E-Learning is the use of electronic media such as videos, audios, presentations and online content created using the effective use of technological tools in learning and teaching. Although there are various linguistically restrictive terms for E-Learning (for example, Computer Based Instruction, Internet Based Training, Virtual Learning, Flexible Learning, etc.), it is basically the use of technology and electronic media in the field of education. E-Learning is gaining popularity mainly due to the ease of access to educational content and better understanding of complex concepts due to the effective use of multimedia.
E-Learning can be the most effective way to impart education, provided both the user and the provider have the right mindset. The learner must be willing to allow himself to learn using comparatively less conventional tools and methods. This can be developed if the following things are kept in mind:
The what, how and why
Be it the designing of the instructional module or using the same to learn, the person must first understand what E-Learning is, which we have covered above, followed by how. From the designer’s point of view, the design must be such that it appeals to different styles of learning, while from the user’s point of view, he must know how the module works and whether it is right for his or her style of working. And finally both the provider and the user must have a clear idea of the purpose for which they chose to adopt E-Learning. This will not only help the designer in effectively communicating the content but also motivate the user to make the effort required to choose the alternative form of teaching or learning.
E-Learning is about imparting knowledge using the relevant tool. So it is important to understand that as important as the electronic media chosen is, what is communicated through them is just as, if not more important. From the developer’s side, proper and in-depth research and knowledge on the subject matter or content before making it available to the users is very important for simple reasons such as: to be prepared to back up any claims made within your course material, know that not all learners digest information the same way, and understand some may need more explanation through examples or further proof. From the users’point of view, one must choose the design that has good content that suits all learning styles to make sure the learning process is successful.
The psychology behind E-Learning is that learning occurs by the encoding of new information in permanent memory called long-term memory. According to a theory called Dual Encoding, content communicated with text and graphics sends two codes — a verbal code and a visual code. Having two opportunities for encoding into long-term memory increases learning.Therefore, the designer here must understand and use the right proportion of graphical and textual content to facilitate proper communication of the content. On the other hand, the user must choose the appropriate design that provides the proper mix of graphical and textual content necessary depending on the learners to fulfill the purpose of using it. For example, there might be 2 different modules, one more professional module with more textual content and another with a more fun and colorful module communicating the same content. The user can use the former to train the more senior level or experienced employees while use the later to train the young freshers entering the company.
Guide, don’t instruct
The main aim of E-Learning is to motivate learners to want to learn. E-Learning focuses on helping self-learners while also providing teachers with tools to aid them in the process of imparting knowledge. In both cases the instruction designed using technology is just a guide or an aid aiming to help guide or influence the user and not to control or instruct them. The video, audio or presentation merely acts as a tool to provide ease of communication of instruction.
It has been scientifically proven that color can improve learning from 55 percent to 78 percent as well as comprehension by as much as 73 percent.A person forms his first impressions in 2.6 seconds from the moment his eyes meet a specific spot on a page. So it takes close to this time for the user to decide whether to continue with the course or not. Which means how the electronic learning tool appeals to the user becomes a very important aspect to focus on not only while the designers design the tool, but also while the users choose the tool so designed. For example, for a class of 6 year olds, use of bright colors and cartoon designs maybe more effective while for a corporate training or induction, use of more subtle colors and a professional design may be more effective and appealing.
Emotions are pivotal to attention, perception, memory, and problem solving. Emotional connection to the content, tool or the medium will help the learner absorb the concept more quickly than when there is no connection between the learner and the subject. The developer must understand this in order to create a design that will facilitate the learner to connect emotionally or mentally to the subject that is being focused on through the tool.
Change alone is permanent in the world of technology. Everyday there is a new software or tool to design or code to communicate through. The best way to create great E-Learning tools is to welcome technological developments and find ways to accommodate them in various instruction modules. The user must also be willing to accept technological advancements to be able to accept and understand E-Learning and technology as an educational tool. Keeping up-to-date on technological innovation is important for both developers and users in the sense that the former will be able to create more cutting edge modules while the latter will be able to choose the most advanced design or tool.
It is important for both developers and users to understand that the end goal here is to learn or acquire knowledge. It is one thing to embrace innovation and another to be on a perpetual hunt for new cool learning tools. It is important to realize that it’s not just about using cool tools and aids to learn but to actually use them to learn. So if the subject/training requires a simpler tool or design, then a simpler module must be chosen over choosing complex, distracting and expensive design.
E-Learning is a comparatively new concept which can be a little hard for a few to accept or understand its use and effectiveness. But by keeping the above points in mind, one will be able to not only understand the effectiveness of E-Learning and that it can occur in or out of the classroom but that it can be self-paced learning or may be instructor-led learning and is suited for distance learning and in conjunction with face-to-face teaching. Educational technology is now used by learners and educators in homes, businesses, and other settings but it is very important to choose the right combination of tools to be able to effectively deliver the intended content to the intended learners.
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