Education has changed dramatically over the years, impacting the way in which people gain information and develop skills, and the eLearning environment has changed accordingly, in an endeavor to keep up with the requirements imposed by both the educational and the business environments. Professionals from the industry keep coming up with new perspectives on what eLearning is and how it should be used in learning and development programs to foster knowledge and skills acquisition. We’ve gathered some of them to give you a brief overview of how eLearning has shaped during the last years. So here it is.
“eLearning is changing. And, we will see new models, new technologies, and designs emerge. So, let's drop the 'e' – or at least give it a new and wider definition.” - Elliott Massie, author and learning technology said. And this is exactly what we were talking about in the beginning. In the events of the new reality imposed by a variety of major changes in the educational environment, eLearning is no longer only a way of teaching, but also a major part of the future of education. Heidi-Hayes Jacobs approached this perspective too, saying that “teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.”
Even more than that, it is an aspect that’s always prone to change, because it has to adapt all the time to many factors. As Tim Buff, CEO & Chief Learning Strategist stated when talking about the most effective tips to become an eLearning professional, “the key to success is to appreciate how people learn, understand the thought process that goes into instructional design, what works well, and a range of different ways of achieving goals.” Or as we’ve always said, learning is indeed universal, but the way in which it is delivered to people should constantly adapt to the needs of the learners. That’s if you want it to prove valuable in the long term, of course.
Matthew Guyan, Learning Experience Designer at Macquarie Bank answered the same question about the most effective tips to become an eLearning pro, and he highlighted the huge importance of motivating the learners: “Think about what your learners need to do with that information after the course is finished and design around that. Motivate your learners. Incorporate elements that give them some autonomy and develop their competence as they complete their eLearning course.” Learners want autonomy and this is one of the major benefits of online learning, that you can empower learning independency among trainees, giving them the opportunity to choose from a variety of learning resources and training tools the ones that fit their learning style and specific needs.
Besides motivation, another essential aspect of a training program is active learning, as Arthur W. Chickering and Stephen C. Ehrmann wrote in one of their articles centered around its importance: “Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write reflectively about it, relate to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.”
According to the same article, listening is not enough to acquire information in the long run, but luckily active learning can be fostered through various methods, such as guided learning, solving puzzles, and peer teaching. To sum it up, the more involvement on the learner's side, the more effective the learning process.
Last but not least, the way in which the learning resources are designed has a great impact on the training process, as Cammy Bean said: “It’s time to step up to the plate and get passionate about your work and commit to making eLearning courses that don't bore people to tears, but instead inspire and motivate them to learn a new skill, change a certain behavior, or improve their performance.”
And that’s applicable to all of us, participants in the learning process. We need to be motivated. We work in an industry that impacts people on so many levels. We can change the way in which people perceive education. From mandatory and boring to impactful and valuable. From something students and employees need to do to something they like to do. We can turn learning into an engaging, collaborative, and fun activity. We have the technology, we have the resources, we have the passion, so what about starting it now? 🙂
Some (final) thoughts
This article is part of a bigger topic called: