As education advances, so does the methods of administering education. In times past the means of education was only through the physical classroom. But with technology, electronic learning, sometimes called e-learning has become an option, and so many people are opting for it. In this guide, we would see what e-learning entails, don’t hesitate to read through it.
What Is E-Learning?
E-learning is a type of learning conducted digitally via electronic media, typically involving the internet.
It can be accessed via most electronic devices including a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, making it a versatile and easy way for students to learn wherever they are. E-learning resources come in a variety of forms – from software programs and digital courses to interactive online platforms and apps.
Types of eLearning
Given the broad answer to the question “what is e-learning,” educational scientists have identified different types and paradigms of e-learning, according to categories such as learning style, delivery method, educational tools, and online course platforms used. The following are the types of e-learning used today.
Computer-Managed Learning (CML)
In a computer-managed learning environment, instructors use computers to provide learning objectives and assess learner performance (Day & Payne, 1987). Computer-managed learning systems can fulfill several functions, including generating tests, analyzing the results of these tests, and keeping records of learners’ progress (Sly & Rennie, 1999). The ranking parameters used by these systems allow the learning process to be adjusted according to the individual preferences of students.
Institutions also use CML systems for storing and retrieving teaching aids and tools, such as lecture information, training materials, and curriculum information (Currie & Courduff, 2015).
Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI)
Also referred to as computer-assisted learning, CAI is a type of e-learning that uses computers together with traditional teaching. This method includes a wide variety of activities, including drill-and-practice, tutorial, and simulation activities (Cotton, 1991). These activities can be offered by themselves or as supplements to traditional teacher-directed instruction. According to Tamm (2019), most online and traditional schools today use various CAI methods to facilitate skills development in students. Tamm further explains that the primary value of CAI is interactivity, as the method allows students to become more active during the learning process.
Synchronous Online Learning
Through synchronous online learning, groups of students can simultaneously participate in activities in real time, anywhere they are in the world (Hrastinksi, 2008). This real-time interaction is facilitated by online chat and videoconferencing, which allows students and instructors to interact with each other without delays (Types of Online Learning, n.d.). According to Tamm (2019), this type of community-oriented e-learning is one of the quickest-growing types of e-learning because it eliminates the social isolation and poor teacher-student relationships common in e-learning.
Asynchronous Online Learning
In contrast with synchronous online learning, asynchronous e-learning methods allow students to study independently at different times and locations, without real-time communication. This self-paced learning approach allows students to have more flexibility in their schedules. Technologies used for asynchronous e-learning methods include email, blogs, ebooks, discussion forums, CDs, and DVDs.
In fixed e-learning, the content used during the course of learning does not change once it is created. This means all participating students receive the same content. The material is usually determined by instructors; as such, it cannot be adjusted to adapt the content to the student’s learning pace or preferences. Because of its rigid nature, this type of e-learning is often not ideal in e-learning environments (Tamm, 2019).
In adaptive e-learning, learning materials are redesigned and adapted to fit the needs of each individual learner. Parameters such as student performance, abilities, and goals are considered so that educational approaches are more student-centered and individualized. According to Shute (2003), technology has advanced to the point where it is possible to implement laboratory-based techniques to assess higher-level skills more effectively and efficiently. The resulting information can further guide the assessment of instructional design processes.
Adamu (2018) further notes that adaptive e-learning benefits from artificial intelligence (AI) and the technology’s ability to personalize the learning experience. AI is particularly crucial in knowledge management and retrieval, which in turn serve as core modules of adaptive e-learning systems.
Through AI, teaching tools will also be able to identify and focus on areas where learners need improvement (Smith, 2016).
eLearning can also be classified by the communication model used. In a linear e-learning approach, information is passed from sender to receiver. The time, order, and pace at which the information is received are determined by the sender, and there is no feedback from the receiver to the sender (E-Learning Models Explained, n.d.). Instruction delivered through television, radio, and newspapers is a classic example of linear e-learning.
In contrast with linear e-learning, interactive e-learning enables two-way communication between the parties involved. In this approach, the sender can become the receiver and vice versa. Modern examples include instant messaging and discussion boards or forums (E-Learning Models Explained, n.d.). Through this easier communication model, instructors and students can modify teaching and learning methods as necessary.
eLearning can also be classified into its group dynamics. In individual e-learning, learners study the material individually and students are expected to meet learning objectives on their own. This mirrors learning practices in traditional classrooms.
