The increased adoption, retention, and revenue that come as a result of eLearning and online training programs have made them a very promising prospect. The global eLearning market is projected to exceed $275 billion by 2022.
The popularity of eLearning and online training programs has skyrocketed over the past two years, with more educators and students understanding its impact on education. Distance learning for higher education has become integral to most institutions after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. General statistics as of April 2020 shows that 3,278 higher education institutions and 22.3 million students are impacted. Moreover, 98% of institutions had replaced their in-person classes with online education. The University of Washington was the first major university to close on March 7, moving classes and exams online for nearly 50,000 students. While some institutions have adopted this advanced method out of necessity due to distance learning requirements, many had previously incorporated it into their teaching style for its various advantages.
What Do eLearning and Online Training Programs Provide?
eLearning can be defined as the delivery of learning materials through various online resources and elements. The level of education ranges from simple certificate courses and language learning courses to postgraduate Ph.D. courses. A variety of multimedia elements are used in online training programs instead of traditional classroom components, which add to their innovation and efficiency. These include videos, images, audio recordings, documentaries, charts, graphics, animation, gamification tools, and web-links.
All the learners require is a digital device with an internet connection to access these resources remotely, and participate in live, interactive sessions and receive real-time feedback. The affordability, time efficiency, and flexibility provided by online learning have led people to abandon the one-dimensional practices of traditional education. Online learning platforms have evolved into more sophisticated and well-built Learning Management Systems (LMS) for functionality and support.
The Advantages of eLearning and Online Training Programs
The amount and frequency of educators converting to eLearning prove that there is a significant impact from this teaching method. Let’s dive into some of the greatest benefits that the learners, as well as the educators, receive.
1. Availability, Accessibility, and Affordability
Higher education is not always a cost-effective prospect for many students. Online education enables them to avail this privilege by providing them the best quality of education at a more reasonable cost. Similarly, foreign students can enroll in any university around the globe, giving them an equal chance to receive higher education without geographical limitations.
Depending on the course structure, the lectures could be pre-recorded, or the course materials can be uploaded onto online learning platforms to be accessed at any time. This allows the student to still attend the lecture if they are busy or unable to attend the live sessions. People with hectic work schedules or people who are travelling have the luxury of accessing these lectures, literature, discussions, or explanations at a time that is convenient for them.
2. Student-Centric Teaching Approaches
eLearning and online training programs can be less intimidating for some students, allowing them to show their true potential. Students with social anxiety or performance anxiety may struggle with speaking up or participating in a classroom filled with people. Online interaction can help them practice their social and communication skills.
Learners tend to get distracted and tired during online classes and so may not be able to absorb much of what they taught in the lecture. Because lectures and the course materials will be available after class, students can study at their own pace. Visual and audio effects, combined with other media tools, have proven to increase the amount of information students can retain after a lecture.
The educator can give a measure of control to the students in structuring the course, therefore keeping them motivated and eager to learn. This means considering incorporating different teaching elements in your lectures because not all learners are a visual learner or an auditory learner. Taking feedback will help you design your course to fit the student’s needs and create a more meaningful learning environment.
3. Innovate Instructor Experience
The accessibility of eLearning and online training programs allows instructors from different countries to convey their knowledge and experiences to eager students from any part of the world. In turn, the instructor also has an immersive learning experience through interaction with students from all kinds of backgrounds.
Online learning platforms have multiple tools for instructors to improve their teaching styles. They can use an array of multimedia elements to rethink and modernize their designs and concepts. It forces them to be more creative in determining the course learning outcomes, course objectives, and in strengthening their content.
Many educators are thrilled with the challenge of exploring new methods, learning a different teaching style, and facilitating their students in a new learning environment. They use their innovative skills to facilitate online training in different ways.
4. Honing Technological Skills
Most of the latest and advanced online learning platforms or LMS platforms require technical expertise and know-how for both the educator and the learner. For the students, it is necessary to know how to navigate the complicated systems and use them efficiently to ensure that they get the most out of the resources made available to them.
The teachers have to adapt a great deal to the modern world. This is because eLearning and online training programs require creating presentations, editing videos, adding animations, and many more media tools. Without these, the online course will not be engaging, nor will it create an effective learning environment.
