Posts Tagged e-Learning

e-Learning – A Necessary Part Of An Institution’s Course Delivery

Lakhs of students write entrance exams for getting entry into professional courses in India every year. The demand for these professional courses has given rise to many colleges in the hope of capturing a chunk of this target student base who can’t make it to top rung institutions. Some institutions are backed by corporate entities or real estate companies. However, this increase in the number of colleges did not actually translate into an increase in quality (in terms of knowledge, industry readiness, skills etc,) of students, coming out from these colleges. The primary reasons for this are:

Shortage of resources

Managements of colleges with deep pockets are able to provide good infrastructure. But colleges with limited financial resources find it hard to provide the needed infrastructure. But irrespective of the financial power of these institutions, finding good quality teaching faculty has been a huge challenge in recent times as there is a genuine dearth of quality teachers with professional and research background.

Industry exposure

It is difficult for lesser known colleges to provide early industry interaction for their students through internships or to get well-known guest speakers from the industry to come, speak and interact with the students. The reasons could be varied, ranging from lack of budget to lack of contacts. The troubles faced by the institutions are not limited to the above. But the end effect is many colleges are being forced to scale down courses or close down altogether due to lack of student enrollment.

With resources like faculty with background in high end research, quality teaching material etc coming at a premium, colleges are turning to technology to help overcome these hurdles. A Learning Management System is one such technology enabler for E-Learning and is an option being explored today by many institutions. Once an LMS is enabled across the institution, it is just a matter of acquiring/creating a courseware that can be delivered through the LMS. An e-Learning course enabled and delivered using an LMS solves the above issues in the following way:

Teachers need not be physically present for handling courses

If the institute can acquire quality material, this can be uploaded into the LMS, creating courses in different streams/areas.

Video lectures (recorded or live)

Record lectures once and deliver to multiple students any number of times.

Apart from the above, an LMS for educational institutions provides these additional benefits:

Students can study at their own pace

Students will be encouraged to put in efforts to go through the course or practice on their own for exams. The evaluation methodology has also undergone quite a few changes over a period of time keeping in mind the limited faculty time. Some LMS providers also provide social learning features to enable participative learning among students.

Reach of courses

College management wants to reach out to maximum number of students possible to offer their courses. This is true especially in case of distance learning course providers. An LMS for distance learning institutions that can help create and deliver courses online and can enable submission of assignments and quizzes online will create real value for these institutions.

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e-Learning In Today’s Corporate World

“People are our greatest assets, and people-development is a key pillar of our success.” scream organizations from their roof-tops. Any Company worth its salt in the global corporate fraternity aims to be “progressively learning” and wants its employees to be on a continuous learning curve. Some call themselves “learning organizations” while some claim (for good reason) that in this age of knowledge-intensive growth, it is essential for all organizations to perennially maintain their learning edge to be able to keep their noses ahead of competition. More and more employees now realize that their success is directly proportional to their skill-enhancement, and training opportunities provide a great avenue for the same. That’s where e-Learning is proving to be a game-changer.

With the onset of e-age tools, the electronic existence of an individual more or less defines his/her persona. Even in the corporate world, the online environment has become a strong medium to reach out to employees and provide them a credible option to build their corporate persona. From intra-office social networks, to blogging sites, from online notice-boards to learning circles, email-notifications to compensation-management portals, online hiring tools to online learning management systems, “online” is now employed by organizations for all their people programs. The online mode has become a potent one for employers to enhance the learning and development opportunities for their employees as well. Most progressive organizations today have training modules made available to their employees through an online LMS. A whole host of ready-made electronic modules as well as recordings of classroom training programs with training materials have been made available to facilitate learning on a plethora of topics, which hitherto were considered the hegemony of classroom sessions. While traditional class-room sessions and on-the-job trainings still form an inseparable part of the learning curve of any organization, e-learning has carved out its own niche and today is exploited vastly for furtherance of talent development initiatives. In addition to organizations using an online LMS for internal trainings and assessments, there are several independent portals which offer e-Learning options for students and individuals as well, to help them enhance their skills in various dimensions.

So are we cozying up to this new-age online wonder in the learning and development space? Well, I for sure am! e-Learning offers a host of advantages which help overcome various road-blocks faced in pursuing the traditional brick & mortar classroom training models. To outline a few:

  • Flexibility of time – Unlike in classroom training, where you have to register for sessions and free up your calendar as per the training schedule, e-learning presents online modules right at your workstation, and you could choose to undergo the training at any time of your choice.
  • Quorum – More often than not, classroom trainings necessarily need to have a certain quorum for effective transfer of learning. E-Learning modules are independent of this factor. Companies are also deploying recordings of successful classroom sessions online, for future trainees to go through the sessions online, without missing out on the exchange of views as it happens in a classroom.
  • Cost – Today, organizations are trying to cut down on costs in every possible way. E-Learning also presents a cost-effective training mechanism for organizations. A successful classroom training program, once conducted, could be harvested across several employees through the online mechanism by allowing them to go through a recording of the same. Needless to say, the savings on account of logistics are considerable.
  • Adopt a comfortable pace – In classroom training or in OJT (On-the-Job-Training), the trainee needs to keep pace with the trainer, and the transfer of learning depends wholly upon whether one is able to keep pace with the rest of the batch. The trainers work towards completing a fixed module and tend to push the pace on need basis. e-learning is advantageous in that one could go through the program at a pace of their comfort, and repeating modules and sessions for better understanding, as many times as they need.
  • Backlog – Employees often complain that owing to trainings requiring attendance in multiple classroom sessions, the regular day’s work gets piled up, and they need to slog extra hours or often even weekends to clear it up. e-Learning actually is a boon in such cases. Just keep the online module running in a window and keep toggling it as and when you get time!
  • Online Assessment – Any good e-learning programme is usually followed up with a short but incisive assessment test. It’s an online test and the good ones usually give an appropriate picture of the understanding developed by the trainee on the subject. If the scores are not good, don’t sweat…just re-load the requisite module, go through the session again and re-do the test. Eventually, for the sensitive minded, it is better than the drama around a classroom test where your performance could be openly scrutinised. Self-evaluation of one’s learning is always the best way to assess one’s proficiency, if one is honest about learning any topic.

Detractors may argue that it restricts the learning to the limited module subjects, and any additional clarifications may not get resolved, thus proving the training to be restrictive. Also, given that it could be done at the workstation, there would not be undivided attention, thereby diluting the learning.

While it is true that everything has a flip-side, one has to understand that online modules should be developed for a limited syllabus, and should have enough case-studies and examples to provide a holistic learning of the topic.  All progressive organizations invest a lot of research in developing impactful online modules, covering a host of subjects which do not require classroom presence for effective learning. While undivided attention is a concern, the same applies to classroom sessions as well, wherein employees keep walking in and out of the training rooms to attend “urgent calls” and office-related works.

One must appreciate that e-learning is not a substitute to other forms of training. It is a strong supplement to the bouquet of learning initiatives of an organization. What’s more, I get to train myself on topics of my choice, at a time of my choice, at a pace of my choice, and also get a record of course-completion after each course. At the end of the year, I get to mention it all as “self-initiated learning” in my appraisal and impress my boss with my ‘eagerness to learn’ and ‘skill-enhancement initiative’! So what’s stopping you…figure out your favorite topic and enhance your skill by enrolling for the relevant module online. Happy Learning!

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