Introduction to e-learning

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What is e-Learning ?

Resource Person : Dr. Vishwanathappa


e-Learning can be a confusing topic in part because of the alphabet soup of acronyms, technology related buzzwords, overlapping definitions, variety of delivery options, and the converging histories of the two disciplines of technology and training. In the current marketplace, what most people really mean when they use the term e-Learning (and its multiple synonyms) is Web-based training but we'll see that it really means much more. e-Learning is really nothing more than using some form of technology to deliver training and other educational materials. e-Learning is the latest, in vogue, all-inclusive term for training delivered by a number of means. In the past, these have included the use of mainframe computers, floppy diskettes, multimedia CD-ROMs, and interactive videodisks. Most recently, Web technology (both Internet and Intranet delivery) have become preferred delivery options. In the near future, e-Learning will also include training delivered on PDAs (e.g., Palm Pilots) and even via wireless devices like your cell phone. This new, mobile form of education is called, predictably enough, m-learning.

Other Terms Associated with e-Learning

Understanding what is and what isn’t e-Learning can be confusing due to the wealth of different terms that exist to define the same thing. Most people prefer the word learning to training ("dogs are trained, people learn") and use technology-based learning (TBL) or "e-Learning" instead of technology-based Training (TBT). Other commonly used terms include computer-based training (CBT), computer-based learning (CBL), computer-based instruction (CBI), computer-based education (CBE),[1][Web-based training (WBT)], Internetbased training (IBT), Intranet-based training (also IBT), and any number of others. Some of these, like [Web-based training], can be seen as specific subsections of e-Learning while others, notably computer-based training, are less specific. Other confusion arises from technical definitions that differ from their popular use. For example, the terms CBT, CBI, and CBL are sometimes used generically to refer to all types of e-Learning, but are commonly used to describe older disk-based training. Browser-based training is the term used to describe courseware that requires a Web browser to access, but may in fact be running from the Internet or CD-ROM. In fact, some training programs will pull content from both a Web site as well as a CD-ROM. These courses are sometimes called hybrids, or hybrid-CD-ROMs.

