Definition of ‘E-learning’

Definition: A learning system based on formalized teaching but with the help of electronic resources is known as E-learning. While teaching can be based in or out of the classrooms, the use of computers and the Internet forms the major component of E-learning. E-learning can also be termed as a network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge, and the delivery of education is made to a large number of recipients at the same or different times. Earlier, it was not accepted wholeheartedly as it was assumed that this system lacked the human element required in learning.

However, with the rapid progress in technology and the advancement in learning systems, it is now embraced by the masses. The introduction of computers was the basis of this revolution and with the passage of time, as we get hooked to smartphones, tablets, etc, these devices now have an important place in the classrooms for learning. Books are gradually getting replaced by electronic educational materials like optical discs or pen drives. Knowledge can also be shared via the Internet, which is accessible 24/7, anywhere, anytime.

No doubt, it is equally important to take forward the concept of non-electronic teaching with the help of books and lectures, but the importance and effectiveness of technology-based learning cannot be taken lightly or ignored completely. It is believed that the human brain can easily remember and relate to what is seen and heard via moving pictures or videos. It has also been found that visuals, apart from holding the attention of the student, are also retained by the brain for longer periods. Various sectors, including agriculture, medicine, education, services, business, and government setups are adapting to the concept of E-learning which helps in the progress of a nation.

E-learning has proved to be the best means in the corporate sector, especially when training programs are conducted by MNCs for professionals across the globe and employees are able to acquire important skills while sitting in a boardroom, or by having seminars, which are conducted for employees of the same or the different organizations under one roof. The schools which use E-learning technologies are a step ahead of those which still have the traditional approach towards learning.

What are the benefits?

There are several benefits to e-learning whether you choose to use it on its own or to enhance your existing in-house training. We’ve listed a few below, but for more information on how your business can save time and money, you can call today and speak to one of our Ilkley based support team.

But a computer can’t do everything, can it?

Nothing is perfect, and we understand that in some cases, it is vital that people are tested under strict exam conditions. For that reason, Virtual College works with industry professionals to ensure all of our online course materials are approved and available to help you prepare for that final qualification. We also have a division dedicated to the implementation of ‘blended learning’, which is to take use e-learning alongside traditional face to face training to combine the benefits. We call this section of the business YP Training. Blended learning is the perfect approach for environments such as manufacturing plants where e-learning can teach the theory, but there is a need for practical training to ensure competency. The use of e-learning for the theory element of training means that shop floor workers spend less time away from the job. We’ve even transferred this process into the Apprenticeship sector. If you’re concerned that some things can’t be taught by a computer, or that e-learning just isn’t for you, why not call our support team who’ll be able to advise you.

Is it important in education?

When it comes to online learning in education, the model has been pretty straightforward – up until the early 2000s education was in a classroom of students with a teacher who led the process. Physical presence was a no-brainer, and any other type of learning was questionable at best. Then the internet happened, and the rest is history. E-learning is a rapidly growing industry, the effects of which we can trace back to the 1980s and even well before that (in the form of distance learning and televised courses) – these will be discussed later in this ebook.

Now that affordable e-learning solutions exist for both computers and internet, it only takes a good e-learning tool for education to be facilitated from virtually anywhere. Technology has advanced so much that the geographical gap is bridged with the use of tools that make you feel as if you are inside the classroom. E-learning offers the ability to share material in all kinds of formats such as videos, slideshows, word documents, and PDFs. Conducting webinars (live online classes) and communicating with professors via chat and message forums is also an option available to users.

Some of the most important developments in education have happened since the launch of the internet. These days learners are well versed in the use of smartphones, text messaging and using the internet so participating in and running an online course has become a simple affair. Message boards, social media and various other means of online communication allow learners to keep in touch and discuss course-related matters, whilst providing for a sense of community.

In the fast-paced world of e-learning, the available technologies to make a course new and exciting are always changing, and course content can and should be updated quickly to give students the very latest information. This is especially important if the e-learning training is being given to employees in a sector where keeping up-to-date on industry developments is of the utmost importance. This is one of the reasons why many businesses are now offering training via e-learning – other reasons include low costs and the ability for employees to study in their own time and place.

Overall, traditional learning is expensive, takes a long time and the results can vary. The importance of E-learning is now a given fact and it can offer an alternative that is much faster, cheaper and potentially better.

Online learning today

With the introduction of the computer and internet in the late 20th century, e-learning tools and delivery methods expanded. The first MAC in the 1980′s enabled individuals to have computers in their homes, making it easier for them to learn about particular subjects and develop certain skill sets. Then, in the following decade, virtual learning environments began to truly thrive, with people gaining access to a wealth of online information and e-learning opportunities.

By the early 90s, several schools had been set up that delivered courses online only, making the most of the internet and bringing education to people who wouldn’t previously have been able to attend a college due to geographical or time constraints. Technological advancements also helped educational establishments reduce the costs of distance learning, a saving that would also be passed on to the students – helping bring education to a wider audience.

In the 2000′s, businesses began using e-learning to train their employees. New and experienced workers alike now had the opportunity to improve their industry knowledge base and expand their skill sets. At home, individuals were granted access to programs that offered them the ability to earn online degrees and enrich their lives through expanded knowledge.

Cost Effective

This is directed to both learners and teachers, but there is a good chance that whatever your role you had to pay exorbitant amounts of money at some point to acquire updated versions of textbooks for school or college. While textbooks often become obsolete after a certain period of time, the need to constantly acquire new editions is not present in e-learning.

Health-Related Concerns

E-learning requires the use of a computer and other such devices; this means that eyestrain, bad posture, and other physical problems may affect the learner. When running an online course it’s a good practice to send out guidelines about correct sitting posture, desk height, and recommendations for regular breaks.

Learning online in practice!

Universities already embrace the power of e-learning to deliver content to students all over the world, even for free. At a time in which universities are under great pressure to deliver education, combining technology with education is integral to coming up with a final product that will empower the educational institution, set it apart, and allow it to grow its student base worldwide. Harvard and MIT are just two of the most well-known universities that have launched programs focused on offering classes online for free. Harvard videotapes its lectures and puts them online, so even its own student body can view and review them in case they missed a lecture or need to review a section.

learningAlready, companies and corporations spanning the globe accept certificates of completion of classes offered in Coursera as valid credits, as if they had been completed at the University of origin. The material is essentially the same, the difference is the medium. Harvard for example, takes the delivery of online courses very seriously, delivering live classes which are recorded and delivered online. Harvard has even launched a specially designed section within its campus, employing videographers and specialists to design and create the perfect content to be delivered through its online platform.


The characteristics of training

Training, on the other hand, focuses more on the development of new skills or skill sets that will be used. Training is the process each new employee goes through when joining a company to learn how to carry out the day-to-day operations, know how their department works and how job-specific tools operate in order to carry out their responsibilities. In essence, through training, we are not looking to reshape the behavior of an individual rather the point is to teach the employee or learner how things are done so that they can then carry out a process on their own.

Ideally, an e-learning environment will utilize both learning and training principles throughout its curriculum. This allows instructors/trainers to provide their learners with the tools to tackle current issues, develop life-long skills, improve their problem-solving skills and utilize resources to the best of their ability.

Corporate E-learning vs. E-learning in the education sector

E-learning allows both students and business executives to learn anywhere and at any time. You can learn from virtually any place with a computer or mobile device and internet connection, meaning you can study from home, on vacation or on your break. But e-learning is more than about convenience and there are fundamental differences between e-learning in the corporate sector and in education.

What happens in the corporate environment?

The role of corporate training is to ensure an employee has the knowledge and skills to undertake a specific operation to enable an organization to continue to operate. Fundamentally, corporate training is centered on knowledge transfer. For example, conferences and workshops are an essential yet expensive part of business and e-learning makes it affordable and efficient – salespeople, for instance, can receive their training on new products and sales strategies online. E-learning can be translated to lower costs to deliver training in a shorter period of time, especially when employees are spread worldwide.

What is the future of e-learning?learing

E-learning is here to stay. As computer ownership grows across the globe e-learning becomes increasingly viable and accessible. Internet connection speeds are increasing, and with that, opportunities for more multimedia training methods arise. With the immense improvement of mobile networks in the past few years and the increase in telecommuting, taking all the awesome features of e-learning on the road is a reality with smartphones and other portable devices. Technologies such as social media are also transforming education constantly.

Generally speaking, learning is expensive, takes a long time and the results can vary. E-learning has been trying for years now to complement the way we learn to make it more effective and measurable. The result now is that there are a number of tools that help create interactive courses, standardize the learning process and/or inject informal elements to otherwise formal learning processes. Several e-learning trends can give us a clear view on how the future of e-learning and learning tools will be shaped:

Micro-learning focuses on the design of micro-learning activities through micro-steps in digital media environments, which already is a daily reality for today’s knowledge workers. These activities can be incorporated into a learner’s daily routines. Unlike “traditional” e-learning approaches, micro-learning often tends towards push technology through push media, which reduces the cognitive load on the learners. Therefore, the selection of micro-learning objects and also pace and timing of micro-learning activities are of importance for didactical designs. Micro-learning is an important paradigm shift that avoids the need to have separate learning sessions since the learning process is embedded in the daily routine of the end-user. It is also perfectly suited for mobile devices where long courses can be overkill.