E-Learning is defined as a learning system that is solely based on the formalization of the teaching process through the integration of the technology. It utilizes the effective cutting-edge technology in order to access the curriculum that is beyond the scope of the traditional classrooms. Moreover, in some of the cases, it is also regarded as the online program or courses that often award the degree or certification. Being an internet-dependent learning process, many terms are used to describe the E-Learning such as distance learning, internet learning, or online learning. The concept of E-learning pertains to the interactive session that occurs through the internet between the classmates, professors, and teachers. However, it isn’t delivered through the CD-ROM, the DVD, or some television channel. Sometimes, it is delivered as a live session and involves the interaction, whereas, it can also be a prerecorded lecture by a professor. It is not restricted to the educational sector. In the current era, it has deeply integrated itself into different industries such as healthcare and finance. However, it is important to know about the history of the E-Learning. Do you want to know about the history? Let’s get into it:
Brief History of E-Learning
In October 1999, the term “E-Learning” came into existence during a CBT Systems Seminar which was held at Los Angeles. In addition to that, it gave rise to the other terms such as “Virtual Learning” and “Online Learning”. Despite the existence of the well-documented evidence of the formulation of E-Learning, some of the pieces of evidence also suggest that E-learning existed even before the commencement of the 19th century. Do you believe that the internet is the sole cause for the formulation of E-learning? Well, no! The distance courses were still rendered to the students before the advent of the internet. In the year 1840, a qualified teacher named Isaac Pitman used to teach shorthand via correspondence to his students. Moreover, the first testing machine that enabled the students to test themselves was introduced in the year 1924. Later, in the year 1954, the “teaching machine” was invented with the purpose of helping the schools in administering the programmed instructions that were delivered to the students.
This machine was introduced by a Harvard Professor named BF Skinner. In the year 1960, the first ever Computer Based Training Program (abbreviated as CBT Program) was introduced to the world. Initially, the program was known as PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations) and aimed at the students of the University of Illinois. However, later on, it started to become ubiquitous in the schools of that era. In the late 20th century, the concept of E-learning further developed and started to root itself deeply through the advent of computer and internet. In the year 1970, the computer mouse and the GUI were introduced. Through the advent of first MAC in the year 1980, the students were able to grasp information related to the certain subjects through having the access to computers in their homes. Afterward, the virtual learning environments came into existence and thrived to provide students with the access to e-learning opportunities and online information. In the year 2000, the businesses started to train its workers through the E-Learning and providing a range of learning opportunities. Since the year 2010, the new era of the social media started which is even prevalent in this century. The new wave brought Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Twitter, Facebook, Skype, YouTube, and many other platforms which provided the opportunities for connecting with people and sharing the information.
Explore the Different Types of E-Learning
The Online Learning or Distance Learning is a comprehensive term that usually involves many different instructional approaches.
Furthermore, the E-learning Programs could take many forms as follows:
Blended Online Learning:
It renders a mixture of the Online Learning exercises (such as quizzes, tests, declarations, and messages) and the in-person exercises (such as the personal addresses, and workshops). It is also referred to as the Hybrid Courses. The blended learning is generally offered by the online foundations in order to pose advantages to the learning communities. It allows the immediate feedback and analysis of the results which potentially help the students to identify their errors, weak areas and retain them. The advantages of blended learning involve interaction between larger groups, face-to-face interaction, self-paced learning, and reduced cost. However, it demands the individuals to have the basic technical knowledge and it lacks the element of persuasion which is demanded by most of the individuals.
Asynchronous Online Learning:
The occurrence of these course offerings isn’t real time. This Asynchronous Learning environment is typically beneficial for the students suffering through the busy schedules or the time constraints. Generally, the interaction occurs through the blogs and the discussion boards rather than the face-to-face element or the class meeting. The students are given the content and the relevant details of the complete coursework and the assessments. Moreover, the deadline is also stipulated to the students. Its advantages are notably as follows: self-guided learning, availability, flexibility, and accommodation. On the other hand, the disadvantage of this type could be the isolation or lack of motivation felt by the student.
