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E-learning: Meaning | Nature and its Characteristics

E-learning: Meaning | Nature and its Characteristics

What is E-Learning?

E-Learning is all about intelligent learning and that which also makes the student interact with the course content. The teacher could also evaluate and conduct the class virtually on the internet. The best part of e-learning is that it replaces the traditional classroom based teaching where probably the course content and the student hardly interact and spend ample time trying to understand the lesson.

E-learning course material is more entertaining and engages the student for a longer span of time. Nowadays, e-learning course content is embedded into games which has gained ample of momentum and seems to leverage the future social learning in the virtual world. Plenty of tools have also made creating and designing e-learning course content easier. Raptivity is one such easy to use, world-class rapid interactivity builder mainly used by educators around the world to create high quality learning interactions such as learning games, simulations, virtual worlds and more.

Nature of e-learning

  1. E-learning is commonly referred to the intentional use of networked information and communications technology in teaching and learning. A number of other terms are also used to describe this mode of teaching and learning.
  2. They include online-learning, virtual learning, distributed learning, network and web-based learning. Fundamentally, they all refer to educational processes that utilize information and communications technology to mediate asynchronous as well as synchronous learning and teaching activities. On closer scrutiny, however, it will be clear that these labels refer to slightly different educational processes and as such they cannot be used synonymously with the term e-learning.
  3. The term e-learning comprises a lot more than online-learning, virtual learning, distributed learning, networked or web-based learning. As the letter “e” in e-learning stands for the word “electronic”, e-learning would incorporate all educational activities that are carried out by individuals or groups working online or offline, and synchronously or asynchronously via networked or stand alone computers and other electronic devices.

Characteristics of e-learning

These are the 7 important characteristics of modern learners e-Learning professionals should have in mind when designing eLearning courses for that particular audience.

  1. Easily distracted- Modern learners have a lot on their proverbial plates. They are thinking about any number of things at one given time, making it easy to get distracted when they are trying to complete an online course. As e-Learning professionals, this can present quite a challenge. However, we can get over this trait hurdle by creating eLearning courses that engage right from the start and hold it all throughout. Ask compelling questions that make them reflect upon the topic. Tell an emotional story that pulls at their heart strings or gets them fascinated about the subject matter. Integrate image and videos that evoke specific feelings, as well as characters with whom they can relate.
  2. Social learners- Without a doubt, modern learners are more social than any previous generation. They spend a good portion of their day on social media networks, catching up with friends and reaching out to business contacts. In fact, in many respects, social networking has taken the place of face-to-face communication. Modern learners are more likely to post on a Facebook page or respond to a tweet than make a call. This means that eLearning experiences must be collaborative and social. To cater to your modern learning audience, you have to include online group projects and social learning online experiences via project management platforms and social media sites to adapt to the way students will learn.
  3. Crave constant knowledge- This generation of learners demands information anytime and anywhere. If they want to learn more about a topic, they simply hop on their mobile or tablets and find out everything they need to know to satisfy their curiosity. While previous generations had to venture to the nearest library to expand their knowledge, now knowledge is always at the modern learners’ fingertips. In terms of eLearning, we can quench this constant craving for knowledge by giving them supplemental eLearning resources that they can explore on their own. We can provide them with tutorials, walk through that help them in their “moment of need”.
  4. Always on-the-go- Your eLearning course must be mobile-friendly. Your learners aren’t going to have the time to sit at home on their PCs and complete online modules on a regular basis, which means that you have to give them learning wherever they are. You can achieve this by choosing a Learning Management System that features a responsive design and automatically detects the learner’s device and offers the optimal display. However, you must also ensure that you don’t overload your learners by presenting too much information at once. Make it easily digestible by offering short bursts of information on a regular basis, such as five minute modules that each covers a specific sub-topic.
  5. Independent- Though they thrive in social learning environments, modern learners are also fiercely independent. They aren’t afraid to set out on their own to find the knowledge they need to achieve their goals, even if that means devoting all of their free time to the endeavour. If they aren’t finding the information they are looking for in their online course, then they will simply look elsewhere. They also search for learning experiences that give them control over the process, such as being able to choose when they complete the online modules and the nature of the eLearning activity. For example, some may gravitate toward multimedia-based online courses while others may prefer interactive scenarios. As a result, eLearning pros must design e-Learning courses that are customized for each learner by doing thorough audience research and providing many different types of eLearning activities.
  6. Impatient- The simple truth is that we live in a busy world where nobody really has the time or patience to sit through a lengthy eLearning course. However, modern learners are particularly impatient. They are so used to getting information at a moment’s notice that you have to grab their attention and manage time effectively, or you run the risk of disengaging them. They know that there is an abundance of information just waiting for them on the internet, so they won’t waste their time with an online course that doesn’t cater to their needs.
  7. Overworked- One of the most prevalent traits of modern learners is that they are overworked and overwhelmed. Many carry out a wide variety of job responsibilities, making it difficult to balance their home life with their careers. This means that they don’t have a great deal of energy or effort to devote to eLearning. They are also overwhelmed by the abundance of information that is online today. Give them time to take it all in and look for signs that your learners are actually absorbing the key ideas and able to retain them for future use.

While some modern learners may possess atypical characteristics, many will share these core traits. However, it’s always wise to carry out a detailed learner analysis before designing the e-Learning course, just to ensure that the needs of every individual are being considered.

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