For years now I have heard many discussions on the use of e-learning and its advantages and disadvantages. Some of the teachers engaging in these discussions have come up with many reasons why e-learning should not be part of a traditional classroom.
I have heard reasons such as e-learning will be the end of the traditional classroom as we know it, it is just another way to reduce jobs and cut funding. Other conversations focus on pedagogy and how or if this has ever been measured and if so how accurate these results are. Others felt that the quality of learning that occurs outside of a traditional classroom is somewhat inferior to the learning that might occur online or even in the workplace.
Others debated if students should be given control over their learning environment or should be allowed to choose when, how and what they studied.
Years seem to have gone by and some of the arguments are still the same; e-learning is still here and it doesn't look like it is going away anytime soon.
VET has come a long way since those early days and I think it is fair to say that e-learning has proven itself in many arenas.
Teachers have also moved on and many are now committed to incorporating e-learning into traditional learning environments.... we are calling this blended delivery.
Blended delivery gives us the ability to incorporate both forms of learning. Statistics indicate that is a successful model of implementation, vastly improving retention rates of students and providing them with greater access to training and increased choice in how and when they study.
It is true that some subjects/topics produce better results if delivered in a face to face(traditional) learning environment. Some of the advantages to the learner include the opportunity to discuss learning content with their peers and facilitator, as well as providing opportunities to seek immediate feedback from their facilitor.
Students who are not technology savvy can ask questions of their faciltiator rather than relying on limited typing skills to ask their questions.
It can also be said that blended learning brings many advantages to the learner including:
Time to reflect, practice and study at a time and pace convenient to the learner.
Greater control of when they study and what they study.
Online forms of learning are often aligned to the technologies students have available (eg: facebook, mobile learning, mobile blogging, emails, forums, chat rooms)and are familiar with closely aligning the learning experience to that of everyday life.
The Internet offers an enormous volume of information. If incorporated into e-learning activities the students have a larger resource to utlise in terms of research and trend identification.
Many of the barriers faced in distance programs are broken down when offered online or in blended formats, making this an appealing option for many students.
This discussion has only just begun, please feel free to keep this discussion going by contributing your thoughts on e-learning and sharing your experiences with us.