eLearning Today — School Is Changing Address!
The fact that “FOMO” is a thing already is witnessing the fact that gadgets form a critical part of our daily lives. Hardly an hour goes by that the average person doesn’t go through his/her gadgets. So, since most of our time is spent on these devices, what do you say we make the best out of them? Yeah, social media is great and probably the best thing after sliced bread. But there’s something even better eLearning Today! And that’s what we will be looking into today.
So, for the avoidance of doubt, let’s quickly define the term eLearning.
In the simplest terms, eLearning is electronic learning. That is, fostering learning by delivering a course digitally, either in full or in part. eLearning can be done in schools, organizations, or personally.
Now that this is clear, let’s see some history.
How It All Started
To think that eLearning is a new concept would be somewhat hasty and false. eLearning actually dates a long time back to when grandma was born. Even though it was first christened “eLearning” in 1999, a quick look at history will show that this dude is not a newcomer at all in the world of learning.
Ever before the internet was launched, it had been the goal of many teachers to make learning more convenient. Lots of ideas were formed and implemented on how people could learn in their own localities, without having to travel many miles.
So, in the 1840’s, Isaac Pitman, the famous father of shorthand, came up with an idea. He began to teach his students via correspondence. New and completed assignments were exchanged between the teacher and students using mail. And this seemed to work just fine.
Fast forward to the 20th century and things improved markedly. The first ever testing machine was invented in 1924. With this machine, students could take tests and get scores themselves. From our present perspective, the technology is laughable, but hey, it worked well at the time.
In 1954 people witnessed the introduction of the teaching machine. Invented by the Harvard professor B. F. Skinner, the teaching machine was designed to teach students via programmed instructions.
However, six years later, this technology was greatly improved upon, and the Computer Based Training program (CBT) PLATO was born. Although it was originally made for the University of Illinois, most schools around the area caught the bug, and CBT gradually went viral.
As the 20th century gradually wound out and the internet came in, things began to change. More people got access to personal computers and eLearning quickly became a thing. It quickly caught on because of the convenience it offered and the ease of learning. Gradually, virtual learning environments grew and thrived. By the dawn of the 21st century, businesses were already using it to run training for their employees.
Today, experts say that in four short years from now, the eLearning market globally will exceed $243 billion. eLearning is definitely more than a passing fad. It is here to stay.
Why Is eLearning Catching On Very Fast?
1. It’s very accessible:
Say you’re a very busy business executive, or CEO of a startup that just kicked off. Of course, in both cases, you’d be super busy and would hardly have time for classroom learning.
So, say you need to learn a bit of Mandarin for whatever reason, you definitely won’t be looking for a language school. At least not a brick and mortar one. Thankfully, the internet is replete with tons of opportunities for you to learn on the go, and even get assessed. Plus, there’s also collaborative learning which allows you interact with other students around the globe.
Most learning apps offer instant feedback as you learn. So, one can easily track her progress, and that can inspire motivation. Also, most mobile learning apps are very efficient at pointing out problem areas for the student. This way, she knows where to focus on or get assistance in.
Learning can be very expensive sometimes. Of course, we can’t go without standard classrooms and books just yet, but with eLearning the learning cost can be substantially reduced. For example, Udemy often offers a ridiculous 90% off discount for a lot of their online courses, making them extremely affordable to anyone that uses their services. This ultimately helps to level the playing field for students of different economic backgrounds.
4. It’s convenient:
With more and more people working seven days a week to keep heads above water, eLearning is a godsend. Because most online classes are self-paced, people can now sneak in a few minutes to study during lunch breaks. Asynchronous learning is becoming more and more available.
5. It’s up-to-date and relevant:
The long process it takes for printed materials to be republished when an update is needed can be discouraging. Hence the reason we have lots of outdated books today. Updating textbooks takes time and a lot of money too.
But with technology, authors and teachers can now easily update content. This way, eLearners constantly receive relevant and up-to-date information as they study.
Nuff said. So, we mentioned something about asynchronous learning. What’s all that about?
Types Of eLearning
There are two types of eLearning:
- Synchronous learning.
- Asynchronous learning.
This type of e-learning is closest to the traditional classroom learning, except that it’s online. The learning tools used for this type of e-learning are usually real time, and include video conferencing and chatting.
As a result, students do not learn alone. Quite on the contrary, there is the opportunity for them to interact with other students also taking the course, as well as with teachers.
Because of the nature of this type of e-learning, questions and answers can be exchanged between students and teachers using instant messaging. This is the reason it is referred to as synchronous learning.
As you’ve probably already guessed, this type of learning cannot be self-paced. Classes, tests, and exams would have to be taken at a pre-scheduled time and within a limited time frame.
Unlike synchronous learning, students learning asynchronously do not necessarily have to be online at the same time. Often, coursework is delivered to the student through the web, email, or on message boards.
Students who choose asynchronous learning get the advantage of self-pacing their learning. This way, the internet simply acts as a support tool, unlike synchronous learning.
Now that we know the types of e-learning, it’s time to go a bit deeper. There are various methodologies used by e-learning platforms that make them effective. Let’s check them out.