Synchronous Online Learning:
It is also referred to as “Forward Online Learning”. The occurrence of these distance courses is real time as the communication isn’t instantaneous. It allows the participants to take assistance from the courses even through distances. In the Synchronous Learning, the enrolled students, as well as the instructor, get the ability to interact with each other simultaneously. Moreover, the participants can interact with each other through the live video streaming, text messaging, or audio chat. The examples of the synchronous learning are video conferencing and the virtual classrooms. The major advantage of such type is that it helps to develop a better connection between members. Furthermore, it empowers the understanding related to a certain subject. On the other hand, it doesn’t promote the self-managed learning; thus, the students lack logistics of planning. Moreover, the student’s accessibility has to be considered for conducting the sessions.
Importance of E-Learning in Today’s World
As far as the developing nations are concerned, E-Learning brings many advantages for them. The cost associated with the traditional education system is significantly reduced by the E-Learning. The learners are granted access to an array of educational material through the Learning Management System (LMS) deployment and good quality internet connection. The developing nations tend to encounter the infrastructure problem during transporting the children from the remote areas. In such circumstances, these students can easily acquire education without the need for transportation. This type of learning could highly benefit the nations in skills acquisition in order to improve their competitiveness. The E-Learning tools can be virtually used from anywhere due to the affordability and convenience offered by the E-Learning system.
E-Learning system renders a complete alternative to the conventional classroom system. The availability of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and ubiquitous digital devices such as mobile phones and laptops help the individuals in learning at their own pace. Moreover, it also grants the ability to the students to share the materials in all the formats such as the PDFs, presentations, videos, and word documents. The students can communicate with the professors and conduct webinars through the different online chat forums. A variety of E-Learning methods and systems such as the LMS enable the deliverance of the course efficiently. Through utilizing the learning tools, the process of course deliverance can be automated. These tools are not only beneficial in the education sector but the Human Resource Departments of corporations can also effectively utilize them. Moreover, many of the businesses tend to use the low cost and flexibility factor of E-Learning to provide the training facilities to their employers.
Benefits of E-learning
E-Learning is widely prevalent in the current technological era. Thus, it might bring significant benefits for the learners. What do you think? Nowadays, the learners are more drawn towards the content that seems to be self-paced, relevant, and personalized.
Let’s look at the benefits of E-Learning:
Eliminates Face-to-Face Interaction
Most of the students feel shy during face-to-face interactions with the teachers. Moreover, they feel reluctant to share their queries in the classroom environment. E-Learning renders the opportunity to the learners to interact with their tutors easily.
E-Learning for students is a flexible approach that allows the students to study at the time which suits them. It is beneficial for the students who are doing full-time jobs or have other commitments. They aren’t bound to compromise with their interests and commitments. Moreover, some of the students might encounter difficulties while doing their homework; thus, they can easily avail the assistance of the tutors available online.
Each of the students has their own learning pace and retention time; therefore, none of the students could be forced to understand the information right on the spot. E-Learning in Education benefits the students by allowing them to study at their own pace. Moreover, it allows the individuals to focus more on a particular subject where they are struggling. It is also reported that the blended learning approaches involved in the E-Learning have a higher retention rate.
Accommodates the needs
The greatest advantage is that the students can learn easily from anywhere without the stress of traveling or organizing the accommodation which inevitably is inconvenient and requires extra cost. For the tutors, they can easily refresh and update the content in accordance with their needs. Therefore, the students can easily get access to the up-to-date content. The staff available in the remote locations can be trained effectively.
Reduced associated cost
Along with the increase in the speed and the ease with which the E-Learning is delivered, the cost of learning has drastically decreased. The immediate gains of the E-Learning include reduced training time and cost-effective savings. However, it can also pose sufficient advantages to the organizations by increasing their profitability but it depends upon the effectiveness of the E-Learning process.
