As I arrived for a face to face course at a local institution. My thoughts turned to how little knowledge I actually had relating to the course of study. Even though, my confidence was high there was a small amount of apprehension and concern. It was at this point I considered pre-course eLearning assignment may have lessened the anxiety and helped the learning process.
Is eLearning or as some call it online learning really the answer. So of I went and did a little research on the potential benefits of elearning. The results of many researchers concluded that there is certainly a place for online learning. Especially for those with little or low prior knowledge of the subject. Where learners who have a higher prior knowledge of the subject components – elearning was less effective.
eLearning and pre-training principles.
Deeper learning occurs when students are given materials that place major components in a chronological or other logical order. The major components that are part of this elearning process provide a tendency to embed such knowledge deeper than say reading a book (Researchers Mayer, Mathias and Wetzel).
It may sound simple but the uptake of information is different for every person. The exciting part of this is that the student may progress to an understanding of the component model. Determining how a system works by recognising the process.
However, it’s not as easy as it sounds as the researchers found that there is a real possibility that online learners with substantial knowledge of the subject. Elearning may actually have negative impacts on this principle often occur when no visual information is provided.
Learning using the redundancy principle.
As with the elearning and pre-training principles. Deep learning is more likely to occur when concepts explained using audio supported by images and only a few words of text. This effect is better when information is provided at a fast pace and the words being used are quite familiar to the learner. eLearning is a great way to control these factors.
Negative impacts to this principle often occur when no visual information is provided i.e images, and the person taking the course speaks in a different main language. eLearning can provide a mechanism for trainers and assessor to fill gaps in learning abilities and direct online students to relevant material.
For example, if an eLearning quiz is answered poorly then that student could be asked to complete another task. Alternatively, a learner who answers a quiz at a high level could be directed to the next component or even to the end of the material to ensure they aren’t adversely affected by the information provided and their current level of knowledge.
Expert effect and instructional methods.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph there is is a possibility that learners with a wealth of knowledge on a specific subject could be adversely affected by pre-course eLearning.
There are a couple of options here from allowing the student to make the assessment themselves; being allowed to move on to the final assessment right from the start or the trainer makes a judgement call after speaking about the subject with students.
Is eLearning a good tool for trainer and assessors?
Well, elearning certainly has a place in providing quality real-world learning. Used with the learner in mind will determine how effective a course may be. It can also help with the mental health of students. Providing a pre course guide to elearning, so that when the learner arrives in the classroom. The expectation of what may be required is already partly known.
It always make me shudder when someone refers to a course they recently completed as death by powerpoint. This is concerning because whoever their instructor was must not have fully understood how a classroom of learners may have vastly different learning abilities.
A good instructor may help make the course content interesting, but eLearning can and probably form part of the overall learning tools. For example, first aid course has a need for both theory and practical components. The course that I am talking about runs for two days. So there is an opportunity for the student to do part of the course via online learning. The other part of the course via face to face instruction with the trainer.
Using Online Training for the classroom.
Trainers often haven’t grown up with eLearning and may have a little difficulty grasping the concepts. Even so, with guidance by those promoting online learning infrastructure and education facilities who use the online tools. The largest beneficiary will be the student.