Advantages and Disadvantages of Using e-Learning in UniversityEducation: Analyzing Students’ PerspectivesAlaa Zuhir Al Rawashdeh1,2, Enaam Youssef Mohammed1, 3, Asma Rebhi Al Arab1,Mahmoud Alara4 and Butheyna Al-Rawashdeh21Ajman University, Ajman, UAEAl Balqaa Applied University, Jordan3Ain-Shams University, Egypt4Clemson University, USAalaa [email protected]@gmail.comasma du.jo2Abstract: The architecture of a learning system implies a heavy task for e-learning to be integrated into a complicatedsystem that is flexible, time scalable, and capable of lasting, even though there are many diverse tools. Currently, highereducation in United Arab Emirates is experiencing a major transformation, considering increased accessibility. Therefore,the study aims to identify the advantages and disadvantages of e-learning in university education in United Arab Emirates.A descriptive study design was used to randomly select students from Ajman university, who were enrolled in 2018/2019academic year. A close-ended structured questionnaire was constructed to collect data from students. Frequencies andpercentages were used to analyse the data collected. 81% students stated that e-learning provides scientific material in aninteresting way. Similarly, 80% students have responded that e-learning increases the possibility of contact betweenstudents among themselves and between the students and the teacher. 73% students indicated that due to increasingsocial isolation, they spend more time in front of the technical means of social interaction account and face-to-face withothers. 70% students have indicated that there is a presence of electronic illiteracy among parents, which reduces theirability to follow their children electronically. It is essential for potential e-learners to understand the differences betweenan e-learning classroom setting and a conventional classroom setting as there are both advantages and disadvantages of elearning to both environments that can probably influence their overall performance as a student.Keywords: Advantages, Disadvantages, E-learning, University Education1.IntroductionElectronic learning or e-learning is used to offer instructional programs to distant learners (Arkorful andAbaidoo, 2015). It is an online learning platform that emerges in a formal context and utilizes a variety ofmultimedia technologies. Electronic hardware and software support this system either offline or online. Apersonal computer is usually used for delivering training or computer-enhanced learning related to e-learning(Samsuri, Nadzri and Rom, 2014). Other communication technologies deliver learning based on tutorials,learning support systems, and online lectures (Kattoua, Al-Lozi and Alrowwad, 2016). It is based on technologyfor improving classroom engagement through positive environment, where students are deliberately engagedin online tutorials for completing a task assigned to them.E-learning ensures that students are completely involved as learning takes place together with texts, videos,sounds, collaborative sharing, and interactive graphics. It may enhance the quality of teaching and learning,report the need for higher institutions for maintaining competitive advantage, and access to education andtraining in this globalizing marketplace for students (Islam, Beer and Slack, 2015). The integration ofinformation technology (IT) in the form of e-learning has resulted in the reduction of students cost whileimproving the quality of learning and teaching (Songkram, 2015). This shows that e-learning can be economicalfor students using it, and they can perform other useful activities in their spare time (Aparicio, Bacao andOliveira, 2016).Flexibility is another major advantage of e-learning as it provides learners the benefit to take classes anywhereand anytime. Furthermore, e-learning cater different types and varieties of learning approaches by utilizingmuch interactive content available on the internet (Songkram et al., 2015). The accessibility of technology andISSN 1479-4403107 ACPILReference this paper: Al Rawashdeh, A. Z., et al., 2021. Advantages and Disadvantages of Using e-Learning in UniversityEducation: Analyzing Students’ Perspectives. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 19(2), pp. 107-117, available online

