Electronic Learning

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What is E-Learning?

e-Learning is the shortened version of the term electronic learning. It is the delivery of instructional content through electronic technology. Such technology may take the form of the Internet or an organization’s intranet.

E-Learning Delivery Methods

e-Learning is broken down into three broad categories: synchronous, asynchronous and blended learning. Below is a detailed explanation for each category and some examples of their use.

Synchronous

Synchronous e-learning begins when both the learner and the instructor login to a virtual classroom simultaneously at a predetermined time from there separate locations. It is predominately a community based system, whereby delivery is usually conducted by use of a webcam and headset with a microphone, or instant messaging software.

Asynchronous

Asynchronous e-learning, by comparison, is completed independently by the learner. Although the use of electronic mailing lists or message boards may also be used, they only allow users to post comments to a forum for classmates and instructors to review at a later time. Students communicate by commenting on each other’s posts, this can often result in higher quality responses, as learners have more time to think about their reply.

The major advantage of asynchronous learning is its ability to allow students to progress at their own pace. This allows more advanced students to rapidly progress through the modules without having to wait for those who may require additional time to more fully understand the information.

Many asynchronous training programs are not facilitated by an instructor, but as an alternative, the student will be provided with self-instructional electronic content. They will have access to resources’ such as electronic books, electronic tutors, and training objectives. This method of delivery allows the distribution of training to many students with minimal additional costs for the company.

Blended Learning

Blended learning refers to using two, or more types of learning environments in combination to achieve a learning outcome. Many times stand-alone synchronous or asynchronous approaches may not meet the needs of students or instructors. As a consequence, a combination of e-learning and traditional classroom instruction is often used.

A hot topic at the moment in learning and development is the concept of 70:20:10. This concept centre’s around the idea that the majority of learning (around 70%) comes through experience, around 20% comes from social learning with colleagues and just 10% through formal learning such as classroom training or online courses. In this model, most of the learning comes from on-the-job experience, complemented by learning and guidance from tutor assessors and by providing more formal instructional elements. It’s a new concept, which seems to be more than blending e-learning with classroom learning, and it remains to be seen whether organizations can effectively incorporate it.

Another application of blended learning is using e-learning to support and not replace classroom instruction. Universities often employ this approach by allowing instructors to post important messages, files, and grades through an online classroom. Students can remotely login to the online classroom whenever they require additional resources to supplement what they have learned in class. Reports can also be generated detailing the amount of time each student has spent in the online classroom and the resources they access. This is achieved through an application called a Learning Management System (LMS).

What is an LMS?

A Learning Management System (LMS) is a platform that allows an entire organization to manage, create, and track e-learning. They offer tremendous flexibility of use and do not require any computer programming skills to operate. They can allow instructors to upload slides and video content to create asynchronous training material, schedule seminars or meetings and facilitate student discussions through forums, instant messaging software, or whiteboards.

An LMS should be assessable 24/7 to instructors, students and administrators simultaneously. They must also accommodate future growth and be user friendly and intuitive. They should support several learning standards such as the Aviation Industry CBT (Computer Based Training) Committee (AICC) and the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). They ought to limit and control access to e-learning content and back-end functions. Most LMS’s systems exist on a single server and will not normally be hosted on individual computers.

Mobile Learning

Mobile learning or m-learning is a relatively new concept in the field of distance education. Rather than delivering training using a personal computer, as is the case with e-learning, m-learning delivers training through use of a Smartphone or tablet device. Today’s modern students are both familiar with and fluent in new technologies, they are now regarded as ‘digital natives’. Many educationalists argue that the present educational system has not been designed to cater for the students of today. Modern-day students integrate mobile technology into many aspects of their daily lives, such as text messaging, blogging and e-mailing, uploading digital pictures and videos.

As stated, mobile learning is a relatively new concept, but it also has the potential to improve the convenience of learning and further promote a shift away from a teacher-centered to a more learner-centered instruction.

Rapid E-Learning

Rapid Learning (or Rapid e-Learning Development) generally refers to the production process of creating e-learning courses quickly and effectively without having to use overly complicated software or programming techniques. Courses built this way can be concise for the learner and fairly swiftly put together for the course provider – this can be an important factor, as information and training on specialist subjects often need to be imparted in the most efficient and up-to-date way as possible.

In short, Rapid e-Learning is the perfect way to keep up with training your staff in new products, policy changes, system upgrades or anything else you need to get out there fast! However, good instructional design is still an important factor in producing quality e-learning.

Serious Games

Games are huge business nowadays and the technology behind today’s games is being implemented in other industries beyond entertainment. Serious games are games with purposes beyond just providing entertainment. Examples include, but are not limited to, edutainment, health games, and games for policy and social change. The serious games field is already a multi-billion dollar business and still has huge potential for growth.

Serious games use the motivation levers of game design – such as competition, curiosity, collaboration, individual challenge – and game media, including board games through physical representation or video games, through avatars and 3D immersion, to enhance the motivation of participants to engage in complex or uninteresting tasks.