Facets of E-Learning in Education

Introduction

With a growing number of courses offered online, the major concern is about the role of instructors. Rendering online instructions is a challenging approach for delivering classroom-like education to remote learners. Even now, online education is mostly imparted as extended studies or some sort of continuing education; but over a period, online learning has placed itself parallel with mainstream classroom studies. Therefore instructing online learning has attained the same critical status as instructing students in the classroom. Instructors, facilitators, and coaches would have observed that with the arrival of the web, e-learning has moved out of its earlier specialized markets and became a mainstream part of education. Online education is widely accepted as a student- centered, and traditional education is regarded as a teacher- centered. Due to this shift, the instructor’s role has become more of a facilitator than a traditional lecturer. For the sake of the instructive approach, different facets of e-learning are analyzed hereunder.

Learning anywhere

E-learning works from any location and at any time. ‘Classrooms are a learning environment and not the learning environment. Learning can take place anywhere, and determining factor being the ability to access the resources to learn. As computing power increases and further technological advances are made, the ability of software to personalize the learning experience will increase. Amplified computing powers create a more realistic multimedia experience that engages students and motivates them to learn- whether inside or outside the classroom.’(Mobile Computing is the Lifestyle of Learning)1

Sharing and Collaborating

Cutthroat competition in almost every field necessitates the dissemination of qualitatively researched education to students. The process of e-learning provides such an opportunity. By developing a centralized strategy like a network infrastructure with a common set of supporting applications, qualitative education can be disseminated to an unbelievably large number of researched information seekers. Moreover, it is encouraging and supportive to note that e-learning through modern technology provides students an opportunity to collaborate resources and information among themselves. Such share point servers have been developed that create team-oriented web- sites to share information and foster collaboration among users. ‘The collaboration also extends to a much broader level. The infrastructure and software have led to the building of large intranet resources where students and teachers can access information from their home and schools.’ (Learning Across Schools)2

Self-paced, faster, consistent, and cost-effective

The e-learning programs can be taken when needed by the learner. Learning is faster as the student can skip the already learned portion of the program. Such liberty cannot be availed of in-classroom learning. Different teachers’ teaching styles do not mingle with the learning process, and thus a sort of consistency is maintained for the benefit of the learner. This is important when learners acquire training for a business process. There is no dispute that e-learning cuts the cost to a reasonable extent as compared to traditional classroom study, and from the point of organizers, dissemination of education becomes virtually free once breakeven is attained.

Impact of e-learning on business process training

Unless the purpose and position of e-learning are not defined, e-learning is not going to have an impact on the growth of the business. Accordingly, it is important to fit e-learning into the overall business strategy. It is observed that in a mediocre business environment, e-learning is given to someone as an extra project, and overnight, his or her workload increases, and the e-learning fails to make an impact on the growth of the business. Entrepreneurs should be careful and take under noted initiatives to ensure business success through e-learning:

  • There is a need to orientate the staff in the use of technology. The learners need to have clear learning objectives they want to achieve from the resources.
  • E-learning should be seen as a valid form of training.
  • The business must integrate e-learning into its working practices, i.e., all training delivery, knowledge management, performance appraisal process, performance support tools, and accreditation process.
  • E-learning needs to remain dynamic and up-to-date, reflecting the changing needs of the business.

Problems of e-learning

Though e-learning shines with its obvious advantages, it is also infested with a few under noted problems asking for resolute solutions:

There is no guarantee that e-learning systems will impart only qualitative education to their seekers. ‘The issue is not the technology itself, but how it is used in the design and delivery of courses. Too often, instructors do not design their lessons to take advantage of the technology presented. This affects the quality of the instructions.’ ( Doug Valentine, 2002)3

  1.  Technology, by its very existence and degree of present and expected penetration of education and training, throws all existing methods of education to scrutiny. Educationists are forced to examine their existences. New technologies require a lot of training. However, the problem is a shortage of pedagogies for e-learning. Many technology developers claim that e-learning applications are pedagogy-free. The fact is otherwise.
  2. It is learned from experience that e-learning cannot be a source of attaining perfection in the selected field. ‘The navigational possibilities provided by the new technologies may or may not be a source of excitement, engagement, and learning for the student. What appears in some cases to be highly liberating, in other cases, works against the best interests of the learner. The ease with which the students may get lost in amongst the links and trails of internet and the web may produce a race of cyber nomads who have visited a lot of places and not much more.’ (R. Brennan, M Mcfadden, E Law)4

As the primary key to ensuring the quality of online instructions, instructors need to adjust their attitudes to teach online by understanding various nuances of e-learning. Instructors must remember that e-learning facilitates the growth of learner’s independence and builds a valuable learning culture. The requirement of developing new ways of teaching and training for educationists is not an impediment in opening a new panorama of e-learning.

References

  1. Mobile computing is the lifestyle of learning– A strategy paper from Center for digital education, Page 4. Web.
  2. Learning across schools’- page 4.
  3. Doug Valentine (2002), Promises, Problems, and Possibilities, Journal of Distance learning administration, Volume V, Number Iii, 2002. Web.
  4. R. Brennan, M Mcfadden, E Law, All that glitters is not gold : Online delivery of education and training, Page 32,