5 Things you didn’t know about E-LearningBy Craig Weiss, E-Learning 24/71. The first fully online university was Jones International which appeared in 1993. In 1999, JonesInternational became the first online university in the U.S. to be accredited by the Higher LearningCommission.By 1999, other online universities were on the scene including the University of Phoenix and WesternGovernors University which was a consortium of small colleges in the rocky mountain area.E-Learning for the corporate side started to show up in the late 1990’s. The industry as a whole has stillnot reached the midpoint.E-Learning is synonymous with the terms online learning and virtual learning. While some assume thatit refers to electronic learning, it in fact does not. Rather the term has always been related to online.While there is no one person who has been credited with creating the term “e-learning”, at least oneperson, Jay Cross has been credited with using the term first on the internet.People refer to e-learning as informal learning.Other terms that fall under the e-learning umbrella are WBT – Web based training LMS: Learning management system LCMS: Learning content management system CMS: Content management System M-Learning: Mobile Learning S-Learning: Social Learning Mobile learning platforms Social learning platforms Web conferencing Assessment tools RCAT – Rapid content authoring tools Simulations Course authoring tools Virtual classrooms which uses web conferencing either with VOIP (voice over internet protocol) rather than text chat Webinars – an online seminar Online proctoring Virtual worlds – when used for learning purposes
2. WBT – as noted above is web based training. Typically WBT refers to a course, but it can also refer to web based training in general. Thus you can state the course is WBT and the learning management system is a form of WBT and it is under the umbrella of e-learning. There are two types of WBT: a. Synchronous b. AsynchronousSynchronous is similar to instructor led training, in that is will typically have the following: Instructor online. This person will present course materials, lessons, a syllabus, units, etc. via a learning platform. In some instances, the person will be online at the exact time the course is presented to the students. However, nowadays it refers to someone who only goes online to review posted materials by students, scores tests and posts additional questions. The manner in which a person takes courses is similar to the way a person would attend a face to face class. The students have a set time to complete a lesson, project or similar They can only see the lessons, projects at the time they are posted. If you think of it in terms of face to face instruction, the person attends a class, which covers a specific topic (s) which is based off a syllabus. The same occurs in synchronous based learning. The person can only go so far as tied to the syllabus. They will not be able to see all the assignments, lessons or whatever else is covered. A discussion board is necessary in a synchronous based platform. It is here where the instructor will post questions and where students are expected to respond. Some online instructors require their students to post comments and reviews on other students materials which are posted online in response to the assignment. Everything that is typical in a face to face instructor led training, including format is nearly the same in a synchronous based environment. Synchronous is synonymous with the term linear – whereas the person starts at point a, then goes to point b, then onto c and so on. They must follow a path. Synchronous is used in over 95% of the education/academia markets. It is rarely used in the corporate environment. An example of a synchronous based platform is Blackboard.
Asynchronous refers specifically to a WBT course The entire course is self-contained – all materials, information, scenarios are all within the course. If an assessment or test is required, then it appears in the course. Courses do not follow one set approach. Rather they can be one course or a course made up of modules – each containing a course. Courses are made up of the following: a. Chapters b. Pages c. Scenarios can exist in the pages or on their own d. Assessments can exist within the pages or on their own within the course e. Assessments are not required in any WBT and can be replaced with practices, scenarios or some other format f. A pre-assessment can be offered in prior to taking the asynchronous based course. The advantage of doing so would be to remove areas that the person has already mastered and show only the areas or pages that the learner needs to learn or needs to reinforce their learning. g. There is no set time for asynchronous because the person can go into the pages or chapters as often as they want or as many times as they want. However, an ideal time – assuming the person follows a linear path (since they have that option) is 50 minutes. h. The learner does not have to follow any set path as they would in a linear (the term in the industry is called non-linear) environment. They can jump right into point b, then jump over to point d and so on. i. They can go back to the page and view it as many times as they want and as often as they want. j. There is no syllabus k. Asynchronous can offer full interactivity, built in simulations, higher levels of engagement and adaptive learning, whereas synchronous based learning cannot.3. Online learning is growing in the education sector – significantlySome states have started 100% virtual high schools and have set requirements for students to take atleast one course online in order to graduate.
