1. 1 Introduction: E-learning may be defined as ‘the instruction delivered via a computer that is intended to promote learning’. E-learning is commonly referred to as the international use of networked Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in teaching and learning. It may be considered as a backbone for all educational programs and includes online learning, virtual learning, distributed learning, web-based learning, Blog based learning, etc.

According to UNESCO, E-learning is described as “The tool and the processes to access, retrieve, store, organize, manipulate, produce, present and exchange information by the electronic and other automated means. These include the devices hardware, digital cameras, phones, faxes, modems, CD and DVD players and recorders, digitized video/radio and T.V. programs database programs and multimedia programmes”. E-learning

In the term E-learning, “E” stands for “Electronic”. E-learning would be incorporated all educational activities that are carried out by the individuals or groups working online or offline and synchronously or asynchronously via network or stand-alone computer and other electronic devices.

Individualized self-paced E-learning online refers to situations where an individual student is accessing learning resources such as the database or course content online via an Intranet or the Internet. For example, this is a learner studying alone or conducting some research on the Internet or a local network.

Individualized self-paced E-learning offline refers to situations where an individual learner by using the learning resources such as the database or the computer-assisted learning package offline (i.e. while not connected Intranet or Internet).

Group-based E-learning synchronously refers to situations where groups of learners work together in real-time via an Intranet or the Internet. It can be included text-based conferencing and one or two-way audio and video conferencing. For examples, this includes learners engaged in a real-time chat or an audio-video conference. Group-based E-learning asynchronously refers to the situations where groups of learners are working over an Internet or the Internet where exchange among the participants occurs with a time delay (i.e., not in real-time). For example, online discussions via electronic mailing lists and text-based conferencing within the learning management systems.

With the use of information and communication technology, E-learning has acquired a formidable placed within the academic system. Corporate E-learning is growing rapidly. E-mail is a familiar one which is accepted by the users similarly E-banking, E-commerce, E-business, E-trading and providing a new dimension in the technology. E-learning is broader than on-line. Separate e-learning is available for distance education, which includes printed materials as well as electronic materials. For educators, e-learning technologies promise more efficient and hassle-free alternatives for the preparation of teaching materials, evaluation of students’ progress as well as the performance and management of classroom data and statistics (Saravanan & Shanmughavel, 2007; Ruiz, Mintzer& Leipzig, 2006).

1.2 Concept of E-Learning:

E-learning may be described as interactive learning in which the learning content of the subject is available on-line and provides spontaneous feedback to the students learning activities. E-learning covers the applications and processes, like web-based learning, Blog based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It comprises the delivery of the content of the subject via the Internet, intranet/extranet, satellite broadcast, interactive television, CD-ROM, DVD, audio, videotape, etc.

E-learning may be described as instructional content of the subject or learning experiences given or enabled by the e – technology. It is a structured and interactive approach to educate the students or informing the students, teachers, etc.

1.3 Need for E-Learning:

People has different perspectives regarding E-learning. The specific need relate to, significantly determines the approach to E-learning. Hence, it is essential to discuss the need for E-learning.

  • In many subjects, the lack of qualified teachers is the problem faced by educational institutions. The availability of quality teachers also another major problem. The school managements are not interested in giving an attractive salary, and their unwillingness to retain quality teachers has led to a poor academic environment. Due to this pathetic condition, the number of young people aspiring for the teaching profession has decreased drastically in the recent past. It is equally unfortunate to observe the Indian educational sector, in which hardly anyone looks at E-learning as an alternative to traditional teaching. This lack of effort to adopt information and communication technology (ICT) based teaching-learning methods has limited the reach of the available teachers.
  • Learners need to come together at a particular place at a particular time is a major problem. This is true for those who are studying courses as part-time, the just-in-time learners, adult learners, distance learner, etc. the freedom to connect to the course setup at any time from anywhere is a major advantage for e-learning. It also enables the students to take to studying when feels is the best time for the students to study and hence provides for adapting the teaching-learning process to the student’s individual characteristics.
  • When teaching explored in a good manner, e-learning enables a high level of personalization and a wide range of teaching methods. Conducive environment, multimedia capability, and high-end visualization support enable the student to relate to the subject more depth, because of which the pupil is able to understand the subjects well.
  • In India, content contributors on the website are less, obviously, since very few of our teachers are touch with online. While ones use an online package from various sources, one rarely considers contributing work to share others. Adopting E-learning enables and encourages one to do this naturally; some once work is already online, perhaps with a limited reach and once is comfortable with this, it is a small step to reach out to the universe.
  • If a person tries to practicing e-learning, one would be developing much of the content course material electronically. These are much reusable compared to written notes of the content. These could be shared with another instructor, could be improved over the years using user feedback and hence results in good quality of the content material.
  • Incorporating the assessment of the learner and other activities under e-learning enables to collect much more detailed feedback on different aspects of the course. These include the quality of questions, quality of content, qualitative judgment on learners’ performance, etc. these can be used to improve the quality of the teaching at an institutional level.
  • The distribution of e-learning could address many concerns including the content creation, content delivery, content assessment, content collaboration and content communication between the teachers and students and among the students, etc. in addition, support for e-assessment could be needed mechanisms to keep the track of marks per student per assessment and also calculating appropriately weighted total. A learning management system (LMS) is the integrated application that provides all these and more under one roof With a login, one could see and access all the relevant aspects of a course. From an administrative view, one would be needed mechanisms to control access to the course allowing valid students and teachers. In general, a person could be a student of a particular subject and a teacher in another subject. Hence, learning management systems (LMS) provide user login mechanisms supporting the role-based access control.

