There is a strong argument among parents that quality education in India is very expensive and time taking. This argument becomes irrelevant with e-learning starting to bring in new means of education. Little expense and adjustable timing is not the only potential of e-learning but there are many more advantages that it has. Classes are not scheduled according to the university but it is adjustable around work and family. Learning material is easily available online and it can be accessed on the basis of required knowledge and interest of a student.
E-learning provides everything from classroom discussion to online learning material, from solving queries to online examination, if students have a computer and internet facility. This minimum requirement gives so much of space to students that e-learning becomes a phrase of ‘Just in Time’ and ‘Just Enough’. Classroom discussion is published in video, audio, word and PDF format which student can see any hour any place. On the other hand several e-books are available online and the best part of it is that it can be searched very easily by using keywords. So students can search books according to their subject and interest. Chat rooms are another facility in e-learning box that allows students to visit classmates and instructors sitting anywhere in the world and they can interact even in the large topic.
Doing everything in computer and internet makes student proficient. This expertise does not exist only for the time being but it helps throughout students’ lives and careers. Finding material through keywords and submitting assignments using computer build self confidence, self-knowledge and encourage students to understand responsibility for their learning. Like any other things, theories and information are changing every day and new information and new skill fills the gap. E-learning provides new set of information and make effort in mastering new skills. Using internet through worldwide web is not only platforms to get access to e-learning but intranet facilities and in-house servers are also used to establish e-learning system.
In a regular education, students need to travel to the destination of academic institution. Travel involves transportation cost and time consumption which is not there in e-learning system. We can’t update books in regular education because it is already printed but here books are updated by current information and new product specification by expertise sitting in another end and it is done on daily basis. In e-books, theories are interpreted on the basis current case studies and each learning material is made according to the requirement of students and their career. One more important aspect of e-learning is that it has lower environmental impact. Thus nobody can overlook the potential of e-learning.
As the number of e-learning course grows at institutions, it poses several challenges for students and instructors. In the e-learning process, students do not get a competitive environment and without competition nobody can think of aggressive study among students. There is no direct involvement between students and mentors in the e-learning process and it lacks motivational environment between them. Students don’t have routine study pattern; they overlook many parts in books and focus themselves only in answering the question. In this way they miss many knowledgeable parts of study.
An isolated environment between instructor and students disconnect the chances of availability at the time of need. E-learning is every much dependent of internet and computer. Thus failure in internet and damage of computer prevents the student from accessing course material and it’s very frustrating at the time of examination. Students sometime involve themselves more in understanding complexity of online learning software rather than concentrating in study.
One of the biggest drawback in e-learning is that it is bounded in theoretical study; practical study, lab testing and on the job training are missing heavily. E-learning makes student computer savvy but in term of computer literature they need class-room study. Several study found that most of students enrolled in e-learning are adult but knowledge capturing capacity reduces with the increase of age and adults are also poor in adapting themselves in technological experience.
Most of e-learning students are confused what books they have to read and what subject they don’t have to read. This misunderstanding happens due to lack of interaction between teacher and students. These students are even confused in knowing the weightage of grade and at what grade they can secure their future. On the other hand, instructor can’t assess the students’ capability and weakness by sitting in other corner through chat or mail.
Internet reached to 150 million of people in India so far against 1.2 billion people. Millions of villages are not connected by internet; millions of households do not have a computer; millions of students do not know how to use computer and internet. Thus for a developing country like India, e-learning is all the more difficult in the absence of IT enabled devices and services. E-learning can be done from anywhere in the world but there are many areas in India where such infrastructure is not there to get the registration done. E-learning follows a common language- English but very few percent of Indian are proficient in English.
Introduction of IT (Information Technology) in every field has changed the life of every individual. Education world has also recognized its importance and implemented IT in almost all process of getting education. From libraries to classrooms, from laboratories to books, use of IT is evolving constantly and evolving in each ways and means of education.
E-learning is not restricted to worldwide web, but it is one of the platforms for people to access anything and everything. E-learning is so easy and comfortable in today’s world that any people from any country can earn a degree from foreign academic institution via e-learning. World’s renowned universities run virtual campuses where students from all corner of the globe enroll themselves in their academic program.
In the beginning, e-learning was popular amongst professionals who want to study along with job but its flexibility has attracted other students in the recent year. Jobholders choose those courses in e-learning which are relevant to their working areas while general students connect to e-learning for the ease and comfort. Every course in not available in every university in India and thus few students go for e-learning to study particular course which is not available in their city. For few professional, e-learning is the way to climb up in the corporate ladder. Thus e-learning becomes a common phenomenon in education world not only in India but throughout the world.
