E-learning involves things like online, electronic or web-based learning. Many Universities now offer distance education courses utilizing e-learning so that all the materials are available online, assessments are submitted electronically and there are online discussions with other students.
Generally the content is available anytime, anywhere and it’s personalized towards the individual via some form of technology.
The benefits of delivering education via e-learning include:
1) Cost- it’s inexpensive and travel costs (flights, accommodation) can be eliminated
2) It’s convenient because it is available anywhere, at anytime.
3) It is self-directed which means learners can work at their own pace and when they are ready to do so.
4) Its private and learners can study in an environment which is comfortable for them.
5) It is consistent- delivered the same way for each participant
6) It is easily updated- changes to legislation etc can be changed quickly and with minimal cost
7) It helps learners to developed solid computer literacy skills
I’ve had two experiences with e-learning. One good and one bad, and not just because of the way in which it was delivered via e-learning.
The first was my Masters in Adult Education with UTS. It was fantastic. I felt supported by my lecturers, I interacted with other students online and I really learned a lot. The systems were easy to use, easy to access, and it really suited me because I was working full-time and I could study when I had the time i.e. according to the peaks and troughs of my job. I knew what I needed to learn, and why I was learning it from the interaction with others in my program and the online conversations with the teaching staff.
The second was a Cert 4 in Training and Assessment. It was delivered online in such an appalling way that I ended up withdrawing from the course. It was clunky, difficult to use (and I’m Gen Y and pretty good on the interwebs!) and not-interactive at all. I would read through the content and then it would ask me questions where I would just need to regurgitate the answer. Most of the time, I didn’t even know why I needed to know some of the content.
In thinking about how adults learn and Knowles theory of andragogy, I think there are a few basic principles that should be followed for e-learning:
Adults need to know why they are learning something, and this is enhanced when it is reinforced by dialogue with others
Learning should be an activity- not content to be ‘covered’ or ‘memorized’. The learning ‘experience’ is important
It should be self-directed and allow adults to discover or find out things on their own, but with support of others
Adults will be more interested when it is relevant to them- ‘what’s in it for me?’ – will it help me in my current job or help me get the next promotion?
What are your experiences with e-learning at University or in the workplace?