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E-learning is the use of technology to provide learning anywhere at any time. E-learning helps to bridge the gap of distance, time, and resources. E-learning occurs in various forms. E-learning can take place on a CD-ROM, DVD, and Local Area Network or over the internet. E-leaning comprises of Computer Based Training, Web-Based Training, Distance Learning or Electronic Performance Support Systems. E-learning is best suited for those people that intend to pursue further training while still working. This is the best method to keep employees updated with new skills and knowledge through additional training at workplaces. Otherwise, training can be very costly if employees were to attend classes or seminars in faraway places. Scheduled classes are expensive since they involve taking workers from their jobs at critical times.
Companies, as well as individuals, have a variety of e-learning methods to select from, as discussed below. Some e-learning methods such as videoconferencing are very effective as learning methods because they engage the learner in active learning, while other e-learning methods such as video or distance learning are not very appropriate learning strategies because they do not give the learner an opportunity to participate in the learning process actively. Nevertheless, e-learning has been instrumental in the proliferation of new skills as well as knowledge across borders. More effective methods of e-learning that will make the learner more actively engaged in the learning process should be developed (Harasim 76).
These days many students take their education courses online through web-based computer technology. Instructors make use of electronic mail in issuing instructions as it is regarded as a quick, accurate, and very reliable means of communication. Learners then download learning materials as well as course assignments from the instructions. After finishing their assignments, learners upload them for marking purposes. To facilitate the effectiveness of online learning, some e-learning methods have electronic discussions that make it possible for students to discuss difficult topics with their teachers or students who are taking the same courses. This helps to enhance interaction and improve the learning process. Some online programs are mainly accomplished by students using important resources from the World Wide Web (Lipsitz and Reisner 20).
There are some programs that are offered from a series of videotapes. To make the learning more effective, the videotapes are supplemented with handouts, conferencing as well as assignments. In some instances, this type of learning is supplemented by students accessing course materials from relevant online libraries. This type of learning makes use of text, syllabus, as well as a study guide to supplement the study videotapes. To enhance the learning process, some of the videotapes that are used have computer-email conferencing as well as electronic downloading of assignments from the internet (Wolfe 12).
The television broadcast is another form of e-learning that is best suited for those learners who cannot attend regular classes. Those students that miss TV broadcast usually views videotapes or DVD to catch up with the others. It is advisable for those students that opt for TV courses to have self discipline through establishing appropriate study habits. Those students that graduate through this type of learning are awarded the same transcripts as those who attend regular classes (Wamae 42).
Videoconferencing is another form of e-learning that combines video and audio interaction. This type of learning occurs in special rooms that are dedicated to this purpose.
Some e-learning programs are not very effective as learning methods. Some of the e-learning methods that are not a very effective method of learning are video as well as distance learning methods. Videos do not give learners an opportunity to clarify some issues they cannot understand, and especially when they do not have video conferencing. Learners listen to what is recorded in the video and write their own notes. In the learning process, the learner and the instructor normally learn through conceptual interactions where the teacher asks the learner some questions to find out whether the learner is following the instructions given. In some instances, the learner asks the instructor some questions to clarify a point he may not have understood. This learning environment is very necessary as it makes the learner to be actively involved in the learning process, which makes the learning process more effective and interesting. On the other hand, the use of video in learning is often very boring because, more often, it does not give the learner an opportunity to contribute to the learning process. This is very limiting to students as the process does not provoke the mind of the learner to explore other perspectives on the subject matter (Hiltz 23-34).
Another form of learning that is not very effective is distance learning. Distance learning entails online learning over the internet or web-based programs. Online learning is much more effective than the use of videos in e-learning because it entails instructors sending learning materials as well as assignments over the internet as uploads. The learners download learning materials which they use for studying. To supplement the learning materials, students who take their courses online are allowed by the university management to access the campus library online by being given appropriate logins. In addition, those students that learn online have a wide range of materials to supplement their notes from the World Wide Web. One of the main undoings of distance learning is the inability to bring those students who are pursuing similar courses together in order to share their learning experiences as well as discuss their learning materials for better understanding. In a classroom setting, students normally consult from each other to learn what they did not understand during lectures. In addition, students form discussion groups which they use to discuss difficult topics they face in the learning process (Nagy 35).
Despite the weaknesses highlighted in some of the e-learning methods widely used nowadays, these methods have been very instrumental in the proliferation of education in many parts of the world. Conversely, for e-learning to be more effective in the future to those students who are learning online, e-learning should be designed to be more interactive in order to be more interesting and effective. The use of teleconferencing as a method of e-learning is one sure way of making e-learning more interactive, which has greatly boosted the acquisition process. In order to make e-learning more effective, e-learning should be connected to Facebook or Twitter to make it more interactive. The use of Facebook and Twitter in e-learning will greatly enhance the e-learning process as students will get an opportunity to clarify some points they may not comprehend from the tutors or professors. Similarly, the use of Facebook and Twitter in e-learning will help the students to consult each other in some of the topics they find difficult to understand. By using Twitter and Facebook, e-learning will become more blended learning, which is more interactive and effective than distance learning.
Harasim, Herbart. Learning Networks: A Field Guide to Teaching and Learning Online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 1995, print.
Hiltz, Simon. Evaluating the Virtual Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1990, print.
Lipsitz, Lawrence and Reisner, Trudi. The Computer and Education. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. 1973, print.
Nagy, Amos. The Impact of E-Learning. New York: Prentice Hall. 2005, print.
Wamae, Peter. Computer Based learning. New York: Prentice Hall.
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Wolfe, Charles. Learning and teaching on the World Wide Web. New York: Oxford University Press. 2000, print.