What is elearning all about?

Electronic Learning (elearning) is a broad term that covers the use of electronic technology to support learning.
In its most basic form this could be the use of the telephone or email to communicate with students.
At the more complex end this could include computer based lessons through the internet.
More technical details and teaching issues including discussion about pedagogy can be found on Wikipedia.

What are the pros and cons?

The prime value of elearning is to provide learners with a rich source of information that they can tap into at a time and place that suits them. This allows learning to be better fitted into each learner's work and life requirements. With work and family commitments learners cannot always be able to get to a college at the same time each week. (work in particular may mean some learners are suddenly interstate or overseas and internet based elearning allows them to keep up their studies) Elearning has also been shown to assist with some learners improving their confidence in getting involved in discussion, critique and analysis as they are not so hampered by the interpersonal dynamics of a classroom and may have much more time to consider and reason a response.
Elearning also has the potential for students to connect to the world in their learning by communication with students in other countries, information from other countries and practitioners in their vocational area around the world. The richer information and exposure to a greater range of opinion can give a stronger perspective to any learner.

On the negative side is the need for sufficient skills and confidence in using elearning, a degree of isolation from others and the need for more self discipline in studying online. As teachers we can help learners develop their skills and confidence and with an effective blended program of elearning, online communication and face to face learning we can achieve great results.
Although computer based learning was at first considered to be almost a long term 'replacement' for teachers research has shown that most learners prefer a mix of online and face to face learning.

If you wish to read more background research material please go to the Files section of the Research section where a selection of recent research papers are provided for reading.

What about computer skills?

Yes, you do need some confidence in your computer skills and the computer skills of your students but you can start small and build up. Even though there may be some learning needed by yourself and / or the students with using elearning methods, there is a lot of value as most students will meet elearning or electronic collaboration in the workplace.(a recent survey in Australia showed 50% of workplaces using elearning, click for Report)
If your teaching includes the skills needed for elearning your students will have additional value to a potential employer. You also will have the satisfaction of providing a richer learning experience that also provides more for individual differences.

Where to start?

There are many ways to get into elearning. If you are new to this type of teaching you will probably want to start with something that is not too complex but the beauty of elearning is that you can choose how complex you want it to be! So consider the options immediately below.

This wiki is an elearning resource that models elearning for you. You can:

Browse each area in the order listed in the navigation bar at left.
This should give you a good basic view of elearning.

You can browse the material in the order that it interests you
You may already have some knowledge and want to fill the gaps


You can be guided through the material using this:
A Learning Guide which suggests exercises and skills development along the way

You can simply use this material as a reference
Just dive into something about elearning with this wiki as a backup

If you consider these options you can see already some of the benefits of elearning - the track through the information and the knowledge building allows for the desires, interests and skills of the learner so that each person can learn in a way that suits them.

Like all good teachers however you want to provide teaching that is appropriate to the needs of your students. This certainly means that the elearning method used should be one that is most appropriate for what is being learned but also considers other needs of the students such as accessibility of the technology.
It is important too to realise that the use of elearning is not an 'all or nothing' proposition. The most successful elearning programs are those that are integrated in a thoughtful way with face to face meetings.

More Questions?
You may find that other questions that you have are discussed on the FAQ page.

So why are you waiting?
Get started now - click on the image below to get more information to help you get into elearning!