India had around 137 million internet users by 2012 where 99 million belonged to urban areas and rest 38 million were from rural areas. A research report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) says that this figure will reach to 330 million by 2016. The considerable rise of Internet users, growing acceptability of online payments, the proliferation of internet-enabled devices (computer-notebook, computer-tablets) and favorable demographics are the key factors driving the e-learning.
Internet users in India now prefer reading e-books, watching e-tutorials, and video counseling. In addition students now do two or multiple courses together without compromising with jobs and other regular courses they are in and in this way e-learning add more number of degrees in their profile.
Increasing pace of internet user increased the scope of expansion of online education and a convenient mode of learning. Rural areas of India are not behind the race of using Internet due to the availability of internet facility in Mobile phone. Now rural aspirants also understood the acceptability of e-learning courses and this way they are getting quality education without joining a good university.
E-learning does not give ease, scope and comfort only but it reduces the expenses, usually incurred in regular courses. Online education provides free e-books, free library, and e-journals and there is no transportation fare involved in going to academic institutes. Thus for an underdeveloped country like India where tradition education demands huge investment, e-learning or online education is a big opportunity to shine the future of millions of students.
E-learning is getting popularity even in a developing country like India but the effective e-learning is missing. It requires a proper technique to get the desired result and progress in career. Chat and mail is the former way to interact but templates and wizards are the new phenomenon in this technique. Quizzes are organized as mind games; glossy buttons are used to reveal facts and figures. In today competitive world, study requires creativity. Creative learning in e-learning means using design techniques that make effective learning. It includes Learner-centric Design, Intrinsic & Delayed Feedback, Case Study and Motivation.
Learner-centric means designing of training modules on the basis of learners’ requirement. This gives enough space to the learner to study learning material required in a particular field of knowledge. Intrinsic feedback comes in two forms; that’s correct or not correct. This helps the student to decide whether they are going in the right direction or not. Feedback encourages a learner to come up with different thoughts. This brings new vision upon the mindset of students.
Case based study is the actual learning and thus the proper technique used in e-learning combines theories with current case studies. It helps the students to think about multiple prospects of a theory and how to participate in decision making process. In the case study, we usually branch the portion and each branch lets students to see the consequences in more descriptive way. Now e-learning process is using different techniques to motivate learner. To motivate, e-learning contents are designed using drama and stories. E-learning institutes inform about the risk a student has to suffer if there is a performance gap, about the outcomes of the training program, and the element of risk involved in exercises.
While making material for e-learning students, companies prefer to keep the text short, illustrate ideas through pictures and diagrams and link the topic with the overview pages and another topic. Demonstration of examples comes in a simple manner and browsing pages are animated so that learner finds it easy to read and to move to the other end. Audio and video contents are also found in the browser that makes interesting for a learner to watch or listen study material.
Information in e-learning comes in different layers; additional layers encourage reader to discover more information. Simulated software is used in e-learning which helps the student to enter the data and perform exercises effectively. It displays realistic results for the realistic problems. Like any other technique, e-learning requires new discovery to upgrade process in more effective manner.
Any e-learning course needs to be interesting and motivational but this is not something that is inherent to what you develop. You actually have to put in effort to make this magic happen. This is the effort of learner-focused, thoughtful, and instructional design. Such a design can easily fulfill the goals of the designer as well as of the learner.
One of the things that your design must consider is to set or reveal the target. A learning target tells the learner what she or he should be able to do after going through the course. This is a bit different from goal setting. For example, while the goal of the course can be to inculcate managing kills, the learning target for the same can be to become a manager from team leader. This helps the learners to recognise the significance of the course. It also helps in knowing how it will aid them in their near future.
Next, you should ensure that your design plan has content totally split into the undividable chunks of content. In simple terms, this means that there needs to be only one idea on each screen. Having a screen filled with many ideas or concepts can simply make it difficult for the learner to remember or understand what you are trying to convey. Just imagine yourself loaded with too many things to remember on one screen, and you will know how it feels like! By having only one concept on a screen, the learner becomes more focused to understand the concept, which also makes it easy for her or him to remember it. No matter which e-learning technique you choose to explain something, the idea or concept should be one only.
It is also essential to avoid increasing the number of slides. Too many screens or slides in just one unit can bore the learner or make her or him feel ‘too much to learn’. This itself indicates the total failure of your e-learning course. Therefore, it is better to limit the slides, if you feel that it can overwhelm the learner. Even more effective is to set the duration to spend in learning the course. This will make your course more effective and rewarding for the learners. Instead of number of slides, the minutes or hours required to complete the course is handier. This is perhaps because it also allows the learner to schedule her or his time and learn with more concentration, accordingly.
