E-learning is the use of electronic technologies to create learning experiences (Horton). We live in an age of increasing technology usage across all aspects of our lives. Students are captivated by the new technologies that are being created every day. The predictions that students who have grown up with digital media will learn differently and demand a more engaging form of education, have led to a number of studies and surveys of student attitudes, behaviors and uses of technology (Renne). Instructional Design is always in a state of change. New methods and understanding of how students actually learn is evolving from teacher-based instruction to learner-centered and responsible learning. The practices of peer evaluation, student-generated content, and teacher-as-equal-partner may make students from some non-Western cultures feel uncomfortable and leave them floundering rather than participating (Renne, p.14). The challenge is how to meet the demands of a changing educational system while still utilizing the instructional methods that have yielded the best results.
Many current educators feel the shift toward E-Learning is a forecast to the removal of the teacher from the learning process. Fortunately, this far from the truth. Instructors are important, not strictly in terms of guidance and feedback, but also in terms of role identification and modeling (Carliner). Just as the understanding of the learning process is ever-changing, so is the method of lesson creation. Teachers spend many years developing their understanding of their content and how to best present the information to their students. In adding a new instructional delivery and learning method such as e-learning, change will always be a continual process. Teachers must also continuously evaluate their students and lessons. Course management systems are helpful but need to be supplemented by external resources, both custom developed and publicly available on the web (Carliner).
It is important to appreciate that instructional technologies make possible the transformation of the educational experience (Garrison). Students are changing, the educational system must adapt. The flexible and collaborative potential of e-learning is in stark contrast to the traditional practices of distance education (Garrison, p.66). E-learning allows students to connect with their students and teachers continuously through the web. Students can collaborate on projects and their learning experience is more personal because it allows the students to work at their own pace. One of the few things that practically everyone agrees on in both education and training is that people learn at different rates and have different learning needs (Reiser, Dempsey, 2012). With E-Learning we are able to address the needs of the varying abilities and learning styles of students. Progress can be monitored in real time and students can receive instant feedback on learning objectives.
Though e-learning is the way of the future it is not without its deficiencies. Academic honesty and copyright issues will always add a level of difficulty for instructors in grading student work. E-learning and instructional design is still a work in progress. Innovation will continue to change as e-learning becomes more prevalent in the classroom or the classroom becomes a truly hybrid learning environment.
Carliner, Saul & (eds), Patti Shank. ( © 2008). The e-learning handbook: past promises, present challenges. [Books24x7 version] Available from http://libproxy.uhcl.edu:4535/toc.aspx?bookid=22812.
Garrison, D. R. (2011). E-learning in the 21st Century : A Framework for Research and Practice. New York: Routledge.
Horton, William. ( © 2012). E-learning by design, 2nd edition. [Books24x7 version] Available from http://libproxy.uhcl.edu:4535/toc.aspx?bookid=44341.
Rennie, Frank, and Morrison, Tara. E-Learning and Social Networking Handbook : Resources for Higher Education (2nd Edition). Florence, KY, USA: Routledge, 2012. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 1 February 2015.
Reiser, Robert A., & Dempsey, John V. (2012), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology Third Edition. Boston : PearsonWatch This Interesting Video