E-learning should not be thought of as just a buzzword for those working in Leadership & Development, but rather something that everyone can benefit from. A contrast from traditional education held in brick and mortar institutions, e-learning can take place easily and without occupying much time. In fact, almost everyone who has used a computer has at some point completed a type of e-learning. Indeed, e-learning can cover a wide variety of online initiatives.
A good way to begin understanding e-learning is the use of electronic devices (e.g. computers, tablets or phones) to deliver educational or training content to learners. Before we delve into the various methods of e-learning, it is important to understand why there is a need for it. It is an established fact that in an oversaturated job market, the demands placed on the average employee has grown over the years. Coupled with the fact that technological advances in the workplace (i.e. the introduction of new tools) are taking place faster than ever, entrepreneurs and employees are expected to keep themselves updated and upskilled to remain relevant.
Even without the push of changes in the workplace, there are plenty of reasons why one would choose to go back to learning. Additional skills give the opportunity of moving up career-wise and a chance to make more money. A simple two-day Excel course can equip one for projects previously out of reach, and can transform an employee’s pay-grade by a significant amount.
This is where e-learning comes into place. For most, a 40-hour workweek leaves little time for other commitments. Entrepreneurs and employees want to be able to study anytime and anywhere. Learners who would otherwise be unable to attend educational institutions can now study at home or remotely by connecting to their teachers and resources. This is particularly helpful for learners with families and children, who might need flexible timing to work around domestic commitments. E-learning gives individuals the choice of making their own study schedules.
The demand for eLearning solutions shows no signs of slowing down, with the market expected to reach $275 billion by 2022. Thanks to rapid developments in technology and the advancement in learning systems, e-learning has been embraced by people all over the world. With knowledge being shared on the Internet, information is now accessible round the clock, with the click of a button. E-learning can come in various forms.
The most popular form of e-learning, web-based learning is learning that uses the Internet as an instructional delivery tool to carry out learning activities. This can take place in the form of webinars – a presentation via video conferencing software, or virtual classrooms – an online learning environment that allows for live interaction and participation between tutors and learners. Web-based learning need not be entirely done online without face-to-face meeting between tutor and learner. It can operate as a hybrid in which the tutor meets learners half the time online and the other half in a classroom, depending on the needs of the curriculum.
Mobile learning takes place using personal mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. Learning materials are delivered through mobile apps or online educational hubs. Learners use mobile apps and tools to complete and upload assignments, download course instruction or even work in online social groups to complete tasks.
Unlike the name suggests, gamification does not always equal games. Rather, it takes elements of games and applies them to learning situation. It is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context to engage users in solving problems. A more enjoyable method of e-learning, gamification motivates learners to keep learning and playing, by making learning games fun.
Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that overlays interactive digital elements (i.e. text, images, video, sound) into real-world environments. This form of animated content is the newest form of e-learning, but sees plenty of benefits. With the ability to render imagined objects and turning them into 3D models, AR makes it easier to grasp the abstract and difficult content. It also allows for good practice of real-life situations, without the consequence of potential danger or risks (i.e. jobs involving physical, technical skills).
The flexibility of e-learning is a huge benefit for entrepreneurs and employees looking to upskill in their professional careers. With options aplenty for the ways in which to learn, and the wide-variety of modules available, it is not difficult for a learner to find a course that best suits their needs and lifestyle. For those looking to pursue e-learning full-time, whether as a teacher or learner, one can be confident that the industry is sure to grow.