E-learning

E-learning or electronic learning, and typically this means using a computer to send information of the course whether it's in a school, part of your mandatory business training or a full distance learning course. In other words using any electronic technology to assist in the gaining and expansion of information and understanding in order to be sure and absolutely confirmed.

There are many terms used to explain learning that is carried online, using the internet, from computerized electronic learning to distance education, internet learning, online learning etc. We can classify E-Learning as courses that are exclusively delivered through the internet to places other than the classroom where the professor is giving lessons.

E-learning includes in itself technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based instruction (CBI), computer managed instruction, computer-based training (CBT), computer-assisted instruction or computer-aided instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), flexible learning, web-based training (WBT), online education, virtual education, virtual learning environments (VLE), etc.

It is interactive in a way that you can correspond with your professors or fellow students. A teacher or professor is always present to answer your queries, grading your participation, assignments and tests. Sometimes the lectures are delivered live; where you can “electronically” raise your hand and work together at a fixed time. Sometimes it is a lecture that has been already recorded.

E-learning can be network-based, Internet-based or CD-ROM-based. It can include text, video, audio, animation and virtual environments.

Who can take it?

E-Learning courses offer the flexibility to fit into the learner’s lifestyle without compromising present commitments. An E-Learning student must be self disciplined to study consistently and on regular basis in order to keep up with the rest of their classmates. Although you may not be sitting in a classroom with other students, E-learning courses often include of a group of students, studying separately, but simultaneously and are expected to work together with one another about the material all over the week via discussion boards, forums, normally through an online classroom management system.

There are generally planned dates for tests and assignments that must be submitted on time. One has to be self disciplined, must be good at time management and should have excellent organisational skills. If you can be organised at the same time be self disciplined, then E-learning will be a good choice for you.

Types of E-learning

E-learning falls into the following four categories.

Asynchronous training – can be considered as traditional type of learning. It involves self-paced learning, Internet-based, CD- based, or network-based, Intranet-based or. Students can get in contact with the instructor through emails, online discussion groups and online bulletin boards.  For study materials, links are provided in place of the instructor.

Synchronous training – more organised form of training, where  the students come online at a specific time and can communicate directly with the instructor and with each other. This type of training usually takes place via audio- or video-conferencing, internet telephony, Internet Web sites or two-way live broadcasts to students in a classroom.

Knowledge databases -- the most basic form of E-learning. These are usually reasonably interactive, implying that you can either type in a word or idiom to search the database, or make a choice from list organised alphabetically.

Online support – its form of E-learning and functions similar to information databases but relatively more interactive. Online support is in the form of chat rooms, e-mail, forums, online bulletin boards, or instant messaging. Somewhat more interactive than knowledge databases, online support gives the opportunity for more precise queries, as well as more immediate responses.

While E-learning offers a great range, in general your E-learning course is likely to fall into one of the following three types:

Text Driven - The content is easy and comprises of text, some audio, graphics, and test questions. Agreement courses are excellent examples of text driven E-learning that typically has one principle or objective: present the knowledge and swiftly assess on the content. The text oriented courses seldom has any interactive mechanism, no use of any sort of gaming and imagery is used very carefully. Powerpoint files often fall into this class.

Interactive :An interactive E-learning course is alike to a text oriented course, with the only difference that there is more focus on interactive components to boost the learning. Good use of images in general (graphics, charts, diagrams), all of which are liable to have an interactive characteristic.

Unlike the text oriented courses, interactive courses also take benefit of added media types such as videos.

Simulation : Simulation E-learning is extremely interactive and depends mainly upon video, graphics, audio and certain amount of gamification. Significantly, there is often traditional recreation is used to aid in learning, including 3D mechanism. New software training is an example of lessons that frequently includes an elevated level of interactivity and simulations. It isn’t uncommon for these simulations to also be escort with some sort of restricted “test” background.

E-learning simulation stresses on describing concepts through various mediums, typically starting with graphics and text, with audio and video examples. Later, there is usually an “attempt” method where users can try out their new abilities, possibly earning accomplishment or points in the long run.

