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Does E-learning Help in the Field of IT?

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There is little doubt that we are in the e-times. Our e-vocabulary now includes such terms as e-marketing, e-commerce, e-business, and of course e-mail. Hidden within the ever-increasing collection of e-terms is one of great interest to those seeking training in IT: e-learning. E-learning, or otherwise known as online learning has become a viable alternative to standard classroom training and augments traditional home study method.

Essentially, e-learning, electronic learning, is the delivery of education or training with the use of computers. E-learning includes delivery over the Internet, Web-based training (WBT) as well as computer-based training (CBT) on the resident hard drive or over a network.

CBTs have become a popular method of e-learning study and are essentially an interactive training method that enables you to learn on your own computer and at your own pace. Because CBTs can be used anytime and anywhere, they offer a distinct advantage. When installed on a laptop, you can review course materials everywhere from the beach to the mall. Who can resist that?

The two types of e-learning are instructor-led or self-paced e-learning. Instructor led e-learning involves live training with real instructors training realtime over the Interent.The dates and times are arranged, and the course is taught much the same as in the classroom only over the Internet.

Self-paced learning is just that. Courses are offered online, and it is up to the student to decide how and when training is to take place. If you find that your best learning is done between 2 and 4 AM, self paced WBTs or CBTs can accommodate you. It would be much more difficult to find a willing instructor to do the same. Typically, this style of learning still requires tests and assignments to be turned in by a specified time. Flexibility has its limits.

E-learning, the Good and the Bad

On the one hand, e-learning offers huge advantages to the instructor as well as the student. On the other hand, there are potential pitfalls and shortcomings to this method of training. An understanding of both pros and cons of CBT and WBT is essential before choosing this option as a means of learning.

Advantages of E-learning
  • E-learning is convenient because it takes learning out of the classroom. Courses can be taken from home or other locations.

  • E-learning enables students to work at a pace that best suits them.This self-paced training can accommodate those who cannot dedicate consistent or large blocks of time to training. For those less motivated, this flexibility can be a double edged sword.

  • E-learning can remove or at least reduce travel costs involved in training. Students who do not live near a training or education center can use this method of training to prevent the time and cost associated with traveling.

  • While accessing courses on the Internet, students become more familiar with the Web and develop a strong knowledge of the Internet. Whether taking courses through e-learning or in the classroom, knowledge of the Internet is an invaluable resource, and the ability to navigate it effectively is a key for success.

  • E-learning can often accommodate different learning styles; whereas, a classroom does not always have the flexibility to adapt to an individual's learning preferences. Spend 20 minutes a day or 10 hours a day training; whatever suits you better.

  • E-learning often allows greater choice when choosing a school or training center.You can choose one that offers the specific training you may be looking for. Further, you have greater choice with regards to the availability of course delivery times and dates.

  • E-learning is often times cheaper than classroom training. If you want to take courses, but cannot afford the standard classroom setting, you may want to investigate the costs of some of the online training. Remember that good training does not come cheaply, no matter whether you consider e-learning or a traditional classroom.

Because of these advantages e-learning is increasing in demand and popularity. Students can take control of their learning environment and conditions and customize their training experience. E-learning, however, does have its dark side. E-learning does not represent a training Utopia and is an inappropriate and ineffective method of training for many people.

Disadvantages of E-learning

  • Without the encouragement and gentle nudges provided in a classroom setting, many students find it hard to maintain the interest and motivation necessary to complete a course. In the absence of a schedule, it can become all too easy in a self-paced course to put things off until tomorrow. It is important to accurately assess your level of commitment to e-learning before using this as a method for training.

  • Gaps in technical knowledge may be easier to detect in an instructor-led classroom. There can often be huge chunks of technical knowledge missing that greatly hinder training progress.When working alone or with limited support, these gaps may go undetected and can lead to frustrations.

  • Students may have to buy equipment or software to participate in the course. Classroom training includes modern equipment and all of the necessary software. Equipment, or the lack of it, should be factored into the equation when deciding on a method of study.

  • The delivery of the course is dependent on technology, and technology is subject to technical difficulties. When equipment fails, a course on programming can quickly become an exercise in PC repair.

Before deciding on a training method, it is important to examine thoroughly all of your options. Doing a little investigative work can save you both time and money wasted on an option that is not for you. CBT and WBT are an atttractive option to classroom training both in terms of convenience and money. Remember that the reason for training, however, is not for convenience but rather to aquire the knowledge and skills necessary.
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