e-Learning is learning that takes place in an electronically simulated environment. e-Learning, web-based training, internet-based training and computer-based training are the next-generation instruction methods being developed today. With e-Learning, users can immerse themselves in a three-dimensional environment to further enhance their learning experience. Moreover, e-Learning can be done anywhere and anytime as long as the user has the proper hardware. Today, e-Learning is fast becoming a reality through companies like Trainersoft and others.
e-Learning can be done using a internet connection, a network, an intranet, or a storage disk. It uses a variety of media like audio, text, virtual environments, video, and animation. e-Learning, in some ways, is even better than classroom learning methods as it is a one-on-one learning method, it is self-paced and it has an experiential-learning format.
As with any other forms of learning, e-Learning depends on its delivery method and content to ensure its success. For this reason, e-Learning modules have to be interesting, interactive and informative in order to be effective. Because it is computer/software based however, e-Learning has the capability of immersing its students completely within an environment most conducive to learning. This sets it apart from classroom-style learning.
The Categories or Levels of e-Learning
Database e-Learning: Online databases are a form of e-Learning that is used today. With online databases, users can browse through different topics to look for an answer or an explanation to various questions. Online databases can also provide step-by-step instructions on how to do things like installation of an additional component to a computer or activation of a certain product.
Online Support: Online support is a more interactive form of e-Learning as it gives the user an opportunity to interact with real people when he or she is looking for an explanation or answer to a problem. These online support systems can be in the form of chat rooms, forums, email, bulletin boards, instant messaging applications, and others that can better help the user resolve his or her question by providing more specific or tailored answers.
Asynchronous training: Asynchronous training is a combination of the two forms of e-Learning mentioned above. With asynchronous training, students learn through internet-based, network-based or storage disk-based modules. Moreover, students can also interact with other students or instructors through e-mail, online discussion groups and online bulletin boards. As with the preceding types of e-Learning, asynchronous training is also self-paced and interactive.
Synchronous training: Synchronous training is a real-time method of e-Learning with live interaction between the instructors and the students. It is called such because students have to log in at a specified time and the classes will be held for a specified period of time. Lessons can take the form of single sessions to several sessions over a few years. Synchronous training is the e-Learning method that is nearest to classroom-style learning as students can raise their electronic hands, view a common blackboard and interact with each other. Synchronized training sessions are usually held in AV conferencing media, websites or Internet telephony media.
e-Learning lets the user learn the subject at his own pace. This means that one can take short breaks without the risk of missing valuable information. This also means that one can take the time to study a particular topic more closely as well as skip over the topics that he already knows. One can go through the learning materials following his own preferred sequence. Moreover, one can easily review topics whenever the need arises.
e-Learning puts the user in an interactive environment where objects in the learning environment can be readily adjusted, mdified or manipulated to accord with the user’s preference. This enhances the learning process.
Interactivity can be as simple as clicking on the appropriate answer to a question posed at the end of a session or it can be as complex as manipulating multiple objects to perfect a skill. By constantly making decisions such as clicking on buttons to start a process or enlarging an image for better viewing, the user of an e-Learning system becomes an active participant in the learning process.
The interactivity of e-Learning is further enhanced by inserting games in between different modules. Games and similar activities involve multiple parts of the brain in the learning process. Thus, an e-Learning participant learns a lot more than a student sitting in a classroom lecture. Games are even more important to training programs where the students can get to practice different skills that are important to the overall objective of the e-Learning module.
Lower Costs and Larger Capacity
With e-Learning, students don’t have to physically attend classes, seminars or training programs. e-Learning is web-based and disk-based so participants don’t have to spend a lot of time away from their work. They can choose how much time or what specific time to devote to learning the subject matter offered.
A web-based e-Learning program is a lot less expensive to maintain. e-Learning program operators need only maintain the networking infrastructure that will deliver their e-Learning content to their students and participants. This is a small investment compared to what is required to pay for instructors and training personnel in classroom-style learning. Moreover, participants need not spend money on travel and other expenses just to attend seminars and training courses.
e-Learning also allows for more participants than traditional learning methods since the number of participants is not constrained by venue limitations.
Students can fit their learning activities easily with their daily routine. They need not leave home to participate in an e-Learning program and learning does not require complex logistics. All a participant needs is a computer, Internet connectivity, access to the web-based server, and if necessary, the special e-Learning software provided by the e-Learning program operators.
Easily Updated and Upgraded
e-Learning modules can be easily revised. Activities can be easily added and incorporated. The e-Learning software can also be automatically updated by connecting to the server. This is definitely a lot faster than retraining professors and reprinting books and manuals.