Technology-aided learning is being adopted by the training industry for more than a decade now as most learning leaders in the corporate sector believe that e-learning is the way ahead to train on a continuous basis. By learners as well, e-learning is perceived very positively and it is how they would prefer to learn in future. However, learners also draw attention to the importance of the human dimension of e-learning which is as important as its technological aspect.
When exploring the ways that learners evaluate e-learning, the pedagogical model on which the training is created, represents a crucial aspect in determining the success of the learning endeavour. There are clearly five dominant pedagogical models in e-learning that dominate the trainings being created for corporate learning. These are – Virtual Classroom, tele-teaching, blended learning, collaborative learning and supported self-learning.
According to a research by European Centre for Development of Vocational Training, the pedagogical model that is most preferred by Learners is blended learning (34%) followed closely by supported self-study (31%) and collaborative learning (20%), virtual classrooms (10%) and tele-teaching (5%) follow suit. Here are some reasons why learners prefer these models of e-learning:
Blended Learning: This model is often defined as the blending of technology in all its forms and that’s not just the Internet, with traditional learning, teaching and training practices. The mixing of different forms is most suited to learners as they have the best of all worlds within the pedagogical model.
- The reason why this model suits most learners is that it offers space for human interactions through traditional classroom sessions – with peers as well as instructors.
- All doubts and queries are dealt with in classroom sessions. Learners also get a chance to debate their views and different opinions within the face-to-face sessions.
- Technology provides support and flexibility to learn as per need, which is a boon to the modern corporate learner.
- Technology-aided learning can present content in a more suitable manner – with details that can probably not be shared over classroom sessions. Even if it’s possible, it’s a time consuming proposition. Technology makes content available and classroom sessions help learners understand the topic well.
Supported Self-Study: The biggest advantage that many learners state when talking about the benefits of e-learning is that it gives them the opportunity to learn as per their individual pace and schedule. With a little help and guidance, self-paced study can be very fulfilling for learners who realize the many benefits of learning and are committed to workplace training.
- Self-paced course content is prepared keeping in mind how much the learner already knows. E-Learning developers are careful to include introductions or background whenever necessary to make sure that the learners are supported within the course.
- In addition, many self-paced e-courses also have other built in resources like Glossary of Words, FAQs and Help menu to guide learners within the course.
- Interactions are built in to keep the interest levels high and also evaluate how much the learners have assimilated from time to time.
- But a self-paced approach is most successful when accompanied by some support provided by trainers. This support can be through an online forum, email or even chat sessions where learners can ask their questions and discuss topics among peers.
Virtual Classrooms: E-Learning technology is evolving in a fast pace and that creates the opportunity to connect closely with the learners. With virtual classrooms (VCR), the benefits of face to face sessions can be enjoyed by learners and instructors alike.
- VCR are equipped with tools like file-sharing, whiteboard and screen sharing which helps trainers present the learning content in an impactful manner. The trainers can give presentations, with built in annotation tools which makes the content come alive for the learners.
- Learners too can contribute with their inputs and share instantly.
- Two-way conversations can be held, giving the learners to interact closely.
- The only problem is that many learners may not have the bandwidth or even the hardware to support all the functions of a VCR and thus this model is still not feasible for all audiences.
Collaborative learning: E-learning also provides ample opportunities for online interactions between learners and provide a ground for collaborative learning. Most modern LMSs have built-in social learning platforms like discussion-boards and online chat rooms.
- Trainers can play the role of mediator in collaborative learning and provide topics that the learners can discuss and debate.
- Following these sessions, collaborative exercises like creating papers or presentations out of the learning assimilated can be designated to learners.
- Learners from different geographies can come together for collaborative exercises and learn from each other.
- Trainers can hold online sessions to discuss and critique the material presented at the end of the exercise. This provides the opportunity of self-evaluation as well as a new learning experience for the corporate learners.
Tele-learning: With the easy availability of mobile phones, learning on the go is now more possible than ever. Mobile learning is becoming a very popular ad impactful way of learning for employees who have to travel for work like sales personnel.
- With developing technologies like HTML 5, it is now possible to create just one version of the e-learning content and render it across multiple devices.
- This not only make e-learning more available, it lessens development costs and time costs as well. This makes it a feasible and impactful learning solution.
- Though mobile learning is still evolving, it is fast gaining popularity, supported by the fact that most learners now have easy access to smartphones and uninterrupted internet connectivity. Within the next few years, mobile learning is poised to gain momentum and even be the most preferred way of learning for the masses.
It is evident that most learners want developers to concentrate on the ‘Learning’ and not so much on the Technology. In the context of modern corporate scenario, Technology is now a component of the teaching and learning process. Taking that in mind, E-learning of the future should be more focused on the pedagogical and didactical aspects and technology should be utilized to support learning.