The world today is rapidly progressing on the road to utilization, with the ever increasing number of technical applications that are used to communicate and pass on knowledge. In a traditional classroom, knowledge acquisition is limited to the information the instructor has and that which they can access. However, connecting students to the outside world enhances their ability to construct new knowledge.

E-learning is an umbrella term that is used to describe a wide variety of electronic ways that enable access to education, and the process in itself. These include: virtual classrooms, web-based learning, computer-based learning, digital collaboration, video and audio recordings, interactive TV and many more. Thus, e-learning is suited to flexible learning methods and distance learning. E-learning can however be coupled with face to face instruction, which is called blended learning.

History of E-learning 

E-learning has come a long way since its introduction in the 1990s.The history of the concept can be traced back to the days of distant learning on radio programs in the 1920s. PLATO, the first computer-based education tool, introduced by Professor Don Bitzer in 1960, became an important milestone in the world of e-learning. Its fundamental purpose was to amplify and enhance student literacy. 

Features of E-Learning 

1. Association of Diverse Learning Tools 

Mixed learning tools enable the students to widen their horizons. E-learning platforms typically use combined online assets to their advantage. It comprises a number of instruments that are made accessible to the students and teachers. 

2. Online Course Listings

A Learning Management System (LMS) constitutes proper schedules and lists of the courses that they have to offer. The users can easily jump to the course, get a glimpse and enlist just by scrolling through the lists or catalogs. 

3. User Friendly Interface 

To kill the monotony of the usual learning, e-learning apps and website have the opportunity to make learning more inclusive and interactive through appealing design, bold aesthetics and engaging interfaces. 

Evolution of E-Learning

The last decade transformed e-learning radically. In the early days, courses offered for e-learning were typically custom created, by groups of programmers who were aided by software creating tools. Advancement in technology led to the creation of worldwide web, making the creation of e-learning courses a simpler task, that anyone without programming knowledge could complete.

Changes in technology brought new hardware like portable computers, which made it very easy for learners to access course material online. Today, many people are using tablets and smart-phones for online classes and web seminars or webinars.

Types of E-Learning

E-Learning can be classified by the ways in which it is shared from the instructor, to the student. An informal distribution form of e-learning is one in which the students are trusted to view the available course material, and are not tracked or tested, for completion.

In the formal distribution form of e-learning, instructors usually keep track and make recordings of learner progress and results. Most educational institutions that offer certifications for students have specific systems and standards for gauging the scores for students.

Learning Management Systems or LMS is used for tracking scores and to ensure that the students’ standards for each course are maintained. They are platforms that enable users to create good online courses; and also the students to be able to access these courses. These platforms are of different types and they have different capabilities. Some are free while others are offered at a fee.

Elements of E-Learning

When creating an online course, there are a number of criterion to be met. Setting a list of criterion ensures that students benefit fully from the course they signed up for.
Some common elements of e-Learning are as follows:

  1. The role played by the teacher/instructor is vital. He/she is necessary to offer necessary feedback to students. He/she is also sometimes responsible for keeping students’ progress or scores.
  2. A well-organized Learning Management System is necessary. It should be easily navigable by both the student and the instructor.
  3. The learning material is the key feature in e-learning. Usually, course material is formatted in a way that is simple and easily accessible for students.
  4. Communication is important for learning. To be able to access online coursework from the instructor, students have to use one or more of the many modes of communication or delivery methods.

There is a myriad of devices today that allow teachers and learners to share knowledge. The trainer connects to viewers or listeners interactively, using multimedia, voice communications, videos (live or prerecorded), presentations, product demonstrations and text chats, mostly over the internet.

Importance of E-Learning 

E-learning was introduced to promote student literacy. With the development of technology and advent of a variety of websites and apps that support e-learning, the users have been empowered to get basic education and skills. 

E-learning has aggregated all the  tutors, experts, learners and practitioners into a single place. The audio visual technologies have deducted the monotonous methods of teaching. 

How Does Online Learning Work? 

Online learning can be practiced through various platforms such as Skillshare and Google Classroom. A compact course catalog is available for the users to choose whatever course they would prefer. A pre-determined learning module is laid out by the tutors for each course. The user simply has to sign up and complete the course. 

Advantages of E-Learning

E-learning platforms possess tech-savvy and smart tools for the users to gain access to top notch content and knowledge. 

1. Multimedia Tools

From graphics to engrossing video clips, the e-learning process makes studying compelling. Instead of going through mundane lessons, the e-learning platforms have high-tech multimedia tools to engage with the users. 

2. Sensory Engagement 

E-learning tools and features increase the sensory engagement of the users. The learning methods require the learners to actively use their ears, eyes and hands while taking a lesson. This engagement makes the user involved in the particular assignment. 

3. More Customization

Each individual has a different set of skills. The pace and the power of retention is contrasting in every user. E-learning platforms acknowledge this fact and thus offer an individual experience for every user. 

4. Course Correction 

The e-learning platforms provide immediate feedback to the students. The users are corrected at once and are directed towards the right answer. The first hand feedback clears the queries of the users. 

5. Speed 

Instead of wasting time,the e-learning users can speed up the learning process.If the users already have the required knowledge of the subject, they can test their knowledge through mock tests and thus save time and resources. 

6. Learner Satisfaction 

Result boards, certificates and metrics provided by e-learning to its users boosts up the confidence of the users. It satisfies the users as they get to see the fruit of their labor. 

7. Data and Analytics 

With the help of data and analytics, the user responses can be checked. The Learning Management system can learn from the responses of the users and carry out the necessary changes.

8. Standardization 

The e-learning system makes its content and material user friendly to engage the user. Shaping learning methods as per the user’s need makes it easier for the user to absorb and retain better. 

9. Frequent Assignments 

There are plenty of mock tests, quizzes and assignments on each e-learning platform for the users to put their knowledge to test. These assignments not only help the user to use their knowledge but it also boosts their confidence. 

10. Eco friendly and Maintainable 

E-learning tools do not waste resources and instead are good for the environment. These tools use less energy and carry out better results. 

11. Scalability 

The e-learning system reflects the ability to allow a number of users to connect from all over the globe. It manages and organizes the users into various branches without delays. 

Disadvantages of E-Learning 

While there is always another side to the coin, e-learning too has some disadvantages to itself. 

1. Social Isolation 

The users of the e-learning platforms often learn to shy away from the real world. Sitting in their personal space, the users resist going out in outer spaces. They isolate themselves from society and thus find themselves alone.

2. Lack of Technological Literacy 

Not everyone has access to technology and resources. For those who have access may not know how to operate. A large section of the society is still unable to afford or gain access to the resources and devices required for the e-learning process.

3. Lack of Time Management Skills 

The users of the e-learning platforms are often observed to procrastinate. The users toss aside their lessons for the next day because they have the alternative to access the learning material at any time they prefer. The users hence develop poor time management skills. 

In a fast-pacing, technology-oriented world of today, people are adopting technology and finding new ways to integrate it in support of education. E-learning is leading the way, redefining ways in which knowledge is acquired.

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