eLearning (or e-learning) uses the latest of electronic educational technology to enhance learning and teaching experiences. Conceptually, e-learning is a computer-based, internet-based virtual learning environment.
Education and practical skills development are critical for job creation. Despite the need for more and more people to be trained, schools and universities are still using the same methods as they have for 100s of years.
The current situation
Professors, teachers or training specialists stand in front of classrooms and give lectures to students, who are expected to absorb it all and then apply their knowledge to writing papers and taking tests. A qualified, well-paid presenter gives the same course over and over, sometime to only a handful of learners. Courses start only at certain times of the year, and students progress at an equal speed, if not an equal level. At the end of the set period, they need know as little as half the curriculum to be qualified as "proficient".
Over the past several decades, the cost of education has risen faster than any other industry sector, including healthcare. Today, a quality traditional education is priced out of the reach of most people. Few companies offer "on-the-job" training - they require candidates to have skills even for entry-level positions, and to be efficient and productive from Day 1.
An alternative to "time-based training" is "competency-based training, a model of education in which credits are awarded based on the demonstration of content mastery, rather than on "time spent in class". The dominant model is a self-paced, online program in which students work through learning materials on their own and then take online assessments. When they have passed the assessments, and thus demonstrated their mastery of the concepts, they move on to the next set of competencies.
The advantage of competency-based training over traditional methods are:
- It is flexible - students learn on their own schedule and at their own pace allowing them to adjust for work and family commitments.
- It is affordable - programs are considerably less expensive because students don’t attend formal classes, and trainers prepare material once for long-term use.
- It is personalized to the student's proficiency level, interests, time available and personal motivation
- It is transparent - learning content, questions and feedback are tailored to the student and the subject by experts in the field
Start your own eLearning business
As an alternative to traditional classroom course work, eLearning is becoming increasingly popular. It can allow students to learn and study at times that are easy to fit into their schedule while also permitting teachers to focus on their curriculum in a fun, new way.
eLearning courses, and Online Educational Institutions could be aimed at learners of every age, in any field of study. There is a need for "booster" courses for primary and high school children in most school subjects as well as adult education in subject-specific areas from cooking and gardening, to programming and business management.
eLearning can also supplement the services offered by an existing school or education institution by providing a richer student experience, offering supplementary or advanced courses for individual students, assisting poorly performing students or taking on additional learners beyond the capacity of its current classrooms and premises.
The e-learning market has many opportunities to offer to the entrepreneurial, the educated and experienced individuals. This is still a market that is growing, despite the fact that the training budgets in many sectors are in decline. The modern learner is demanding new genres of learning, and e-learning in all its associated genres (that’s mobile learning, serious gaming, social learning and simulation) is where the demand is.
Research undertaken by Learning Light indicates a market that is still with momentum, a market that is exploiting the latest technologies and devices to deliver learning. Crucially this is a market that has not become dominated by a few large players, and it is wide open to innovation.
The barriers to entry are few – the price of the technology needed to become a successful e-learning business has declined greatly in the last 5 years.
How to manage your online school
InterComm South Africa installs and configures Moodle, a Learning Management System that allows you to manage your eLearning business.
The software includes functionality for publishing rich-media course material, interacting with students online, setting up and monitoring assignments and assessments, tracking each students progress right through to reporting and class administration.
Putting your corporate training online
For a company looking to train its employees on new protocols or systems, eLearning is a way to get everyone together in a virtual learning environment, even if the employees are scattered across the country and live in different time zones. It also allows them to cover the same material at a time that’s convenient, making it a very flexible option. Some companies are even able to save money since it means they don’t have to send employees to different states and counties administering training materials.
Online training is easy to access from anywhere and allows your learners to pace themselves however they need. If you have employees across the country or globe, online training ensures that they’re all receiving the same information and learning the same policies. By using a learning management system to deliver your training, you are ensuring that your employees can access it whenever they need to, and do not need to delay until the "start of the course".
Online training via an on-demand learning management system gives subject matter experts tools that enable them to directly share information with peers. The use of rich media such as video, sound bites and interactive tools and games makes online learning for active and interesting.
Online training can also provide introverted employees a safe place to ask questions and engage with more experienced colleagues. As a result, tutors carry on numerous conversations with individual students via the system over the course of a semester.”
Immediate and Cost-Effective
Providing e-Learning to your staff is an immediate, cost-effective way of delivering training. It boosts productivity and engagement. Online training streamlines knowledge sharing, allowing a sales staff to get out there and sell instead of wasting time sitting through a training lecture. In addition, you cut down on the costs of speakers, travel and facilities required for in-person training.