Educators need to facilitate the development of young people so they can learn life skills. There is a need for resilience and adaptability skills that young people should learn how to overcome effectively the global pandemic. Through creativity, communication, and collaboration we can work across the demographic line of our differences through effective teamwork. In the global pandemic, unlocking technology for delivering education is needed, and educational institutions need to create content remotely so that students shouldn’t be deprived of getting a curriculum. Experiencing new possibilities of things differently with greater flexibility results in educators’ potential benefits.

This global pandemic hit developing countries the hardest including Afghanistan. Many equipment and facilities aren’t available to educators to utilize and prepare curricula for students to continue their education through online learning. The majority of Afghans were not having access to the internet to continue their education and if they do so then internet connectivity and high costs of internet packages were making issues to continue their education remotely. However, they did overcome this and had their curriculum through telecourses, internet-based online learning, and mobile learning. The early 2020 year was hard for Afghans to survive in terms of getting curriculum but people living in villages couldn’t afford to continue getting an education even through telecourses. In addition to the global pandemic, the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021, was unreal for the world to believe it for a period of time. Soon everything changed drastically but the education sector caught more harm than other sectors of the country.

After the fall of the government, the Taliban announced that there is a need for a safe environment for learning purposes but in an Islamic framework. In mid-September 2021, boys and girls up to grade 6th were allowed to resume their education but girls above grade 6th had to wait for further notice. In march 2022, again the Taliban betrayed their promise to put an end to a 7-month ban on secondary schools. The ban on the secondary school was enough that women and girls were prevented to attend universities as well. This took the last hope from Afghan women and girls because many left with only three papers to be graduated from university. Although that continuous ban was attempted by the Taliban’s side, many girls were promoted one grade or graduated from schools and universities without having prior knowledge or education. Only degrees and certificates without getting an education wouldn’t benefit a country to upgrade the education system and develop the economy. Now that Afghan girls and women are deprived of getting an education then online learning is the one and only solution. The suffering of being deprived of getting an education and being women lead to not lose their hope and continuing learning remotely. Many completed their remaining courses and grades through online classes where worldwide helped Afghan women by showing up voluntarily with their online classes to complete their education. Online learning has helped Afghans a lot in this critical situation to not lose hope and helped them to see their future bright through commitment and hard work.

This chapter aims to analyze distance learning/education trends for the readiness of K-12 to introduce digitalized education or technology integration in the education system in terms of practice. A logical assessment of possibilities in online/distance learning implemented in digital format for K-12 education allows us to formulate and justify the significance of relevant criteria. All the evaluated criteria implemented in digital format contribute to identifying the shortcomings and problems associated with online/distance learning.


Online learning has common elements with computer-based learning, distance learning, and open educational resources and online learning had different concepts in some ways (Means, Bakia, & Murphy, 2014). The term online learning is the ability of a learner to interact with contents/materials on the Internet for learning purposes. The purpose of learning can vary; it can be in form of formal courses or learners’ own interests. For example: learning to find out information or how to do something even playing a game over the internet. Teacher instruction and content provided with instruction over the internet are called online learning.

Online learning is used more in higher education for various purposes such as course activity, syllabi, and assignments. The courses can be taught entirely face-to-face with some Web support to access information OR the course can be taught completely online. 80% of course content is provided online with no face-to-face meeting while in traditional courses content is entirely in form of speech and text and no online technology is used. Additionally, the terms “blended” and “hybrid” are used interchangeably to describe a course where at least 30 percent of the content is delivered online but there are face-to-face meetings for at least 21 percent of the content (Means, Bakia, & Murphy, 2014). In places where all instructions and assessments are done online or delivered through the internet is called fully online learning. However, the combination of face-to-face and online learning is known as blended learning. There are various forms of blended/hybrid learning which can be fully face-to-face and fully taught online.

People’s misconception of online learning with computer-based learning and distance learning. Computer-based learning lacks affordability, flexibility, and outreach to people which is possible in today’s world of instruction over the Internet. On the other hand, the term distance learning comes more in a broader concept because any instruction where both learners and instructor are physically separated. Distance learning is a subset of online learning as it involves several other technologies like print-based correspondence courses.

