The vast movement towards e-learning is clearly motivated by the many benefits it offers. However much e-learning is praised and innovated, computers will never completely eliminate human instructors and other forms of educational delivery. What is important is to know exactly what e-learning advantages exist and when these outweigh the limitations of the medium.
Features Unique to e-Learning
Like no other training form, e-learning promises to provide a single experience that accommodates the three distinct learning styles of auditory learners, visual learners, and kinesthetic learners. Other unique opportunities created by the advent and development of e-learning are more efficient training of a globally dispersed audience; and reduced publishing and distribution costs as Web-based training becomes a standard.
E-learning also offers individualized instruction, which print media cannot provide, and instructor-led courses allow clumsily and at great cost. In conjunction with assessing needs, e-learning can target specific needs. And by using learning style tests, e-learning can locate and target individual learning preferences.
Additionally, synchronous e-learning is self-paced. Advanced learners are allowed to speed through or bypass instruction that is redundant while novices slow their own progress through content, eliminating frustration with themselves, their fellow learners, and the course.
In these ways, e-learning is inclusive of a maximum number of participants with a maximum range of learning styles, preferences, and needs.
All collaborative learning theory contends that human interaction is a vital ingredient to learning. Consideration of this is particularly crucial when designing e-learning, realizing the potential for the medium to isolate learners. With well-delivered synchronous distance education, and technology like message boards, chats, e-mail, and tele-conferencing, this potential drawback is reduced. However, e-learning detractors still argue that the magical classroom bond between teacher and student, and among the students themselves, can not be replicated through communications technology.
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