No field on this planet is without challenges, and the e-learning industry is certainly not an exception. Admirably, e-learning harnesses the power of the networking technology to make learning possible at any place, via any Internet-enabled device, and at anytime. This actually overcomes the problems involved in hiring a trainer to teach during the work time, such as productivity disruption, increased overhead expenses and inefficient in case the targeted audience is geographically distant. Although an e-learning program is a better idea to learn at one’s own pace and during free time, a few challenges surround this new way of learning, which need to be resolved for enjoying maximum efficacy.
One of the challenges involved in e-learning is motivation to learn. Unlike classroom-style sessions that offer the benefits of responsibility and command, e-learning is actually restricted to devices on which people tend to learn on their own. Although this is a good point for enthusiasts, others may not fully go through the course material. Therefore, it is a big challenge to keep the learners motivated enough to take up the entire course. Therefore, you can solve this problem by making visually appealing courses or telling a real-life story.
Another challenge is the lack of proper feedback in relation to the classroom setting wherein there are many feedback modes such as discussions and nonverbal cues from the instructor. In the self-paced e-learning courses, the feedback is either a recorded voice or a text on the screen. This might not be enough to help the learner understand the concept or content. One way to solve this problem is to include the contact of Help Desk for an instant discussion with the remote instructor who can easily make you understand what you did not.
E-learning is yet not free of technological difficulties. Although it is an innovative technology in itself, there are limitations to hinder its power. For example, the two learners may get to see a different appearance of the same course just because they are using different Web browsers. In this way, a visually appealing course tends to lose its effectiveness. What is more to it is that the inclusion of Flash and videos can result in longer loading times. Interestingly, you can solve this problem in different ways. First, you can enumerate the specifications required to view the course and use some other technology to add videos or animations that do not affect the loading time. Second, you can try to make the course platform-independent.
According to the latest report of Global Industry Analysts, the e-learning industry will be worth US$107 billion by 2015. Improvements in technology commonly delineate the newest trends, and that the e-learning industry is quite a good example of it. Advances in Learning Management Systems (LMSs) couples with the new APIs and devices are determining the future of this revolutionary educational learning technology.
Right in the beginning of 2013, the latest technologies such as mobile devices entered into this learning delivery mechanism. In fact, the experts are of the opinion that digital learning will become more mobile in 2013. Devices such as notebooks and smartphones are facilitating people to learn while on the move. In this way, much learning has already started to happen on the go, besides sticking to the ADSL Internet connections.
After the mobile revolution, it seems that gamification is the latest buzz in the e-learning world. Arguably, it is one of the most interesting developments, which is likely to be the hottest trend of digital learning in 2013. Learning-based games are not only powerful enough to retain the interest of the learners but are also flexible enough to implement quite easily in several LMSs and courses by the skilled developers. Indeed, if your LMS lacks a kind of gamification, experts now believe that you are disfavoring your own learning service. Well, such is the power of gamification. That is why the e-learning designers are harnessing the essentials to keep players-cum-learners coming back for more.
Next in the line is HTML5, the latest craze in the world of software development and now in the digital sphere of learning. This is the technology behind visually appealing animations, scalability, faster connectivity and ultimately better performance.
Social learning is the next big buzz, which many experts had predicted after the boom of social media sites. Social learning, here, refers to learning from, and with, others. With quick access to information anytime, the Internet is changing the traditional definition of ‘social learning’. Sooner, the learners will have quick access to social networking resources such as Twitter and Facebook so that they can connect to others and share or discuss information, which simply ends up enhancing the learning process. This will also help in motivating the learners to learn deeply.
Do you have the TinCan API in your LMS? If no, you are surely going to run out of problems this year. It is truly the next generation of reporting for LMSs and learning. The latest version 1.0 is already about to make a buzz!
E-learning is all about retaining attention as well as interest of the learner in such a way that she or he accomplishes the objectives of going through the course. In order to ensure this, many learning techniques are out so that the learners can learn in the best possible manner. Although it is true that learning is at its best when the learner sets the goals, the learning strategies play an effective role in helping the learners to get the most out of the course. Therefore, implementing the most effective strategy for maximum learning is an indispensable responsibility of an instructional designer.
One of the most common but highly effective learning strategies is progressive revealing information in a visual manner. For example, you can show a procedure as sequential visuals and highlight each one as you explain. You can highlight the first visual and talk about it while fading out the others. This gives enough time to the learners to remember and recall information about that particular visual. Even the experts are of the opinion that this instructional strategy is powerful in storing the information in the long-term memory. Overloading the memory with all information at once increases the chance of the learner to forget it. However, splitting the information into different pieces and concentrating only on one piece at a time makes it easier to understand and digest.
