What is eLearning?
Elliott Maisie coined the term “eLearning” in 1999, marking the first time the phrase was used professionally. In the years since, eLearning’s reputation has gone from strength to strength.
Understanding eLearning is simple. eLearning is learning utilizing electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. In most cases, it refers to a course, program or degree delivered completely online.
There are many terms used to describe learning that is delivered online, via the internet, ranging from Distance Education, to computerized electronic learning, online learning, internet learning and many others. We define eLearning as courses that are specifically delivered via the internet to somewhere other than the classroom where the professor is teaching. It is not a course delivered via a DVD or CD-ROM, video tape or over a television channel. It is interactive in that you can also communicate with your teachers, professors or other students in your class. Sometimes it is delivered live, where you can “electronically” raise your hand and interact in real time and sometimes it is a lecture that has been prerecorded. There is always a teacher or professor interacting /communicating with you and grading your participation, your assignments and your tests. eLearning has been proven to be a successful method of training and education is becoming a way of life for many citizens
Some of the factors that facilitated eLearning in becoming the most popular way to deliver training today:
- The Internet – Prior to the rise of the internet, many relied on printed manuals, CD-ROMS and other restrictive methods for learning and training. The rise of the internet allowed organizations to abandon one-dimensional practices and utilize the flexibility of eLearning.
- Development of Multimedia – As eLearning progressed, the ability to integrate elements such as images, videos, audio and graphics proved to be a more reliable way of keeping learners engaged compared to traditional learning.
- Affordable Digital Devices – Considering the first IBM computer cost the equivalent of almost $5000 today, it’s understandable that eLearning popularity rose as digital devices became more affordable. Mobile learning also hugely facilitated the growth of eLearning.
- Well-Built Learning Management Systems – LMS’s have become more sophisticated, moving from locally installed to cloud-based systems, with organizations increasingly applying them to execute many forms of training. There are many things to consider when choosing an LMS; at a minimum ensure it has the functionality and support you need to meet your objectives and those of your learners.
Benefits of eLearning
This is one of the most significant benefits eLearning presents, and probably the most welcome! Traditional training can be expensive and often frustrating to maintain. eLearning removes the need for costly printed training materials and even on-site instructors. If modules within your content need to change, this can be done easily via your LMS without having to print and distribute updated training materials.
Time is precious, especially in a work environment, so why not save as much of it as you can? For employers, eLearning keeps any updates you need to impart simple. Whether you need to implement changes to your training content or company policies, eLearning allows you to easily add them to your LMS. This saves you a considerable amount of time on the organization of reprints, etc. Learners can also save time by accessing content where and when they need to, rather than relying on scheduled training. And you can use your LMS to automate manual tasks, making training management more time efficient.
Improves Performance and Productivity
eLearning allows learners to quickly and more easily complete their training, resulting in improved performance and greater productivity. Learners appreciate that they can participate in training at their convenience. They’re likely to feel more motivated to further their professional goals through eLearning, as it gives them the flexibility to learn at their own pace and from a location of their choosing.
Lower Environmental Impact
More and more organizations are making a conscious effort to reduce their carbon footprint as part of their corporate responsibility strategy. eLearning is an effective method if you aim to have a lower environmental impact. It offers an alternative to paper-based learning and contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly workplace.