According to a study conducted by Sloan Consortium in 2011, 6.1 million students took at least oneonline class during the fall of 2010. The survey defined an online class as being at least 80% online.The study also found that the growth rate for online enrollments in higher education is 21% comparedto a 2% growth rate in on-site learning.Marketdata found reported a 385% increase in online enrollments compared to eight years ago.At the university level as costs rise for students and the ability to take courses regardless of yourlocation, there has been a significant rise in e-learning.A Sloan Consortium survey (in 2011 of 2,500 institutions), 75% reported that the economic downturnhas increased the demand for online programs and courses.Pew Research Center reported that 50% of college presidents from four year colleges and 75% from twoyear colleges predicated by 2021, that the majority of undergrad students will be taking an onlinecourse.Additionally, 77% of college presidents reported that their institutions offered online courses.From the K-12 sector the numbers for e-learning are equally impressive.Speak Up 2011 reported that over 40% of students believe that online classes are an essential part oftheir learning experience. The study also found that in 2010, 19% of middle school and 30% of highschool students took an online course.As noted earlier at the state level, new laws are being enacted requiring students to complete at leastone online class.One of these states is Florida, where students entering the 9th grade must take and pass at least oneonline class prior to graduation.This new law also states that by 2013, a full time K-12 virtual school will be able to offer a high schooldiploma, for students who take and complete online classes. With this approach, students will no longerneed to attend a brick and mortar high school; rather they can take all of their classes online andgraduate.The barrier for online classes are not a result of funding, even though as a whole states are cuttingbudgets. The Speak Up survey conducted in 2011 found that only 36% of administrators from schoolsbelieved this to be the case.4. E-Learning is a worldwide phenomenonWhile austerity continues to plague Europe and economic challenges are affecting budgets across theboard, there has been a commitment by countries to embrace e-learning.In the United Kingdom, the country founded the Open University, which is fully dedicated to onlinelearning. As of 2011, over 150,000 undergraduate and more than 30,000 graduate students were taking
online courses. An interesting note is that students regardless of where they are located in Europe canattend and take courses.Countries including Russia, Indonesia, Canada and Australia are equally committed to having coursesonline.China has for the past few years offered online courses, but in the form of e-books. In India, theuniversities are posting videos of all their lectures online.In Africa, Kenya continues to be the leader in e-learning. Equally impressive is the continent’scommitment to offering online learning. The African Virtual University so far has graduated more than40,000 students.The United States as a whole does not require states to provide online learning. The Department ofEducation offers a technology grant, where states can apply to receive funding. However, the states canuse the funds in any way they wish as long as it relates to technology.5. Why WBT (e-Learning) is more beneficial then ILT (face to face, instructor led training) Learner has complete control – Self Pace – They can go on their own pace and not the instructor’s pace to cover the content Learner can go into the course as often as they want, when they want and as many times as they want; you cannot achieve this with ILT, unless you bring back the instructor or pay to send the person to re-learn the information. ILT courses are offered at specific times which may not be optimal for the employee to attend or are unable to attend for various reasons. Increases comprehension and retention at a higher rate than ILT. Studies have shown that on the average a person retains 8-10% from an ILT class/seminar/workshop. If you had the ability to go into a course as often as you want, as many as times as you want, to learn and re-learn the information, your retention will increase – thus E-Learning is in the 90% rate. Learning styles can be achieved – all learning styles. If a course is built correctly, regardless of the information presented, you can meet all learning styles. Sadly, in ILT this often is not met. In ILT – scenario based learning in the corporate sector is rare, and yet it is easy to build and launch in WBT, and frankly increases comprehension, retention and synthesis (which you want). Learners are not afraid to make mistakes. In ILT regardless of the size of the class, learners are often afraid to ask questions for fear. Small group communication research has verified that this occurs even in the smallest group settings (4 or less).