Origins of learning
The quest for knowledge has always been with man from time immemorial. The seekers of knowledge were deemed wise and well respected in societies all over the globe. Organised education can be traced and found across all cultures, dating back many centuries. It is debateable however, where the first constructed structures such as schools were; whether Timbuktu, Alexandria, Socrates classes in Greece or Chinese courtesans, that is left for archaeologist and Historians to confirm. One undeniable fact is, organised learning has seen many transformations, from clustered students under a tree to classrooms and to the latest e learning developments in the age of the internet and smart devices.
Electronic Learning (e-learning)
While it is now reality in developed countries, less developed countries also view e-learning as the future of education. This alone makes it complicated to even understand the direction this form of education is headed to.
When the University of Illinois, Chicago staff linked up computers in its campus in 1960 they had no idea that they were writing the pages of history. As the name suggests (coined in 1998), this mode of learning incorporates the use of electronic media to convey educational information and material. It has been known to be a “classroom without walls”.
Where next for e learning?
The future of this mode of learning is bright. It has exponential potential if the figures are anything to go by. It is estimated that 70% of global e learning users are from the U.S. and Europe. This can be attributed to the improved internet connectivity, household incomes and awareness of the systems. The developing world counterparts currently lag behind, but represent a huge potential market for e learning. It is projected that with the rising middle class in developing nations, the number of e-leaners from these countries are set to rise. Termed as “MOOC madness” (Mass Open Online Classes), this has been attributed to massive e learning registration especially in the Asian market. Conservative estimates from Global Industry Analyst (GIA) points to a $107 billion market by 2015.
E learning and Accreditation
One of the biggest disadvantages of e-learning is the lack of accreditation. While some institutions offer courses online, they fail to confer certification. This has been the biggest deterrent to new students enrolling. Perhaps this is why corporations are the sole large scale beneficiaries of e learning for internal staff training. While it can be argued that online cheating, procrastination and lack of immediate teacher response skew the learning process towards incompletion, it is important to note that most of the traditional formats of classroom lessons are not abandoned. This can be a driving force to a stricter, cheating-proof system which will eventually lead to certification.
E learning and new technologies
There have been massive leaps in the technological world that have translated into improvements in E-learning. You tube micro-lecture videos, to Skype have offered an efficient platform for instruction by teachers. The systems are more interactive whilst being less invasive. However with the development of Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL), it can’t be wishful thinking that e-learning will move from its PC platforms to mobile phones and tablets.
Imagine, having a lecture anywhere, continuing with a lecture you paused while in transit or during half time of your favourite sport. That seems to be the direction of E-learning, convenience and comfort.