The students in rural India aren't very much exposed to computers, web and technologies related to that. So, that would be the major challenge. But there have been initiatives to make them educated and exposed to the same. Also, course contents are being delivered through DVDs to them which they are familiar to at a better extent.
2) How can the e-learning process be made more interactive?Thanks to the WEB 2.0 architecture, there are a lot of ways by which knowledge sharing on the web has become interctive. Collaborative Learning has been growing in stature and this popularity is due to interactive networking, blogging, bookmarking & chat features that come up with e-learning platforms.
3) What can be the role of outsourcing in the e-learning industry?
The content developers of the e-learning system can focus on both the backend (content) and the frontend (the rendition of content online) or on the backend alone. In the latter case, the frontend technology that renders the e-learning content available for users can be outsourced and a majority of firms are adopting this practice. When enquired why, Balaraju, from btechguru says "We earlier used student volunteers to help us with frontend development; But due to non-adherance of deadlines, carelessness etc. it didn't happen the way we wanted it to happen; Resorting to outsourcing has helped things get more professional"
4) Give some examples of successful e-learning platforms?There are abundant platforms that support e-learning. To list a few,
Moodle.org: Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites.
thelearningmanager.com: The Learning Manager (TLM) provides tools for development, delivery, reporting, and management of training and learning materials. It uses a central object repository to facilitate the creation, storage, and reuse of learning content. Based on a modular approach, TLM allows clients to expand and tailor functionality based on their current and changing needs. The Learning Manager users can build the application that matches their organization's requirements.
Other such popular platforms for e-learning are:
btechguru.com, webct.com, ecollege.com. Most of these adopt the LMS as the basic e-learning model.
A popular video-based platform that offers lectures online is the KHAN ACADEMY video channel.
A link to the video channel of Khan Academy is as follows:
A sample video on a matrix course in linear algebra:
5) Should e-learning be used only as a supplement to traditional classroom learning or should it replace completely?It can either supplement/complement class room training or it can replace classroom training. For example, in the Infosys case we had presented, the e-learning model was supported a traditional classroom atmosphere by adding robustness and efficiency to the way classes are handled; There are also ways by which instructor led training can be offered through virtual classrooms Eg: NPTEL lectures offered by IIT faculty.
6) In a physical classroom, doubts can be cleared instantly. In e-learning, how is this possible?This seemed to be a bottleneck during the initial days but no longer remains one. There are chat-enabled training, conference-initiated training programmes where doubts can be clarified instantaneously and interactive coursewares are also available with FAQs at the end of each module.
7) Are there any technical roadblocks to the healthy growth of e-learning?
Data theft, initial cost of investment of creating an enterprise-ready content delivery platform, limited availability of foolproof methods of evaluation etc. are some of the technical challenges faced by a majority of e-learning service providers. Data theft can be reduced to a considerable extent through technologies such as 'print2flash' etc. The methods of evaluation are now getting better with the support of camera based monitoring in test centres etc.
8) Is online the only way of evaluation in e-learning?As stated earlier, e-learning can supplement classroom based learning and in such cases, the evaluation based on the learning offered can be made online/offline through the paper-pen based test format. For tests that have gone online, different modes of evaluation are available. These include MCQ tests, interactive cases/quizzes on concepts learnt, evaluation of projects through Blogs & sites dedicated for such projects etc.