eLearning: Past, Present and The Future

Since the Chinese Virus aka Covid-19 widespread every corner of the world and affected in most of the countries that are closed behind walls due to this Pandemic, resulting in various govt imposed lockdown around the globe to safeguard the mass population. Well, the ban or a partial movement of the citizens causes many impacts on our everyday life. Now, we are following social distancing, wearing masks, limiting activities, in short, the life is under ‘limited’ mobility and no one would like to stay outside of the home without a very specific reason or extreme necessity.

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This overnight virus attack on earth changes many aspects around us. The most eye-catching change we are seeing is in education. No doubt, eLearning already started since the last couple of years and many startups and big players are lurking to join the race. But, the lockdown caused by Coronavirus has opened the new horizons for e-education. Most of the schools, colleges, institutes, coaching centers, and universities are offering e-classes for their students to keep continue the academics for the current year. Even, many parents insist on their kids getting engaged in many online educational activities like quizzes and riddles.  All you need is an internet connection to access any lecture from your favorite professor online. Even, there are various tools and apps available online that too help to improve your writing skills. It’s old days to physically sit and take a lecture at the university.

Today, let’s discuss what is eLearning, how it will affect our lives in the coming future.

e-learning

What is eLearning?

Utilizing electronic gadgets and advanced communication technologies in the education system is known as eLearning. It is another way of attending classes outside of the traditional classroom. Normally, it is offered to learn a short online course, useful tutorials, specific professional program, or a complete university degree that is delivered totally through online classes.

History of eLearning

The term “e-learning” has only been in existence since 1999 when the word was first utilized at a CBT systems seminar. However, the principles behind e-learning have been well documented throughout history, and there is even evidence that suggests that early forms of e-learning existed as far back as the 19th century.

e-Learning first recorded in the year 1999 at the CBT systems seminar. Other words also began to spring up in search of an accurate description such as “online learning” and “virtual learning”. Well, before the internet was introduced, distance learning was being offered to provide students with education on specific subjects or skills. In the 1840’s Sir Isaac Pitman, a teacher of the English language who developed the most widely used system of shorthand, known now as Pitman shorthand. He first proposed this in Stenographic Soundhand in 1837. This form of symbolic writing was designed to improve writing speed and was popular amongst secretaries, journalists, and other individuals who did a great deal of note-taking or writing. Pitman, who was a qualified teacher, was sent completed assignments by mail and he would then send his students more work to be finished using the same system.

Some other important timelines of distance education

  • In 1924, the first testing machine was invented. This device allowed students to test themselves.
  • In 1954, BF Skinner, a Harvard Professor, invented the “teaching machine”, which enabled schools to administer programmed instruction to their students.
  • In the 70s online learning started to become more interactive with the Open University. In Britain.
  • The first MAC in the 1980′s enabled individuals to have computers in their homes, making it easier for them to learn about particular subjects and develop certain skill sets.
  • By the early 90s in the USA, several schools had been set up that delivered courses online only.
  • In the 2000′s, businesses began using e-learning to train their employees.

Online learning today

After the entry of the internet and the computers in the last quarter of the 20th Century, eLearning methods and systems have grown very well. Later after 2000, the virtual education ecosystem truly thrives and rises exponentially on year on year. Moreover, the mass population has ease of internet access around the world truly boost online communication and information sharing that opened up the ways of today’s e-education.

Even businesses have also adopted this opportunity for their employees to improve upon their industry knowledge base and expand their skill sets. At home, individuals were granted access to programs that offered them the ability to earn online degrees and enrich their lives through expanded knowledge.

eLearning benefits

Main benefits of eLearning

1. Economic benefit of eLearning

Opting for educational courses might be expensive, while eLearning provides affordable and free online-based certificate and degree courses, distant education, and learning contents.

2. Dream Institution

eLearning provides an opportunity to avail classes from distant educational institutions of their dream online overseas. The most prominent example is MITx courses.

3. Subjects And Assistance

The learner gets the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of subjects and courses. They get to study as per their preferred time and flexibility, get academic assistance or assignment help online, they can give their exams online, etc.

