It does not take a genius to figure out that we are living in the era of digital technology and big data. Electronic devices are an indispensable part of our daily lives. Data telecommunications have become the primary communication method, and the Internet is undeniably useful in so many aspects of our lives. We can say that the daily life of a 21st-century human being hinges on computational technology and networking.
Education is one such crucial aspect of our society, which underwent landscape changes with the advent of technology and the proliferation of the Internet. While the concept of online learning has been around since the 1960s, advancements in electronics, telecommunications, and networking made it commercially viable and extended its reach substantially. The benefits of online learning extend beyond its widespread reach and are a matter of discussion in this article.
So, without further ado, let us find out all the three most immense powers bestowed by technology upon E-learning and learn how online learning is using those to change our lives & reshape modern education.
1. All-Pervading Reach
One of the best features of online learning is its ability to break all borders & boundaries and make education available to all. The Internet has made it possible for learning to reach every corner of the world. As communication technologies advanced further and Internet-enabled devices become easy to procure, expect online learning to extend a further reach amongst the masses.
Take, for example, the remote equatorial jungles of Sub-Saharan Africa. The remoteness of the region is a significant hurdle for the numerous things that we take for granted. The propagation of education to such isolated areas is a challenge in itself; a challenge that online learning solves with impunity.
The implementation of the online African Virtual Campus Network for Science and Technology is a joint initiative of UNESCO and the Avicenna Virtual Campus (a UNESCO & European Commission collaborative endeavor) to develop and spread a regional online learning network in Africa.
- The country of Senegal was one of the first to participate in the program in 2008. Several universities in the country have set up e-learning modules for a variety of subjects. More and more institutions across the nation are joining the program and adopting distance-learning measures. Material and resource limitations are an impediment, but the Senegalese government is working towards nationwide effectuation of the
- Togo is the newest official member of the AVCN The country has integrated the network through all of its academic levels and has set up multiple subnetworks made up of virtual centers. These AVCN sub-networks comprise universities, teacher-training institutes, and a combination of technical &vocational teacher training centers.
Today, the African Virtual Campus Network is an active network of fully operational learning centers of online learning centers spread across 54 countries in the continent of Africa.
The myriad of powerful technologies involved, advancements in wireless communication, the easy availability of the necessary infrastructure & a skilled workforce—all these factors make online learning, the best mode of dispensing education and the future of learning.
2. Brand New ways of dispensing knowledge
The marvels of science and technology allow online learning to offer knowledge from different sources in many different ways. Online learning harnesses the power of digital networking to enhance access to a plethora of information resources.
Let’s take a look at the different formats of online learning and see how each of them enriches our knowledge and ideas.
- Computer Managed Learning= Computers manage and assess a student’s learning process. Though not necessarily classified as an online learning method, CML can be implemented with online connectivity too. Information databases are an integral part of computer-managed learning.CML offers an automated evaluation of a student’s learning outcomes and stores& retrieves information about course materials, lectures &academic records.
- Synchronous Online Learning= This particular online learning method allows students to participate in a learning activity, anytime and anywhere. Synchronous learning utilizes video conferencing and chats for interaction between trainers and learners. Online connectivity allows anyone to join in from anywhere and also enables one to connect a session to different study resources.
Seamless interaction and real-time synchronicity make SOL one of the most popular modes of dispensing online education. Students can tell their instructors “I can’t do my homework. I need help!” and receive instantaneous feedback.
- Adaptive E-learning= Adaptive online learning is a flexible and innovative method of learning. It allows for the adaptation and redesigning of learning resources as per student requirements. Several factors, such as student’s skills & learning capabilities, goals, performance, are taken into consideration to design an individualized and tailor-made learning curriculum.
- Interactive online learning= Interaction and intercommunication is central to this particular method of online learning. Free communication between teacher and student, various reciprocal learning, and online group activities make it a highly effective online learning procedure. Interactive online learning can be carried out via any electronic device such as a desktop, laptop, smartphone, etc.
- Virtual Classroom= Somewhat akin to synchronous learning, virtual classrooms are the online counterparts of traditional classrooms. This facet of online learning involves live interaction between a class or a group of students and their instructors.
It involves real-time participation in quality university assignment, learning activities, assessments, etc., and can reproduce the experience of traditional classroom lectures. Live feedback, collaborative learning, and easy interactivity are the features of an effective virtual classroom.
- Asynchronous or self-paced learning= As the name suggests, this particular method of online education allows one to learn at a pace that is consistent with their learning capabilities. Self-paced learning has numerous advantages such as less pressure & knowledge retention, flexible timing & schedule, and comparatively less distracting. However, it takes a lot of self-discipline on the part of the learner for the best outcomes.
The availability & accessibility of a wide variety of information sources and the variability & flexibility of the different learning procedures are some of the biggest strengths of online learning.
3. Remote accessibility and Constant availability
In the wake of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, educational ministries and institutions around the world opted for online learning programs. Online learning became the decisive factor that enabled institutions and instructors to circumvent the restrictions imposed by the lockdown.
- The World Bank has initiated a program that is monitoring how all the ministries of education around the world are implementing online learning and offering remote learning opportunities for students at every academic level.
Hundreds of countries across every continent are using e-learning to continue schooling and teaching. From France & Finland to Australia and New Zealand, countries all over are now utilizing various methods of online learning to overcome the limitations of traditional education and boost productivity.
- Remote learning is expected to take center-stage amidst the current social distancing measures. Tutors and pupils are experiencing the advantages of online learning first-hand. Thus, it won’t be far-fetched if we suggest that online learning is here to stay and become the primary counterpart of its traditional version.
Remote accessibility, constant availability and online connectivity are three of the most significant advantages of online learning. Education sectors around the world have realized these advantages as evident from the following.
- BYJU’s, an India-based online learning company that is the highest valued edTech company observed a 200% increase in its registrations since the early stages of the pandemic, according to their MrinalMohit, the company’s Chief Operating Officer.
- Tencent Online Classes are a rage in China now as more than 730000 students joined the online learning platform, following government instructions.
- The Los Angeles Unified School District and the Public Broadcasting Service have joined hands to offer custom-made educational broadcasts and digital options for students. While sessions will be accessible on the Internet, the over-the-air element allows access from television and smart TVs.
- The BBC has its version of online learning endeavors through its Bitesize Daily, which offers 14 weeks of learning according to different curriculums.
The future of learning may very well be digital or at the most hybrid. As we move further into the digital age, traditional methods of learning are simply not going to be enough. The positive effects of online learning can no longer be ignored, especially in light of recent events.
The world of digital technology and computer science & networking is continually evolving. Education is integrating information technology rapidly, and a day might come when online learning overcomes all of its limitations to become a central aspect of modern education. The positive effects of online learning are undeniable and immense.