For many students, e-learning programs can be as natural as the daily individual components of web content, e-books, and e-mails. The consistent digital availability of all study materials in an online program provides the ability to seamlessly integrate students’ various information sources and storage of the paperless household and office. For this and other reasons it would be difficult to bring the digital generation back to the traditional classroom without an online option.
As Watkins (2014) points out, “… programs, which typically focus on developing both study habits and lifelong learning skills, can also be adapted for online learners to improve the odds of their retention and achievement” (p. 65). According to a study referred by Gutierrez (2016), it is clear that e-learning with a retention rate of 25 – 60%, compared to a 10% rate of face-to-face training, provides for an inherent advantage over traditional classroom learning. It is, therefore, less about an adoption from the traditional to the online classroom than rather the promotion of the current state of the art and particular e-learning advantages themselves. Skills such as information gathering, organization, application and discussion of information I regard as universal core academic skills that need to be considered independent of the format. “The growth of the e-learning industry since 2000 is 900%” (Gutierrez, 2016). The use of e-learning should, therefore, be even recognized as an evolving core academic skill itself.
As the first main advantage of online learning, I consider the possibility of building large classes of diverse and geographically dispersed participants. This diversity opens up new opportunities regarding a global and intercultural learning experience. Secondly, allows the possibility of asynchronous communication in the class the students a high degree of temporal flexibility. A third advantage of online learning, in my opinion, is the timely, continuous, and consistently digital availability of the learning material.
I wholeheartedly agree with Watkins (2014) who is stating that “e-learning courses can … offer learners both the opportunities and resources that are necessary to build useful strategies, skills, and techniques for adapting to the online classroom” (p.65). The application of good practices for the design of online navigation on e-learning platforms may provide for easy to overcome hurdles related to technical usability and the online classroom is well suited to integrate and interlink training and aids for the successful online study.
An online class can conveniently offer continuous access to the complete curriculum and related resources in one virtual place, what might be difficult to achieve without an e-learning platform. For students of today’s mobile, flexible, and technology savvy digital generation, e-learning has become an intuitive way of studying. It could be even difficult for the acceptance of future brick and mortar classroom if they are not enhanced with corresponding easy to access online sharing and collaboration spaces.
Watkins, R. (2014). Building skills for e-learning success. Distance Learning, 11(4), 65–67.
Gutierrez, K. (2016, Apr 07). Facts and Stats That Reveal The Power Of eLearning [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/301248/15-Facts-and-Stats-That-Reveal-The-Power-Of-eLearning