1. Micro learning:
This method is founded on the principle that the attention span of an average human is 20 minutes. So, micro learning involves delivering content to students in “information morsels”. Experts say that this particular method can help student’s ability to understand, retain, and apply what she has learned by up to 30%.
Doesn’t sound familiar? How about we break it down a bit? “Game” + “-ification”. Exactly. Simply put, it’s the process of learning through games. Actually, in a much broader sense, it refers to the process of applying game elements and principles into non-game situations.
Research proves that gamification has very positive effects on people. For instance, when using a gamified system, GMAT students increased the time they spent on a learning site by up to 370%. What’s more? Retention rates are 10 times better with gamified systems.
3. Mobile Learning:
Also known as M-learning, mobile learning is a method of eLearning where a person learns on the go. By using mobile gadgets like smartphones or tablets, students can access learning content via mobile apps, online learning hubs, and social media. Research has it that productivity can increase by up to 43% when learning via mobile device, as compared to using a non-mobile device.
4. Video Learning:
This method is as straightforward as it sounds. Ask yourself, if you had the option of learning something by reading or by watching a video, which would you choose? If you said “watching a video”, then you agree with 75% of employees around the world. Based on this premise, 98% of companies intend to include video learning as a big part of digital learning for their employees.
5. Social Learning:
Generally, social learning refers to learning that occurs via social interactions among peers, which may lead to a change in behavior. The theories of social learning boil down the idea of social learning to one thing: learning with others as well as learning from them.
If you think about it, social media is an almost perfect place for this type of learning to occur. This is probably the reason why 75% of learning that occurs in the workplace is attributed to social learning.
To know how these methodologies actually fare in real life situations, it might be a good idea to compare e-learning with traditional classroom learning.
Traditional Classroom Learning Versus eLearning
We will make this comparison based on several points to make it an easy read. So, let’s get to it:
When comparing both systems of learning, e-learning is, by far, the cheaper option. Where an average person would spend about $95 to get classroom education on a subject, an e-learner will spend about 9 times less at $11.
It will take a student much less time to complete a course using an e-learning platform than using the classroom option. In many cases, the time is even cut down by up to 40 – 60%.
3. Returns on investment:
When you compare the ROI using both systems, the difference is quite wide. In the first place, investing in e-learning is a much cheaper option which already sets the tone for a high ROI. Research has it that digital learning can give the student up to 60% more in ROI when compared to classroom education.
4. Knowledge retention:
People tend to retain what they learn from an e-learning platform up to seven times more than what they learn in a traditional class. As we saw earlier, the methodologies of e-learning are very effective with statistically proven results.
eLearning naturally allows students to save more compared to classroom learning. Courses are cheaper, there’s no need to commute, and learning materials are more affordable.
That said, let’s quickly run through a list of top eLearning platforms.
Top eLearning Platforms
Of all the eLearning platforms currently available, the biggest and most popular is Udemy.
The platform was founded in 2010 by Eren Bali, Oktay Caglar, and Gagan Biyani. Between then and now, the platform has amassed over 65,000 courses and 20 million active students. Courses cover almost all disciplines, ranging from entrepreneurship, to language, to health and fitness. These courses are currently taught by more than 30,000 instructors in 50 different languages.
Closely following Udemy in popularity and relevance is Coursera. Founded only two years after Udemy by two Stanford professors, Coursera is another fantastic eLearning platform.
Working with many universities and organizations, the platform offers specialized courses and degrees in various subjects. Some of these subjects include digital marketing, social sciences, and medicine. Currently, Coursera works with about 150 universities to bring courses to students.
Aside from Udemy and Coursera, you probably have heard of Lynda, Open Culture, edX, Tuts, Udacity, Alison, OpenLearn, and FutureLearn.
If you haven’t thought of signing up for any of these before, we bet you’re probably having a rethink. eLearning isn’t going anywhere, and the stats in its favor are overwhelming.
Some eLearning Trends To Watch Out For In 2018
1. Virtual and augmented reality:
With the costs of VR glasses as well as headsets gradually falling, VR and AR are becoming more affordable. Organizations will definitely be using this more this year and beyond.
Intelligent assistants/chatbots: Siri has already planted a seed in the minds of many. Chatbots will be explored even more this year. Of course, AI is still relatively young, but many organizations will definitely be exploring the use of chatbots in developing intelligent apps.
With more organizations seeing the seriousness gaming arouses in students, gamification will definitely continue to be a trend this year. Many more “boring” trainings will be gamified to encourage students to participate by doing something they’d enjoy.
3. Micro learning:
More and more, learning would be broken down into learning bytes to encourage quick learning and increased productivity.
4. Video learning:
Already a strong trend, video learning will get stronger in 2018. Videos will be used by employers to create more engaging learning processes. This in turn will enhance learning. And this way, everyone wins.
5. Social learning:
Using platforms built strictly for the workplace, organizations will definitely be following this trend even more in 2018. Social media platforms such as Facebook might not be the best for work environments, hence the reason more work related social learning platforms are being built.
Pretty sure you’ve learned a whole lot about eLearning today! School sure is changing address!