Learning: A Click, Touch & Swipe Away Engaging Education through Technology

Learning: A Click, Touch & Swipe Away

Engaging Education through Technology

In a world reliant on technology, from mundane to out-of-the-box activities are covered somehow with it in any ways and means. When the new generation is highly active and entirely proficient in using technologically advanced products and systems (referred to as digital natives), a new format of education and learning which will offer provisions for new demands is now needed to further us all. 

E-learning (or eLearning) refers to the use of electronic media and information and communication technologies (ICT) in education. E-learning is broadly inclusive of all forms of educational technology in learning and teaching. E-learning is inclusive of, and is broadly synonymous with multimedia learning, technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based instruction (CBI), computer-based training (CBT), computer-assisted instruction or computer-aided instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), web-based training (WBT), online education, virtual education, virtual learning environments (VLE) (which are also called learning platforms), m-learning, and digital educational collaboration. These alternative names emphasize a particular aspect, component or delivery method.

E-learning includes numerous types of media that deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video, and includes technology applications and processes such as audio or video tape, satellite TV, CD-ROM, and computer-based learning, as well as local intranet/extranet and web-based learning. Information and communication systems, whether free-standing or based on either local networks or the Internet in networked learning, under many e-learning processes.

E-learning can occur in or out of the classroom. It can be self-paced, asynchronous learning or may be instructor-led, synchronous learning. E-learning is suited to distance learning and flexible learning, but it can also be used in conjunction with face-to-face teaching, in which case the term blended learning is commonly used.


E-learning refers to the use of technology in learning and education. There are several aspects to describing the intellectual and technical development of e-learning, which can be categorized into discrete areas. These are addressed in turn in the sections of this article:

e-learning as an educational approach or tool that supports traditional subjects;

e-learning as a technological medium that assists in the communication of knowledge, and its development and exchange;

e-learning itself as an educational subject; such courses may be called "Computer Studies" or "Information and Communication Technology (ICT)";

e-learning administrative tools such as education management information systems (EMIS).


E-learning is an inclusive term that describes educational technology that electronically or technologically supports learning and teaching. Bernard Luskin, a pioneer of e-learning, advocates that the "e" should be interpreted to mean "exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, emotional, extended, excellent, and educational" in addition to "electronic." This broad interpretation focuses on new applications and developments, and also brings learning and media psychology into consideration. Parks suggested that the "e" should refer to "everything, everyone, engaging, easy".

Depending on whether a particular aspect, component or delivery method is given emphasis, a wide array of similar or overlapping terms has been used. As such, e-learning encompasses multimedia learning, technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based training (CBT), computer-assisted instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), web-based training (WBT), online education, virtual education, virtual learning environments (VLE) which are also called learning platforms, m-learning, digital educational collaboration, distributed learning, computer-mediated communication, cyber-learning, and multi-modal instruction. Every one of these numerous terms has had its advocates, who point up particular potential distinctions. In practice, as technology has advanced, the particular "narrowly defined" aspect that was initially emphasized has blended into "e-learning." As an example, "virtual learning" in a narrowly-defined semantic sense implies entering the environmental simulation within a virtual world, for example in treating PTSD. In practice, a "virtual education course" refers to any instructional course in which all, or at least a significant portion, is delivered by the Internet. "Virtual" is used in that broader way to describe a course that not taught in a classroom face-to-face but through a substitute mode that can conceptually be associated "virtually" with classroom teaching, which means that people do not have to go to the physical classroom to learn. Accordingly, virtual education refers to a form of distance learning in which course content is delivered by various methods such as course management applications, multimedia resources, and videoconferencing. Students and instructors communicate via these technologies.

The worldwide e-learning industry is economically significant, and was estimated in 2000 to be over $48 billion according to conservative estimates. Developments in internet and multimedia technologies are the basic enabler of e-learning, with consulting, content, technologies, services and support being identified as the five key sectors of the e-learning industry. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are used extensively by young people.

E-learning expenditures differ within and between countries. Finland, Norway, Belgium and Korea appear to have comparatively effective programs.


In 1960, the University of Illinois initiated a classroom system based in linked computer terminals where students could access informational resources on a particular course while listening to the lectures that were recorded via some form of remotely-linked device like television or audio device.

In the early 1960s, Stanford University psychology professors Patrick Suppes and Richard C. Atkinson experimented with using computers to teach math and reading to young children in elementary schools in East Palo Alto, California. Stanford's Education Program for Gifted Youth is descended from those early experiments. In 1963, Bernard Luskin installed the first computer in a community college for instruction, working with Stanford and others, developed computer assisted instruction. Luskin completed his landmark UCLA dissertation working with the Rand Corporation in analyzing obstacles to computer assisted instruction in 1970.

Educational institutions began to take advantage of the new medium by offering distance learning courses using computer networking for information.

Early e-learning systems, based on Computer-Based Learning/Training often attempted to replicate autocratic teaching styles whereby the role of the e-learning system was assumed to be for transferring knowledge, as opposed to systems developed later based on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL), which encouraged the shared development of knowledge.

