Chalk & Talk puts the traditional professors at their ease. They can communicate easily at least they can say what they want to say. Whereas, E-learning allows the teaching objectives to be made very clear and to be consistently clarified by the student, step by step, according to the needs of that student.E-learning allows students to learn using approaches more aligned to the learners own preference. They can use more or less visual, auditory or even textural techniques, according to how the student knows he or she learns best, not according to the way the professor wants to deliver the material. The testing of understanding and comprehension can be done when the student is ready, not when the system says you have to. In short, E-learning makes the Learner, not the teacher, the most important person in the equation.
We have to admit to coming to this realisation rather slowly, and it has only been over the last couple of years that the technology has advanced to such an extent that my original objections similar to those of my professor friend have been overcome.
Todays E-learning technology does allow for a far easier connection to be made between student and teacher. But it also allows for far easier communication between fellow students on the course. The sharing of ideas and materials is so easily achieved by technology that the really good E-learning courses build this into every module. It is no longer the case of dont let your neighbour see what you are doing. Rather the opposite. The best courses build on collective learning opportunities so that ideas can be advanced, work can be checked and new approaches generated, in real time. In fact all of this mirrors far more closely the way in which international corporations want their teams of executives to work. They want to step away from silo mentalities.
One leading Japanese manufacturer was exceptionally proud of the fact that a significant engineering breakthrough in one division was communicated within minutes to fellow engineers in the company working in another division on another product range altogether. It was in the DNA of the company to work like this and much of that DNA was entrenched by the workforce E-learning together.
I believe that E-learning is not only going to become the dominant way university degrees are awarded in the future; it is going to be the way post-university learning in business is going to advance. Most major corporations have continuous learning programmes for their executives because otherwise they will fall behind. Once such companies can see that learning-shared is advantage-gained many more such programmes will unfold and many more executives will not just rest on the laurels of their classroom based MBAs.
At the other end in schools E-Learning can play its part too. Teachers are beginning to see that it is possible to FLIP the school day. Instead of learning lessons in the classroom during the day and doing projects out of school hours to consolidate the learning, E-Learning allows the children to use the voluminous internet resources to gather the information in the evening, and then do the learning through discussion in the classroom during the day.
It is interesting to note that the term distance learning is rapidly becoming old-hat. Because E-learning is not at a distance; in fact it is really close up. As close as your computer screen or even closer your Smart Phone. Bill Gates once famously said that technology was everything invented after you were 17-years-old. For the modern learner, technology is not distant or close; it is just how things happen. In fact for the young person today, NOT to use technology in learning would be excessively strange.
Add to all of this the economic advantages of using the E-learning strategies. Modular programmes, each of which is capable of being priced and paid for according to your budget, will very shortly bring some of the top university courses from across the world into the financial range of countless Indian students.
It is a revolution about to happen. The new age teaching and learning is practically with us.
By David Boddy,Principal Partner, Anglo Schools International Services (ASIS)