Distance learning, or distance education, are other commonly used terms. They accurately describe most types of e-Learning, but are most often used to describe instructor-led, web-based education -- for either corporate training or college classes. Finally, when it comes to course and student management, the newest descriptor is Learning Management System (LMS). LMS' are typically web-based programs that are used to enroll students, assign and launch courses, and track student progress and test scores. A close cousin to the LMS is the LCMS which stands for Learning Content Management System. An LCMS manages chunks of reusable learning objects, known as RLO's. As we seen, e-Learning can be CD-ROM based, Network-based, Intranet-based or Internet-based. It can include text, video, audio, animation and virtual environments. It can be a very rich learning experience that can even surpass the level of training you might experience in a crowded classroom. It is self paced, hands-on learning. The quality of the electronic-based training, as in every form of training, is in its content and its delivery. e-Learning can suffer from many of the same pitfalls as classroom training, such as boring slides, monotonous speech, and little opportunity for interaction. The beauty of e-Learning, however, is that new software allows the creation of very effective learning environments that can engulf you in the material. Scope and forms of e-Learning: e-Learning falls into four categories, from the very basic to the very advanced. The categories are: Knowledge databases - While not necessarily seen as actual training, these databases are the most basic form of e-Learning. You've probably seen knowledge databases on software sites offering indexed explanations and guidance for software questions, along with step-by-step instructions for performing specific tasks. These are usually moderately interactive, meaning that you can either type in a key word or phrase to search the database, or make a selection from an alphabetical list. Online support - Online support is also a form of e-Learning and functions in a similar manner to knowledge databases. Online support comes in the form of forums, chat rooms, online bulletin boards, e-mail, or live instant-messaging support. Slightly more interactive than knowledge databases, online support offers the opportunity for more specific questions and answers, as well as more immediate answers. Asynchronous training - This is e-Learning in the more traditional sense of the word. It involves self-paced learning, CD-ROM-based, Network-based, Intranet-based or Internet-based. It may include access to instructors through online bulletin boards, online discussion groups and email. Or, it may be totally self-contained with links to reference materials in place of a live instructor. Synchronous training - Synchronous training is done in real-time with a live instructor facilitating the training. Everyone logs in at a set time and can communicate directly with the instructor and with each other. You can raise your cyber hand and even view the cyber whiteboard. It lasts for a set amount of time -- from a single session to several weeks, months or even years. This type of training usually takes place via Internet Web sites, audio- or video-conferencing, Internet telephony, or even two-way live broadcasts to students in a classroom. Advantages and Disadvantages of e-Learning : Advantages of e-Learning Self-paced E-Learning lets you go through the course at your own pace. This helps avoid missed information in situations where you either have to leave the course for an outside emergency or you just don't catch what the instructor said. E-Learning courses offer user-controlled elements that just aren't feasible in regular training classes. For example, differentiating the sound of an irregular heart beat from that of a regular heart beat by clicking on icons on the screen allows the learner to listen at their own pace and replay the sound as often as they like. This self-paced element is one of the things that makes e-Learning so effective. Interactive Interactivity is another element that an e-Learning offers. This type of interactivity can be in the form of simply clicking on appropriate responses to questions, clicking to animate an object or start a process, or dragging and dropping items to practice a skill. Interactive games based on the training message are also very effective at improving learning. Now, you may be thinking of "Doom" or "Tomb Raider," but gaming in a training setting doesn't have to be quite that elaborate -- although it certainly can be think about games where you go through a series of tasks, learning about the environment, and use tools you've discovered along the way. Those same techniques can be incorporated into many types of learning programs. Games can take you through an adventure in almost any type of scenario. Being able to explore, try, succeed or fail makes good training. Motivating Being motivated to learn is half the battle. Knowing the course you are taking is going to have some "fun" elements like video, audio, animation and the "gaming" scenarios we mentioned above creates more interest and curiosity in learning. This, too, leads to better retention and faster learning. Other motivating factors with e-Learning are the conveniences that it offers, such as being able to go through the course any time and anywhere (almost). It is much easier to work training into a busy schedule when you don't have to take two days off to travel and then sit in a classroom. Other e-Learning elements that beat out the classroom scene Besides the bigger issues like interaction, control of the pace, and motivation, e- Learning can readily put to use the information that researchers have been studying for the past 30 or more years. These studies have identified things that can greatly affect memory and recall. Some of the key research found significant improvements in recall when: · using colors and specific color combinations · Combining images with words · Combining sounds (or voice or music) with images · Using multiple types of media · Using layouts that flow with the natural movement of the eye Benefits of e-Learning e-Learning has definite benefits over traditional classroom training. While the most obvious are the flexibility and the cost savings from not having to travel or spend excess time away from work, there are also others that might not be so obvious. For example: 1. It's less expensive to produce - e-Training is virtually free, once you reach the break-even point. Synchronous programs will have continued costs associated with the instructor managing the class, but will still be lower than traditional courses.

2. It's self-paced - Most e-Learning programs can be taken when needed.

3. It moves faster - According to an article by Jennifer Salopek in "Training and Development Magazine," e-Learning courses progress up to 50 percent faster than traditional courses. This is partly because the individualized approach allows learners to skip material they already know and understand and move onto the issues they need training on.

4. It provides a consistent message - e-Learning eliminates the problems associated with different instructors teaching slightly different material on the same subject. For company-based training, this is often critical.

5. It can work from any location and any time – e-Learners can go through training sessions from anywhere, usually at anytime. This Just-In-Time (JIT) benefit can make learning possible for people who never would have been able to work it into their schedules prior to the development of e- Learning.

6. It can be updated easily and quickly - Online e-Learning sessions are especially easy to keep up-to-date because the updated materials are simply uploaded to a server. CD-ROM-based programs may be slightly more expensive to update and distribute, but still come out cheaper than reprinting manuals and retraining instructors.

7. It can lead to increased retention and a stronger grasp on the subject - This is because of the many elements that are combined in e-Learning to reinforce the message, such as video, audio, quizzes, interaction, etc. There is also the ability to revisit or replay sections of the training that might not have been clear the first time around. Try that in a crowded auditorium.

8. It can be easily managed for large groups of students – Trainer soft Manager allows corporate training directors, HR managers and others to keep track of the course offerings schedule or assign training for employees and track their progress and results. Managers can review a student's scores and identify any areas that need additional training.