Computer-based learning made up many early e-learning courses such as those developed by Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz in the 1970s and 80s at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and the ones developed at the University of Guelph in Canada. In 1976, Bernard Luskin launched Coastline Community College as a "college without walls" using television station KOCE-TV as a vehicle. By the mid-1980s, accessing course content become possible at many college libraries.

Cassandra B. Whyte researched about the ever increasing role that computers would play in higher education. This evolution, to include computer-supported collaborative learning, in addition to data management, has been realized. The type of computers has changed over the years from cumbersome, slow devices taking up much space in the classroom, home, and office to laptops and handheld devices that are more portable in form and size and this minimalization of technology devices will continue.

The Open University in Britain and the University of British Columbia (where Web CT, now incorporated into Blackboard Inc. was first developed) began a revolution of using the Internet to deliver learning, making heavy use of web-based training and online distance learning and online discussion between students. Practitioners such as Harasim (1995), put heavy emphasis on the use of learning networks.

With the advent of World Wide Web in the 1990s, teachers embarked on the method using emerging technologies to employ multi-object oriented sites, which are text-based online virtual reality system, to create course websites along with simple sets instructions for its students. As the Internet becomes popularized, correspondence schools like University of Phoenix became highly interested with the virtual education, setting up a name for itself in 1980.

In 1993, Graziadei described an online computer-delivered lecture, tutorial and assessment project using electronic mail. By 1994, thefirst online high school had been founded. In 1997, Graziadei described criteria for evaluating products and developing technology-based courses include being portable, replicable, scalable, and affordable, and having a high probability of long-term cost-effectiveness.

By 1994, CALCampus presented its first online curriculum as Internet becoming more accessible through major telecommunications networks. CALCampus is where concepts of online-based school first originated, this allowed to progress real-time classroom instructions and Quantum Link classrooms. With the drastic shift of Internet functionality, multimedia began introducing new schemes of communication; through the invention of webcams, educators can simply record lessons live and upload them on the website page. There are currently wide varieties of online education that are reachable for colleges, universities and K-12 students. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics estimate the number of K-12 students enrolled in online distance learning programs increased by 65 percent from 2002 to 2005. This form of high learning allowed for greater flexibility by easing the communication between teacher and student, now teachers received quick lecture feedbacks from their students. The idea of Virtual Education soon became popular and many institutions began following the new norm in the education history.

The emergence of e-learning is arguably one of the most powerful tools available to the growing need for education. The need to improve access to education opportunities allowed students who desire to pursue their education but are constricted due to the distance of the institution to achieve education through "virtual connection" newly available to them. Online education is rapidly increasing and becoming as a viable alternative for traditional classrooms. According to a 2008 study conducted by the U.S Department of Education, back in 2006-2007 academic year, about 66% of postsecondary public and private schools began participating in student financial aid programs offered some distance learning courses, record shows only 77% of enrollment in for-credit courses being for those with an online component. In 2008, the Council of Europe passed a statement endorsing e-learning's potential to drive equality and education improvements across the EU.

Educational approach

The extent to which e-learning assists or replaces other learning and teaching approaches is variable, ranging on a continuum from none to fully online distance learning. A variety of descriptive terms have been employed (somewhat inconsistently) to categorize the extent to which technology is used. For example, 'hybrid learning' or 'blended learning' may refer to classroom aids and laptops, or may refer to approaches in which traditional classroom time is reduced but not eliminated, and is replaced with some online learning. 'Distributed learning' may describe either the e-learning component of a hybrid approach, or fully online distance learning environments. Another scheme described the level of technological support as 'web enhanced', 'web supplemented' and 'web dependent'.

Synchronous and asynchronous

E-learning may either be synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous learning occurs in real-time, with all participants interacting at the same time, while asynchronous learning is self-paced and allows participants to engage in the exchange of ideas or information without the dependency of other participants′ involvement at the same time.

Synchronous learning involves the exchange of ideas and information with one or more participants during the same period of time. A face-to-face discussion is an example of synchronous communications. In e-learning environments, examples of synchronous communications include online real-time live teacher instruction and feedback, Skype conversations, or chat rooms or virtual classrooms where everyone is online and working collaboratively at the same time.

Asynchronous learning may use technologies such as email, blogs, wikis, and discussion boards, as well as web-supported textbooks, hypertext documents, audio video courses, and social networking using web 2.0. At the professional educational level, training may include virtual operating rooms. Asynchronous learning is particularly beneficial for students who have health problems or have child care responsibilities and regularly leaving the home to attend lectures is difficult. They have the opportunity to complete their work in a low stress environment and within a more flexible timeframe. In asynchronous online courses, students proceed at their own paces. If they need to listen to a lecture a second time, or think about a question for a while, they may do so without fearing that they will hold back the rest of the class. Through online courses, students can earn their diplomas more quickly, or repeat failed courses without the embarrassment of being in a class with younger students. Students also have access to an incredible variety of enrichment courses in online learning, and can participate in college courses, internships, sports, or work and still graduate with their class.

Both the asynchronous and synchronous methods rely heavily on self-motivation, self-discipline, and the ability to communicate in writing effectively.


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