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Online learning: the pros and cons of e-learning
Covid-19 has driven the digitization of the world of work as well as the acquisition of knowledge. E-learning is booming and that's no wonder, because almost every “niche” knowledge can be accessed online and in your favorite sweatpants. Book author and e-learning researcher Donna J. Abernathy makes it clear:
"Online learning is not the next big thing, it is the now big thing."
Some of the advantages of e-learning are obvious, but what are the disadvantages and for whom is e-learning actually suitable? In this article, we want to shed light on both sides of the coin, present some tips for better learning success and also dare a little outlook into the future of e-learning.
What does the term “e-learning” mean?
E-learning, also known as online learning or electronic learning, refers to the acquisition of knowledge through the use of electronic technologies and media. In a simpler language, e-learning is defined as “electronically enabled learning” and ranges from the countless “how-to videos” on YouTube to e-learning platforms at universities to entire online courses and digital master classes.
As a rule, e-learning is carried out on the Internet, where the learning materials are equally available at any time and any place.
What are the 5 biggest benefits of e-learning?
The most obvious advantage of e-learning is flexibility in terms of space and time. The requested content is mostly available in short modules and can be paused at any time. No matter whether on the way to work, during work or in your free time - the learning workload can be perfectly adapted to the daily routine. Even if you miss an online workshop, written summaries or a video of the teaching unit can be downloaded. E-learning is therefore ideal for in-service training or for deepening in a private area of interest.
Availability & parallel use
The organization of teaching content at universities would hardly be imaginable without platforms such as Moodle or Ilias, but online courses also save a lot of time in the private sector. Without any physical limitation, anyone with Internet access can theoretically access the desired knowledge at the same time - provided the servers hold up.
As e-learning packages adapt to the individual learner, the time it takes to complete a course is significantly reduced. Conventional courses are geared towards the needs of the entire group. But seldom does a single person need everything that is offered to the group. And of course there is no time needed to travel to the course.
An e-learning package can usually be reused as often as the user wishes at no additional cost. There are also numerous free courses and so-called "freemium access". Since e-learning usually allows more course participants at the same time, it is often more cost-effective than conventional learning offers.
All in one place
Your e-learning takes place where you are. All it takes is an internet connection. Learning documents, tutorials, transcripts - everything is stored in the digital space and cannot be lost with a careful backup.
Based on these advantages alone, you can see the almost unlimited potential of e-learning. Nevertheless, there are numerous good reasons why conventional learning methods are still far from obsolete.
What are the 5 biggest disadvantages of e-learning?
The most obvious problem is certainly a lack of internet access and that still affects over 40% of the world's population. In this context, we're not even talking about high-speed internet, sufficient data volume, or connection problems.
Anyone who can learn anytime and anywhere can just as easily do it tomorrow. For many, the spatial separation from the familiar environment is an important factor and the mere fact of being in the same room with other willing learners arouses ambition and promotes concentration.
There is much more to the Internet than just finding the learning materials you want. In addition, you are usually online on your messenger and mail account at the same time. In addition, at home partners, roommates and, most of all, children like to disturb and make noise. It takes a lot of planning and discipline to stay focused in such an environment.
Working at home, learning at home, living at home - real social networks are especially important for children in order to gain social intelligence and develop healthy relationship patterns.
Have you ever taken an online dance class? While imparting theoretical knowledge online is not a problem, many still find the training of practical skills unsatisfactory. Hand movements cannot be physically corrected, steps while dancing can only be observed to a limited extent and movement sequences can only be controlled imprecisely.
Despite the disadvantages listed, experts agree: The advantages of e-learning clearly outweigh these today and even more so in the future. So where can you find the most of the best, cheapest deals on online courses? We did some research for you.
10 tips for successful e-learning
1. Set intermediate goals
Realistic learning goals allow you to keep an eye on the success of your e-learning and keep your motivation to learn high. After all, every course participant, no matter how willing to learn, always needs a sense of achievement. So read your online course requirements carefully, take notes that are closely related to your goals, and double-check them each time.
2. Evaluate the course offer
Imagine you've already set reasonable learning goals. But what's next? The next required step is to research the existing e-learning proposals in the market in order to select the proposal with the highest added value. So try researching other learners' reviews or use free trials.
