The Association for Educational Communications and Technology defines educational technology as "the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”
Using technology in education sector is a combination of educational theories and physical hardware. eLearning covers various domains such as learning theory, online learning, computer-based training, and, utilized mobile technologies such as m-learning.
Accordingly, several discrete aspects describe the intellectual and technical development of eLearning tools.
- It develops theory and practice of educational approaches to learning
- eLearning tools help in communication of knowledge, development and exchange of education technology
- Learning management system tools helps students and teachers along with other education management information systems (EMIS)
Benefits of eLearning
eLearning tools are flexible to use. People looking for additional learning opportunities or career advancement prefer to use online learning methods. You are able to watch a short training module on your smartphone and increase their knowledge base.
eLearning is present anytime and anywhere, certainly due to its amazing benefits including:
- Scalability: eLearning tools helps create and communicate new learning policies, ideas, training, and basic concepts.
- Retention: eLearning approaches help you achieve a higher retention rate of knowledge. You can refresh the study material, coursework, and update it as and when required.
- Capacity & Consistency: eLearning tools help teachers achieve greater coverage of target audience and assists in consistent communication. In this way, all students receive the same level of training.
- Saves time, money: eLearning tools saves time as you do not have to take time off from your working hours, no need for travel, and do not have enrol for classroom-based learning programs.
- Measuring ROI: A learning management system helps the student monitor activity progress through simple reporting systems.
- Eco-friendly: eLearning tools can be used to conduct online tests and quizzes thus reducing the carbon footprint; it eliminates paper-based assessment altogether
- Flexibility: students or employees are free to learn the desired course at their convenience and comfortable pace. Enterprises can impart trainings to the offshore team or employees at remote offices consistently along with those employees attending the on-site training.
Top Examples of E-learning
B2B enterprises normally prefer eLearning as the mode of training due to its flexibility and other benefits. eLearning courses range from sales training, product training, performance management, and other basic science subjects like physics, mathematics, etc.
The aim is to share and transfer new knowledge to the learners. Learners are already aware about the learning objectives and benefits of the specific training module. They intend to apply the skills and knowledge acquired to progress their career.
ERP Modules of eLearning
An ERP application can be applied for various LMS training modules. The following image describes some examples of such modules.
The stakeholders in ERP learning modules involve the ERP Administrator, Finance dept, HR dept, Library resources, inventory management, students, and teachers of schools and colleges.
We have listed below few training modules that enterprises are imparting through eLearning:
1. IT Security Practices Enterprises use the storytelling approach to deliver learning objectives. Case studies are used to educate employees about key skills and knowledge. For instance, consider a case study where an enterprise pays huge penalty due to lack of data security. Learners will understand the role of securing data; hence they will learn about ways of preventing security breaches.
2. Sales Process: Enterprises use the technique of conversation branching to impart sales training. Mostly used by instructional designers, this approach guides the learners to different courses based on his answers.
For instance, the learner is asked questions by the salesperson at regular intervals. The conversations helps learner acquires skills related to selling and provides knowledge about the product/service.
3. Performance Management Enterprises use gamification and storytelling for this training module. The game can involve several levels, denoting different tasks performed at each level of the organization.
For instance, if an employee is promoted as a Manager; the player must review his team’s performance. Through this game, the player/learner will learn about various questions that can be possibly asked during his performance review, and thus prepare well.
4. Supply Chain Management Another good example of applying gamification in developing online learning modules. The character needs to complete different levels of the game in order to understand the basic principles of how a supply chain works.
1. Synchronous: It involves real-time interaction between learners and instructor through the Internet. Virtual classrooms help learners interact with instructors and other participants through chat, IM, and audio/video conferencing. In addition, learners can record the live sessions for future reference.
Various benefits include:
- Log/track progress of learning activities.
- Continuous monitoring, correction
- Opportunities for global connectivity and collaboration among learners.