There are many advantages to e-Learning, and even the potential disadvantages (i.e. boring text-based courses, technophobia, and loneliness) can be alleviated with a properly designed course. Let's move on now to how to plan a good course. Incorporating Quizzes and Tests Interspersing the course with quizzes that pop up after material has been presented offers good feedback and reinforcement for learning. In most learning Situations, the more immediate the feedback, the better -- it's the building effect of learning. There are many advantages to e-Learning, and even the potential disadvantages (i.e. boring text-based courses, technophobia, and loneliness) can be alleviated with a properly designed course. Role in an e-Learning Project: Visualize your role in e-Learning: After this course you can improve your way of teaching. So be ready to implement e-Learning at your end. e-Learning Delivery through a range of quality e-Learning programs, initiatives and opportunities, your imagination it is possible to have Centre of Excellence in e-Learning which will help to improve student’s educational experiences and achievements. You will get support either from internet or from this centre fro implementing e- Learning at your end. From this schools and colleges can take advantage of online opportunities. Below shows aim and objective which must be kept in our mind to implementing this e-Learning project. Aim and Objectives for implementing e-Learning To apply e-Learning solutions in response to identifiable teaching and learning prerogatives, in turn making education more accessible, efficient and effective. The specific objectives are: 1. To improve student access to course presentations and processes. 2. To improve education efficiency by: a. Providing increased opportunities for collaborative and problem-based learning. b. Encouraging e-Learning practices that can be used to ‘free up’ class contact time for more productive pedagogical approaches than didactic lecturing. c. Reducing the necessity of excess time teaching areas that can be more clearly illustrated using e-Learning tools. d. Storing class resources in a Web-based repository for all hour access. 3. To improve educational effectiveness by: a. Enhancing delivery in areas that students typically find conceptually difficult. b. Enabling and encouraging student interaction and structured discussion. c. Facilitating increased levels of tutor involvement with students as a group and as individuals. d. Providing opportunity for preview / review of resources online. e. Providing an overall education context that ensures the sound application of eLearning tools within a course. f. Working with subject matter experts to ensure that technology is applied in a way that identifies their unique needs, and that sets innovative approaches in ways relevant to the subject matter. These objectives are underpinned by the following core values. The potential of e-Learning tools : Existing technologies can be powerfully and creatively applied to enhance teaching and learning, improving the access, effectiveness and efficiency of education. Quality education :

The use of eLearning tools cannot be separated from quality teaching practice.

e-Learning to motivate and value students : Sound education engages with and values the contributions of students.

Good teachers interact with their students : The most powerful role of the teacher is as a personalized source of learning support. e-Learning is applied in such a way that the teacher is empowered to spend more time responsively interacting with students as a group and as individuals. Phases in an e-Learning Project : e-Learning Project can be developed on the basis of Software Life Cycle, which is discussed below Software Life Cycle A life cycle is the sequence, in which a project specifies, prototypes, designs, implements, tests, and maintains a piece of software. Explicit recognition of a life-cycle encourages development teams to address development issues at the appropriate time; for example, to establish basic software requirements before design or coding begins. The Staged Delivery Model The staged delivery model involves the following steps: First Phase:


Collect information on current practices, organizational changes put in place to help manage the program(s), and difficulties experienced by personnel with the e-mail(s). 2. State the findings in terms that can be addressed through program changes and training of the personnel. 3. Document the group learning processes that take place as the monitoring program is implemented and the contribution of communication structures and technologies. 4. Assess the extent to which the communities of practice and the training programs respond to the challenges and difficulties associated with this form of health delivery. 5. Initialize the instructional design methodologies; define Patient Flow Model and learning roles.

Second Phase: 1. Full production of learning objects, including video, Flash, and other technologies as appropriate. 2. Engineering and modification of Hyper Session (online group collaboration tool). 3. Curricular engineering of learning objects and online collaboration tool, including continued creation of learning objects based on field work (Iterative evaluation of learning objects in conjunction with ongoing evaluation); field testing of learning objects/ curricular settings, etc. 4. Coordination of online collaboration tools with groups and identification of other needed technology 5. Initialization of evaluation Third Phase: 1. Deployment of Learning Objects/communities of practice (CoP) curriculum

2. Ongoing evaluation of Community of Practice

3. Further refinement of Learning Objects Fourth Phase: 1. Final evaluation

2. Editing of learning objects as required

3. Final interviews with participants to further field test results

4. Final participatory seminars