Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenges to e-learning & possible avenues to overcome them

Even though e-Learning is one of the most startling utilizations of the developments in electronic & web world, it has its share of constraints. We have thus far written only about the pros of the trends in e-learning.

This post would focus on the challenges associated with the implementation of e-learning solutions in institutional and organizational training spaces and also a glimpse on the opportunities to overcome these challenges.

1.Investment: Not unlike other technology-based solutions, the realization of a typical e-learning package is not a cake-walk as it requires a good amount of investment in terms of money and time. One of the universal problems with e-learning courses is that its development and maintenance take a major chunk of the time. So, in terms of the initial time required to be invested, e-learning is quite far (takes more time) from traditional learning courses. But the good news is that, once the initial investment is made, the pattern that gets followed to train batches of pupils would be the same. So overcoming the initial hurdle would help in making e-learning a better alternative to class room training if the set of individuals to be trained come in many number of batches. Investment in terms of money is another aspect. There are a lot of e-learning solution and software providers these days but they are as expensive as they are tech-savvy.

Avenues for solution: On a closer look, the initial investment on the package and infrastructure is more. But the variable costs associated with staffers in traditional learning courses are negated here. So in terms of money and time, e-learning might lose the short-term battle to traditional learning but it would win the long-term war. So, analysing the longevity requirement of the training, a choice between traditional and e-learning can be made - with e-learning befitting long-term programmes.

2.Transition to e-learning: Instructors are in the need to restructure their book-based courses to suit online learning mode as much of their works in the original version would have been designed to be effective for a traditional classroom setup. Extensive research and regular reviews of the courses is expected of them to ensure compliance with technology-enabled learning standards. The challenges balloon if the instructor is not an expert /tech savvy; i.e., it requires more time to acquire the essential understanding to carry out the restructuring successfully.

Avenues for solution: e-learning instructors are to be provided effective training courses on how to create e-learning courses effectively so that they can work more efficiently. Also an increased interaction with students in terms of feedback, demands through emails can be encouraged. An increased correspondence with students makes things more difficult. Placing a limit on the number of students in an online class is a measure that could be looked at to resolve this problem.

3.Changes to Content : As much of the e-learning based trainings focus on subjects of technology, the frequent updates in technology calls for a frequent revamp of the courses too.

Avenues for solution: But, e-learning is a blessing in disguise as updating it online one time in a server and rendering it to different client systems is an easy process compared to the cumbersome process of changing the content in a new versioned book and distributing it across the learners. So, in this area too, e-learning scores over its classroom counterpart.

With this note, it is clear that the bottlenecks of e-learning are not huge threats as they come along with avenues that provide solutions. In a future post, we would explain how some of these avenues are being  experimented with in today's world and how successful they are turning out to be.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

e-Learning's making NEWS & not for no reason!

“Pearson gets hold of Tutorvista (a Bangalore based online education firm)” read the headlines of today’s Economic Times. The company was started in 2005 and in 5 years time its value has increased to more than Rs 577 crores. This takeover is a clear indication that the online education system in India has grown huge and has enormous potential which the foreign investors and venture capitalists are willing to tap. This huge market has made it essential for us to understand the potential of e-learning solutions.

The e-based learning system was pioneered by Stanford University during the 1960s. The early e-learning systems had replicated the autocratic teaching styles of the professors. From this we have come a long way where e-learning is not just a method of teaching but that of knowledge sharing.

e-based learning systems started as an integration of computers into classroom teaching environment. The use of presentations and online search to more thoroughly understand the subjects was very innovative and the whole system blended so well into the traditional classroom education. Time constraints and accessibility to classrooms which had computers were persistent problems then. Information technology provided the solution by creating a model of e-learning where there was no need for a physical classroom to be present. Students get study material, presentations, and video lectures online and all that is required is just an internet connection. The various e-learning tools created by companies also include examinations to test our competency in the subjects and have given rise is what is called as Virtual classrooms.

e-learning, though naturally suited to distance education, has evolved to become interface where knowledge is shared. The online streaming of educational videos captures not just the theory but several different approaches to handle the subject. Blended classrooms, where both the physical tutor and online tools are used to teach, have become commonplace. The actual challenge in e-learning is to make the Virtual learning environment as interactive as possible.

So has e-learning revolutionised the distance education (correspondence) courses? What is the impact of e-learning in India? How big is e-learning market in India and what are the reasons for its growth? Follow our blog for answers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let the learning begin!

The only way of gaining knowledge through education involved hours of grueling travel, non-adherent schedules, fear of biased grading etc. but now exists an option that is devoid of these troubles - The concept of e-learning.
Web based learning exploits the pitfalls of the traditional classroom approach to training. The concept of e-Learning has gained ground over the past decade and it encompasses distance learning, learning online & conference based tutorials. A lot of organizations have moved from providing classroom based training to its employees to exclusive e-learning packages which reduces the complexity of an otherwise cumbersome process.Besides that, it also annihilates the need for dedicated trainers thus making e-learning a cost effective approach.

The development in Internet and multimedia technologies have further enhanced web-based learning as video streaming and conferencing have become a lot less complex than they were a few years ago.Along with the advancements in e-learning,there have also been issues related to effectiveness and monitorability of this approach of training. It is this area of e-learning where the focus is on and some of the emerging trends such as Podcasting,Screencasting have been working on addressing these issues. Another approach to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of e-learning has been the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which , in integration with Management Information System creates a Managed Learning Environment. The idea in this concept is to replicate and simulate classroom environments in e-learning packages by blending computer-based presentations with interactive two-way presentation.

Our plan of study will involve the analysis of latest developments in e-learning and leveraging e-learning to meet the ever increasing demand for advancements in technology.