Another great way to initiate learning with interest is a role-based simulation, a learner-centred strategy. With the help of relevant roles, you can convert your learners into role models or active participants. Such a dynamic technique has a great impact on the learners, as they are encouraged to take their own actions in a particular scenario. Moreover, they are able to understand and store more information quickly. Such a technique can also help the learners to identify and rectify the mistakes happening in the same situation in real world. You can implement such a technique via a myriad of ways, such as modelling and observation. For example, you can animate an interactive scenario wherein the learner is a business manager who wishes to learn how to prepare a project plan.
Even mind maps are useful, as they aid the learners to think on a broader basis but creatively. A mind map is much more than including some words and lines; it is actually a tool to generate, restructure and classify. It aids in dealing with overloaded information by understanding via links and relations, all trapped in a single panorama.
There are certain factors which may cause serious threat to the success of online educational programmes. Some of these problems are discussed below:
1. Access to Technology
For any online learning programme to achieve success, it should have students who can access this kind of learning environment. In other words, the students who are unable to access the online environment for learning purposes due to any reason including logistics, economical, etc. are not eligible for this mode of education. This issue is especially holds good for those belonging to the rural areas. In fact, Internet accessibility has greater significance in online education. Furthermore, if the students are unable to afford the technology employed by the institution, then online education is a total failure.
2. Computer Literacy of Faculty and Students
For the proper functioning of an online learning environment, the students as well as the facilitators should possess at least a minimum knowledge about computers. To give an example, they should know how to use different search engines and browsing the whole web. Also, they should be well-versed in FTP procedures, newsgroups, email, etc.
This is an important factor in any online educational programme. It should be well-designed to bring about success of the programme in question. In many cases, the significance of curriculum as well as the requirement for educational experts for developing course material is ignored in the institution’s hurry to implement online education. The teaching methods and curriculum followed in conventional form of education does not go well with the online system of education. In fact, the online curriculum should be able to make the most out of written communication among students.
If the facilitator is not given proper training to carry out the responsibilities involved in online education, it will have a negative impact on the success of the same. In other words, an instructor should communicate properly in term of writing and also the language of the course material. In fact, an online educational programme will be a failure if the instructor is not prepared to communicate with the students in the virtual classroom. Further, he should have the capacity to provide necessary support for the students in order to compensate for the absence of physical presence.
Online education is the best mode of education for self-disciplined and mature students. Students who are highly dependent cannot benefit from this system. Students are able to get full control of their learning experience in this educational system which places more responsibility on them.
To conclude, some of the disadvantages of online education are discussed in this article. This would help to get a clear idea about who all can opt for this system of education.
Today a majority of people are opting for online education rather than choosing for the conventional style of education. Though online education offers a lot of flexibility where you can pursue the course from the comfort of your home, you need to be careful while selecting an online educational programme. There are some tips which would help you to select a programme which is most appropriate for you which are discussed below.
The first and foremost thing to consider in this regard is the skills and taste which you have. Further, the course feasibility should also be taken into consideration. This necessarily includes factors like time, expense, etc. In fact, the online course chosen by you should be beneficial for short-term as well as long-term goals.
After arriving at a decision regarding which course to pursue, the next concern is about finding an online school which is trustworthy. This is because every course offered online may not be genuine and accredited. The online degree earned should have proper recognition since it can have a great impact on the future career plans. So it is better to verify the accreditation of the institution which you select for pursuing online education.
The next important factor is the qualification and experience of the faculty. It is better to know beforehand about the same since it can affect the kind of knowledge which you get. The medium of communication, the teaching methods, the type of study materials, etc. also need to be inquired before enrolling for the course.
Apart from the above discussed tips, some other factors need to be considered before making a decision on the academic programme online. Normally, every online school provides course catalogue which contains information regarding the goals and objectives of different courses, the difficulty level of each course, study materials, time requirements, etc. It is advisable to read these course descriptions carefully before going ahead.
Another important thing you have to check out is the credit transfer policy. Most of the students possess previously earned credits which they would like to use in the selection process of the online programmes. Each school will have different criteria for transferring credits, and so it is better to place a request for an estimate of the transfer of credit from the prospective schools. Normally, a majority of the schools credit transfers ranging from 30% to 50%.
The next step is to determine whether the online school promotes asynchronous or synchronous learning. This is particularly important because it will help you to know about the timeframe of the course.
To summarise, the tips which are discussed in this article will help you to find a suitable educational programme.
Mike Cornell and Emma Jones are behind the success of Elearning Blog, a blog solely focused on providing free resources and tips for e-learning.