4. Time Management in eLearning

The learner can practically take the courses at a convenient time with customized options of their choice. Time management is essential for candidates with existing jobs who find it quite difficult to take out time for studying.

Future of eLearning

There is no doubt about the bright and high-growth in the e-education in the coming future, everybody is predicting that it will gain skyrocket momentum. Here we have listed out 10 trends that suggest believing the future of e-learning and its role in future classrooms. For those teachers, professors, parents, students, and administrators who are looking to make a wise investment in the future of education, this guide is for you.

1. Adaptive Learning 

Adaptive learning — or adaptive teaching — is the delivery of custom learning experiences that address the unique needs of an individual through just-in-time feedback, pathways, and resources (rather than providing a one-size-fits-all learning experience). It is a style of education where resources, activities, projects, and assignments are tailored to each student’s individual needs. In the context of eLearning, the implementation of adaptive learning is usually performed by way of established algorithms and assessments, as opposed to the potentially arbitrary determinations of teachers themselves.

adaptive learning

Thus far, adaptive learning has been largely experimental, with companies and competitors having spent the past couple of years working out the kinks and engaging in small-scale execution. As eLearning continues to develop, the experiments will end and the widespread adoption will begin. Already, the major eLearning platforms are offering adaptive learning services, and there’s no reason that the trend won’t continue for the foreseeable future.

2. Social Learning

Social learning takes the base components of human interaction and group dynamics and applies them to the modern technological age. Online forums, class-wide chat rooms, file-sharing platforms – with social learning in the electronic space, collaboration has never been more productive, efficient, and seamless. Now, teammates can offer insight and support from anywhere, whether it be their classroom, their homes, or their nearby coffee shops.

social learning importance in eLearning

As social learning applications continue to develop, more and more collaborative tools will likely enter the fray for market dominance. What’s more is that, outside of individual classrooms and group project scenarios, social learning as a whole could grow to become the spine of school-wide curriculums everywhere.

3. Video learning 

Although it’s a bit of a generalization, they say that there are three types of learners – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic – that excel best in education when faced with videos, vocals, and practical demonstrations, respectively. For many years, despite this dichotomy, auditory learners were the only group properly served by the standard lecture/note-taking classroom format. With the advent of eLearning, that’s no longer the case, with video learning becoming more and more of a fixture in classrooms everywhere.

video learning

From video-based lectures to instructional videos, video learning has certainly come a long way from the shared-classroom televisions of old. Today, and going forward, there is nary an application that cannot be improved by the use of video learning. As such, there’s no reason to expect a backslide anytime soon.

4. Artificial Intelligence

It’s safe to say that artificial intelligence, or AI, has surpassed its original reputation of being the evil impetus behind HAL 9000 and the Y2K conspiracy theories. Today, what with Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and your everyday text-based chatbots, AI has experienced at-home integration around the world.

artificial-intelligence-elearning-infographic

Beyond simple smartphone commands, AI has found a use in the context of eLearning. Backing up the concepts behind adaptive learning, AI is not only able to guide students through courses, but it can also help inform learning predictions and on-the-fly personalization. The potential applications for this currently seem limitless, considering the presence of AI in several industries outside of education. Within, however, consumers and instructors alike can expect more and more sophistication, with more flexibility permitted when it comes to alternative learning styles and needs.

5. Microlearning

It’s common sense that many students, regardless of their age, maybe daunted at the prospect of large, multi-phase projects. Those students, as well as collaborative classrooms everywhere, have found much greater success by breaking up projects, lessons, and other learning materials into manageable chunks. These so-called chunks may manifest as video lectures, readable text, interactive activities, to name just a few applications.

Microlearning

Otherwise known as microlearning, instructors have found that lessons, in addition to online modules, yield greater and faster retention when, for example, a 2-hour long lesson is broken up into 4 30-minute long sessions. Microlearning is indicative of a trend that goes beyond eLearning itself, and into the realm of traditional classroom spaces. As such, it’s clear that the common implementation of microlearning is not yet complete.

