Elearning: Meaning; Types and Importance
ELearning – use of electronic technology knowledge transfer and skills acquisition. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Information & Distance Education
Elearning: Meaning; Types and Importance
Meaning of Elearning: What is it?
ELearning is a form or system of learning whereby electronic technologies or devices are used to access educational resources or run an online course or program remotely be it inside or outside of a traditional in-person classroom. ELearning can also be said to be the use of technology to connect teachers and students for the purpose of transfer and acquisition of knowledge. The use of electronic gadgets, computer devices, and the Internet forms the major component of elearning technology tools.
The elearning technology tools and resources include PDAs, TVs, radios, computers, floppy diskettes, multimedia like CD-ROMs, DVDs, VCRs, and interactive videodisks, audiotapes, videotapes, and more recently, Web technology (both Internet and Intranet delivery).
Mobile learning (mlearning) is a future trend in education and a new form of distance education aimed at delivering instructions on PDAs and mobile phones. Mobile learning (mlearning) can be a form of eeducation via the Internet or computer network mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones to obtain learning materials through installed mobile apps, online social interactions, and/or educational hubs.
Elearning is related to distance learning pretty much in the sense that distance learning programs are delivered through computer electronic devices based on the reference that it involves the use of various kinds of electronic media and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the education system. The majority of the elearning program studies are facilitated and delivered through electronic technologies or devices.
Watch a video of what elearning is and the importance
Types of Elearning
There is an understanding that elearning can be computer-based or internet-based form of distance education but we shall consider two fundamental types of elearning despite the different ways of classifying elearning: Synchronous and Asynchronous elearning, majorly and the blended form of the two types.
Synchronous elearning, which means elearning taking place at the same time, involves the interaction of learning facilitators with learners via the Internet or Web in real-time. For example, Virtual classrooms are online real-time learning.
Chat, instant messaging, audio and video conferencing, and others, are modes through which learners interact with each other and learning facilitators in a socially-interactive remote learning session.
Some benefits of synchronous elearning are having sessions recorded and played back at will; connecting and collaborating with distant learners; the ability to tailor the teaching to each learner’s needs, the capability of logging or tracking learning activities, and constant progress monitoring for reporting purpose.
ASynchronous elearning, which means elearning not taking place at the same time, requires learners to complete the Web-based Training (WBT) at their own study pace, without live or real-time interaction with the instructor – the learning materials being accessible on a self-help basis uninterrupted.
ASynchronous elearning features interaction amongst learners through message boards, bulletin boards, and discussion forums. These include Computer-based Training (CBTs), modules on CD-ROMs, Web-based training (WBTs) accessed through an intranet or through articles and other write-ups.
Advantageous;y, asynchronous elearning offers the learners the information they need whenever they need it because of the flexibility of access anytime and anywhere for an instant learning experience. This type of elearning reaches an unlimited number of learners at a time irrespective of their location. It requires less cost to produce as it offers uniformity of content.
Blended (hybrid) elearning
Blended or hybrid elearning is an emerging type of distance education that combines both synchronous and asynchronous elearning methods. The online teacher-students interactive instruction in a virtual classroom is followed up with non-real-time self-paced study as learners are provided with learning materials, like CDs.
Blended or hybrid elearning is a new form of elearning increasingly gaining preference over synchronous or asynchronous learning.
Computer-based and Internet-facilitated elearning
Computer-based distance learning refers to a non-Internet or Web-facilitated computer learning and means that the learning is done in a computerized electronic technological device.
Online distance learning means that the elearning uses the internet in real-time or live virtual classroom for social interactive instructions (Web- or Internet-facilitated learning)
The importance of elearning in the education system
Some benefits and importance of elearning to the education system abound.
One importance of elearning is that lessons can be tailored to learners’ needs. It has the ability to meet the individual needs and interests of students with much-needed flexibility, allowing instantaneous learning experience of an unlimited number of students either simultaneously in different locations or having self-paced study anytime and anywhere. Meeting individual needs and interests is one of the biggest ideas in education.
Despite the fact that it allows students’ lesson sessions to be recorded and replayed when necessary, learners’ activities can be tracked, and progress constantly monitored, reported, and improved on strategically.
Other benefits of elearning include incurring less production cost due to uniformity of content and connecting of distant learners for effective communication and collaboration on learning activities like having successful deliberations on a subject of interest in an online discussion forum.
The importance of elearning in business and enterprise transformation
Does elearning play an important role in business and enterprise transformation? How will elearning transform organizations, businesses and enterprises? Business executives and leaders can use elearning as a solution to connect an organization’s employees at different locations to communicate and collaborate effectively in prevailing underlying sets of instructions on modes of operation in order to foster enterprise transformation.
Elearning solutions for enterprise transformation can be applied in the areas of launching and marketing new products and services, gaining new competencies, or even facilitating the acquisition of a new set of knowledge and skills. The additional revenue generated or the return on investment (ROI) is used as the measurement metric for the success of e-Learning in such businesses or organizations.
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