Friday, February 7, 2014

Why e-Learning?

We at 'OyeTrade eLearning development center' are the team of eLearn professionals developing eLearn and mobile learning applications for couple of years. Business owners always raise one common question 'why should I convert my classroom courses into eLearning?'. This blog post is answer to their 'Why?'.

Let’s re-examine the basic benefits of e-learning. With the high cost of transportation as well as hectic work and family schedules, many people who have been slow to take online courses are signing up for the first time. You may be wondering what advantages e-learning has over traditional face-to-face courses.

The major benefits: accessibility and convenience. Your online course can be logged into at any time and at any place. This is a huge advantage over traditional face-to-face courses that are held in a classroom or meeting place, especially if you have a busy life that required travel or many family or work commitments.

Further, the convenience of the online course really can’t be matched. Needless to say, none of that is true if you’re in a situation where you do not have high-speed internet, or your connection is limited or intermittent. But, assuming that you’ve got a great connection and that it’s always available, you’re in fantastic shape with an online course. You can log in after the kids are in bed. You can work during your lunch break. You can work from your hotel room or an airport or a restaurant offering wifi connections. There is truly nothing like it.

But, what about the other benefits? Surely there is more to life than convenience and access. How about the learning? What about the idea of connecting with other students? How about the intangible, but very valuable feelings you get when you join a college or university community? If you take an online course, will you be missing out on school spirit, study buddies, lively in-class discussions, and passionate discussions over coffee and pastries at the local purveyor of fine coffee drinks and bakery items?

E-learning has come a long way from its earliest origins. Back in its inception, online programs often offered courses that got the job done, but they weren’t very exciting. You might write responses to questions for each lesson, the e-mail them to your instructor. You might read online material, listen to audio, then take interactive quizzes, which were automatically scored and entered in a gradebook. Alternatively, you might watch videos of recorded classroom lectures, and then take a test over the contents of the lecture and readings. Again, the methods got the job done, and they pushed content to you, but they weren’t very exciting.

What has changed?

First, there’s been a big shift in the way that people envision online courses. Before, there was always the notion of “pushing” or “delivering” content. Course designers thought that if they could “push” or “deliver” content to the learner, everything would be okay. The leaner would soak up the content, and then respond to it in a way that would reflect how much he or she learned. That might have worked for some learners, but it certainly did not work for all.

The other eLearning benefits are...
Improved training costs.  Producing learning content is time consuming whether it’s online or not.  With elearning, each time the course is accessed your return on investment improves because you are dividing the fixed production costs by number of uses.  You also have savings through decreased travel, reduced material, and hopefully improved (and more efficient) performance.

Decreased material costs.  Let’s say you have to train how to arrange equipment in a sterile environment like an operating room.  If you had to use the real environment, it would be costly.  Even setting up a fake environment has material costs and labor.  By creating the environment online and letting the learner practice, you never have to worry about the costs associated with set up, use, and clean up.

Increased productivity.  Because elearning is not bound by geography or time, you can control training’s impact on production by training people during down times.  In addition, with the current economy, you’re asking people to do more with less.  So elearning is a great way to give them the tools and skills needed to enhance their performance.

Standardization.  You may have a great facilitator, but that’s no guarantee that the courses are presented the same across sessions.  Elearning allows you to create a standardized process and consistency in the delivery of content.  It also compresses delivery time.  I’ve combined elearning courses with facilitated sessions.  Elearning delivered consistent content.  Live sessions were interactive case studies that applied the information.

Freedom to fail.  Let’s face it, real learning requires some failure.  But no one likes to fail in a classroom full of other people.  Elearning lets you fail without fear.  This encourages exploration and testing of ideas.  With the right feedback you create a great learning environment.  Worst case, you can always start over.  Something you can’t always do in class.

Personalized learning.  Look out the window at your parking lot.  My guess is that you’ll see a dozen or more different cars.  They all do the same thing, yet we have personal opinions about what we want to drive.  The same for learning.  Learners want control.  Elearning allows you to offer control to the learners in a way that classroom learning doesn’t.