Modern society is already familiar with the Internet’s almost endless possibilities, in the sense of selling and buying products and services online. Surprisingly (or not), the industries known for having products that need trying or swatching, such as fashion or makeup industry, are on the top of the online sales list. Close to the top of this list are tourism, technology products, second-hand sales, and educational courses or electronic learning.
E-learning is becoming so popular that in some areas it will take over the primacy from general education. It seems that very soon, the rising demand for specific skills and knowledge will make the traditional degrees and certificates less significant form of qualification, for some types of jobs.
Difficult beginning – promising future
The simplified description of online learning would define it as a content delivery via electronic media. Practically, it’s a learning system capable to create a particular, oriented educational program, obtainable via the Internet by using a computer or other digital device. This type of web-based learning is organized in virtual classes, adjusted to serve the program, attainable from anywhere and in some cases even at any time.
Electronic learning has evolved into three sectors: education, business, and training. Schooling sector can use both face-to-face and online tools, while in business and training, e-learning usually relays on the tools suitable for online learning only. Platforms, networks, live lectures, static pages, and video conferences are just a few of the many ways of lecture delivery, either simultaneously, to the group of learners or individually. It’s flexible enough to work as a solution to different additional learning needs or career advancement.
At the beginning of e-learning evolution, skepticism and trust issues were the biggest obstacles. Online instructors were facing the challenge of building and sustaining interest and trust in the web-based learning system. The key was to create a subtle mixture of social and technical factors, combined with innovative pedagogical practice and empirically validated results.
Today, e-learning is already embedded in traditional education, in the form of distance teaching universities. Old academic frameworks are slowly changing and becoming flexible and innovative, as a result of different approaches and better learning experiences.
The business already recognized how web-based learning can be useful. For example, in order to stay competitive on the market and up-to-date with the latest business innovations, companies have to constantly re-train their employees. This is where online learning can shine, show its practical usefulness and make a true impact on business results.
Benefits of e-learning and how to use them
E-learning demands quality, from both sides. Programs have to deliver knowledge and good learning content, while learners have to have self-discipline, consistency, and determination to learn.
The fact that e-learning can be reached anywhere and at any time is probably the biggest advantage. Learners don’t need to travel or move and rent a place in another city or country. With good planning, it’s possible to fit it in the most hectic schedules. It’s also easy on the budget in most cases, which makes it extremely appealing.
Another advantage is the possibility to have several, different learning formats. Some people have difficulties with reading comprehension or just doesn’t have enough time to read, so they can find courses with audio or video lectures. These types of lectures can be equally if not more effective and a very good source of information. With good quality of content and professional attitude, they’re applicable to various kinds of teaching subjects.
Online learning often offers an option to attend discussion boards and chats where learners can interact with others, discuss different views and opinions, or clear possible doubts. This way learners can seek help not only from other learners but from instructors as well, easily and quickly.
Some learners have more knowledge than others, some are quicker, and some are more adjustable to the system. For those who need more time to catch up with the program, web-based learning is an ideal solution. The obvious benefit is that everyone can spend the right amount of energy and time to achieve the desired learning objectives.
Crucial for both, instructors and learners, is to follow-up the progress in learning. It doesn’t take much time to organize online testing to measure the results. Useful information such as course completion rates, discussion engagement, or the time it takes to complete a course can help instructors to adjust the program, introduce new learning tools or to give a different type of support to the learners.
At the same time, learners can find out if the program works for them or not. Testing can save them a lot of time and money or give them an opportunity to make necessary changes.
Of course, these are just a few of the many benefits e-learning can offer. People can have different reasons and goals to attend the same online class. It’s up to experts and instructors to create oriented and attractive teaching programs and find the best, most effective ways and teaching tools to deliver them to the users.