There are a number of ways to evaluate or measure students’ performance against learning objectives throughout the learning process. In many massive open online courses such as Coursera, for instance, coursework and exams undergo automated evaluation or peer grading (Layton, 2013).
Compared to individual e-learning, collaborative e-learning is a more modern approach. In this method, two or more students engage in the learning process as a group. According to Tamm (2019), collaborative e-learning works on the idea that knowledge is best developed in a group setting, where individuals can interact, learn from each other, and play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Importance of e-learning
- E-learning has been introduced to empower learners to get basic schooling and enhance skills. Also, they can obtain a degree certificate, without actually attending school or university, or any other institution.
- For tutors, it is a great source of earnings, wherein they can teach from anywhere at their preferred time.
- Applying e-learning to all levels of schooling helped to ensure students grasp the lessons adequately at a faster pace.
- According to psychology, the audio-visual method of teaching leads to a disciplined learning environment. There are an effective tutor and student engagements.
- One of the importance of e-learning in education is that tutors and participants both can develop advanced learning skills. For example, creating and selling eBooks is one such advancement.
- E-learning has worked towards bringing learners, tutors, experts, practitioners, and other interest groups to one place. Thus, there is a good practice of knowledge sharing followed through different online platforms. This is important in current times as competition is rising and the world is also growing. Hence, quick information helps in the better growth of an individual.
Disadvantages Of E-Learning
E-learning requires self-discipline and self-motivation in order to be successful. Because the learner is fully in charge of his or her own progress, they will literally get out of the learning that they or put in.
In the case of schools, e-learning will usually be overseen by a teacher, parent, or leader, who can ensure students are committing to the process and getting the best results. But even then, particularly in the case of remote learning, it still requires an element of self-discipline from the students themselves.
Doesn’t Provide Practical Training
E-learning can provide the theory aspect of a training exercise, but cannot provide practical training, which may be needed in some subjects to ensure competency. This would be an example of blended learning, which allows you to use e-learning alongside traditional face-to-face training.
Misses The Face-To-Face Aspect Of Learning
For some people, having that face-to-face contact may be a huge motivator to them, which e-learning mostly lacks. Even if a student has access to a real-life tutor online, the social aspect is missing, which may make e-learning not a suitable option for everybody.
eLearning Delivery Methods
Technology has allowed for the development of various methods of delivery for e-learning to suit the various preferences and needs of learners. Some educators do not even need to pay for systems since the best free LMS are powerful enough to conduct learning. Below are some commonly used delivery methods for e-learning.
Computer-Based Training or Web-Based Training
In Computer-Based Training (CBT), learners can access content through media such as CDs and DVDs. CBT is usually run on the learner’s system. Web-Based Training (WBT), on the other hand, uses the internet as a platform. Learning management systems are commonly used in WBT approaches. With either CBT or WBT, courses are self-paced and there is no interaction between instructors and learners. These delivery methods typically work well for adult learners who want to learn new skills (Soni, 2015).
Blended e-learning combines face-to-face instruction and computer-mediated instruction (Bonk & Graham, 2005). This method supplements in-person instruction with technology such as collaboration software, web-based software, and communication software. According to Oye et al. (2012), blended e-learning encourages educational and information review beyond classroom settings. Littlejohn and Pegler (2007) explain that blended e-learning facilitates the integration of different spaces for learning and offers flexibility with regard to learners’ schedules.
According to Sharples (2000), the availability of advanced mobile technologies, such as high bandwidth infrastructure and wireless technologies, has also lent itself to the extension of e-learning towards mobile e-learning. In this e-learning approach, handheld computing devices are used to provide access to learning content and information resources. Though the easy availability and affordability of mobile devices can make e-learning more accessible, mobile devices’ disk space, screen size, and Internet connectivity features must be taken into consideration with this approach.
To conclude, e-learning has become an important tool for tutors from around the world. Earlier access to knowledge was not possible for all.
Geographical boundaries had made it difficult for teachers and students to travel to other countries. This new trend has helped in providing consistent education. e-learning also offers greater collaboration and global opportunities to learners and teachers.