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What is eLearning and why should I use it?

It’s 2021, and by now you’ve probably heard of the term ‘eLearning’ (also known as online learning or web-based learning). eLearning is currently one of the fastest growing industries, and it’s only going to continue growing. But what is eLearning? Why is it gaining popularity so quickly? And should you jump on the eLearning bandwagon? This article will answer all the questions you may have about eLearning. 

If you’re interested in learning more about different teaching methods, including hybrid learning, don’t forget to look at our blog

What is eLearning?

While the origins of eLearning took place solely within an LMS (learning management system), eLearning in 2021 is dynamic and innovative. Basically, eLearning can be defined as being educated or trained on any digital device. This includes:

  • Watching educational videos
  • Reading articles online
  • Taking an online quiz
  • Playing an educational online game 
  • Watching live lectures
  • Participating in videoconferencing 
  • Taking online courses

An important thing to understand about eLearning is that eLearning is not the traditional educational method transferred to an online format. eLearning is an entirely new way of learning. Additionally, eLearning supports the different types of learners in a way that traditional teaching methods do not.

The origins of eLearning

The concept of eLearning has been around since 1999, when Elliott Masie mentioned in a speech at the TechLearn Conference, “eLearning is the use of network technology to design, deliver, select, administer and extend learning.” Since then, eLearning has evolved with the technological breakthroughs we’ve witnessed over the past twenty years. Mobile phones transformed into smartphones, allowing people to use their mobile phones not only for making calls, but for browsing the internet, instant messaging with friends, and performing the many tasks that once required a physical, in-person experience. This includes education.

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What are the advantages of eLearning?

The revolutionary aspect of eLearning is in its inclusion of all learners. Traditional teaching methods place emphasis on aural and linguistic learners, delivering lessons mainly through lectures and written tasks. But eLearning provides a more holistic approach, as there are many different types of educational tools available for students to use.

Self-paced learning

When addressing a classroom, teachers generally move at a pace that suits the majority of students. This means that the students who already understand the material, or alternatively, need more explanation, don’t get as much out of the class as other students. eLearning fixes this problem, as it allows students to set their own pace. Lectures can be paused, rewound and re-watched. Slideshow notes can be saved, rather than hastily written in a live lecture. Studies show that self-paced learning reduces students’ stress levels,  increases self-satisfaction, and leads to higher levels of engagement.

eLearning is student-centered

Traditional teaching methods place emphasis on the teacher’s role and view students as a single entity rather than a group of individuals. On the other hand, eLearning is based on student-centered learning (SCL). eLearning is allows students to make the following decisions about their education: 

  • Students can study when it most suits them, rather than having to attend classes at specific times
  • Students can study at their own pace, allowing a greater chance of actually learning the material 

eLearning supports modern learners

In recent years, it has come to be accepted that there are several learning styles, not just one. Traditional teaching methods assume that most students are auditory learners (those that learn best through lectures and speeches). However, there are many more categories of learners, including: 

  • Visual learners
  • Linguistic learners
  • Kinesthetic learners
  • Logical learners
  • Interpersonal learners
  • Intrapersonal (solitary) learners 

How can each type of learner benefit from eLearning?

eLearning uses a variety of platforms and formats of learning which focus on accommodating the different types of learners. 

  • Visual learners benefit from watching animated educational videos, images and diagrams. These can more easily be incorporated into eLearning courses as teachers have the ability to add visual information to new or existing lectures, slideshows or other learning materials
  • Linguistic learners exercise their affinity with words by reading articles and course materials, writing assignments, as well as discussing topics online with students and teachers
  • Kinesthetic learners can enjoy a sensory experience through playing interactive games (known as gamification), participating in interactive presentations, and experiencing virtual reality environments and simulations
  • Logical learners can challenge themselves by playing games involving logic and mathematics, and will benefit from structured and goal-oriented activities
  • Interpersonal learners will not feel isolated from their classmates in an eLearning environment as eLearning supports social interaction through group assignments, built-in instant messaging in the LMS, online forums, and the use of videoconferencing software like Zoom 
  • Intrapersonal learners will benefit from the individualized aspect of eLearning and the option to choose to interact with their peers or not

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