In today's dynamic world things are changing
rapidly. Novel learning tools are emerging. Therefore, there is a need
to change our old concept about "EDUCATION". Most people think that
once they graduate they don't need further studies. That is absolutely
wrong. The new concept of education is "Life long learning". It is an
expression used to indicate that acquiring knowledge is now considered
a continuous process which does not end when one leaves school or
university, but continues uninterrupted throughout one's professional
life and even after retirement. Spreading learning to embrace all
stages of life and all social groups' thanks, to a great extent, to
the possibilities offered by E-learning.
Very rarely is the concept of lifelong learning
discussed without the importance of Information and Communication
Technologies being stressed. In fact, many characteristics of lifelong
learning (independence of educational institutions, individualized
learning, and fast access to relevant information) are only possible
with the help of recent technical innovations. All the hopes that are
placed in technology to promote learning are summarized by the term
The learning process uses technology which enhances
access to the knowledge by learning actors. These learning actors are
learners, tutors, and teachers. It also involves interaction among
learning actors. E-learning enables users to access information
without consideration of time and limit factors. E-learning is
entering ever more into the life of every one, both through studying
at a distance via modern Information and Communication Technologies.
E-learning is a fundamental resource to increase and confirm
knowledge. E-learning is also called computer based or non-formal
E-Learning is the use of new multimedia
technologies and the Internet to improve the quality of learning by
facilitating access to resources and services as well as remote
exchanges and collaboration. So, we can say that E-learning is the
multimedia technologies that allow the use of audio, video and text
resources to enrich the contents. Internet gives easy access to
resources and services, stimulates remote exchanges and collaboration,
and empowers the learners in every situation. Contents are available
anytime round the clock. Learners access contents located anywhere in
the world. Learner-centered environment is one that is personalized to
the individual, involving some form of technology for delivery i.e.
networks (Internet, LAN, or WAN). The whole learning experience, from
assessment through testing and sometimes certification, including
online administration is called a Learner Management System (LMS).
What makes E-learning so interesting? Early
applications of E-learning do show some distinct advantages over
conventional learning: With E-learning, education becomes independent
of time and place. With the integration of different media content can
be displayed in an unmatched vividness. E-learning promises to be much
less expensive than conventional methods of education. While this
remains debatable in the case of primary and secondary learning, there
is already considerable proof that it is true for vocational training,
which has traditionally been characterized by high travel costs and
long times off the job. E-learning increases the learner's choice of
educational offerings. The learner can choose any educator in the
world, independent of his own location.
Current State of E-learning can be visualized by
comparing its past and present status of E-learning. The history of
E-learning dates back to 1971, when ARPANET's Ray Tomlinson sent the
world's first network email. He sent it from one computer to another
with the text "Testing 1-2-3." The second message was more important.
He sent it off to all ARPANET users, explaining electronic mail and
instructing them how to address it with the convention name @ host
computer name, which we still use today.
International Data Corp estimates that by 2003, the
number of Internet users world-wide will grow to about 508 million, up
from 87 million in 1997. Emerging markets are rapidly investing in
technology, which is also facilitating a global learning market. The
E-learning industry is divided into asynchronous and synchronous
learning for better understanding. Asynchronous learning is defined as
training which takes place in different time frames and information
can be accessed at the learner's convenience. Some examples are:
self-paced computer based training (CBT), Internet training delivered
via a browser; bulletin boards; or email. The advantages of
asynchronous learning are convenience, accessibility, the option to
re-use material, and the fact that it is self-paced and self-directed.
Disadvantages include that there is no immediate feedback, learners
must motivate themselves, and learners may feel isolated.
On the other hand, synchronous learning means that
training takes place at the same time and information is accessed
instantly. Examples include: audio or video conferencing, satellite
broadcast, and Internet conferencing via a browser or chat rooms. The
advantages of synchronous learning are instant feedback, real-time
learning, and the possibility of adjusting learner materials based on
feedback. Disadvantages include that it is not self-paced, there may
be time zone problems, and may be inconvenient to attend.
