Jidaw Systems
(MASTERCOMPUTERS)


Making e-learning effective

Why e-learning

Online learning attempts to bridge the distance gap in learning. Online education exists to meet the needs of trainers and students separated by physical distance. Physical location of the trainer or training institution becomes immaterial to acquiring knowledge and skills. Online learning can be the primary or a supplemental means of learning. Essentially by bridging this gap, online learning increases access to learning. Many in this category are those who want to learn while working. They may be unable to attend on-campus classes. With online learning, workers can keep their jobs and at the same time, develop their knowledge and skills. It could also be for the development of new job skills or training for a new job.

Online learning makes education available to many who are outside the formal or traditional education system.  It therefore provides opportunities for individuals and corporate learners by increasing access to education and training.  

 

What are the other benefits of online learning?

Convenience

The main benefit is convenience. Learning is on your schedule, at your convenience. You have the ability to access learning from your home or workplace. It's no wonder some have dubbed it "anytime/anywhere learning".  You don't need to go to a physical classroom.

Lifelong learning

In today's world, you can't afford to become a dinosaur. Stop learning and you become a dinosaur (http://www.jidaw.com/dinosaur1.html). Lifelong learning is essential to remain competitive and to enable us grow, create opportunities and achieve our career ambitions. The right online learning programs and planning make it possible for you to acquire the skills you need, when you need them, in a timely manner.

Unique learning experience

Online learning can be used to create unique learning experiences that incorporate online forums, community and discussions. Online learning facilitates the interaction of learners and teachers in different locations, all over the world. The world is now a global village and such learning activities with people from diverse social, cultural and economic, backgrounds often provide more career and related opportunities.

 

How effective is online learning?  

Your Preferred learning style

The focus of any form of education should be effective learning by the student.  Online technologies, techniques and methods vary. One size does not fit all. It is very easy to get carried away by technology. If you have the best technology but your students can't cut the grade, what is the value of your technology? As a student which system will meet your need? You have to choose your preferred e-learning style - self-paced or instructor-led?

Interactive tutorials, study guides, and multimedia technology all contribute to student understanding of the program. Would you prefer a system that allows interactive simultaneous interaction of learners and teachers? Or do you simply want to access instructional materials when it is convenient for you?

Your choice could be based on the flexibility of your time schedule.

 

Appropriate delivery specifications

Irrespective of training style delivery must be appropriate to content requirements. The type and usage of technology can make or break a successful training program. Again what are your expected educational outcomes? Use this to choose appropriate learning solutions. Not all online learning programs will be right for you. And wrong solutions waste time, money and effort. A problem with many online learning programs is their inability to incorporate content that requires a hands-on approach. This is why many still prefer instructor-led training (http://www.jidaw.com/article9.html)for such courses.

For example, if you need to develop knowledge and skills relating to the configuration of routers, will the learning solution provide effective practice through simulation or access to routers?

What works for you?

Choose your online solution by analyzing and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the options available to you in terms of delivery, flexibility of your time schedule, your learning needs and course/content requirements.

Motivation

The motivation of the learner determines the effectiveness of any form of learning. The primary role of the student is to learn. However, the student needs to be motivated to learn. Career ambition is an important motivator, but with e-learning there are additional related issues to bear in mind. 

Consider the lack of physical contact with other students or competition with other students. Students often learn more effectively when they interact with other students. 

Consider also the physical absence of trainers. Trainers need to be responsive to students' needs. How're questions, assignments, and other related concerns handled? Regular contact with the instructor makes learners more motivated. It also provides feedback for the trainers for developing and evaluating the learning process. These issues make motivation critical.

How does the training solution address the absence of a trainer that can motivate and support the student when actual requests and problems occur during the learning process?

Career ambition is great, but you must take an active role in the online learning process by taking responsibility for your learning. The absence of face-to-face interaction requires a more serious attitude toward the courses by learners and instructors. The importance of motivation cannot be overstressed. Indeed lack of motivation is the primary reason why many students drop out.

Interaction, Feedback, Evaluation

It follows that effective online learning requires quality student-to-student interaction, as well as timely teacher-to-student feedback.  How is online learning evaluated? How it deals with interaction, feedback, evaluation is the challenge and the opportunity provided by online education.

For example, discussion and study groups may provide support, encouragement, group problem solving and additional feedback on course assignments. In this way forums create the feeling that help is readily available.

Students need to reflect on what they are learning. How do you evaluate what is taught? Examinations, tests, practice assignments and presentations provide opportunities for students and trainers to evaluate learning. However, such evaluation will be more meaningful for students, if it promotes reflection on experience and relates new knowledge to examples that make sense to students.

Where it is possible, online communities and forums should be created and implemented as part of the learning experience for student-to-student interaction, trainer to student feedback, study groups and practice evaluation. Positive feedback and interaction, not just training sessions produces effective learning by students.

e-learning works. e-learning produces results. But is e-learning the solution for you? Your approach also determines whether you will get benefit. As you make your choices, never forget - that the essence of any learning is not the training school, the online facility or the instructors. The essence is effective learning by students.

 

Jide Awe

Jide Awe is the Publisher of Jidaw.com. Drop him a line.

 

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