E-Learning

E-Learning

Name

Institution

E-Learning

Introduction

The improved transportation and communication systems have condensed the world into a village since people interact more often compared to the past decades (Brooke, 2016). Research, globalization, web seminars, education games, and distance learning are the main positive impacts of advancements in technology and science in the education sector. In past, correspondence courses allowed students to collect the course contents from the instructors at the learning institution and then provide assignments through emails (McCoy, 2018). Generally, the process of collecting the materials and emailing the assignment impaired smooth acquisition of knowledge and learning. Today, e-learning has enabled distance learning where students and teachers interact on the internet with the advanced communication systems facilitating smooth flow of information. The objective of this paper is to discuss e-learning with a focus on the types of e-learning, concepts of infrastructures, and application.

Theory of E-learning

The theory of e-learning is a combination of cognitive science principles that purpose to describe the design and framework of electronic educational technology that would promote the effective acquisition of knowledge and information. Studies indicate that John Sweller, Richard Mayer, and Roxano Moreno were the main contributors of the e-learning theory. The discussion of the conceptual frameworks and theories on electronic learning is essential to provide a deeper understanding of how this strategy can play an integral role in distance learning (Arora, 2015). Since the theory centers on cognitive principles, the researchers aligned their research with cognitive theories posited by other social psychologists such as Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. Even so, the core of their research purposed on understanding the cognitive load theory, which provided the basic principles for an effective e-learning theory. Concisely, the cognitive load theory describes the level and depth of mental effort essential in working memory and these levels occurs in three main categories, i.e., extraneous, intrinsic, and germane (Learning Theories, n. d.). Extraneous cognitive load refers to the amount of effort expected from a learner based on the structure of the provided material. For instance, the mental effort that a student puts in to select the credible sources of information in a broad list of sources. The intrinsic cognitive load is the amount of effort that an individual uses to perform that actual task. Finally, the germane cognitive load is the amount of effort used to understand the provided information and storing the acquired knowledge for future reference (Learning Theories, n. d.).

The researchers of e-learning mentioned above sought to develop principles and concepts that focused on minimizing the extraneous cognitive load while encouraging the intrinsic and germane cognitive load at the user-levels. The main concepts and principles put forth by the researchers included coherence principle, modality principle, contiguity principle, segmenting principle, signaling principle, learner control principle, personalization principle, pre-training principle, redundancy principle, and multimedia principle. In multimedia concept, the researchers noted that text, audio, and visual are the main facets of multimedia and that the combination of these two facets guarantees deeper understanding of the concepts compared to the use of a single facet (Learning Theories, n. d.). In modality principle, the researchers argued that the onscreen texts accompanied with a combination of visuals and audio narration promotes effective learning. However, this principle has several limitations such as it might not produce the intended results when the students are not native speakers of the narrations language and when the learner uses the material for reference. In coherence principle, the researchers noted that the level of understanding of the presentation content in e-learning reduces when learners have no prior knowledge of the content. Therefore, instructors have to limit a lot of graphics and irrelevant videos in the presentation, which might increase the cognitive load on the learners. Contiguity principle argues that learning is effective when the presentation of the relevant information is close to each other (Learning Theories, n. d.). As such, instructors employing e-learning have to ensure that the relevant information is tied close to the graphics in the presentation for effective learning.

Segmenting principle contends that deeper understanding of the course material happens when instructors segment the content into small chunks. Signaling principle calls for the need to use signals to indicate important information in the course material. Pausing, highlighting, circles, and arrows are some of the signals that help in indicating important aspects of the lesson. In learner control principle, researchers argued that the ability to acquire information and knowledge increases when the learners have the ability to control the speed of learning (Learning Theories, n. d.). Therefore, the use of pause and play or automatic playing in e-learning enables the learners to control the flow of information thus promoting effective learning. Personalization principle calls for the instructors to employ an informal and conversational tone as it spurs deeper and effective learning, i.e., let the tone promote a social presence. Pre-training principle contends that learners ought to have a prior knowledge of the course content to instigate deeper understanding. Therefore, vocabulary and introductory key concepts before the lesson would promote better learning in this pedagogy (Learning Theories, n. d.). Redundancy principle seeks to discourage instructors from using all the facets of multimedia in presentation as it might create redundancy. Instructors are encouraged to use just a combination of the two elements to aid effective learning.

Concepts of Infrastructure

E-learning supports teaching and learning processes through computer-web technologies thus bridging the gap between teachers and learners. Contrary to the traditional modes of teaching where teachers and learner ought to be in a face-to-face interaction, e-learning technology ensures continued transfer of information and knowledge without the need of the teachers and learners to be together. Today, setting up e-learning in an organization has become easy given the advanced technologies. Hardware, software, and the support system are the basic things essential to implementing an e-learning system that meets the needs of the organization (Hussain, 2016). The advent of the internet along with the continued advancements in technology continues to change e-learning with the aim of introducing new infrastructure focusing on guaranteeing deeper understanding. The issuance of instructions to learners through computer-web technology has seen the progression from the use of CD-ROM, to the internet and current via the web-based instructions. The online multimedia learning has several characteristics that promote the smooth flow of information (Guragain, 2016). The strategy is learner-centered, has more interactivity, teaching and learning is ‘one-on-one’, and the existence of learner monitoring and grading system ensure effective learning. The pioneer e-learning, Bernard Luskin, argued that the ‘e’ in the web-based learning is more than just electronic. Although it signifies the use of interactive networks and computer, Luskin contended that ‘e’ stood for emotional, educational, energetic, extended, enthusiastic, and exciting. The infrastructure in e-learning ensures that the method of delivering information is done in ways that promote effective learning and teaching (Guragain, 2016). The most common delivery methods include instructor-led group, asynchronous learning, synchronous learning, video/audio streaming, computer-based (CD-ROM), self-study with a subject expert, and web-based. The common e-learning tools include e-mails, online forum, audio chat, web, and video conference. Furthermore, the management of the learning systems entails management of content, administrative features, tracking students, integration with several tools, and demos.