Types of Distance Learning

  1. Courses are conducted via regular mail but with little interaction and instruction.
  2. Tele courses, courses contents are delivered through radio or television broadcasts.
  3. CD room courses where students interact with static computer content.
  4. Internet-based online learning courses are delivered synchronously and asynchronously.
  5. In mobile learning, devices such as cellular phones, audio digital players, PDAs, iPad, Tablets, and MP3 players are used for learning purposes.

However, resources available online may be free of cost or for a minimal amount of money known as open educational resources (OER). The OER may contain courses that can be considered for online learning including the course syllabus, course plan, and related instructional resources/materials for instructors to use rather than directly by learners. The term OER doesn’t require a free learning experience for learners and educators, indeed there are many profit companies that actively provide online courses and credentials.

Podcast 1: Effectiveness of Online Learning and its Challenges

literature review

Simultaneously, with the development and expansion of online learning technology, it emerged as an alternative and complementary method to traditional education. In the year (2000-2001), 90% of public twoyear and 89% of public four-year institutions offered online education courses. Again, the same year, an estimated 2,876,000 individuals were enrolled at the university level, giving online education courses and classes, with 82% for undergraduate students of institutions that offer online courses, 43% introduced internet courses using computerbased synchronous instructions which can be called distance courses (Waits & Lewis, 2003). Based on the internet synchronous online classes are introduced in a way that everyone would communicate at the same time with each other, whereas asynchronous classes are where the learner can log in and work even when others are not logged on at the same time.

Some researchers were interested in the impact of online classes on students’ success and achievements. Edwards and Fritz (1997) determined that the effectiveness of online education is affected by students’ access to learning materials. They advised that online education is a good alternative to traditional classes for students who can learn and are interested in the online learning program. Schrum and Hong (2001) surveyed 70 institutions they found eight dimensions that affect students’ success. These included access to tools, technology experience, learning preferences, study habits, goals, lifestyle, and personal traits (Schrum and Hong, 2001).

Another study in 2005 shows about ‘Virtual High School’ came up with the result of a learning model focused on student-centered learning and teaching, problem-based learning, group/teamwork, student performance-based learning, collaboration, and self-assessment. It makes students capable to take more responsibility for their studies since the students have access to the course materials even outside of the classroom. In 2019, out of 35 research studies conducted on online education by “Jacqueline Wong”, it examined the relationship between online learning and self-regulated learning. It was stated in the study that online education can support self-regulation. Online learning creates an inclusive environment for students to make their decisions about utilizing learning resources and learning to regulate themselves (Wong, 2019). Due to the less availability of teachers in online classes, it’s an important factor in the success of improving students’ performances.

effective online learning

What is online learning?

Online education can be defined as taking classes/courses presented via the internet that can be taken in real-time or through different webcams and boards. E-learning refers to distance learning and flexible learning, technology plays an important role in providing this type of education to students. Across the globe, many institutions took the initiative to educate students through online platforms despite of educational barriers that students sometimes face. Online education allows learners to include students who may not be able to enroll in the classrooms in which students need to work in their place and at their own pace. Online education refers to utilizing electronic, digital, and internet-based learning to support different aspects of learning and training.

Figure 1. An introduction video regarding online learning (WCU office of digital learning and innovation, 2016).

How effective can be online learning?

In the past, traditional education was more popular in the education process. Recently, by improving technological tools many institutions around the world are offering degrees and fully online courses. Since traditional education is taking place in a classroom, within this type of learning no need to use software to save the learning contents. However, in these years, blended education integrated with digital technology further promoted among educational institutions almost everywhere. In today’s digital world, education without technology seems impossible or difficult to meet the needs of individual learners. Online education progresses over time, Mclsaac and Gunawardena (1995) defined online education as “no more than a hodgepodge of ideas and practices taken from the traditional classroom setting and imposed on learners who just happen to be separated physically from an instructor” (p.5).

Since online education is more personalized, it can offer much greater flexibility in terms of space and also time. It has more opportunities such as the availability of course resources any time and everywhere students want it. Online education has helped almost all students since the outbreak of COVID-19. According to a survey conducted in India, it shows that online learning animations, video lectures, and audio delivered by faculty are helpful for learners. Thus, online classes would be more effective. As Karen Jacobs (2012) on his work found many advantages of online learning such as reduced time and travel costs, opening up more opportunities to access and collaborate with proficient not only in one place but in an international range, as well as allowing students to adjust to subjects and materials needed.