6. Gamification

It doesn’t matter whether you’re five years old or fifty, learning is always more interesting, not to mention more digestible, when it’s fun. Referred to as gamification, or game-based learning, this facet of eLearning attempts to make education fun!

It isn’t all about fun and games, however, as there are proven benefits surrounding the initiation of games following the introduction or review of lessons. First off, it can provide an immediate application of, and interaction with, the material. When understanding is up, so too is engagement, retention, grades, and overall classroom happiness.

gamification-transforms-elearning-experiences

Given the large swath of positive results, there’s no reason that game-based learning solutions will not continue to be implemented in classrooms, both digital and physical, for the foreseeable future. Moreover, when it comes to the somewhat impersonal nature of eLearning in particular, gamification of the industry is not just welcomed, it’s ideal.

7. Mobile Learning

Although not strictly a part of what comprises ‘traditional’ eLearning, the evolution of mobile learning, or mLearning, is certainly an appropriate trend to consider. Not too long ago, the concept of doing anything on your mobile device beyond simple phone calls and 8-bit games was a pipe dream. Fast forward to today, just about everything is possible, and everyone appreciates the ability to do things while on-the-go.

Mobile-Learning

When it comes to mLearning, however, there is still a slight bit of way to go before it becomes fully viable. The past couple of years have been very kind to it, in that respect, with phone-based language-learning applications coming to the fore. While it’s a decent step, mLearning architectures still need to find ways to embrace the same learning facets trends that eLearning managed to do before it can become widespread and commonplace. That said, in the future, there’s no doubt that mLearning will grow to be huge.

8. Augmented & Virtual Reality

360-degree visuals, graphics overlays, and an explorable interface – these are just a few applications for virtual and augmented reality in the context of eLearning. Already, the pre-existing paradigm of a teacher scribbling on a blackboard has gone out the window and there’s nowhere to go, but up.

ar-vr-elearning-authoring-tools

In practice, augmented and virtual reality allows practitioners of eLearning to fully immerse their students into the subject matter, regardless of whether it involves mathematics, science, history, or literature. What’s more, is that augmented and virtual reality also serves to take the other factors of eLearning to all-new heights. Video learning, gamification, and mobile learning have never been so immersive when paired with augmented and virtual reality, and the technology is improving all the time, so I look forward to seeing this eLearning trend continue for a while yet.

9. Learning Management Systems

In many collaborative environments and workplaces, employers and managers commonly implement what is known as a content management system, or CMS, to create and store digital content. Recently, this concept has expanded into the world of eLearning. With the advent of learning management systems (LMS), instructors and other eLearning practitioners are able to develop, document, and administer the courses and curriculums that are produced.

learning-management-system

Considering the behind-the-scenes nature of LMSs, it has become easier than ever to simultaneously plan ahead and course-correct. In either case, this sort of content curation works is permitted by way of an LMS user’s ability to share information and integrate materials at the last minute. As modern forms of learning, and eLearning in particular, become more and more digitized and supported, the availability of an LMS will make lesson planning and management a breeze, thus doing away with the old analog methods for good. As such, LMSs are here to stay.

10. Learning & Development 

Learning Management Systems aren’t only about lesson planning and implementation. More to the point, they assist teachers and other behind-the-scenes figures to gather actionable data and other analytic factors. Not only does this help all involved to properly evaluate the effectiveness of a lesson and/or overall course, but it also plays a key role in Learning & Development.

Otherwise known by its shortened moniker, L&D, Learning, and Development is a management strategy that correlates individual performance with overall institutional goals. While this is commonly applied in a variety of industries and contexts, we are obviously here to discuss its specific role in eLearning. Therein, those working with L&D assist teachers in applying the gathered data in a way that improves that which is lagging in their lessons and courses.

Gamification augmented reality, microlearning, video learning, social learning, and adaptive learning processes were all borne out of data-driven indications of success. As eLearning trends continue upward, the role of L&D, as well as data and analytics, will continue to expand in turn. After all, it would be difficult to advance and improve without the facts to back it up.

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