What is e-learning?

E-Learning is getting access to learning using technologies outside of the classroom.  The term was coined in the late 90s.

Internet is the connecting force behind the learning content and the teacher-learner. It is dependent on internet for delivery and access of text, images, audio, video and other multi-media elements that are used to explain things. One could learn from a single course, a bunch of courses or an entire programme.

Content for E-Learning is normally delivered through Learning Management Systems (LMS). LMSes come in handy to organise and deliver courses in a structured manner. Of late LMSes have begun to deliver virtual labs and simulations through which science experiments can be conducted online. For example, you could learn about a frog’s digestive system without actually dissecting a frog! Courses delivered through LMSes could be self-paced, or scheduled. Course could also be instructor-led or self-learnt. They also provide for learning through gamification.

Learning could happen in both asynchronous (material is available for the student to access at one’s own time) and synchronous (teacher and students are logged in on the platform to have interactive sessions through video and shared screens) or a combination of the two. Blended learning happens when a teacher provides the learning content on the LMS. Students go through the content before they attend a classroom session. The teacher saves time on lecturing but interacting with the students to help them learn better.

LMSes also make learning a lot more interactive. They offer a learner an opportunity to test one’s learning through simple and complex quizzes, attend live lectures through video, upload their assignments, and see their grades online. They also provide for great interaction between the teacher-learner in the form of discussion forums and peer-learning and peer-review.

While time-tabled classes could be limiting in terms of learning, E-Learning provides for open learning–from multiple credible sources. If one is interested in learning more about astronomy, one could dive into deeper learning through hyperlinks.


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