E-learning is here to stay and will continue to
grow at a phenomenal rate because it is cost-effective, saves time,
enables training anytime/anywhere, provides efficiency to address
employee skill sets, improves learning opportunities and facilitates a
global learner-centric environment.
Let's take a look at the status of online
education. The concept of traditional education system is changing.
Those learners, who can't afford to spend a lot of time on attending
regular classes in educational institutions, are figuring out that
this online education interaction creates interesting possibilities.
Students looking for degrees or continuing education classes now have
more choices than ever, and should continue to investigate, evaluate,
and select the best option for their specific needs whether online or
on campus. Most Universities and Corporations follow one of three
1. CLASSIC APPROACH:
The student, with some kind of support from an employer, takes courses
from a college's standard curriculum, using the Internet for
registration, and course work.
2. EDUCATION PORTAL:
A company works with one or more institutions and commercial
suppliers to put a multitude of courses online. A web site (the
portal) gives learners access to everything in the courseware library.
3. TAILORED TRAINING:
This model take a more course-focused
approach in which universities and corporations work in tandem to
develop distance learning courses designed to address specific company
The increasingly market-driven environment of the
education industry requires universities to think more
entrepreneurially and enter into the competitive business marketplace.
An online course may be characterized by the
work (registration, grade reporting, etc.) is or can be done via the
web and/or email
b) The majority of interaction
among students and faculty is designed to be done via chat or bulletin
c) Access to course procedures
(course outlines, exams, submission of projects, etc.) are located on
the web or distributed via email.
d) Instructional materials may be
located on the web or sent out by email
e) Help and support is handled
f) Testing is handled online
There's a new buzzword in the E-learning training
space: "M-learning." The "M" stands for "mobile" and we will be seeing
some interesting uses of this technology for learning. There are two
varieties of mobile technologies usable for training and education.
The first I'll call on-the-go in which you interact with learning
materials or classes via a detached device such as a laptop or palm
top computer. You can then up-load and download data, records, and
changes when back in the office. This is already used fairly
extensively and solves a huge problem for people who travel or work
for long periods of time without access to the company network. But,
you do have to physically connect to the network in order to access
The second kind of mobile technology is connected
wireless where there are several processes already in use. One
technology operates by having learners access a corporate or campus
network LAN without having to physically plug into it. Then we have
the wireless WAN which allows access to the entire wide area network
of a cell phone. With this process, you can stay connected even if you
leave the campus area. Another process is the wireless PAN or Personal
Area Network. With this wireless technology, you can create instant,
ad hoc networks with any device that happens to be close enough.
Learners can use computers, wireless application protocol (WAP)
phones, pocket PCs, palmtops, or whatever the device happens to be. It
constantly seeks out other devices, makes contact, and shares. As
people consider how best to use various technologies and platforms for
training and education, trainers will want to carefully and
thoughtfully blend content, the learner, and the platform to maximize
a successful learning experience.
There is another interesting term "E-learning
Malls" What exactly is a learning portal? Also known as online
education centers, corporate universities, company intranets, or
virtual universities, a learning portal is a virtual environment set
up by an institution or organization to provide information to
learners. These portals are called E-learning Malls Think of a portal
as an "entrance" into a learning area. Portals generally provide
access to learning from multiple sources by collecting, hosting, and
distributing content, the most apparent benefits include
accessibility, flexibility, and affordability. Overall, portals can
help effectively deliver learning to a geographically dispersed
workforce. They operate "like a mall," bringing together many
different things that people need as part of their learning process in
What kinds of portals are there?
The e-learning internal/external portal — allows access to all the
services of a company's training department.
The learning management systems
portal — tracks what courses students are taking and their progress.
The content aggregation portal —
provides access information on all kinds of topics from many different
sources. Yahoo and Google are examples.
The content assessment learning
portal — courses are rated.
The content creation/authoring portal — content can be created at the
The community collaboration
learning portal — allows interaction among colleagues.
What are the pros and cons of e-learning portals?