1.4 Steps Involved in E-Learning:

University of Bristol advisors described five steps that lead to E-learning;

i) Need: the First step is to identify the need for e-learning and then working out a strategic plan for the content development and E-learning implementation. Things that need to be answered are:

  • Who will be the prospective users of E-learning?
  • What are their knowledge needs?
  • What does their understanding level of technology that one may use in our E-learning modules? For example, a technical understanding of a school student differs from that of a college student.

ii) Pedagogy: This is the time to reflect upon the pedagogy involved and to re-evaluate and identify the specific learning objectives of the users’ learning. Pedagogy is the art or science of teaching. Pedagogy is also sometimes referred to as the correct use of teaching strategies.

iii) Resources: Identify the resources required, both hardware and software. Review the tools available. Calculate the budget for the overall project and the initial capital outlay.

iv) Creation: This is the main stage of the whole project which involves designing and development. Obtain training and support. Acquire resources to support E-Learning (digital images, video, audio, etc) and finally, effective users induction/training in how to access and use the E-Learning.

v) Evaluation: Evaluate the efficacy of the E-learning by staff and users feedback and, if possible, evaluation by an external examiner.

1.5 Advantages of E-Learning:

  • E-Learning materials are benefiting to education, corporations and to all the types of students. It is affordable, time-saving, and produces effective results. E-learning is more cost-effective rather than conventional learning method because of less time and less money is spent on transport. Since E-learning could be done in any geographic location and there are no transport expenses, this kind of learning is much less costly than the traditional method of learning.
  • Flexibility is a major advantage of E-learning. E-learning has the advantage of handling classes at any time from anywhere. Learning could occur when and where it is needed. E-learning could be possible at the office, at the home, on the road and 24×7. In E-learning, assessments can be done by which teacher may know what the students have learned, when they would complete the courses, and how the students have performed.
  • Students prefer E-learning because it has different kinds of learning styles. Students could be learned at their own pace and also learn through a variety of activities that apply to different learning styles. Students may fit for E-learning into their busy schedule. If the learners have a job, still they could be working with E-learning. If the students want to learn the subject, they can learn even at night. Students may sit in the home and do the learning if they desire.
  • E-learning motivates the students to peruse through the information by using hyperlinks and sites on the World Wide Web (WWW). Students are able to search the information relevant to their personal situations and interest. E-learning permits students to select learning materials based on their level of knowledge, interest and what they want to know in order to perform more effectively. E-learning is more focused, flexible and interesting for the student.
  • E-learning assists the learner to develop their knowledge through the Internet. This knowledge would be helped to learners throughout their life. E-learning motivates the students to take personal interest and responsibility for their own learning. When learners succeed, it develops self-knowledge and self-confidence in them. Some more major merits of E-learning are given below;

i. Time and location are flexible for learning.

ii. It has a universal teaching phenomenon.

iii. Choosing a large knowledge domain is possible.

iv. E-Learning ensures lifetime learning options.

v. Sharing of knowledge with others is possible.

vi. Remunerations for training and other expenses could be saved.

vii. Access to plenty of information could be received at a low cost.

viii. Uplifting academic productivity.

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