Online learning is effective in many ways. According to Palloff & Pratt, a successful learner must be active whereas online learning enables students to take part and play roles actively. To compare online learning vs traditional learning; the traditional model is all about the teacher’s role and students are only listeners, and it is more passive rather than active.  However, online learning is active learning and within an online environment, the students are responsible for actively seeking solutions to challenges confined within the knowledge area being studied with the teacher’s instructions. Within this learning model, expected students see the issues and questions presented by other students and teachers (Palloff & Pratt, 1998). Moreover, according to Khan (1997), students are also expected to learn cooperatively and collaboratively more in an online learning environment where students would have the opportunity to work together, share resources and materials with their peers, and move on from their comfort zone.

online learning platforms

There are many online learning platforms that come under learning destination sites, traditional learning management systems, open-source learning management systems, modern learning management solutions, learning management ecosystems, and custom-built learning platform but some are discussed below.

Udemy Business: An online learning platform for business, its specialty is skills-based training courses. Expert instructors can easily upload their video-based courses (e.g., screencasts, talking head videos, and video presentations) and track trainee progress, analyze data, and glean actionable insights. However, the content has to be created outside of the platform as there are no built-in course creation functions (Mansaray, 2022).

Skillshare: Unlike Udemy, Skillshare is another online learning platform that contains five million learners and specializes in creative professionals such as graphic design, animation, photography, and videography. Skillshare learners are individuals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses but its main features are collaboration and social learning. Another fact is that both learners and students can engage in this platform by providing feedback, asking questions, and liking each other’s work.

LinkedIn Learning: A learning platform that specializes in creative businesses, and technology courses. LinkedIn Learning is considered among the best and highest quality of instruction and production because it’s not only subject matter experts (SMEs) but also excellent teaching and presentation skills.

Coursera: A learning platform used for schools that offers a vast variety of online degrees, specializations, and certificates that are accredited by some of the world’s prestigious academic institutions.

edX: A learning platform for schools that offers formal education. Courses offered by Ivy League universities like Harvard, and 160+ first-class institutions like MIT, Berkeley, and IBM. edX offers 3,000 courses arranged in 300 programs with accredited certificates and interaction.

iSpring Market: An online learning platform for creating, marketing, selling, and hosting online courses. iSpring Market allows you to create and upload materials in any format such as audio, video, PowerPoint presentations, SCORM packages, and eLearning authoring tools. This platform allows interaction and provides powerful analytics including insights into trainee progress and sales performances.

LearnUpon: An online learning platform from the LMS industry equipped with powerful features including tracking, managing, and delivering training to employees and customers. Texts, images, audio, video, and slide-based presentations are the supported features of this platform.

Blackboard Learn: An online educational learning platform from K-12 to higher education. Blackboard Learn has a wide array of educational tools and user friendly. Creating and managing courses, assessments, grading, and educator and learners interaction. This platform supports live and self-paced training that provides learning portals to deliver unique learning/training experiences to different groups of learners.

Canvas: A modern version of an online learning platform (Blackboard) with an academic focus.  Unlike Blackboard, Canvas provides capabilities for website creation for course hosting. In Canvas everything including quizzes, grade books, reporting tools, and integrations is provided for ensuring that users are on right track. Integrations such as Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace, and Adobe Creative Cloud can all be found under one roof. It also allows interaction between educators and learners and offers collaboration tools, discussion boards, video conference workshops, and shared online files in order to be connected with each other.

Moodle: A free online learning platform that comes under the open-source LMS realm. On this platform, instructors can host their websites and it comes with great learner-centric software, plug-ins, and a social learning environment both for educators and learners. Moodle enables self-paced, synchronous, and blended learning for flexibility and for engagement purposes including points, badges, achievements, and leaderboards.

How to increase students’ technological literacy?

First of all, technology can be defined as the process by that humans modify nature to address their needs and desires. However, many people think of technology, just in order of its tangible products.

