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E-learning- Learning without walls

...the whole world is my classroom

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January 3, 2015

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E-learning- Learning without walls

In the present scenario of knowledge explosion, we need to improvise the skills of organising information and prioritise actions. E-learning is the latest tool in our hands to do so.

E-LEARNING

E-learning is an alternative method of delivering and receiving education and training as against the traditional, instructor led, classroom environment that we are most familiar with. The term ‘e-learning’, encompasses a wide range of educational experiences and practices. Instructional e-learning content may be delivered through a wide array of methods including: CD or DVD-ROM, the internet, audio and videotape, television or satellite broadcast, video conferencing, or on an internal network (intranet). The content can include text, audio, video, animation, simulation, and Virtual Reality (VR) applications. E-learning can provide an exciting and highly effective learning experience that can go beyond the level of education and training you might experience in a regular classroom.

However, what you get out of an e-learning programme is directly related to the amount of effort you put in.

BENEFITS OF E-LEARNING

E-learning has substantial benefits and offers unique opportunities for people who might otherwise have limited access to education and training. It incorporates innovative and creative approaches to instruction and provides unprecedented access to resources and information.

The benefits of e-learning are as follows:

  • Student centric approach. The learner is the core of any e-learning system. Materials and activities are designed with the needs and interests of the learner in mind. Students assume control of their learning experience and use it to suit their own specific needs.
  • Opens up lessons – E-learning enables a defined learning material to take as many interesting forms as many creative leaps one may take in presenting the material.
  • Self-directed and self-paced approach. Learners control the amount of time they spend on any particular topic. This allows learners to spend additional time on difficult items before moving on or to skip material they already understand. This individualised approach usually allows learners to complete their education and training faster than in traditional courses.
  • Interactive and hands-on. The use of a variety of multimedia in e-learning increases student involvement and reinforces the learning experience. This leads to increased retention and a stronger grasp of the subject at hand.
  • Develops out of the box thinking. E-learning encourages out of the box thinking in both the teacher and the pupil, while preparing the material, teaching and learning respectively.
  • Allows flexibility. Learning can take place anytime and anywhere, as long as the necessary equipment is accessible. The logistics and expense of face-to-face education and training can be extremely limiting when students are separated by distance. E-learning also allows physically or otherwise challenged students better understanding than regular classroom teaching.
  • Student friendly. E-learning provides the opportunity to teachers to get personal with the students in terms of their learning needs and styles, learning difficulties and strengths and create learning material in accordance to it.
  • Provides consistent and effective training. All the target learners can participate simultaneously and receive the same information, reducing the variability introduced through multiple sessions in different locations.
  • Improves Work Quality. E-learning has myriad avenues for incorporating projects to be undertaken by students after a detailed, thorough research, case studies, etc.
  • Cost effective and saves time. It reduces travel costs and does away with printed materials. Online learning helps you to save money and increase productivity.
  • Allows role swapping. The interactive, thought provoking and interesting avenues of e-learning have a greater success rate of enabling the learners to understand concepts so well that they are capable of imparting knowledge to others. On the other hand, the vast knowledge provided by sources of e-learning always brings something new before the teacher to learn, unlike the same old textbooks in the regular classroom.
  • Makes tracking of course progress a breeze. Perhaps the most important aspect of using computers for training is that a well implemented Learning Management System (LMS) makes it easy to track and prove progress of learners.
  • This can be essential for our most popular courses where proof of mandatory training is required.
  • Enhances family involvement. Family plays an integral role in the child’s learning. Learning that takes place while being involved with family members has its own fun and benefits, with regard to greater learning. A child will surely remember what he learnt while completing a task he did with his father or sibling more than what the teacher simply explained in the class. Even in a regular classroom, those students fare better who revise the content well at home.
  • Empowers students. Perhaps, the biggest advantage of e-learning is the power given to the students with regard to their learning, in all aspects such as content, pace, learning style, time of learning, etc.

LIMITATIONS OF E-LEARNING

Although e-learning has many benefits for students and organisations alike, it also has certain limitations.

  • Computer literacy and access to equipment. Any e-learning system involves basic equipment and a minimum level of computer knowledge in order to perform the tasks required by the system. A student who does not possess these skills, or does not have access to these tools, cannot succeed in an e-learning programme.
  • Some topics are not appropriate for e-learning. Certain subjects that require physical exertion and practice, such as sports and public speaking, are not good for e-learning. However, e-learning can be a useful companion to traditional education for teaching background and technical information.
  • Students themselves can be a limitation to e-learning.
    • The flexibility and student-centred nature of e-learning requires a high level of student responsibility. A successful e-learner must be well organised, self-motivated, and have good time management skills.
    • Learners with low motivation or bad study habits may fall behind without the routine structures of a traditional class; students may get lost or confused about course activities and deadlines.
    • Students may feel isolated from the instructor and classmates. Instructors may not always be available when the students are studying or need help.
    • Slow internet connections or older computers may make accessing course materials frustrating.
    • Managing computer files and online learning software can sometimes seem complex for students with beginner-level computer skills.
    • Hands-on or lab work is difficult to simulate in a virtual classroom.

STRATEGIES FOR E-LEARNING SUCCESS

Recent technological advances and the advent of e-learning have dramatically altered the world of education and training. There are millions of e-learners in and around the world. Today’s e-learners come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and are of all ages.

Most are working people who are trying to continue their education and improve their opportunities. Still, e-learning is quite different from traditional classroom learning and is not for everyone. Successful e-learning students share certain qualities and abilities. For successful e-learning outcomes, certain strategies have to be followed.

  • Be self inspired and self-disciplined. Successful e-learning students are able to study independently and incorporate study time into their busy lives. Students should set aside regular study time. E-learning requires a real commitment to keep up with the flow of the process and to finish within the required period of time.
  • Define your goals and plan for success. Define your goals and objectives for your e-learning experience. Understand the requirements and plan ahead so that you will know what’s expected of you and how your performance will be evaluated.
  • Develop good reading and writing skills. The ability to efficiently read and interpret instructions is a critical skill in e-learning. Most activities and communications are also written, so it is important to be comfortable with your ability to express yourself through writing.
  • Incorporate work, life, and other educational experiences as part of the learning process. E-learning requires the student to make inferences based on experience as well as facts. Meaningful reflection and critical analysis of information are an essential part of the learning process. Look for opportunities to apply what you have learned in your life.
  • Be willing and able to commit adequate time to the e-learning process. E-learning is a convenient way to receive education and training, but it is not easier than the traditional educational process. In fact, it often requires more time and commitment.
  • Have access to the necessary equipment and create some personal space. It is important that you have a place to study in a peaceful and focused manner.

To be a successful e-learner you must believe that meaningful, high quality learning is possible even without a traditional classroom.

When properly designed and executed, e-learning is a highly effective and rewarding learning practice, in tune with the capabilities, skills and spirit of the 21st century.

Vijay Laxmi Singh

Vijay Laxmi Singh

An M.A., M.Phil, B.Ed, Former Principal of G.D. Salwan Public School, Rajendra Nagar, Vijay Laxmi Singh is presently working as Director- Principal, Training Vertical, Salwan Education Trust. Vijay Laxmi Singh has been an acclaimed school administrator for over 31 years. This rich and varied experience has given her the right learning vertical to become an educational management expert and school leader along with sharpening her acumen as a curriculum developer. Her transformational role also includes her reputation as a fine Principal-teacher trainer in various spheres of education. She has received many awards viz International School Award from the British Council, Green School Award by CSE, Amity Excellence Award, Indy’s Education Award for Excellence in School & College Education, etc.

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