The Electronic Journal of e-Learning Volume 19 Issue 3 2021wide nature of the internet have generated a surge in the need for web-based learning and teaching. Distancelearning is an increasingly expanding environment, which enable users the flexibility to operate outside thebarriers of place and time. In university education, online learning is explained as learning that takes placecompletely or partially over the internet (Gilbert, 2015). Online learning is beneficial to a number of learnersand appears as more common in settings from elementary schools to high schools and into post-secondaryeducation.The role of engagement in e-learning is important for effective learning as it is not merely student-studentinteraction that matters. There are six different forms of engagement that can be identified in distancelearning education: (1) teacher-content (2) content-content (3) student-teacher (4) student-student (5)teacher-teacher and (6) student-content (Talebian, Mohammadi and Rezvanfar, 2014). Theories thatencourage adoption of new technologies in the learning process are based on the postulation that studentsare active participants who pursue and create knowledge throughout a meaningful context. Different means ofcollaborative tools can be used for communication and collaborative learning (Sarkar, 2012). The architectureof a learning system implies a heavy task for e-learning to be integrated into a complicated system that isflexible, time scalable, and capable of lasting, even though there are many diverse tools. The learning space isleft under the control of the instructors and institutions using conventional learning management system(LMS) irrespective of any external tools (Sarrab, Al-Shihi and Rehman, 2013). In particular, this leaves minimalspace for learners to organize their digital learning space and to carry-forward their activities.Currently, higher education in United Arab Emirates is experiencing a major transformation, consideringincreased accessibility. Knowledge is being created and implemented to the higher education setting withinnovative ways to obtain and share information and changes in technology at a rapid rate. Educationalinstitutions are providing online classes or courses using online elements and a face-to-face course delivery.Universities deliver almost all courses using web-based technology to facilitate course contents’ delivery,assessments, and assignments. Therefore, it becomes essential for understanding the advantages anddisadvantages as perceived by the learners and further act upon the enhancement areas for a successfulintegration of online learning, based on the increasing importance of online learning programs. Hence, thestudy aims to identify the advantages and disadvantages of e-learning in university education in United ArabEmirates (UAE). The study further highlights the barreirs that students face in the use of e-learning, which areoutlined in the form of disadvantages highlighted by students through their responses. Considering the studyaim, following questions will be answered in this study.1. What are some advantages and disadvantages of using e-learning when implemented in the universityeducation?2. What are some major barreirs identified by students in the e-learning?2.Literature ReviewSociocultural theory and constructivism are beneficial to explain the use of social networks in online learning,collaborative learning, and importance of social integration in online social learning environments. LevVygotsky (1987) has explained that children learn effectively in a social environment, and create meaning usingengagement with others. A child is able to perform and solve more complicated tasks that he/she canautonomously with direction, support, and collaboration. Students can actively participate in the learningprocess, if the classes are managed to support learning using discovery. This type of learning offer students toinductively and independently provide conclusions, lead to the development of intellectual abilities, andincrease the quality of durability and knowledge.2.1 Advantages of E-learningThe implementation of e-learning in education has been favourable in multiple contexts. Previous studies,have presented several advantages associated by the implementation of e-learning technologies intouniversity education (Raspopovic et al., 2017). E-learning has been viewed as the ability to focus on therequirements of individual learners. For instance, focusing on the needs of individual learners can deliverknowledge in digital age effectively as compared to educational institutions’ needs or instructors (Huang andChiu, 2015). Objectives can be achieved in the shortest time with least efforts through e-learning. Whenmanaging the e-learning environment, its effect on educational learning are observed in providing equal accessto the information regardless of the users’ locations, their ethnic origins, races, and ages. The environment forwww.ejel.org108 ACPIL