According to Dyrenfurth (1991), technological literacy can be defined as skills and conceptual understandings which help students to use more effective physical and information technologies for their academic purposes, vocational, and research goals. In today’s modernized world, technology is expanding rapidly. Despite having less understanding of how it works or where it came from, we still use technology. Thus, technology is still not taken seriously as a subject in many schools and learning institutions for setting standards and curriculum development. However, few schools are working to promote technological literacy through their curriculum. To develop technological literacy, one of the important places to start is schools because schools must provide all the students with regular and early contact with technological tools and technology. Facilitating students with technology concepts at an early age and designing curriculum and related activities are the most possible ways to help learners acquire different kinds of knowledge, ways how to think and act, as well as capabilities constant with technological literacy. According to Hoffman & Blake (2003), often people can develop their technology literacy in two ways; 1) formally through school programs or in the workplace 2) informally at home, from friends, or even if they have access to the internet they can acquire the technological literacy by themselves. Online computers would help students to sites at many universities (UMD,2002; QU,2002) and offer learners the ability from their own space to increase their technical knowledge.

Figure 2. What is digital literacy (Adobe for education, 2020).

It’s important to integrate technology into the curriculum and acquire students’ technological literacy, to develop students’ literacy so that they can understand, assess and manage the technology used to consciously reshape the world.

Beyond the school’s level, there are multiple opportunities to strengthen technological literacy. Many courses are conducted to help learners and prepare them for technological careers. The students learn new skills and abilities with sufficient instruction which can develop a better understanding of the technology that they can use for teaching diverse subjects. Another important need is to improve educators’ education. The success of changes in curriculum, student assessments, and teaching materials depends on the ability, expertise, and understanding of teachers to implement them. The teachers must know how to use technology and tools at all levels of education and must be able to design and apply projects and use educational strategies for students.

Moreover, the educator can help students with simple steps to develop their technology literacy such as combining group work skills, technological education, and using virtual platforms for teamwork activities. Asking students to submit their assignments via learning platforms would give them many options to work on. Some students who are interested in writing can write through school blogs that teachers create and encourage them to write on different topics that best suit their interests. It would improve their writing skills and at the same time teach them how to use technology too.

Technology helps students to be more creative instead of imitating. When educators use technology to help learners create and students would learn how to be active learners and more productive, and literate people. It’s more of student-driven and motivates the students which is important because it supports learning activities. Collier-Reed (2008) pointed out that technology-literate students understand the nature of technology, have a hands-on capability and capacity to contact with technological artifacts and will be able to think critically about problems that are related to the technology (Collier, 2008, P.24).

Figure 3. 7 Easy ways to boost your digital literacy (Marr, 2022).

Identifying the next generation of distance education trends

Along with social and economic development, open and distance learning is one of the rapidly growing fields of education and training. Online/distance learning is being accepted in the educational system of both developed and developing countries. The growth can be seen through the interest between educators and trainers to utilize new internet-based information technologies, recognizing the traditional ways of organizing traditional needs for reinforcement of innovative methods. Particularly one innovation would be the expansion of World Wide Web with continued costs including processing, storing, and transmitting information contributed to a significant shift in online/distance learning which is designed, delivered, and administered by educators for learners in terms of better learning experiences.

“Among the benefits expected from new information and communication technologies, besides that of outreach, are efficiencies derived from economies of scale and qualitative improvements such as greater individualization of learning, easier access to information, and more use of simulation techniques” (UNESCO, 2022). Also, using various forms of technology will draw an impact on the cognitive functions of people. In order to meet the challenges and new demands of education and training, online/distance learning can be used as an approach under certain circumstances through different platforms for a face-to-face substitute that dominates the education system. The quality and benefits can be assessed in terms of technical, economic, and social criteria but we have to know that online/distance learning has its own pedagogical approach that leads to different ways of generation and acquisition of knowledge.

Learners through online/distance learning will have more freedom to access a wider range of opportunities for the purpose of learning and qualification. Online learning challenges not only include geographical distance but certain circumstances including personal restrictions/limitations, cultural and social barriers, and lack of educational infrastructure. Therefore, the ultimate solution for learners would be the integration of technologies into the education system. Many cannot afford to study due to their work and it’s crucial that in the digitalized world online/distance learning should be possible through means of combination. Thus, online/distance learning is more of a student/learner-centered approach that allows learners flexibility and choice of content in the learning program of choice. For employees, online/distance learning provides the possibility of organizational learning and professional development in their workplace which tends to be flexible and saves travel and subsistence costs. Through online learning productivity and supports level increases through the means of communication and development and related work skills. The increased availability of employees during courses and training provides the portability of training programs and processes.

