Instructional Design Articles.

eLearning explained in plain English

eLearning explained in plain English

Jun 3, 2021

Electronic learning is a term used to refer to learning that takes place through electronic means. This definition is broad, and thus can include many different types of learning experiences. Depending on the context within which the term “eLearning” is used, you can usually get a pretty good idea of what that eLearning may look like (for example, some eLearning applications can be quite similar to how you’d take notes on a lecture).

Industry-specific eLearning

As previously said, the appearance of eLearning varies greatly according on the context in which it is mentioned.

Entrepreneurial Digital Academies and Courses

Digital entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors and specializations generate money by selling their knowledge as information goods.

Personal trainers, for example, may develop paid online weight-loss bootcamps. Designers establish design academies to teach key skills to other professions. Courses that educate students how to get their first clients are created by freelancers. And the list goes on and on.

These products are frequently video-based eLearning programs that are accompanied by checklists and worksheets. They might incorporate live components like weekly question-and-answer sessions or coaching sessions.

These video-based infoproducts are typically hosted on platforms such as Teachable, Thinkific, or Kajabi. These tools make it simple for authors to manage payments, coupon codes, affiliate links, and other details.

So, whenever you hear the term "eLearning" in the context of digital "courses for sale," you can bet it's a series of talking-head videos with some supporting downloading material.

eLearning in Higher Education

Distance education programs at higher education institutions are frequently referred to as eLearning.

University eLearning programs allow colleges to enroll students from all over the country or the world, and students can achieve a degree or certificate without ever having to step foot on campus.

Many times, university teachers construct these online courses by videotaping lectures or uploading text-based content and other resources to a Learning Management System (LMS). 

When developing their courses, professors may or may not have the assistance of instructional designers.

Some university eLearning departments have significantly larger expenditures for their eLearning services. To design video-based degree and certification programs, these departments may include full teams of eLearning and multimedia professionals.

High-production-value eLearning in higher education, on the other hand, is not the standard. In the higher education environment, eLearning is frequently designed by academics and provided using scalable Learning Management Systems.

eLearning for grades K-12

Most eLearning in the K-12 arena in the COVID-19 era involves a teacher who teaches a class using virtual meeting software.

This eLearning simulates a regular school day, except instead of a physical classroom, students hear class lectures via virtual meeting software.

Some K-12 schools and programs provide eLearning without requiring students to attend a virtual class.

Students earn class credits in these circumstances by watching recorded lectures or videos and completing slide-based modules that feature interactive information and practice opportunities. Teachers are frequently present to grade assignments, hold students accountable, and offer assistance.

eLearning for Business and Industry

In the corporate environment, eLearning is typically delivered through interactive, slide-based online experiences.

These experiences may have video material, but they may also contain text-based presentations and interaction (such as clicking an icon to reveal information, selecting a response to a question, or deciding which content to view next).

These experiences are created by instructional designers and eLearning developers using rapid authoring technologies like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate.

As a result, corporate eLearning is frequently delivered in the form of a self-paced, slide-based experience. Consider a PowerPoint slide deck that has been enhanced with interactivity.

Asynchronous eLearning vs. Synchronous eLearning

eLearning is classified into two types: synchronous and asynchronous.

Synchronous eLearning is online learning that is offered in real time, frequently with the presence of a facilitator or instructor, whereas asynchronous eLearning is eLearning that may be taken at any time of day.

Examples of Synchronous eLearning

Virtual instructor-led training is the most frequent type of synchronous eLearning (vILT). vILT employs a facilitator or instructor who teaches a live audience.

Consider a teacher giving a live class session with 20 students in attendance, or a facilitator demonstrating how to execute a certain job to a team of employees via a virtual meeting.

If the learning experience necessitates that everyone attend at the same time, it is referred to as synchronous eLearning.

Examples of Asynchronous eLearning

Asynchronous eLearning, often known as self-paced eLearning, is eLearning that may be completed at any time. This includes the following:

  • • An LMS, anyone may access eLearning programs at any time.

  • • On-demand lectures that have been recorded

  • • A podcast that can be listened to whenever it is convenient for the listener.

Asynchronous (or self-paced) eLearning occurs when the learning experience may be accessed at any time of day (without the need for a live facilitator).

Blended eLearning

Blended eLearning programs may include synchronous and asynchronous learning. This is referred as blended eLearning.

Digital entrepreneurs, for example, may provide their students with access to a complete library of recorded video information (asynchronous), but they may also hold weekly Q&A sessions where individuals may go deeper into certain subjects (synchronous).

Corporate eLearning efforts may assign participants to complete an asynchronous self-paced eLearning lesson before attending a virtual practice session with a facilitator (synchronous).

When an eLearning session includes both self-paced and live components, it is referred to as a blended eLearning experience.

Advantages of eLearning

Because of the electronic nature of eLearning, it has a number of advantages.

One of the most significant advantages of eLearning is its ability to reach a worldwide audience on a large scale. Anyone with an internet connection can join in the learning experience.

This also results in significant cost savings for organizations: instead of incurring travel expenses to bring their facilitator and learner together, they can set up a virtual meeting area in a matter of minutes.

Even more money is saved using asynchronous eLearning. It may be more focused and succinct. Instead of a full-day workshop, you might be able to get the same outcomes with a series of 20-minute eLearning lessons. This not only saves money on travel, but it also means less time away from work.

Another major advantage of asynchronous eLearning is that once it is created, anyone may learn from it as long as the information is correct.

This results in a one-time investment that may pay off many times over, as opposed to instructor-led learning experiences, which happen just once and then are gone forever.

Finally, if you are worried about the environment, eLearning may appeal to you even more. This is due to the fact that eLearning encounters are more long-lasting than their face-to-face equivalents. People emit considerably less carbon emissions when they do not have to go to the learning session and deal with paper.

Overall, assuming your audience has access to technology and the internet, eLearning may provide several benefits.

Custom eLearning vs. Off-the-Shelf eLearning

The bespoke eLearning vs. off-the-shelf eLearning debate is mostly concerned with eLearning in the corporate environment.

Some firms prefer to teach their personnel by purchasing a library of off-the-shelf eLearning content, whilst others hire an eLearning designer or agency to create a wholly tailored solution.

Off-the-shelf choices are typically less expensive and accessible right away, but they might have considerable drawbacks.

To be effective, eLearning should be personalized to the requirements of the individuals taking it. Off-the-shelf solutions may be a suitable alternative if they are especially tailored for your target demographic.

However, if the off-the-shelf solution is general and wide, it may not be a worthwhile investment.

If you need to assist individuals execute a certain job position better (or if you require information that is extremely organization- or topic-specific), commissioning a custom eLearning solution is probably a smart choice.

The question "Is eLearning effective?" is analogous to the question "Is school effective?" Of course, the answer is that it depends.

When it comes to corporate eLearning, successful eLearning assists workers in performing their tasks more effectively. Much of the eLearning in this arena is information-heavy with no significant practice opportunities (akin to a textbook), resulting in unsuccessful eLearning.

However, there is nothing inherently productive or ineffective about eLearning.

It is the responsibility of the person commissioning the project, as well as the instructional designer, facilitator, or instructor, to ensure that the material is developed and presented in such a way that it contributes to the project's stated aims.