E-learning (also known as digital learning or online learning) is a huge topic right now, both in education circles and in light of the recent lockdown measures currently in place across the UK.
E-learning is a fantastic way to learn new skills, expand your horizons and access learning courses at a much cheaper price than you might do otherwise – all from the comfort of your own home.
This guide aims to explain the benefits of e-learning and you can integrate it into your own life, wherever your circumstances.
What is e-learning?
E-learning is a type of learning conducted digitally via electronic media, typically involving the internet.
It can be accessed via most electronic devices including a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, making it a versatile and easy way for students to learn wherever they are. E-learning resources come in a variety of forms – from software programmes and digital courses to interactive online platform and apps.
Below are some common types of e-learning methods and the differences between them.
E-learning can be carried out via the consumption of videos, PDF documents, slideshows and word documents. Thanks to the availability of these resources, it’s incredibly easy for anybody to teach themselves a new skill at their own pace.
Online courses are often provided by Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and allow learning material to be delivered at a steady rate, organised into sections and chunks to make it easier for the learner.
They often come with interactive materials to allow the learner to test and apply their own knowledge.
Popular online course providers include Skillshare and Udemy.
Thanks to the internet, private tutors are no longer as expensive as they once were. Thanks to websites like MyTutor and TutorHub, it’s now easy to find online tutors for any subject at an affordable rate. Lessons are completed via video communication platforms like Skype and Zoom.
Apps & software
Apps and software are nothing new, and many people are discovering the amazing possibilities for self-taught learning through apps they can download right to their phone.
Learn a new language with Duolingo, or try your hand at a musical instrument with Yousician and Uberchord.
Learning software can also be used both online and off to engage in shared learning courses (as mentioned above) or engage in your own personal learning journey.
What is e-learning in education?
With so many schools across the UK currently closed, teachers and students are taking advantage of e-learning methods to continue their studies from home.
Even before this recent crisis, many schools were already strong champions of edtech in the classroom, and creating a seamless and flexible learning experience through the use of digital platforms.
There are many ways in which teachers have been implementing e-learning to continue the teaching of their curriculum. One major way is the use of virtual ‘classrooms’ or lessons, using video communication platforms like Zoom. The teacher is able to plan and teach lessons as normal, with all students attending the lessons from their own home. The great thing about Zoom is that it can be accessed on a phone as well as a computer, adding greater flexibility to students.
Teachers have also been able to create and distribute learning materials via platforms like Google Classroom and Edmodo. And when it comes to finding lessons plans and learning materials, there is a whole wealth of shareable resources online.
15+ Home Learning Resources to Use During School Closures
What is the importance of e-learning in education?
Right now, e-learning is playing a huge role in education by ensuring students are still able to continue their studies during this time of national crisis.
Aside from that, e-learning plays an important role in the modern classroom, allowing teachers to share students’ progress with parents and enabling students to continue their studies beyond the classroom through apps, online learning materials and sharing hubs.
Finally, e-learning allows classrooms and schools to become that bit closer to becoming paperless. While it can’t be said that paper books and materials will completely become obsolete, e-learning tools and resources play a huge part in cutting down on paper waste and helping schools be kinder to the environment.
What is self-paced e-learning?
Self-paced e-learning is when the learner has the freedom to choose the pace at which they consume the teaching material, and can decide when they are ready to move onto the next step.
This allows for an enjoyable, pressure-free learning experience that often leads to better retention of information and a strengthened passion for the subject.
Nearly all e-learning platforms, particularly apps and online learning courses, take on a self-paced style.
E-Learning Advantages & Disadvantages
E-learning has a ton of benefits that make it a first port of call for many motivated learners. However there are also a few drawbacks to be aware of that may mean it isn’t suitable in all cases.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of e-learning.
Benefits of e-learning
Affordable and time-saving
Because e-learning can accessed from pretty much anywhere – including your own home – it removes travel costs, printed materials, and the costs associated with running an office or learning institute.
This means not only can online learning save everybody time, it also makes learning much more affordable for the learners.
Learners can study anywhere, anytime
E-learning can be accessed from pretty much any device these days, meaning learning doesn’t have to be saved just for the classroom or even the home.
Apps and online learning platforms enable learners to continue the learning process when its convenient for them – including on the go – meaning they can make greater strides with their learning.
Easy to track progress
Most apps and Learning Management System (LMS) enable the learner to track and monitor their own progress, which enables them to stay motivated as they can look back and see how far they’ve come.
Teachers or tutors can also keep track of where their students are up to in a particular course or subject module, and judge when extra help is needed.
Not everybody feels comfortable learning in a large group, but e-learning allows everyone to tackle the subject at their own pace, with interactive tasks ensuring a thorough understanding throughout each module.
What are your thoughts on e-learning? Has it positively impacted your classroom? Join us in the conversation on Twitter – @TrueEducation_P
Disadvantages of e-learning
E-learning requires self-discipline and self-motivation in order to be successful. Because the learner is fully in charge of his or her own progress, they will literally get out of the learning what they put in.
In the case of schools, e-learning will usually be overseen by a teacher, parent or leader, who can ensure students are committing to the process and getting the best results. But even then, particularly in the case of remote learning, it still requires an element of self discipline from the students themselves.
Doesn’t provide practical training
E-learning can provide the theory aspect of a training exercise, but cannot provide practical training, which may be needed in some subjects to ensure competency. This would be an example of blended learning, which allows you to use e-learning alongside traditional face-to-face training.
Misses the face-to-face aspect of learning
For some people, having that face-to-face contact may be a huge motivator to them, which e-learning mostly lacks. Even if a student has access to a real life tutor online, the social aspect is missing, which may make e-learning not a suitable option for everybody.