The history of distance learning/education existed for decades in many forms of communication. Spreading broadband internet communication as means for educational organizations to rethink its effectiveness over older ones. Therefore, the new way of technology integration has taken equal enthusiasm to establish purely electronic universities (online classes solely) a dual mode of institutions to correspond to the need of schools and universities.

advantages of online learning

In today’s globalized world, the change of information and knowledge is becoming faster and there are different forms of technology. However, the traditional learning model is still practiced but online learning provides many advantages to both students and teachers with more opportunities, speed, and low cost of money and time. Additionally, online learning could be offered in both informal and formal ways. Everyone can use online learning either by paying money or not and it does have its own challenges and benefits. Based on a research study in Thailand (2019), Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University found some important advantages of online learning including it makes learners able to work from home by using online systems which increases the flexibility of working to meet students’ needs. It’s not time-consuming and students can access it anywhere anytime online.

To rely on You & Kang, pointed out that online learning courses are conducive for those students who favor self-regulated studying (You &/ Kang, 2014). Additionally, learning online has the potential to open more pathways to access more opportunities specifically, for students in “small, rural, or low socioeconomic school districts” to take some courses that generally would not be offered (Chaney, 2001, p. 21).

Figure 4. 5 Benefits of online learning ( Jotform, 2022).

Research has shown that students with conditions of online learning perform better than students who participate in traditional classes. A study conducted by Matuga found that “self-regulation and motivation have been identified as two critical factors for determining success in online courses” (Matuga, 2009). Matuga defined self-regulation as the “ability of students to plan, monitor, and evaluate their behavior, cognition, and learning strategies (Matuga, 2009, p. 5). Here are some benefits of online learning that during research learners pointed out:

  • Saving the money that students might pay for traveling and getting knowledge.
  • Online learning is more time saver.
  • Students would have extra time to spend with the learning materials.
  • Online learning is more flexible in terms of work and learning methods.
  • E-learning enables students to learn at their own pace.
  • E-learning benefits students with disability, who cannot attend F2F classes.
  • Acquire technical skills like how to use different learning platforms, software, and hardware.
  • E-learning enables students to have access to learning materials across the world.
  • Students can strengthen their skills such as communication skills, adaptability, time management, critical thinking, and self-management, also while working online learners would have the opportunity to work independently which is vital for learners to have control over their activities.

Required Reasons for Online Courses

  1. The expansion of technology capabilities and affordability of information technology has led online learning to grow rapidly. It’s a digitalization era where people live their lives more online. Students’ demands and asks are increased for online courses as they think online classes are the essential components of an ideal school.
  2. Online learning addresses the persistence of education and its emerging challenges which decreases the dropout rate of students from schools and colleges. Credit recovery courses are the growing segments that K-12 students prefer in online education to meet the credits of a program/class. Emerging issues in education that online learning can address would be the shortage of highly qualified and skilled teachers. When the baby boomer generation reaches their retirement period then years would take to replace them. The fact that new teachers do not have their full potential until they have three to five years of experience and in some cases, half of the new teachers leave their profession before five years. We might find many people who want to teach but we might not find the one with the talent, dedication, and knowledge who can better teach a world-class curriculum and work with diverse students. That is because teachers’ availability and teaching quality are the main issues, particularly in rural areas.
  3. Another segment that drives online learning is the economy. Studies show that the costs of online learning are comparatively consistent compared to face-to-face education and it would come in form of savings with online learning (Means, Bakia, & Murphy, 2014). It’s true that the costs of both instructions (online and face-to-face) vary such as online learning type, student-teacher ratio, and the amount of money for developing an online course. Furthermore, online learning provides opportunities, particularly for rural communities that cannot afford to hire individual teachers.
  4. The potential for cost savings is also realized by industries that conduct their pieces of training and workshops online rather than paying huge amounts of money both to teachers and students to fly across the globe and have their face-to-face training. Online learning is an attractive approach, especially for training and learning purposes where all the documentation is generated by systems along with assessments and evidence to master. Online learning increases the student-teacher ratio through cost reduction strategies which lead students to learn in a wider range by investing their energy with dedication. In today’s world, online learning provides opportunities for under-served communities and low-income students to get an education and learn something, students can find free-of-cost learning opportunities to utilize resources of what they are capable of.
  5. Online learning provides better learning experiences and learning opportunities. The potential use of the learner’s experience along with materials at the right time and level of difficulty is what online learning offers. Providing content and assessments in various learning platforms states the current learning level of every student.

