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Thursday, 3 December 2015

But what of the qual­ity of e-learning, vis-à-vis face-to-face learn­ing?

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Dis­tance learn­ing was thought to be the answer. Indeed, it still is. But there is a dif­fer­ence today in the deliv­er­ance because of tech­nol­ogy and Inter­net. The qual­ity gap between face-to-face learn­ing has been bridged as has the dis­tance gap been vir­tu­ally bridged.
Learner Cen­tric Edu­ca­tion
The way we learn has evolved. Users have truly become the cen­ter of the learn­ing process. Often times the learn­ers iden­tify the appro­pri­ate mate­r­ial and way they want to learn. The time avail­able for learn­ing courses has been tele­scoped for want of time. The good news is that the time period for online learn­ing is shorter and learn­ers apply the learn­ing directly to their work sit­u­a­tion to remain com­pet­i­tive. The oppor­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing are expand­ing. Tech­nol­ogy pro­vides access to new ways to learn both for­mally and infor­mally. The younger gen­er­a­tion grew up with tech­nol­ogy - and demands online access to infor­ma­tion, research, processes, and new skills. Step in e-learning.
What is dif­fer­ent about e-learning?
e-learning helps learn­ers to reach pred­i­cated lev­els of com­pe­tency faster. e-learning allows learn­ers to assim­i­late con­tent at their own speed. If they under­stand mate­r­ial, they can skim; if it's new mate­r­ial, they can spend time on the unfa­mil­iar con­tent. Con­trast it with the class­room; instruc­tion moves at the will of the instruc­tor, who gears the class pace to meet needs of the major­ity of learn­ers, not the needs of indi­vid­ual learn­ers.
Learn­ers can engage in learn­ing any­time, any­where, and from any loca­tion. Learn­ers con­trol when and where they want to do their learn­ing. Some choose to learn from home while oth­ers take a "learn­ing break" that breaks the monot­ony of the work­day. Some even access learn­ing from their mobile devices as they travel. This free­dom to learn based on per­sonal pref­er­ence makes for hap­pier, more engaged learn­ers who find it eas­ier to stay up-to-date on their knowl­edge and skills.
Con­sis­tency of eLearn­ing deliv­ers uni­form con­tent to all learn­ers. No mat­ter where the learn­ers are located, they receive the same con­tent, elim­i­nat­ing con­tent vari­ance that is often present with instructor-led learn­ing.
Travel sav­ings are sig­nif­i­cant. e-learning elim­i­nates a sig­nif­i­cant amount of air, train and auto travel.

Class­room And Online Self-Study Prove Equally Effec­tive. Save where face-to-face inter­ac­tion is inescapable - for exam­ple, say a med­ical stu­dent is doing the rounds of the ward with her instruc­tor - recent research indi­cates that no sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences exist in the effec­tive­ness of learn­ing through class­room, online, or self-study. This is because of the fol­low­ing:
Metic­u­lously crafted graph­ics and visu­als help explain new con­cepts. Visu­als, graph­ics, sim­ple sim­u­la­tions, and even short videos con­tribute to a more visual approach to under­stand­ing con­cepts. This, com­bined with instructor's audio help, ensure good learn­ing. In fact, some ani­mated sequences in eLearn­ing would be dif­fi­cult to dupli­cate in the class­room.
Responses through blogs, wikis, and dis­cus­sion boards help learn­ers see other points of view. The dan­ger of iso­la­tion of online learn­ers is mit­i­gated by a plethora of inter­ac­tive tools used to rein­force the learn­ing.
Con­tent is avail­able to review mul­ti­ple times. The oppor­tu­nity to access spe­cific sec­tions of the learn­ing con­tent as many times as nec­es­sary to grasp key con­cepts pro­vides for a bet­ter over­all under­stand­ing of the topic. Also, choos­ing the best time to learn puts the learner in a bet­ter frame of mind to learn.
The end note there­fore is that while e-learning maps eas­ily with fast for­ward learn­ing, the learner has the power to press the pause but­ton at her will. Clearly, e-learning has arrived.

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