Electronic learning, better known as e-learning, is growing in popularity Worldwide including in South Africa and it can especially be useful where a lack of resources is a major challenge for a number of reasons.
What is E-learning?
E-learning refers to the use of electronic media and information and communication technologies (ICT) in education. E-learning is broadly inclusive of all forms of educational technology in learning and teaching.
E-learning includes numerous types of media that deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video, and includes technology applications and processes such as audio or video tape, satellite TV, CD-ROM, and computer-based learning, as well as web-based learning. Information and communication systems, whether free-standing or based on either local networks or the Internet in networked learning, underly many e-learning processes.
E-learning is suited to distance learning and flexible learning, but it can also be used in conjunction with face-to-face teaching, in which case the term blended learning is commonly used.
What are the Benefits of E-learning?
e-Learning has substantial benefits and offers unique opportunities for people who might otherwise have limited access to education and training. It incorporates innovative and creative approaches to instruction and provides unprecedented access to resources and information.
- e-Learning is more cost effective. While the initial cost of developing an eLearning course can be significantly higher than that of traditional training this expense is more than offset by the savings in implementation and delivery of the course. This is especially true when the course is to be delivered to a large and geographically diverse student body.
- e-Learning is student centered. The learner is the core of any e-Learning system. Materials and activities are designed with the needs and interests of the learner in mind. Students assume control of their learning experience and use it to suit their own specific needs.
- e-Learning is self-directed and self-paced. Learners control the amount of time they spend on any particular topic. This allows learners to spend additional time on difficult items before moving on or to skip material they already understand. This “individualized” approach usually allows learners to complete their education and training faster than in traditional courses.
- e-Learning is interactive and hands-on. The use of a variety of multimedia in e-Learning increases student involvement and reinforces the learning experience. This leads to increased retention and a stronger grasp of the subject at hand.
- e-Learning is flexible. Learning can take place anytime and anywhere, as long as the necessary equipment is accessible. The logistics and expense of face-to-face education and training can be extremely limiting when students are separated by distance. e-Learning also allows physically or otherwise challenged students to more fully participate.
- e-Learning provides consistent and effective training. All of the target learners can participate simultaneously and receive the same information, reducing the variability introduced through multiple sessions in different locations.
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