Types of ELearning

There two main types of e-learning although the delivery if information occurs using different methods. E-learning is the use of technology to help in the connection of the learners and teachers who might be miles apart. As pointed out, the delivery of the instructions to the students occurs using various methods among them the intranet and internet delivery. E-learning finds application in most learning institutions although the concerned stakeholders seek to introduce m-learning, i.e., this training would occur through the mobile phones and PDAs (GC Solutions, n. d.). Synchronous training and asynchronous training are the two fundamental types of e-learning. Synchronous training is one in which the teachers and learners interact in real time over internet-enabled infrastructures. Today, virtual classrooms are common in institutions, which allow instant interaction of the teachers and learners through messaging platforms, video referencing, chats, and audios. Some of the benefits of synchronous e-learning include the ability to personalize training, the possibility of global connectivity, continuous monitoring and correction, and ability to track learning activities (GC Solutions, n. d.). The drawback of this type of e-learning is that it impairs the ability of the learners to access information at their own convenient time. As such, this type does not allow for learning at a pace that promotes effective and deeper acquisition of knowledge and information. In asynchronous training, there is no real-time interaction between the teachers and learners rather; participants access the materials at their own pace. Learners access the information on the self-help basis and as such, they can access the information they need at a time of their convenience. Discussion forums, bulletin boards, and message boards in this type of e-learning facilitate effective interaction among the participants. The instant learning, uniformity of content, flexibility to access, and ability to reach numerous learners at the same time are the main advantages of asynchronous learning (GC Solutions, n. d.). The main drawback of this training is that learners might miss some aspects of teaching only present in active learning. However, ability to access the information at a convenience time augers with the learner control principle argued by the researchers of the cognitive load theory.

Application of ELearning

E-learning technology has various impacts on different facets of the educational sector. Learning through web-enabled technologies has revolutionized some concepts and strategies of teaching thus improving the performance of the teaching community (Arora, 2015). Forbes notes that e-learning industry is worth over €100 billion today with most learning institutions and business organizations adopting this strategy of information acquisition (Guragain, 2016). In fact, estimates indicate that half of higher learning institutions would adopt fully the use of e-learning in issuing instructions in classes by 2019. Today, most business organizations rely on e-learning to offer on-job training essential in improving the knowledge, skills, and abilities of staff. E-learning finds application in the education sector and continues to eliminate the drawbacks associated with the traditional face-to-face classroom settings (Guragain, 2016). The core use of e-learning in education is to make the lessons interactive and interesting by transforming the traditional classroom setting using technologies such as quizinator. The flipping classroom strategy is also another great application of e-learning in the education sector. In a flipped classroom, teachers allow the students to access course materials before the actual teaching in class thus makes learning highly interactive. In particular, the application of e-learning in language teaching has added the stimulus required to enhance the interaction of the learners with the classroom. The use of commentaries, advertisements, dramatics, and movie-clippings improves the attentiveness of students in language classes thus boosting deeper understanding (Arora, 2015). The gamification of some facets of lessons also improves the interactivity of the teaching and learning process thus improving the ability of knowledge acquisition.

Conclusion

The advancements in technology have had resounding influences on different spheres of life among them science and research, education sector, medical field, agriculture, etc. Today, the high modes of transportation facilitate faster movement of people and goods from one place to another. The advanced communication systems facilitate faster transfer of information among people thus boosting the penetration of the positive impacts of globalization. In particular, the advent of internet resulted in the emergence of e-learning which allows transfer of instructions through the computer and other interactive networks. Synchronous and asynchronous are the two fundamental types of e-learning that allow for real time and non-real time learning respectively.

References

Arora, A. (2015). Using eLearning Technologies to Improve Educational Quality of Language Teaching. Retrieved on May 11, 2018, from https://elearningindustry.com/using-elearning-technologies-improve-educational-quality-language-teaching

Brooke, G. (2016). The Positive Impacts of Technological Advances. Retrieved on May 11, 2018, from https://tifwe.org/technological-advances/

GC Solutions. (n. d.). Different Types of e-Learning and What Suits Me Best. Retrieved on May 11, 2018, from http://www.gc-solutions.net/resources/articles/different-types-of-e-learning-and-what-suits-me-best.html

Guragain, N. (2016). E-Learning Benefits and Applications. Retrieved on May 11, 2018, from https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/105103/Guragain_Nischal.pdf?sequence=1

Hussain, A. (2016). Infrastructure Requirements for E-learning Implementation and Delivery. Retrieved on May 11, 2018, from https://blog.commlabindia.com/elearning-design/infrastructure-for-elearning

Learning Theories. (n. d.). E-Learning Theory (Mayer, Sweller, Moreno). Retrieved on May 11, 2018, from https://www.learning-theories.com/e-learning-theory-Mayer-sweller-moreno.html

McCoy, W. (2018). Five Positive Effects of Technology on Education. Retrieved on May 11, 2018, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/five-positive-effects-technology-education-31222.html