Alaa Zuhir Al Rawashdeh et ale-learning also help students or learners to rely on themselves so that instructors are no longer the solitaryknowledge source rather they serve as guides and advisors (Joshua et al., 2016).Several studies have shown the positive effects of e-learning from the insights of learners or students (Gautamand Tiwari, 2016; Martínez-Caro, Cegarra-Navarro and Cepeda-Carrión, 2015; Chang, 2016). For instance; elearning allows to observe much flexible learning ways to go for classes with much reduced need for travel.Learners are allowed to get deeper insights of the information through activities that are carried-out in theclassroom through interactive video facility (Gautam and Tiwari, 2016; Martínez-Caro, Cegarra-Navarro andCepeda-Carrión, 2015). This allow learners to respond promptly toward the activities.It is important for instructors to embrace the advanced technology throughout the process of teaching and;therefore, learning has a range of skills in information and communication technology (ICT) (Aithal and Aithal,2016). It is also observed that e-learning systems allow enhanced communication between students, andinstructors. Part time and full-time students can actively participate in the online degree courses selected fromany location or place, providing people who are traveling or relocated, an easily accessible resource forexperience and learning (Radu, Radu and Croitoru, 2015). The integration and use of e-learning offers disabledpeople an opportunity for advancing their education from any location. Four common types of e-learningsystems have been developed which includes; Learning Content Management System (LCMS), LearningSupport System (LSS), Learning Design System (LDS), and Learning Management System (LMS) (Adzharuddinand Ling, 2013). Although all the system has a similar name, however, the function of each system is different.In the process of e-learning, LMS has been widely used by various education institutions. It is further regardedas a platform that is used to manage user’s experience while interacting with e-learning content. LMS ingeneral perform three common functions, which include; presenting and systematizing training content,create assignments to test and solidify knowledge, to evaluate progress (Rietsema, 2016). The LMS software isfurther used to publish, plan, deliver, and place self placed online courses. Muruthy & Yamin (2017) in theirstudy examined how LMS is effective for students enrolled in higher education institutions, along with theirusage in the learning process. A number of advantages were outlined in this study. First include flexibility, asthe use of LMS resulted in increased collaboration between faculty and students. It is further effective inenhancing the institutional practices which requires learner’s involvement. LMS is also effective in promotingcentralized learning, easy upgrades, simplified learning process, low cost, centralized learning etc (Muruthy &Yamin, 2017).Other important benefits as highlighted by Al-Handhali, Al-Rasbi, & Sherimon (2020) indicated several benefitsof LMS, making it user friendly, effective in managing time, provide ease in the management of courses,teachers, facilities, generate reports. It further provides timely reminder to users which include; date ofdeliveries, answering questions, test dates etc. Aydin & Tirkes (2010) in their study analyzed the usefulness ofLMS and Moodle. Findings of the study indicated that Moodle, undoubtedly is one of the effective tools ofLMS. Some of the identified advantages include its flexibility following the modules employed and help in anyin teaching through any style or environment mode. Considering the modular design and its user interface,Moodle’s superior rate of usability along with its competitors. However, considering the learning environmentMoodle has been recognized as easy to use due to variety of options available. Besides, increase in the userauthentication options, easy installation process along with the maintenance in Moodle helps in increasing thefrequency of usage (Aydin & Tirkes, 2010).2.2 Disadvantages of E-learningDespite of the significant advantages of e-learning, students encounter several challenges which ultimatelylead towards either limited or negative outcomes. Such as; Arkorful and Abaidoo (2015) in their study outlinedthat e-learning, in certain cases is held through remoteness and contemplation resulting in lack of student’sinteraction. In comparison with the contemporary mode of education, e-learning might result in being lesseffective due to the absence of face to face encounter with instructions or teachers. Since in e-learningmethod, assessments are generally held online which reduces the possibility of restricting illegitimate activitiessuch as; cheating, plagiarism etc (Arkorful and Abaidoo, 2015). The absence of essential personal interactionsis the most noticeable drawback of e-learning, not only among colleague learners, but also betweeninstructors and learners (Islam, Beer and Slack, 2015). There is a scarcity of community in the online learningenvironment as student-student engagement is much less of a concern when compared with studentinstructor interaction. Gilbert (2015) highlighted that most of the students wish to work autonomously toavoid the need to interact with their classmates. Cultural barrier is another important disadvantage ofwww.ejel.org109ISSN 1479-4403