Consolidated access to a large variety of collected content
quality may vary substantially with the variety of vendors
Independence from one content vendor
access to learning
options for customization
lacks evaluation tools, management, or other value-added services
cumbersome implementation behind firewalls
issues of storing employee data outside the company
convenient, and fast access from multiple locations
High-speed internet access needed to support media-rich content
|Low or no
specialized content in vertical areas
internal IT demands
limited technical/instructor support
overload of network infrastructure
control over hosted content and data
lower cost than for customized solutions or merging of vendors
marketplace leads to disappearance
E-learning is only effective and Interactive when
adults benefit from collaboration and interactivity in their learning
experiences. In recent years, researchers have formed a strong
consensus on the importance of engaged learning in schools and
classrooms. With the expansion of online learning, the need for
engagement is perhaps even stronger due to factors of time and
distance. How can you judge if an E-learning program is engaging?
Following are five qualities to look for:
Effective and engaging learning focuses on the
participants, resulting in meaningful interaction between them.
Content must be written with the audience in mind and at the
appropriate level of understanding. A program for trainers would
definitely lose impact when the text better suits fourth graders.
Check to be sure the E-learning text, examples, and language addresses
target participants' backgrounds and experiences.
Effective E-learning programs should contain
questions that stimulate thought, bring theories to life, and connect
concepts to learner's work lives. Who benefits from simple recall
questions? That type of test question generally doesn't help people
retain information or make changes in work habits. Appropriate
questions prompt learners to recognize connections between learned
information and its application to the real world.
Models are those graphics that users roll their
cursor over in order to view additional information. These graphics
should have a purpose, not just look pretty. The models are another
avenue to access information, potentially vital to people's different
learning styles. Some participants need graphics and sound in addition
to words on a screen because they retain more information when senses
are stimulated and they are more actively involved. Being able to move
a cursor over a model to access more content puts learners more in
control of their own learning experience. However, that content needs
to provide something new rather than just repetition. Good interactive
models add value and meaning.
Being able to retrieve content from a secure
database that is applicable to the text improves learning options.
When a program asks focused questions that guide learners to input
answers and then take action, the ability to later access that data
for review becomes valuable. If users can view E-learning as a daily
tool that can helps them do their job rather than as a one-time event,
E-learning becomes much more effective for increasing performance and
productivity. Programs could be accessed to help make decisions or
review task steps, creating a dynamic and interactive method of
Effective interaction is not limited to
facilitating connection between a learner and the e-learning program.
Interaction also encompasses connecting learners to each other. The
days of one person sitting in isolated office learning on a computer
are passing. Today multiple users anywhere in the world may
participate in the same program, collaborating to share information
and learn from one another. People can ask questions and offer answers
and suggestions, quickly and easily. The opportunities for people to
expand on their ideas and grow professionally are endless.
Culture of E-learning is different. Taking a class
or attending a seminar online is not the same as being in a classroom.
Motivational factors are different, concentration levels change,
pacing is modified, integration of skills or learning into the workday
varies, and even note-taking is altered. If we accept how new and
different e-learning can be, we need to give learners information on
how to cope with this new environment. Adults are accustomed to
learning in the traditional classroom situation, complete with all its
rituals and social reinforcement. E-learning is a different kind of
experience, one with potential resistance. Perhaps classes would be
better known as modules, tutorials, workshops, webinars, or
collaborative conferencing. Implementing blended learning, a
combination of the traditional face-to-face process with the new
online process, can help to gradually introduce workers to the new
web-based, self-directed environment or even leverage the power of the
web for information transfer before workers attend a live segment for
practice. Learners should be able to make decisions on what to learn,
how to learn it, where to learn it, and have opt-out capability if the
choice is not right. Why force someone to complete a module if content
or interest is lacking? Ok, there may be times — like for some
required yearly safety trainings I know of — but why can't we also
expect that to be better designed or delivered than it has in the
Remember the first impression is critical. The
first E-learning session will cause a lasting impression, and it can
be either positive or negative! Offer a high-impact, high-performance,
high-engagement option to generate interest. Make learning a priority,
an on-going process, and expect results from the learner and
management. As with all major change, E-learning will require
champions, participants, and a whole new set of expectations.
Developing successful learners as well as valuable content will create
a culture of leaning that leverages E-learning as a vital component.