Is e‑Learning Right for You?

As a result of tech­no­logy advances over the past decade, e‑Learning has become more promi­nent than ever before. E‑Learning (or elec­tronic lear­ning) is defined as tech­no­logy supported lear­ning (TSL) where elec­tronic media is utilized to deliver the lear­ning mate­rial. In most cases, eLear­ning refers to Internet/Intranet based or online lear­ning.

The Benefits of e‑Learning

Both orga­niz­a­tions and indi­vi­duals can benefit from eLear­ning. For orga­niz­a­tions, deli­vering web-based on-the-job trai­ning (OJT) can provide a hand­some cost savings in the area of trai­ning personnel. In addi­tion, it allows employees to work at their own pace to complete the online trai­ning.

Indi­vi­duals also benefit from elec­tronic lear­ning when it comes to higher lear­ning via online teaching. More than 3.5 million students in the United States were parti­ci­pa­ting in eLear­ning by 2006. Conse­quently, almost anyone can success­fully parti­ci­pate in e‑Learning, provided that they have the disci­pline to under­take inde­pen­dent study. This number is expected to continue to grow as more adult lear­ners make the decision to return to college to finish their degree. Among the advan­tages of e‑Learning are:

  • Reduced cost for educa­tion providers
  • Flexi­bi­lity and conve­ni­ence for learners
  • Incre­ased access to educa­tional resources
  • Indi­vi­duals can develop the digital literacy skills needed to be successful in their job or career path

How e‑Learning works

In a signi­fi­cant number of cases, e‑Learning is as simple as prepa­ring a typical slide presen­ta­tion, and making it acces­sible to lear­ners via the web in the form of an online presen­ta­tion. A typical elec­tronic lear­ning course consists of a lesson in the form of a presen­ta­tion, written docu­ment, or video. Via remote desktop soft­ware, the students are able to join a distance educa­tion session and view the presen­ta­tion slides of the teacher via screen sharing soft­ware and hear the lecture through a telecon­fe­rence.

After the learner completes the lesson, a quiz or test may be admi­nis­tered through the organization’s e‑Learning system. Colleges and Univer­si­ties typi­cally use third party soft­ware programs that allow both the inst­ruc­tors and users to easily manage the e‑Learning expe­ri­ence. This inter­face allows inst­ruc­tors and lear­ners to perform tasks such as post and access lessons enter and view grades for assign­ments and tests, send messages, chat via message boards or instant messaging, and manage multiple courses.

While such distance lear­ning courses are not free, there does exist free online educa­tion soft­ware solu­tions, in the from of free desktop sharing soft­ware, online presen­ta­tion soft­ware, etc.

When consi­de­ring whether e‑Learning is right for you, take in to account the following. Are you orga­nized and self-directed? Do you have enough time to complete the required cour­se­work? Do you feel comfor­table approa­ching the inst­ructor with ques­tions? Ulti­mately, e‑Learning has a count­less number of advan­tages and very few disad­van­tages. As a result, it provides a great oppor­tu­nity for educa­tion to indi­vi­duals who may not other­wise be able to participate.