The Electronic Journal of e-Learning Volume 19 Issue 3 2021introducing an online course. Aparicio, Bacao and Oliveira, (2016) in their study evaluated the influence ofcultural characteristics which includes individualism and collectivism in determining the perceived success of elearning. Findings of the study indicated a significant influence of individualism and collectivism onorganizational and individual impacts.Technology is a platform that can be easily acquired for granted when it is engaged into daily life, but it is notwidely used because of the lack of monetary benefits for achieving access. The global knowledge available onthe internet is led by increasing the proportion of computers and other electronic devices to students(Talebian, Mohammadi and Rezvanfar, 2014). Another disadvantage is maintaining motivation in an onlinecourse that online learners experience. Students who lack self-motivation and independence had reducedsuccess rates as compared to their counterparts (Sarkar, 2012). Learners that lack self-regulation have atendency to not assign sufficient time for completing assignments; therefore, switching in poor quality work orlate assignments. Overall, successful students have stronger beliefs that they will succeed, better technologyskills and access, higher self-responsibility, and higher self-organization skills (Sarrab, Al-Shihi and Rehman,2013). Students must be able to assess the motivating factors to continue the momentum throughout theduration of the course. Students lack motivation and can easily lose sight of their original objective, rapidlybecome lost within the course, and consequently withdraw from the course (Raspopovic et al., 2017).Therefore, it is pertinent to determine the success of an individual to undertake an online course byunderstanding learning styles and self-behaviour.3.Material and Methods3.1 Study Design and SettingA cross sectional study design is adopted to identify the advantages and disadvantages of e-learning inuniversity education. Higher education institutes were focused in this study while UAE was targeted aspreferred study setting.3.2 Population and SamplingUniversity students in UAE have been considered as population for this study and; thus, students enrolled inAjman University in the second semester of the academic year 2018-2019 were considered as studypopulation. Students in other semesters and academic years were excluded from the inclusion criteria. Noneof the faculty staff was considered as a part of this study. Based on the sample size calculation and number ofstudents studying in second semester, 100 students were randomly selected as a sample for this study, with anequal male and female ratio.3.3 ProcedurePrior to the data collection, a permission was acquired from the academic’s director of Ajman university andthe nature and objective of the study was explained in a formal arranged meeting. After obtaining permissionand ethical approval from Ajman University ethical committee, consent forms were signed from students whowish to participate in the study. All the students were ensured that their participation and personalinformation will be kept confidential. A close-ended structured questionnaire was constructed to collect datafrom students.3.4 InstrumentThe questionnaire comprised of two sections; first section presents information about age, gender,department, program, place of residence, nationality, and social status. Second part was further subdividedinto two sections; (1) advantages, and (2) disadvantages of e-learning. 18 items comprised in the first subsection and 16 items comprised in the second sub-section.3.5 Reliability and ValidityThe questionnaire was evaluated from experts in the sociological department of Ajman University before usingit for data collection. Corrections were made in the questionnaire, considering the suggestions of experts toensure its validity. On the other hand, Cronbach alpha was used to measure the reliability of the questionnaireitems. In this regard, 15 students were included in the pilot study to check the reliability of the questionnaire.The participants included in the pilot study were excluded from the final sample. After performing pilot study,Cronbach alpha confirmed the reliability of the study as its coefficient exceeds the standard benchmark of 70%to show high reliability of the questionnaire items.www.ejel.org110 ACPIL

Alaa Zuhir Al Rawashdeh et al3.6 Data AnalysisData collected were analysed using frequencies and percentages as part of descriptive statistics throughstatistical package for social sciences (SPSS) version 20.0.4.ResultsTable 1 shows demographic characteristics. The findings show an equal proportion of students (50% male and50% female). Most of the study sample was in the age group 20-22 years (43%), 24% in the age group of 23–25years, 15% in the age group of 17-19 years while 8% in the age group of 26-28 years.Table 1: DemographicsVariablesMaleFemale17-19 years20-22 years23-25 years26-28 yearsGreater than 28Science (Engineering, Medicine,Pharmacy, IT)Humanity)Law, Administration, Humanitiesand Science, orPost-graduateAcceptableGoodVery GoodExcellentDubaiSharjahRas Al oluteWidowedWorksDoes not work937Overall Ranking of School in Learning and Development6334318Place of Residence829756Nationality3070Social Status821800Practical 0%23%77%Findings in Table 2 of the study show that the majority of the study members agree that there are positives tothe use of e-learning. 