Trends of online learning are increasing very fast now days. Not more than four to five decades behind, when the internet was just a way to connect different warheads, who would have anticipated that in such a short time, this thing will grow to be big enough to hold the whole world in its spell. Since then, time has passed much quickly, and today, it has stuffed itself in the every field of life, ranging from shopping to medication at one end to online learning at the other. Even for the companies, it has become a powerful way of training their employees, thanks to its widespread reach and access to almost every learning material.
When it comes to employee training and development, then it is no surprise that e-learning has greatly replaced the hardcover books, which means you can get nearly any type of book in the world of internet. Just get to Google, type the name of any book or a tutorial or even a training course, proceed a little further with one of the served websites and you’ll be at your destination.
In other words, the internet has revolutionized the ways by which training to the employees can be delivered. It does not matter whether you are a manager trying to look for the best educational resources or even an employee currently working in an organization, the internet will always be there for you to go with.
Well! Enough of this introduction, before we get to our pace of explaining the potential features, pros, and cons of e-learning, it might be better if we clear up this “e-learning” term so that it doesn’t cause any confusion later on.
What is Online Learning?
Any instruction or training delivered, which can be considered as a part of education or employee development, through the use of the computer that’s connected to the internet can be considered as online learning or e-learning. It includes virtual classrooms, distance learning, learning portals, simulation-based training, task-based support and sometimes, even, CD-ROMs.
Moreover, it is also true that the accessibility of the training assets can be restricted to just employees of the company that initiates it or if the company wants, then general public can also be given access to the training materials. This e-learning stuff is characterized through keeping some important points in mind and is totally irrespective of what part of the company handles a particular part.
First of all, e-learning is based entirely on electronic networks which make the process of delivering, sharing and gathering data come to life in just a blink of the eye. The second condition for considering a learning source to be one of these is that the instructor must also use the computer and the internet to contact and teach the learners. The third, and the last, point says that the solutions that it offers leave traditional training behind by using the tools that can improve the performance and boost up the productivity at the same time.
Online Learning and Employee Development
Companies do need to keep their employees up to date with the latest of the skills relevant to a particular field and that’s necessary to stay ahead of the competition. That’s where the e-learning steps into the scenario and helps the companies with its unbeatable potential of keeping the organizations connected to educational and training portals. E-learning enables the instructors (mentors, teachers or trainer, or whatever one is) to take control of the employee’s learning pace, the content which he is able to access, the difficulty level of practice tasks and time limit to cover them and, sometimes, feedback for explaining what the trainee has learned also.
E-learning surely has huge potential, some obvious and some still hidden and it’s not limited to just companies and organizations, in fact, anyone can access a particular document available online, provided if public access is allowed. But some companies prefer it to keep the learning resources just for its employees. Well! Its functionality is not limited to just being a means of connecting learners and educational resources. Instead, it can also be an ultimate means of communication and collaboration between team members. With the help of it, both learners and experts can share the links to other learning resources like company Websites, reference materials as well as other training programs.
With the capability of using different types of materials like videos, images, and sound, rather than just old boring text, for helping the employees interact with the course materials. Interactive courses are also highly popular these days. They help feel the trainees as if they are in live learning and teaching environment, where they might be able to ask questions from their mentor (depending upon the course supplier) as well as testing themselves.
Even for administration, it has pretty powerful features holding back i.e. tools which decrease a headache provoking capabilities of the enrollment process. Moreover, monitoring has become an interesting thing for the administrations, thanks to those who provide such tools which make the work easier and to the internet, too, for sharing these with us.
Online learning surely has got great features but one must keep in mind that not every feature, mentioned is incorporated in each and every learning method. It might be the result of the difficulty that the course planners face while incorporating these features into the learning methods or maybe they, just, did not want to include a particular feature to it. For example, when it comes to distance learning, the trainees do not have much control over the learner’s pace and practice. It might be that including one feature to an e-learning method can do more bad than good, as in program developing, that’s why developers refrain themselves from adding opportunities for collaboration of learners.
Advantages of Online Learning
The main strength of e-learning is its capability of being taken advantage of, even on the go. It doesn’t matter, whether you are an employee who needs some help from online resources to help him get out of a serious problem, or any ordinary housewife working in a kitchen and wants to try off a new recipe. Possibilities are endless and so, does the chances for the internet to help one out of a particular problem.
For companies, online learning is an extremely important part of their training programs and most of the companies of today, design the e-learning initiatives for their employees, themselves, so that it can help that business in achieving highly tactical objectives without any external interferences. It enables the businesses to deliver the training to their employees, irrespective of the limits implied by space and time, and that, too, an extremely fast pace.
Further, it is also possible that the organization formulates a piece of software to govern each and every aspect of the employee training like objectives, practice, assessment, and feedback. Even, updating the course material, at the time of need, will be a piece of cake in this situation. This reduces the need for the old rusty paperwork related to the management and training, to an amazing extent.
Disadvantages of Online Learning
Even though it is a fact that online learning leaves those daily, dull-routine classroom face-to-face interactions, far behind but most of the time, what keeps it from achieving the maximum of its potential is the lack of motivation of the learners towards e-learning. Furthermore, in some cases, the costs involved in running a successful e-learning system grow much bigger than the return on investment which it should bring in and here, lack of proper management and low-quality content plays its role, thus rendering it pretty useless.