While many people are not tech-friendly, eLearning and online training programs can help them practice using technology. As everything is gradually being digitized, it becomes even more important to understand computers and software. Also, there are online courses designed especially to teach you how to use and navigate online learning platforms.
5. Improvements in Learning Management Systems (LMS)
With the increasing popularity of eLearning and online training programs, software engineers began designing applications specific for effectively delivering online training and classes. The core purpose of this software is to allow teachers to quickly create course content, allow easy enrollment, and provide educators with real-time reports on the students’ progress. There are many kinds of platforms, i.e., cloud-based, open-source, commercial, and installation-based LMSs. The one you choose to go with will depend on your teaching needs and objectives. LMS platforms are constantly being improved and refined to improve the quality of learning and teaching, so the process of eLearning becomes easier, simpler, and more efficient.
6. Other Advantages
The availability of eLearning and online training programs means that there is no age barrier in enrollment. Everyone has access to the same knowledge from a wide range of course content and topics.
Virtual education is very cost-effective as there is no need to print reading materials, test papers, etc. Students and teachers save a lot of money on transports and all the costs that come with attending on-campus lectures. In turn, this also reduces the environmental impact of tree felling and the pollution from vehicles.
Limitations of Virtual Education
One may argue that the perceived challenges of eLearning and online training programs are far greater than the disadvantages themselves. This may be due to the fear factor that comes with trying a new method of teaching that is opposite to what teachers have been implementing for centuries.
Many educators feel intimidated by the complicated systems they have to get used to since they do not have any training in using an online format for teaching. Moreover, the computers and software required may be too expensive for some people to afford. Coupled with poor internet quality and various other technical issues that can arise, the online learning experience may not be effective for everyone.
Let us discuss some of the limitations faced by the learners and educators in virtual education.
1. Loss of Online Interaction as a Social Diversion
Social media networking and online chatting are the primary diversions for the young generation. In particular, when they are unable to leave their houses, the internet serves as a release and means of interaction with friends.
Since many students are not used to eLearning and online training programs in an online space, it may be difficult to adapt or take it seriously. The internet is no longer a diversion for them, and it has become an educational system, which may take away from their sense of freedom or relaxation.
2. Self-Discipline and Time Management
Perhaps, the greatest challenge that learners face is having to navigate the course for themselves. Not everyone has a dominant learning style, and some students may not respond as well to this method of teaching as others.
The lack of rules or guidelines causes learners to be forgetful, demotivated, or easily distracted by online video games or social networking websites. Therefore, some find it difficult to discipline themselves and manage their time effectively to study.
3. Unconventional Teaching Style
For a lot of educators, teaching is an immersive experience in which they like to get to know their students and interact with them face-to-face. Building relationships with students and interacting with them using electronic devices is more difficult. The level of engagement is not the same, and this may discourage a lot of educators from being truly invested in eLearning and online training programs.
Additionally, online course preparation is far more extensive and difficult to organize. They may have trouble navigating the LMS platforms and using the animation or gamification tools effectively. This will affect how they can convey their knowledge to the learner via the online lecture. You may learn how we can help with your online course development.
4. Lack of Sense of Community
In a classroom, the teacher’s physical presence affects student performance and how much they learn from their peers through discussions. This is limited in an online learning environment.
Student interaction is part of the professional development of a teacher. Being unable to see their expressions or gestures can reduce their ability to gauge the understanding of the students during the lecture. Therefore, they may not be too keen on eLearning and online training programs initially.
5. Effects on Health
Attending an online class can sometimes mean having to sit in front of a computer screen for hours on end, in addition to completing assignments and more. Health issues such as headaches, eyestrains, bad posture, and poor eyesight can develop.
Furthermore, people with visual or hearing disabilities may have trouble accessing virtual lectures if the right technological tools and software are not being used.
eLearning and online training programs are a modern method of teaching that everyone will have to adapt to sooner or later. While several issues and concerns can affect the performance of virtual education, the benefits ultimately outweigh the disadvantages.
Fortunately, there is a lot of room for improvement, and software engineers and online educators are constantly working to make the process smoother and easier for everyone. For example, incorporating social media tools into the LMS platform is one way to increase a sense of community among students.
Like any prototype, online education also requires regular revisions and improvements. User feedback can help identify areas that need to be worked on to create a productive online learning environment. Contact us to schedule a demo to learn about our online learning solution.