81% students have stated that e-learning provides scientific material in an interestingway. Similarly, 80% students have responded that e-learning increases the possibility of communication andinteraction between students and with teacher. Furthermore, 78% students indicate that e-learning enablestudents to communicate with the teacher by e-mail at any time and any place and provides the subjectthroughout the day and all days of the week.www.ejel.org111ISSN 1479-4403

The Electronic Journal of e-Learning Volume 19 Issue 3 2021Table 2: Advantages of E-learningRank41867107101195312139432ItemsThe use of computersraises the level ofstudents’ culture andskillsProvides scientificmaterial in aninteresting wayHelp students inretaining informationfor long periods.Provides immediate andcontinuous feedback tothe learnerIncreases the learner’smotivation to learnEncourage students toparticipate rather thanlistenRaise the level ofstudents’ achievementof the scientific subjectHelps increase studentteacher interactionHelps in increasingstudent-teacherinteractionIncreases students’capacity of learningEnriches the curriculumStudents can self-learnthrough digital vesselssuch as CDs or theinternetStudents cancommunicate with theteacher by e-mailanytime and anywhere.Helps familycommunicate with theuniversity to follow andguide their childrenTake into accountindividual differencesbetween students’levels.Helps minimize tutoring.Reduces administrativeburdens for universityand faculty memberThe course isavailable7/24Increase the possibilityof communicationbetween studentsamong themselves andbetween students andteachersAgree %77Somewhat agree %16Not agree 71614878139632017572815697716141597815780164Table 3 shows that the study members agree that there are drawbacks to the use of e-learning at AjmanUniversity. 73% students indicate that due to increasing social isolation, they spend more time in front of thewww.ejel.org112 ACPIL

Alaa Zuhir Al Rawashdeh et altechnical means of social interaction account and face-to-face with others. 70% students have indicated thatthere is a presence of electronic illiteracy among parents, which reduces their ability to follow their childrenelectronically. 68% students have revealed that the application of e-learning needs to a certain extent ofqualified users to deal with technological developments used in this type of education.Table 3: Disadvantages of E-learningRank244189512111083www.ejel.orgItemsThe presence ofelectronic illiteracyamong parents reducestheir ability to followtheir childrenelectronicallyEffectively affectsstudents (radiation,electromagnetic field,obesity, etc).Hinder technical failuresin educational scientificdevicesIncreases students’social isolation (spendslonger time in front oftechnology at theexpense of socialinteraction face to facewith others)Difficulty in providingextracurricularclassroom activityclassesDifficulty applyingcalendar methods andtools.Students focus ontechnology withoutpaying attention toscientific content, whichreduces theirunderstandingIncreases students’burdens andresponsibilitiesIncreases thephenomenon ofcheating in testsLimit the role of theteacher in guidingstudents, which affectstheir behaviour andethicsThe greater focus of elearning on thecognitive side ratherthan the skill andemotional sideThe application of elearning needs a certaintype of qualified usersto deal with thetechnologicaldevelopments used inAgree %70Somewhat agree %18Not agree 7232059271468248113ISSN 1479-4403

The Electronic Journal of e-Learning Volume 19 Issue 3 2021RankItemsthis type of educationThe cost of e-learning,especially in the initialstages of its applicationE-learning lacks thepresence of humanitybetween teachers andstudentsAnother person can playthe intended role of thelearner in the learningprocessE-learning does notfocus on all senses, buton the senses of hearingand vision only withoutthe rest of the sensesThe presence ofelectronic illiteracyamong parents reducestheir ability to followtheir childrenelectronicallyEffectively affectsstudents (radiation,electromagnetic field,obesity, etc(767724Agree %Somewhat agree %Not agree %60281261211860261460192170182166259Table 4: Other Advantages and Disadvantages12AdvantagesEasy to communicateDevelop individual skills3Increase students’ skill in education4Our cartons provide heavy book carry5Opening the field to increase the levelof education / culture in general anddevelopment by taking coursesthrough the Internet and dialoguesessions and participation indiscussions there are those who askstudents to participate in a voice andthis limits all the negativesmentioned aboveHelping students among themselves,especially at