3. Create an ideal learning environment
Regardless of whether you want to study in the office or in the living room, make sure that this place is quiet, organized, distraction-free and available at all times. Also, ask friends, relatives, and co-workers to respect your “study mode” and turn off your phone.
4. Develop a study plan
Procrastination is the worst enemy of online learners. So make sure to stay organized and not fall behind in your online class. It's best to make a to-do list at the beginning of each week with the tasks you need to complete by the end of the week. This is an excellent way to prioritize your own study plan and not lose track of it.
5. Integrate your e-learning into your calendar
The aim must be to turn the e-learning into a routine that has a fixed place in your weekly planning. That is why it is also important to enter specific times in the calendar and thus give the learning progress the necessary priority in everyday life.
6. Slowly increase the level of difficulty
The best way to do this is to either increase the number of tasks or increase their difficulty. It doesn't matter which method you choose, as both will lead to the goal. The only important thing is that you keep growing yourself with the task.
7. Review, revise, repeat
Regular revisions of the things you've already learned not only improve your memory, but also generally promote understanding of your area of interest. Regardless of whether you work with flashcards, keynotes or your own summaries, the learning success will be noticeable and future tasks will be easier to solve.
8. Find a study group
Not all e-learning courses allow an exchange with other course participants. Even if this is not the case, you can join the discussion in relevant forums and look for allies. Why? When you work in a group, you get alternative views on difficult concepts, you are more motivated to get better results, and you can always ask someone.
9. Look out for interactive courses
The eye learns too. A great advantage of e-learning is the enormous range of processing options. Simulations, appealing graphics and audiovisual teaching aids help to understand difficult content better and increase your willingness to learn.
10. Take regular breaks
The performance often decreases with the learning progress or one reaches a learning plateau and the motivation suffers. That is why scheduled breaks are extremely important. During your breaks, make sure that they do not take place in your study environment. Physical activity in particular helps to maintain a good balance, to replenish energy reserves and to return to learning with a clear mind.
The future of e-learning
If you observe the disruption of the entertainment industry through streaming services, you get a first glimpse of what the e-learning area is about to see. Netflix, Disney + and Amazon Prime Video work with long-term package models that enable access to films and TV programs at the push of a button.
E-learning and especially corporate e-learning are currently in a similar state. On the one hand, we have well-known course providers who have an extensive catalog of standard courses. On the other hand, we have providers who offer a white label solution that sets the customer's branding on the existing, ready-to-use content. In the midst of these two actors there are custom content creators who provide a personalized learning experience.
The next game changer is already in the starting blocks. The market for augmented and virtual reality is expected to exceed the mark of 200 billion US dollars by 2022 and make the devices affordable for private households. The possibilities for integrating AR and VR in e-learning are endless. From creating designs that transport learner to the insides of automobiles to helping medical students understand the intricacies of the human body, AR and VR will play an important role in creating a whole new learning experience. The question that remains is to what extent people will still need it as teachers. Companies like IBM are leaders in developing advanced AI and deep learning solutions. Based on a study published in the International Journal of Advanced Education and Researchthe share of AI in e-learning will increase by approx. 49% in the next 5 years and further increase performance. But the human being remains indispensable as a teacher.
The Talent Garden Innovation School's online courses
Whatever is in demand on the job market of the future, the Talent Garden Innovation School strives to offer practical courses and to make the content available in online courses. Here is a small excerpt from our current range of courses:
UX Design Online Bootcamp:In this 9-week full-time UX Design Bootcamp you will reliably get to know your target group - get to know their preferences and needs and thus create the perfect user experience.
Growth & Digital Marketing Online Program: Within a few weeks we cover the entire growth marketing process, which is a mixture of digital marketing, growth strategy, communication, user experience and coding. Classes take place in the evening and are therefore suitable for working people.
Business Data Analyst Online Program: In this intensive, part-time online course, you will learn how to navigate your way through millions of pieces of data and become a data expert within a few weeks.
Not the right thing? Don't worry, we have more. Just take a look at our website and keep checking our current course program, such as Full Stack Development.
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