Explain the concept and significance of E-learning
E-learning is an approach to facilitate and enhance learning through and based on, both computer and communication technology. It refers to the use of computer-based electronic technologies of internet, e-mail, websites and CD-ROMS to deliver, facilitate and enhance both formal and informal learning and knowledge sharing from any place at any time. The communication devices can also include digital television, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and mobile phones.
E-learning is also called Computer-Based Training (CBT). Generally, CBT and e-learning are treated as synonyms, but CBT is the older term dating from the 1980s. The term e-learning evolved from CBT along with the maturation of the internet, CDs and DVDs. It includes Internet-based Learning, Web-based Learning and Online Learning.
Significance of E-learning
E-learning is significant in many ways. It
- enables flexible learning where just-in-time learning is possible. It is a means of effective and efficient learning due to its ease of access and the pace being determined by the learner;
- facilitates collaborative internet and web-based learning opportunities to the learners. It supports distance learning with wide area networks (WAN). It addresses the practical side of learning by organising the topics to be taught and creating multimedia CD-ROMs or websites. An important advantage is that hyperlinking is possible and having interactive parts illustrating difficult things or for doing exercises is also possible;
- allows a wider range of learning experiences, such as educational animation to online learners;
- imparts e-training through the asynchronous and synchronous communication modes, permitting the learners the convenience of flexibility. Asynchronous learning uses technology such as blogs, wikis and discussion boards to allow participants to contribute when time allows. Synchronous activities allow all participants to join in at once with a chat session or a virtual classroom or meeting;
- develops the role competencies of the personnel in an organisation through the use of electronic media. Specialised training is rendered through customised software, which addresses the particular needs of the clientele mostly through the synchronous mode on a dedicated broadband internet connectivity. Equally, it also renders training to the learners through the generic software displaying universal contents in asynchronous mode to the learners through a shared network with limited internet access or on World Wide Web; and
- enhances teaching by the professional development of teachers through training on usage of ICT in education. E-learning system like World Links enables the teachers to integrate technology into teaching and thus create a dynamic student-centred learning environment in classrooms. The faculties can also interact with their peer groups in the world and exchange ideas and notes on the subject.
Hence, as put by Gupta and Singhal, e-learning is a planned effort towards providing interactive and experiential learning; flexibility in terms of time, place and pace; participation and accessibility; expertise and qualitative subject matter; best resource at the learners’ doorsteps and personalised training; and centres around the trainees.