the time of the exam678www.ejel.orgFacilitate study and communicationwith teachers in all comfortTeach the learner and the teacherwith ease with each other at any time114DisadvantagesDifficulty for the beginnerLack of availability at times andIt needs more timeAddiction using electronics anddependenceWhen using electronics, we don’tseem to be studying for parents andthey think we’re playing and wastingtimeIt is according to the teacher or therecipient of the scientific material andhis ability to communicateinformation and respond to hisstudents and seized and enforcerespectReduces teachers’ interest in thematerialUpgrading of devices is possible tolead to delay in dealingThe material is defined in a particularframework and the difficulty ofabsorption because of the same wayreading from PowerPoint, forexample, this becomes a very boringroutine unlike the explanationwithout electronic devices is betterand education is in a wide range anddiscussions ACPIL

Alaa Zuhir Al Rawashdeh et alAdvantages95.DisadvantagesYou cannot be called for recording hispen and needs to buy sophisticatedtools expensive price to enable it toreverse the paper book ,which onlyneeds a pen to record notesDiscussionStudents are progressively achieving access to the far-reaching environment of online learning, specifically inthe university setting. The strategy to increase technology in university setting across the UAE hasconsequently driven to an increasing accessibility for students to online courses in a range of subjects. Thecompetitive atmosphere of university entry is another potential factor that has contributed to the increase ofonline courses being offered at the university setting. Students are taking university level courses formaintaining a competitive edge. Many of the university level courses offered to students are in an onlinesetting. Therefore, the study has identified the advantages and disadvantages of e-learning in supporting elearners to become successful students using interactive online platforms.Findings revealed that there were commonalities among the students’ response, which links to commonattributes of effective learners while each student is unique in their approach to online learning. It is observedthat perceptions of students toward the advantages and disadvantages of the e-learning in universityeducation. The findings have emphasized the aspects of the e-learning courses that potential online learnersshould take into account when realizing their individual preference. Based on these findings, it is essential forpotential e-learners to understand the differences between an e-learning classroom setting and a conventionalclassroom setting as there are both advantages and disadvantages of e-learning to both environments that canprobably influence their overall performance as a student (Rashid et al., 2016).These findings have been supported through previous studies where a wide range of learning styles is one ofthe advantages of e-learning to students (Rusu and Tudose, 2018; Raspopovic, Cvetanovic and Jankulovic,2016). Students also prefer what they like and e-learning allows them to prefer subjects they like and enjoy. Itis also identified that students are independent to select the types of e-learning tools they preferred to use. Ina number of cases, CD-ROM and internet are used as their main e-learning tools. This occurs because mostlystudents can get easy access to the Internet as they have the connection at home (Chang, 2016). Similarly, ithas been found that a wide-range of multimedia inputs allow learners to seek knowledge that would associateto their personal and prior experiences, and involve them in interdisciplinary training.E-learning can be a potential platform in providing a number of delivery methods for different types oflearners, when compared to conventional classrooms. Furthermore, e-learning is an influential tool as it canprovide unique learning styles and improve academic performances of students. Students can activelyparticipate in e-learning environment where they can increase their thinking ability and learn independently(Dumford and Miller, 2018). Students can have systematic lessons as it provides content and exercisesportrayed in animations, sounds, and videos.Among the students, the lack of face-to-face interaction in their studies was the major disadvantage of elearning, while collaborative learning among peers is essential for the students as they improve theirknowledge and exchange ideas. Students by nature are social learners who often prefer to learn and interactwith their peers in groups. The tendency to surf social web extensively such as Twitter and Facebook,download games, and

Electronic learning or e-learning is used to offer instructional programs to distant learners (Arkorful and Abaidoo, 2015). It is an online learning platform that emerges in a formal context and utilizes a variety of multimedia technologies. Electronic hardware and software support