eLearning is digital life long learning

methodsIt’s not Norman Rockwell’s 1950’s.

We are increasingly mobile. We no longer work for one company our entire career. We are returning for advanced degrees.

Our jobs have become more specialized. They also require constantly updated skills and knowledge.

Our new skills and knowledge advance our careers. They also help us stay employed.

We are beginning to change careers. We can change careers because we can also acquire new skills and knowledge — that build upon our earlier experience.

Even our hobbies and home life of our life now require new skills and knowledge. Want to renovate  your home? You need to learn new skills. Want to add a hobby? The same approach applies. You start with searching for how to do something, watch video clips or read step-by-step tutorials.

Today, we are all engaged in life long learning.

How we acquire our new skills and knowledge? How do we find the time to do this given our hectic schedules?

How do organizations deliver skills and knowledge to their employees? To their customers? How do organizations deliver new content when it is convenient for the person taking the course? That’s why we have the “e” in eLearning.

The “e” in eLearning means the course is stored in digital format. You can take a course when it is convenient for you. The convenience factor also means you are ready to learn because you are focused on the task at hand.

eLearning means effective life long learning.

eLearning has been around since 1960 but you wouldn’t recognize it. eLearning used to be the province of large corporations, universities, and governments. Today, that is not the case. Small and mid-sized organizations are growing and thriving because they provide access to new skills and knowledge acquisition. eLearning is also available to individual teachers, coaches, mentors, and application developers. The explosion of blogs and how-to videos illustrate that individuals can be effective at teaching new steps and reviewing products and services.

What is eLearning? Here’s a quick primer.

eLearning uses electronic media combined with information and communication technologies to deliver education. You take self-paced courses when it is convenient for your schedule. You do not have to rely on everyone in the class getting together at the same time, in the same place. The eLearning material is available 24/7/265 — twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and three hundred sixty-five days a year. These self-paced courses are asynchronous.

Asynchronous learning is student-centered learning. Asynchronous learning takes place without regard time, distance, and location constraints. The eLearning resources are usually organized and delivered from a Learning Management Systems (LMS). The LMS stores and shares the content with registered students. The LMS also enables online interaction among students and teachers. Students can post and reply to messages in structured or unstructured discussion boards. Other forms of peer-to-peer or student-to-coach, mentor, or teacher can take place including text or voice chat, telephone conversation, videoconferencing using Skype or FaceTime, and even meetings in 3D virtual spaces such as Second Life.

Instructor-led courses are referred to as synchronous learning. This is a learning environment where teachers and students are in the same place at the same time. Technology has evolved to support instructor-led courses with everyone gathered at one online location at the same time. The use of technologies such as instant messaging or live chat, webinars, and video conferencing allow students and teachers to collaborate, learn, and share knowledge in real time.

Blended learning is a hybrid that uses both asynchronous and synchronous learning.

Today, mobile learning is increasingly popular. Mobile eLearning means learning is convenient and accessible from any location, even the when you are sitting in the backyard or on the beach. It also means you are using a mobile device like a tablet and you are at home leaning back in your chair. You are not sitting upright staring into a computer screen. Mobile eLearning can also be collaborative. It can be real time and sharing can be almost instantaneous among classes with everyone using the same content which leads to instant feedback and tips.

Taken together, eLearning is a structured way to deliver consistent information to build new skills or add to a person’s knowledge.

We used different words to describe the process. In reality, eLearning is about making new information, skills, and knowledge available to an adult when they need it and when it is convenient to learn. That’s all there is to it.