E-learning. There isn’t a student anywhere that is not now familiar with this concept. The Pandemic has seen to that. And employees who have been working from home have also encountered it, as they have engaged in training and development. While improvements in technology have made e-learning a much more positive experience, there are also some challenges that cannot be denied. As you engage in E-learning, be mindful of these. Success depends upon your ability to take advantage of its benefits but also to meet the inevitable challenges you will face.
Let’s unpack three key benefits, and three challenges.
Three Benefits of E-Learning
This is, of course, the greatest benefit of all. And flexibility actually comes in three forms.
First, students and employees have learning activities to complete by certain deadlines. But, given the nature of e-learning, they can choose the times for those activities that best suit them, so long as they meet that final deadline. The student who wakes early and is best able to focus at that time, chooses that time to work. The student who operates better in the evening can choose that time. And because instructors and trainers are able to provide those activities for access at any time (recorded lectures, videos, etc.) student learning styles are honored.
Second, you now have the option for mobile learning (M-learning). Learners no longer need to be tied to their PCs at home to engage in coursework activities. They have laptops, tablets, and smartphones that can go anywhere with them. The student who may have a part-time job, for example, can use his lunch break to access a lecture or add his comments and feedback to a group discussion.
Third, there is e-learning that people engage in that is not required coursework. Suppose, for example, you want to learn a foreign language. You have a bunch of options, from which you choose yourself, depending on which offers the best learning styles to match yours. This is the great flexibility that today’s technology provides.
One of the best things that new technology has brought everyone is the ability to collaborate with others in the same learning community. There is a wealth of new “meet up” software that can be used for real-time communication and collaboration among learning communities – Skype, Zoom, etc. Using these tools allows learners to participate in group project activities and to develop a more personal connection with their fellow learners. Instructors and trainers who make use of these tools ensure that their students can complete assigned activities while not experiencing the “disconnect” that often occurs when a learner feels that he is out there, all alone, trying to complete coursework or training modules.
3. Clear Learning Path
E-learning coursework, whether for students or employees, has a very clear path for proof of mastery. The learning modules are established, accessible for all registrants, and include all the activities, and the methods for evaluation of mastery. These may be in the form of tests, projects, completed assignments, but the learner knows exactly what is expected and when those assignments are due. Learners have lots of security in knowing what is expected and when and can plan their schedules accordingly.
Taking a Close Look at the Challenges of E-Learning
E-learning is an amazing innovation, and it has provided students and employees with so many options for convenience in completing coursework. Understand, though, that it is not without challenges. Meeting these challenges will ensure that you have success in this model of teaching and learning.
1. You Can Feel Dis-Connected
If you are used to a physical classroom environment, moving into an e-learning environment can be a shock. All of a sudden, you have no physical contact with your instructor or your fellow students/learners, other than on a screen. And that type of learning can feel too impersonal for all of your needs. Suppose, for example, you need some one-on-one for more explanation than the learning modules or your peers can provide. If your instructor has not provided for these types of sessions, you may have to look for someone who can.
2. You Can Get Distracted
It’s easy. You are online with your coursework, and there are your social media accounts out there, just waiting for your attention. And if you are on your phone, how many apps do you have that are pushing notifications and such while you are trying to engage in learning? E-learning coursework requires sustained focus without interruptions. You need to learn ways to turn off all of these things, and there is software to do this.
3. It’s Easy to Procrastinate
When deadlines are out there, but you are not attending daily classes to keep you on track, the temptation to put things off can be huge. And it can certainly lead to students searching for high school and college research papers for sale because they have waited too long to get started. Setting a schedule of coursework and sticking to it will be critical for success.
In the End…
Whether required academic coursework or training and development, e-learning is certainly here to stay. And as students and employees gain continued experience with it, they will come to understand the benefits. And, if you are aware of the challenges in advance, you can plan to avoid them.