What form of E-learning is right for me?

Asynchronous methods are used in different situations, mainly when:
  1. General topics such as administration training, economic training, or time management etc that is not definite to a certain practice or business. In such cases, asynchronous training is practical and price effective.
  2. Traditional E-learning courses using per-recorded CD’s and write ups are used on projects with large scale financial plan and  elaborate time , like an important product release.
  3. Assignment with widespread model like industrial control systems; flight simulators etc are well suited for asynchronous techniques where virtual classroom teaching is not required.
  4. Trainings which have a long shelf life – for instance a business report and foreword may be a good site to use asynchronous E-learning.
  5. Due to the towering manufacturing cost of traditional E-learning, i.e. making audio-visual content, CD’s, Presentations etc, it is costly to modify the content frequently therefore it is suitable for training material that is fixed.
  6. Also, process-based training is best suited for the asynchronous method where the student gets pre recorded study material that he can study at his own convenience and post queries to message boards, bulletin boards , discussion sited, seminars etc
  7. The apparent benefit of a self-paced course is convenience. Learners get the training they need at any time allowing for a greater degree of flexibility.

Synchronous E-learning (Virtual Classrooms)

This type of E-learning is essentially required in some cases where traditional methods will not deliver the desired goals, like:-
  1. Instructor-based online mentoring is best suited for students, who need concept –based training and help with their regular studies. There needs to a constant interaction between the teacher and taught to clear doubts and make them understand complex concepts through examples and clarification of doubts.
  2. It is being successfully used in soft-skill training in interpersonal skills, diversity and teaching foreign languages.
  3. Blended learning is seen by many as a process in which appropriate E-learning modules are a precursor to a training session in the classroom i.e, both the methods are successfully used in training.
  4. More and more organisations are using the blended technique for a complete training solution. Contact us to discuss your E-learning requirements, and to find out what mode of E-learning suits you the best.

Pros and Cons of taking up E-learning Programs

Pros (Advantages)

  1. Self-paced learning modules allow students to work at their own pace
  2. Students may have the option to select study materials that congregate their level of information and awareness.
  3. Class work can be planned without compromising on work and family
  4. Reduces travel time and travel costs for off-campus students
  5. Students can study according to their freewill wherever and whenever they have  a computer and Internet connection
  6. Ease to attend debate in the bulletin board threaded discussion areas at any hour, or visit with classmates and instructors remotely in chat rooms
  7. Instructors and students both report E-learning fosters more interaction among students and instructors than in large lecture courses
  8. E-learning can accommodate different learning styles and make possible learning through a variety of activities
  9. Develops knowledge of the Internet and computers skills that will help learners throughout their lives and careers
  10. Successful completion of online or computer-based courses boosts confidence and encourages students to take responsibility.
  11. Students can test and concentrate on learning new  skills

Cons (Disadvantages)

  1. Learners with no self discipline or bad  organisational skill  may lag behind
  2. Students may feel lonely with no  instructor and classmates
  3. Teacher or professor may not be available when students have any query.
  4. Poor internet connections or old computers may make accessing course materials frustrating
  5. Without any schedules of a traditional classroom, students may end up getting lost or confused about course activities and time limit.
  6. Organising computer files and online learning software can be complex for learners with entry-level computer skills
  7. Practical or lab work  is difficult to be carried out in a virtual classroom

E-leaning in India

E-Learning is one of the thrust area identified by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for imparting education using educational tools and communication media. It is the learning facilitated and supported by Information Communication technologies (ICT). The broad objective is to develop tools and technologies to promote e-learning.

The government has supported various e-learning programs and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) has been actively developing tools and technologies to promote it. DeitY has supported e-learning-focused R&D projects at various academic educational institutes. These include content development, R&D/technology initiatives, HRD projects and faculty training initiatives to improve literacy through distance education.

With the number of internet users in India expected to reach 250 million, India’s potential as a huge market for e-learning is huge. A large number of new uses are accessing the internet from their smartphones and tablets. 

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