Podcast 2: Technological Devices and Online Learning platforms

Challenges of online learning

Major challenges occur in the world of economy, particularly with information-bearing technologies and there is a need for the government’s attention in the education sector and human resource development. There is a considerable growth seen in education and training in the last two decades, the world indeed suffers from intolerable inequalities within nations and at international levels. Countries like Afghanistan still struggling with limited access to education and training for youths and basic needs for the old generation. Education inequalities, insufficient relevance, traditional beliefs, norms, economy, poverty, primary life insurance, and outdated education system and training structures are other related concerns. There is a rapid development in information and communication technologies (ICTs) that moves toward knowledge-intensive, interdependent, and internationalized societies that create new challenges and opportunities to design and deliver education (UNESCO, 2002).

For learners, distance learning is a means of increased access and flexibility for work and education which provides a learner-centered approach, higher quality of education, interaction, and enrichment of learning materials. However, online learning offers various types of online courses and students may or may not attend face-to-face (F2F) classes. Although there will be a lack of social interaction, they can talk and interact with their peers via discussion boards, video conferencing, chat rooms, and emails. Moreover, everyone is not familiar with technology and it might be complicated but students who are willing to enroll in distance education courses, and need to invest in some equipment such as a computer, stable internet, and a webcam. Since there is no physical interaction between teachers and students because of the instructions delivered via the internet so it will be challenging for some students who are not familiar with the technology. Still, it’s a great option for students with more open opportunities to benefit from online learning instructions and platforms.

Figure 5. The 6 biggest challenges of online learning ( Early impact, 2021).

Online education and students with disabilities

In the past years, technology brought more facilities, opportunities, and options for students to provide quality education. There are educational institutions conducting online courses through various platforms, which is known as online education. Public schools are not as effective to meet the needs of students with disability. There are always students with different kinds of disabilities who need to be taken seriously and get equal opportunities as others. Thus, online learning enables them to participate in the courses and breaks down the barriers that are against learners with a disability, and provides opportunities for them. However, in terms of launching a learning environment that is equitable for all students, it’s important to put the needs of the students first above all (Oswald & Meloncon, 2014). According to a study done in 2007-2008, found that 11 percent of undergraduates and 8 percent of graduate learners reported having some disabilities, some students with physical disabilities might not be able to attend physical classes and they are left behind. Therefore, online education may be the only way “that some students can independently access courses and related course materials that is a powerful reminder of the need for accessible online distance education” (Oswal & Meloncon, 2014, p.276).


The immediate implementation of online education started in early 2020 when WHO announced COVID-19 disease as a pandemic. The diseases spread far more than expected across the globe which caused many educational institutes, schools, workplaces, training centers, and shopping malls, to be closed till further notice. The closures affected everywhere and everyone nationwide, especially the educational sector and the daily lives of students, teachers, and anyone involved in educational organizations across the country. The duration of the pandemic was unclear around the world therefore, educational institutes took the initiative of online learning to ensure that learners can continue their education under any circumstances, even during the pandemic. For online learning, the education system had to be upgraded and integrated with technology.

Technology integration in the education system or digitalization of education has existed for a long period of time. However, a strong shift/interest to digitalize education occurred during COVID-19 when communications are restricted by all means but only a remote format of interaction was possible in the educational process. Educational technologies created a new dimension to develop the education system digitally, the demand enormously increased in the context of remote learning. Digitalization of education has affected all direct activities of teachers, students, administrators/ stakeholders that shaped the mass transition of online learning learners. The trend of global and domestic online learning in the first half of 2020 influenced the development of education technology but secondary and higher education are still in the lead consumption of digital technology. In addition, education technology is being practiced in both developed and developing countries to remove unavoidable reasons for not accessing education. Having said that, education technology helped and removed barriers from underprivileged people, people with disabilities, and in-person learning/education. Despite the challenges of online learning, it still made life easier for people to get an education and continue their work/job as well.