Disadvantages of E-learning
E-Learning certainly has a variety of benefits for the E learners; however, they also have some potential drawbacks. Let’s have a look:
Lack of face-to-face Interaction:
Yes Undoubtedly! The lack of face-to-face interaction is an advantage for some and disadvantage for the others. E-Learning tends to become highly interactive through the webinars and video chats; however, the experience of interacting with a real human being is irreplaceable. Moreover, some of the students are highly dependent on developing a personal connection with the instructor. Thus, they could naturally encounter problems and feel isolated.
The major advantage of E-Learning being self-paced could inevitably turn into lack of self-discipline for some of the learners. The inherent freedom granted by E-Learning can encourage the students to either procrastinate or switching off from the learning material frequently. Moreover, many people are drawn towards the internalization of the new skills and knowledge through the interactive training sessions.
Lack of Transformational power:
E-Learning renders a great opportunity for the transferring of some specific skills and knowledge. However, the same opportunity becomes difficult when it involves complex skills and competencies. These skills include the ones which require the deep engagement of people in an activity. Furthermore, E-Learning isn’t an ideal option for the people who require motivation to work.
Dependency on Technology
E-Learning is technology dependent; therefore, the gadget-friendly people will certainly consider it as immensely beneficial, whereas, the others would encounter difficulties in mastering the updated tech gigs. In addition to that, E-Learning isn’t accessible in the remote areas where computers don’t support the powerful online streaming and there is unstable internet access.
Methods of E-learning
Many organizations and institutions have effectively adopted the E-Learning domain for the transformation of their training and development programs. In addition to that, the students on the individual basis also look forward to these programs; however, selecting the right method for the organization or for personal use is still considered as a challenge. Do you want to know the key to choose the right method? Let’s have a glimpse! The E-Learning elements and E-Learning factors such as analysis of target audience, topic, task, and proper need play a pivotal role in choosing the right method. Through conducting the learning Pyramid analysis and keeping requirements in mind, you can choose the E-Learning method effectively.
Here’s a list:
The most frequently adopted method is self-study which involves the utilization of resources like blogs, PowerPoint presentation, pdf files, and Wikipedia. E-Learning through Wikipedia allows the learners to resolve their queries and doubts effectively.
The learning experience naturally enhances through the demo videos and audio for the training purposes. It usually engages the learners and helps in retention.
Blended Learning/ Instructor-led training(ILT):
Both the Synchronous as well as asynchronous learning methods could be deployed; however, the blended learning approach works best in some of the scenarios. Due to the lack of interaction, some exercises cannot be conducted in the E-Learning environment. Therefore, it can be conducted in the classroom through the blended approach.
As the technology leads to the increase in the affordability and availability of the hand-held devices, the mobile learning has naturally developed with the passage of time. The e-courses can just simply be converted into the mobile compatible modules along with consideration to the disk space, screen size, and internet connectivity.
Increasingly, games are also regarded as the productive medium for the experiential learning. Apart from the simulation which is highly reliant on the graphics and videos, the integration of game could be deployed for enhancing productivity, creating engagement, and motivating the learners.
Similar to the ubiquitous mobile devices, social media usage is also increasing rapidly. The Social Media platforms enable the collaboration and communication between the employees for the discussion of the experiences and queries. Moreover, these collaboration platforms are also often built within the LMS to deal with ethical concerns.
Computer-based Training/Web-based Training:
Computer-based Training (CBT) utilizes the personal or networked computers for the delivery of the training programs. It can be made available to the learners through the CD. Moreover, the Web-based Training (WBT) can also be used which utilizes the internet in the form of LMS (Learning Management System). It is efficient for the self-motivated learners aspiring to attain the professional excellence.
In the current technological world, E-Learning solutions are even offered by many of the universities. These E-Learning University solutions are aimed at granting a flexible range of study options to the students. The distance learning allows them to fulfill their other commitments as well as study full-time along with the teaching support. Conclusively, all of us need to discern the fact that nothing in the world is perfect. Not everything in E-Learning suits the individual’s needs despite the fact that it is developed with the sole purpose of aiding individual learning experience. Therefore, make effective use of E-Learning but don’t become over dependent. Think wisely!