Apart from computer based training, which became popular in the 1980’s, today there is e-learning, which is training enhanced by a host of communication technologies, especially the computer. E-learning methods include tutorials, online lectures, job aids, simulations, games etc. Effective e-learning is a combination of all these methods.
Therefore, e-learning is an approach to enhance and support learning through both communications technology and computers. Devices include CD ROMS, Desktop computers, Tablet computers, Lap tops, MP3 players, Mobile phones, Smart phones, etc. As part of communication technology, various tools like e-mail, internet, discussion forums, collaborative software, team learning systems and classroom management software are used.
Distance learning can be enabled via e-learning through WAN’s (Wide Area Networks). This can be accepted as flexible type of learning. Courses can be customized as per the needs of the learner. This is possible particularly in asynchronous e-learning.
Online education refers to education delivered only through the internet. When education and training is delivered via mobile devices like mobile phones and PDA’s, it is called as M-learning.
E-learning has been growing in popularity in the K-12 system. This refers to the school system from Kindergarten to Class 12. The internet boom of the 1990’s has made online learning particularly endearing. Even in a developing economy like India, K-12 education companies in India using e-learning are slowly growing popular.
E-learning uses four types of pedagogical perspectives:
- Cognitive perspective: It consists of the cognitive process by which learning occurs and the way of working of the brain.
- Emotional perspective: concentrates on the emotional aspects of learning such as fun, engagement, motivation etc.
- Behavioural perspective: concentrates on the behavioural outcomes and skills of the learning process. Application to the actual job setting and role playing are important concerns.
- Social perspective: concentrates on the social aspects that can enhance and improve learning. Discovery by collaboration, interaction with others, and use of peer support as well as peer pressure, figure importantly.
Some regard e-learning as a synonym for effective and efficient learning. But there are critics who point out o the lack of human element- interaction between teacher and student for the definition of education in the highest sense, philosophically. But supporters of e-learning say that there is a way to get around this deficiency- via synchronous learning in which teacher and student communicate using video-conferencing, e-mail, etc. In such a case students and teachers do interact with each other.