Of late, e-Learning is gaining more prominence and wider acceptance day by day. Many international top universities are offering e-Learning courses, many of which are considered equivalent or even superior to their regular counterparts. Several top companies are offering e-Learning courses to their employees. Many of their Training program modules are on e-platform now, so that it can be accessed by any employee. Many government departments are offering e-Learning on their portals for better understanding of the Laws, Taxes, Constitutional reforms, Govt. Schemes and proposals. In fact, e-Learning has now become ubiquitous and can be seen in action almost everywhere.
So, what is e-Learning, and what are its benefits and advantages? Why is everyone so much attracted to, and positive about the future of e-Learning? Here, you will find the answers to these questions about e-learning.
What is e-Learning?
e-Learning is a form of learning that utilises electronic technology and network for delivery, interaction, facilitation, demonstration or evaluation of instructions and learning material. e-Learning can be imparted and delivered individually or in a group; and generally takes place over a wide physical or geographical distance. e-Learning generally makes use of the internet technology. It is a boundary-less way of education and learning. It is applicable to all learning disciplines and can incorporate several dimensions of learning like auditory, visual and kinaesthetic. In addition it accommodates all type of learners from brilliant meritorious students to slow-learners.
ADVANTAGES AND BENEFITS OF e-Learning
1. REDUCTION IN COSTS
The first and foremost advantage is the huge reduction in learning costs. e-Learning turns out to be very economical for both, the learner and the resource or institution of learning. If it is a company, then the expenses related to travel, lodging and boarding, venue and location expenses, printed materials etc, are totally eliminated. In case of institutions the cost of maintaining faculties and staff full time, is minimized. This reduced cost of infrastructures and maintenance is a great enhancement to the bottom-line of companies and educational institutions. Moreover, the production costs of eLearning can be estimated well in advance and once these costs are incurred, the Return on Investment (ROI) keeps increasing with each new learner who joins the e-Learning program.
For the learner also, e-Learning amounts to huge savings. A learner can continue to attend to his job and need not take leave or any off to attend sessions. He also saves on travelling and buying expensive books and stationeries.
2. FLEXIBILITY IN LEARNING SCHEDULES
This is one of the greatest advantages of e-Learning. E-Learning enables students to access their study anytime and from anywhere. It frees the learner from the bondage of attending and being present in the classroom during the session. The student can study according to his own convenient schedules. He can set his own pace of learning instead of struggling to keep pace with the classroom. Also, at any time the learner feels, he can stop the learning process and then resume it again at his convenience. This is not possible in a classroom scenario, where if the learner leaves the classroom, he loses all the instructions that take place in his absence.
The teachers or instructors also enjoy this flexibility. They can schedule their activities suiting to their won requirements and priorities.
3. CONSISTENCY IN TEACHING CONTENT AND LEARNING
Normally, even if the subject matter is the same, a facilitator or tutor can take a different approach or style of teaching. Thus there can be several variations in teaching resulting in different levels of intake by the learners or students. However, in e-Learning the instructions and resource materials can be standardized and fixed. Thus there is a consistency in teaching and learning. There cannot be any omissions in the teaching materials. All the students receive the same content. In classroom situation a learner can miss something if he is late, not attentive or is not able to hear or see the study material. All these disadvantages are successfully overcome in e-Learning.
4.EASE OF DEVELOPMENT, MODIFICATION AND UPDATION OF CONTENT
Earlier, one required programmers, instructional designers, graphic designers, and animators to create e-Learning programs. Now, with the development of latest e-Learning creator software, which is easy to use, it is easy to make e-Learning courses.
Moreover, unlike printed materials, which cannot be changed once printed and published; electronic contents used in e-Learning can be modified or changed without much inconvenience.
If the contents need to be updated, then in case of printed materials it can be done only with the new editions. In case of e-Learning, it is relatively easy and cheaper to change and update the contents. Moreover, such changes can be done in real-time and the changes are instantly updated. Thus e-Learning provide a great advantage of keeping the contents current and updated. Also, every student gets immediate access to the same updated content.
5. TRACKING THE PROGRESS WITH IMMEDIATE FEEDBACKS
It is easy to track the progress of learning when using e-Learning systems. They can have integrated system of evaluation of the progress. For an instructor, it is easier to judge the responses in e-learning system, as they can also be automatically marked as correct or incorrect. What it means is that the instructor has access to real-time data and reports on the student’s performance. Thus individual progress can be monitored easily and fast. Moreover, it also enables the instructor to re-set the study or curriculum plan to suit the learning speed of the learner.
For the participant, it means getting quick feedback. This helps him in getting the desired motivation to continue with enthusiasm. Also, he can take mid-course corrections when he knows his weaknesses and improves upon them. All this increases the effectiveness and potentials of e-Learning programs.
6. ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE OF ALL AGES AND EXPERIENCE
People who belong to different age-groups or experiences may shy away from certain courses of learning due to their own personal reasons or anxiety. E-Learning allows everyone of all ages and occupation to learn a new skills or vocations without the compulsion of attending a physical classroom with other participants. Thus e-Learning makes learning a new shill or a course easier and accessible to all without any restrictions.
7. e-LEARNING IS FUN AND ENTERTAINING
The e-Learning pioneer Bernard Luskin had said that the ‘e’ in e-Learning also stands for exciting, energetic, entertaining; besides educational. Human brain accepts learning if it is delivered in a fun way, without any stress, duress or compulsion.
By their very nature, e-Learning materials comprise of lots of images, videos and sound. This multi-media experience is very conducive to new learning. The student or learner learns everything with interest and enthusiasm. This helps in not only understanding the complex concepts easily, but also helps in retaining the learning.
Moreover, e-Learning is also being supplemented by interactions such as Live-chats, Webinars and Gamifications. All these add excitement to e-Learning in much more powerful ways than classroom traditional learning.
8. MOST ECO-FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVE
Using paper in learning, either in books or stationery, is the cause for cutting down of a large number of trees and leads to de-forestation. By eliminating paper in learning, the forests can be saved.
Also, e-Learning eliminates travelling. People travel either by public transport or personal vehicles, both of which add to the pollution. In e-Learning, eliminating travel reduces the carbon footprint, as compared to the situation if the same course would have been undertaken in the traditional way. Thus e-Learning is very eco-friendly, and for this single reason it is getting more and more acceptance and push. It is the technology which has a bright future.
Besides the above advantages and benefits, the mode of e-Learning is constantly evolving. It is now imparted through tablets and mobiles. Thus it is becoming more and more convenient and accessible 24×7. In fact, it has reached to an extent that now there is no escape from e-Learning. With so many advantages, there is no denying the fact that the future of learning is e-Learning; and for the future generations, the way and source of socialization and learning will come primarily through e-Learning.