Feb 5, 2009

e-Learning Benefits and Challenges

e-Learning is an important consideration in education for several reasons:
  1. Implimented correctly, it can reduce some of the costs associated with education
  2. It allows schools to educate people they could not previously (e.g. people that work for a living, people geographically dispersed, etc.)
  3. Many students communicate better in a web based environment than in the traditional classroom.  Studies have shown that students who would not raise a hand in class will be very active in posting to discussion boards for example.
e-Learning is a challenge for educational institutions because the technology involved can be difficult to manage and use.  A lot of training or practice is required to get proficient in e-Learning solutions.  Also, self-paced WBT courses are very time consuming to create and really only make since when there is a large learning audience (e.g. at a large corporation).  For example, Flash based applications need to target customers that have a large learning audience to justify the expense.  Virtual classrooms are often a more cost efficient solution in many cases.
e-Learning is an active and growing industry.  It may take a hit with the economy being like it is but it will re-emerge very strong.  Since managers are really starting to think about ROI for e-Learning you will see a continuing growth in the systems that manage the e-Learning experience.  Also there will be a shift to what works best for the smallest cost.  This is why a lot of people think the informal learning that social networks bring will be the bedrock for the future of e-Learning.  Social networks are mostly personalized and self-policing and don't require the ongoing cost associated with producing and maintaining rich interactive content in self-paced learning modules.  That's not to say that self-paced learning modules that use Flash are going to disappear.  They will not, but they will be used in a blended learning environment that adds a social/informal aspect.
So, online courses will continue to be offered.  Furthermore, I think e-Learning technologies will continue to grow as instructors start offering more blended classes that take advantage of the best aspects from the traditional classroom and the best aspects of the e-Learning technologies.  As virtual worlds (e.g. second life) become more prevalent in e-Learning more and more subject matter will be able to be taught on line.

1 comment:

Bhanwar said...

Hi Jonathan, I completely agree with you on your thoughts to eLearning and infomal learning.
In-fact, because of the high cost and time associated with the development of eLearning traditionally (those ID and multimedia programming oriented or may be trying to do all development internally in one go) is now even creating the myth that "opting eLearning is actually expensive than the traditional ways of learning and education"; and therefore a good amount of time has been invested in convincing the believers of above myth that there are other ways (cost effective, almost 70%-80%)to harness the benefits of eLearning and social learning without compromising on the learning content and so as on its effectiveness.

You would agree that Learning industry has done a SWOT analysis of itself after jotting down these top pain points and came up with certain innovative options to go with and therefore there is no harm in evaluating recognized innovations, taking benefits of offshore development time & cost, preferably in this tight economy.

Jon, your list of tools on which you have worked is good and I think there are couple of more you should try and would love to have them to talk about.

Cheers!

"Bhanwar Singh"