- Personalized trainings for each participant
2. Asynchronous: Learners enrol for web-based training at own pace without real-time interaction with the trainer. The entire course is available as a self-help guide at all times. You can access the course details whenever you need it.
You can also interact with other learners using bulletin boards, message boards, and forums. CBT modules are available on CD-Rom; you can access WBT through the Intranet or articles.
Various benefits include:
- Learning modules are available for instant reference.
- Learners can access the course material anywhere, anytime
- A manager can train several employees simultaneously
- Uniform content and one-time production cost.
Role of Gamification
Gamification helps in increasing learner retention; it transforms the learning experience by boosting user engagement, motivating participation, and influencing user behaviour.
1. Adding A Narrative
Narratives enhance the online learning experience. The characters in the story clearly deliver the message and create excitement amongst the learners.
Gamification defines rules and guidelines for the learner to progress into the next level. Games comprise of several levels having on the basis of different learning objectives that test the learner’s capability.
Gamification relies on user interaction. Participants having same learning objectives share their views and ideas.
Participants are ranked on the basis of knowledge and effort. Not only completion, but learners become aware of their skill set as they progress in the course. Hence, they feel motivated to master the skill and acquire the best level of knowledge and expertise through the eLearning module.
Effective e-learning trends 2016
Enterprises can keep pace with the following trends of eLearning to maintain a competitive edge.
Engage Learners using 3-D Printing. This technique forms a physical object using a 3-D image/model. You can apply this technique to teach various subjects like history, science mathematics, architecture etc. It changes the scope of the learner’s objective; learners can now relate this information to its practical application.
Virtual Reality. This tool plays an important role in creating eLearning modules. Software developers can create engaging and realistic learning opportunities which are not replicated by videos, textbooks, or any other form of media.
Although expensive, modern enhancements of smartphone technology, like motion sensors, high-resolution screens etc. have reduced the total development cost thus encouraging mainstream use.
Digital experience helps employees practice simulated tasks that are hazardous in nature; in this way risk of failure is minimized and learners are able to cope up with high-pressure situations easily.
For instance, a fire drill can be demonstrated using virtual reality. VR gives a real platform to learners for practicing evacuations; the simulation ends if the building collapses and someone is inside still. Employees will learn from these errors and try to complete it successfully.
Responsive Designs. Desktops are gradually facing a decline as the number of mobile Internet users is on the rise. Nowadays, people are browsing, booking tickets, reading news updates, shopping, and learning on their mobile device – smartphone, tablet, or iPad.
Designing content using responsive designs helps enterprises deliver optimized user experience across various devices, such as smartphones, desktops, tablets, as well as other mobile devices.
Responsive designs organize content in a flexible grid layout which adjusts according to the width of the user’s device thereby increasing its visibility and readability.
Use responsive eLearning authoring tools for your course for automatic adjustment of course elements on the user device; it includes menus, buttons, images, font sizes, and videos.
Cloud Storage. Optimizing course content needs a huge storage space. Storing files on a local serve r may result in performance issues such as speed, stability, and security. Cloud storage allows users to create a data backup that can be managed and maintained from a remote location.
Enterprises can store files related to the course in cloud server in order to improve the course performance along with the user experience. Moreover, cloud server provides automatic data backup and recovery.
In addition, cloud storage helps in providing location-independent training for enterprises. Users can access course material from remote locations and through multiple devices.
Social Media Learning. Utilize the open and closed groups’ options provided by Facebook to organize online training programs. Instructors will publish relevant posts, organize forum discussions, and respond to learners’ queries through this group. Retweet relevant information for learners or post learning lists.
eLearning Videos. Visual instructions eliminate the problem of miscommunication; a visual guide is an efficient elearning tool. Learners are able to understand the learning instructions clearly. Another advantage is a video lesson increases the memory retention of the learner.
You can also post LMS videos on YouTube to allow learners acquire the skills and knowledge at their own pace.