As an organization intensively involved in eLearning we permanently check the quality of our courses and try to amend the quality. One issue is the communication – here mainly the contact between the learners and the tutor.
In fact, we were sure that the best method is a forum where learners can ask the trainer. The result of a questionnaire (conducted in the frame of a Grundtvig Multilateral Project) the results prove our current opinion – but not fully.
Do women prefer to talk?
In an eLearning course, there is always the problem of the support of the learners. Sometimes, learners want to contact their tutor or the have a problem and need help from their trainer or teacher. Which method – do you think – is the best one?
There are several methods available and you have to select the best one. Here is the list of possibilities:
Here are two synchronous and two asynchronous methods mentioned.
The behavior is similar: the majority prefers forums. Here the preference of male participants is about 10 percent higher as the female answers.
Female participants in the opposite show a higher percentage of skype preferences – they prefere to talk.
If you check the differences between synchronous and asynchronous communication you will find a six percent higher level of preferences for synchronous methods at the female users.
The use of eLearning and Distance Learning is increasing and plays a more and more important role in the teaching environment. Here are some quality characteristics of eLearning (focusing on the learner):
Learning goal: What does the learner want to learn?
Learning motivation: Why does the learner want to learn?
Learning setting: Activities surrounding the learning object
Time: How much time does the learner have to learn?
Culture and language: Learners are in a multi-cultural context as well in a multilingual environment (especial in Europe)
Educational level: Age and learning background of the learners
Accessibility: Access for all (also disabled of handicapped people; in Germany called barrier-free access).
The images show a teaching situation where the motivation of the students is not-existing and the eLearning (in a face to face environment) fails …
To plan and develop an eLearning course covers many aspects. To ensure the necessary quality you have to consider the institutional mission, the organizational structure and the available resources. Furthermore, you have to care for a well-fitting curriculum and design, the support from faculty (or similar internal structure) as well as the students’ support and to define the competence oriented learning outcomes.
Create the content
For the content of such a well-designed course, you have to develop the best-fitting material. Content in eLearning should cover different activities and learning content in a well-defined mixture (that depends in most cases from the taught subject). The following issues must be included:
Content to gain knowledge
Activities to interact with other learners. To promote group work and to develop the skills defined in the competence oriented learning outcomes
Content to develop the learners’ attitudes (as defined in the learning outcomes)
Assessments and test environment to check the learning progress
Reuse the content
The created content should be reusable – that means, that – as a start developed – content can be used easily also in other courses. The costs of content development for one single course ar too high to create high quality eLearning courses economically.
Where to take content?
There are different types of content based on the used media. Specialists in the subject can do writing a text easily. To provide the necessary graphics or high-quality multimedia material is more difficult and in the most cases cost extensive: You have to buy the material from companies specialized in that field of multimedia or expansive internal or external specialist create it.
Images and graphics
In spite of paying a lot of money for external specialists or image agencies, you may use content from sources under the Creative Commons (or similar environments).
This chapter of the webpage will supply you with information about “open resources”.
The same situation as mentioned above is in the field animations. There are many applications available either to create animations or ready-to-use animations that can be used without copyright violation.
You will also find here some information about free material and the legal conditions for their use.
Here is an overview about eLearning advantages (we always compare eLearning with pure face-to-face classroom teaching). The list is split into three parts respecting the different target groups involved in eLearning. The summary is based on modern eLearning courses using an optimized platform (that does not really exist) and well done courses using a lot or multimedia elements and interactivity.
Advantages of eLearning (learner’s view)
Learner actively involved in his/her e-learning
Interactivity and attractiveness of eLearning content
Flexibility and adaptability according to availability (time, location)
Training at own pace, independently of other learners
Self-assessment during and at end of course
Personal progress monitoring during eLearning course and appraisal of results obtained thanks to tracking
Tutorial support on demand (if necessary)
Contact to other learners (if planned and necessary)
No travel costs
Advantages of eLearning (company’s view)
“Mass” training (big number of learners)
Savings relative to classroom-based training indirect costs (travel, accommodation, etc.)
Flexibility and adaptability according to learner availability (time, location)
Customization and adjustment of training courses to predefined skills and teaching goals
Low logistical constraints (no room booking, employee travel, accommodation, etc.)
Precise course reporting and automated results analysis thanks to tracking (based on the eLearning platform)
Durable and updatable teaching materials (often reuseable)
Advantages of eLearning (trainer’s view)
Prerequisites for assessing learner levels
Training performed on interactive and attractive tools for both trainer and learners
Flexibility and adaptability according to availability (time, location) especial for the tutorial support
eLearning, with all its characteristics defining its advantages and disadvantages was a major breakthrough in academic education and professional training. Various Universities worldwide have incorporated eLearning solution in their curriculum and commercial companies from different fields of business have also integrated this method in their staff training programs to further enhance and develop the skills and knowledge of their workforce which can significantly contribute in the company growth in terms of production and profit.
One of the advantages of eLearning is its flexibility which allows any people willing to study but with always a limited time can access education and training by using eLearning tools and modules related to the field he or she wants to study. For students, this is major advantage in trimming down tuition fee expenses and other miscellaneous fees related to their academic pursuit.
eLearning includes all forms of electronically supported learning and teaching. eLearning is the computer and network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. eLearning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual education opportunities and digital collaboration. Content is delivered via the Internet, intranet/extranet, audio or video tape, satellite TV, and CD-ROM. It can be self-paced or instructor-led and includes media in the form of text, image, animation, streaming video and audio.
In eLearning environments learners interact with learning materials, their instructors and other learners from various locations and often at various times using network technologies. So by its nature, eLearning offers significant flexibility as to when and how learning occurs. eLearning can include independent, facilitated, or collaborative approaches to learning.
eLearning can be asynchronous (meaning learners are experiencing the learning at different times) or synchronous (meaning learners are experiencing the learning at the same time) or it can incorporate both drawing on the strengths of each. Independent learning is, by definition, asynchronous. Facilitated and collaborative can be either asynchronous or synchronous learning.
eLearning means to learn with electronic media. In many descriptions it’s reduced to learning using the internet. That’s basically not correct. eLearning covers the learning process supported by any means of electronically media (Computer, CD-ROM, digitized video, sound, the Internet, …).
eLearning as a term is outdated and should be replaced by “Technology Enhanced Learning”. This covers all the learning techniques as mentioned above, also the learning using the internet (as the access to the Internet only can be done by using multiple devices1 the learning with the Internet is fully covered by this term).
Blended Learning combines classical classroom teaching with eLearning. You may also call it “Hybrid Learning” or “Mixed Learning” – there are a lot of different terms existing – all meaning the same.
eLearning does not exist apart from already established and traditional learning venues. As new technology is introduced and adopted, it immediately becomes integrated with the instructional technology that preceded it. This is called “Blended Learning” or “Hybrid Learning” delivery.
Online learning content and strategies are showing up in classrooms nationwide. Digital content is replacing textbooks and much of it was initially used in formal or informal learning online.
If you are interested in technology enhanced learning and teaching methods have a closer look atour pages and in the blog!
1 Multiple devices means computers, laptops, norebooks, convertibles, tablets, and even smartphones. The use and the term “multiple devices” was created by Carlos Guerrero (SAFA) and Peter Mazohl (EBI/EIE). You will find mor information in this blog post!