What Is eLearning?

learning onlineWhat is eLearning? It seems a very simple question but you would be surprised that some people do not even realize that they are using it.

The simplest way to describe it is to take the traditional classroom set up and incorporate modern technology in it. The teacher-student relationship is still present. However, the presence of the technological advancements we are enjoying today have altered how we interact with each other.

According to the definition taken from Wikipedia.org, it is education that is incorporated with “electronic media and information and communication technologies (ICT).” In the broadest sense, any teaching method that uses electronic media (TV, radio, CD, fax, etc) and all forms of ICT like (Internet, wireless connections, cell phones, etc) to deliver the lesson is perceived as eLearning.

It can be said that this type of learning makes education more fun and interactive. Gone are the boring days of writing on blackboards and imagining what your professor or trainer is trying to teach you. Elearning allows the instructor to use materials like text, images, animation, audio and video to get their message and lessons across.

Probably the best thing about this method of delivery is the flexibility. Thanks to the Internet and the availability to of wireless connections, you are free to learn about anything anytime and anywhere. All you really need is an electronic device, most preferably a computer, and you can choose to learn anything.

As a type of learning, eLearning can still be boring. However, the instructor have more options to avoid the usual pitfalls of the traditional classroom learning. They can choose to make a monotonous lesson into an interactive learning environment that will capture the interest of their students.

Since eLearning can be very broad, let us discuss the 4 simple categories that will help you understand it better.

  • Electronic database. This is the most basic form. This is when the student, researcher, or user looks for an archived data that they can get information from. As long as the data is stored in any electronic device or medium (e.g. a site on the Internet), it can be considered as a form of eLearning.
  • Online community. This is another method wherein you rely on your peers for knowledge. Getting the information from community forums, online chat support or email, these are tools by which you can also learn.
  • Synchronous learning. This is a more formal way of learning with the instructor and student interacting in real time. But unlike the traditional classroom setting, this is done remotely. The instructor and student/s are from different places and meeting at a pre-determined time and platform. This can be done as a web conference, Internet sites, live streaming and two way broadcasts.
  • Asynchronous learning. This is another formal way of eLearning. It is still done over the Internet but the teacher-student interaction is not in real time. In most cases, the student access the archived lesson at their own convenience.

These define eLearning as a whole and tells you the 4 different levels that you can choose from to educate yourself. When thinking about this method of education, you need to keep an open mind because these can change over time. As we develop new technologies, we are sure to take advantage of them and that can affect the evolution of eLearning methods.

Image courtesy of ddpavumba for FreeDigitalPhotos.net.