Online education is practiced in both developed and developing countries. Considering the challenges and restrictions, online learning becomes ineffective when conducted inappropriately. Factors including unstable internet connection, teachers’ unavailability to execute online learning, and lack of cooperation by parents make online learning ineffective and inefficient. Despite the ineffectiveness of online learning, there are certain reasons that facilitate online learning to be effective that require fewer costs through various applications like WhatsApp, Telegram, Zoom, and Google Classroom. Upgrading the existing infrastructures not only enhances the effectiveness of online learning but also increases its efficacy too. The capacity of transforming current behavior responses to adapt to new situations and norms is a new approach to education by learning new technologies. The pandemic situation forced educators and learners to strive and increase their knowledge of technologies in order to meet the effectiveness of studies. In addition, teachers by improving students’ experience utilize the effective pedagogical approach of online learning. Nonetheless, school administrators’ and parents’ support is considered vital for ensuring the success of online learning and support to continue education anywhere and anytime.

Review of questions

  • What does online learning mean to you?
  • How e-learning can be effective for you?
  • Online learning platforms?
  • Pros and Cons of online learning.
  • What should be done to boost the digital literacy skills of learners?
  • Can e-learning provide flexibility?
  • How can e-learning fulfill the needs of students with a disability?


Key terms (GLOSSARY) 

  1. Online learning: Computer-based learning or mobile-based learning or learning through the internet (as opposed to a local or wide area network).
  2. OER: Open Educational Resources
  3. Virtual learning environment (VLE): It’s an electronic learning software package that provides/Facilitate the delivery of online learning for induvial learner.
  4. Technological Literacy: Skills and conceptual understandings which helps students to use more effective physical and information technologies for their academic purposes, and vocational and research goal.
  5. Website: A website is a collection of web pages with related content identified by a common domain name.
  6. Engagement: Learners or students willing to spend time, effort, and engage in the lessons to learn.
  7. WHO: World Health Organization
  8. F2F: Face to Face
  9. ICTs: Information and Communication Technologies
  10. SMEs: Subject Matter Experts


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what can readers do to better understand the chapter content?

learning and reading process is not as easy as it seems. It needs more time and more importantly, multiple strategies are required for learners to have a comprehensive understanding of the materials and resources. Comprehension is an important aspect of the reading process for learners with different interests, backgrounds, and skills. We (educators/instructors) must consider the strategies and aspects of the reading process for students because they strive to get the points and understand the extracted meaning for better understanding and awareness of what they are learning. As there are many methods, ways, and strategies available for learners to have a comprehensive understanding of the materials, this chapter prefers to suggest for learners come up with questions about the text they are reading:

1. Self-explaining:

Asking a question about what you are reading can help the readers to improve their reading comprehension by allowing them to deeply understand the paragraph or text. Besides, it can also broaden their overall knowledge of the text that they are reading about, as it enables readers to explore themes, motifs, and other components of the text with all the details. Furthermore, the more specific questions, the more likely you will get further insight into the text and its meaning.

2. Mapping:

The readers can break up the reading into small sections icon. Mostly it will work for readers to do mappings and lead them to interpret readings of challenging texts. Readers could read two paragraphs at a time, then pause to quickly summarize what they have read in their minds in order to understand the texts and get the concepts of the whole reading.


About the authors

Mahdia Ahmadi is a MA in Education student at Asian University of Women. She is native Persian, and done her undergrads in Business Administration with a major in Finance from COMSATS University Islamabad, which she completed in 2020. She worked at Afghan Women’s Educational Center in Education and Finance field. On national and International levels, she taught English as a second language in different academies with different levels for 4 years. She is a member of International Women Peace Group and represents Afghan women and girls. Her research interest comprises Educational systems, Quality education in online systems, Empowerment of human resources, and women’s rights. Besides her academic and professional career background, Mahdia Ahmadi has organized many conferences, workshops, seminars, and led projects on the International level.

Fatima Ameri is a MA in Education student at Asian University for Women. She is from Ghor province of Afghanistan and a Persian native speaker. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Bamyan University in the field of Sociology. She has worked as a social organizer with UNICEF in Bamyan as well as a news presenter with different media in Afghanistan. Currently, she is a student and residential assistant “RA” on the AUW campus.


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Strong Schools Copyright © 2023 by Mahdia Ahmadi and Fatima Ameri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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