“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”
R. Buckminster Fuller
What is e-learning?
It is commonly accepted that technological advances have immensely changed the way we live, work, absorb and process information. One field that has been heavily altered and advanced, given the rapid progress and everyday use of technology in several aspects, is that of education and learning. Electronic learning, or e-learning, by definition is a teaching and learning system formalized through electronic devices such as computers and mobile phones. We have all worked with, one way or another, some e-learning systems, whether that be a webinar, a PowerPoint presentation, or by simply watching a YouTube video. But when and how did this form of learning emerge?
Only at the very end of the 20th century (1999) was the term “e-learning” coined for a CBT (Creative Broadcast Techniques) systems seminar. However, the concept was already familiar to the academic community since the 60’s, when Professor Don Bitzer created the first computer-based education tool called PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations). PLATO was first functioning as a computer-based educator for students, however, it radically became a tool for multi-user computing!
Fast forward to 2020, the world certainly did not expect to be struck by the covid-19 pandemic, a situation that forced businesses and schools to shut down; due to this, one major change that affected our lives the last two years was the immediate need to be able to work and study remotely, and adapt to a cyber-working and learning environment.
Thankfully, more and more e-learning trends continue to pop up to facilitate the new reality, rapidly making computer-based learning systems the new norm.
Which of these e-learning trends have been and are currently popular?
An educational approach that is based on delivering small and simple units of information to the user/reader, in order for them to learn and remember it more easily. One great example of micro-learning? The Duo lingo app!
- Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence by computer systems or machines.
- Augmented Reality is an interactive experience where the real environment is being augmented by computer generated information, such as audiovisual information!
- Virtual Reality is a computer-based technology that simulates reality in 3D. This can be experienced through goggles, a VR headset, or other mobile devices.
- Finally, Mixed Reality blends the previous two experiences together by merging the real and the virtual world to produce new environments!
A very popular e-learning experience, incorporating games and quizzes into virtual environments in order to make them more appealing, fun and creative, as well as increase participation.
Another engaging e-learning system is that of video based learning. As the words imply, it’s a way for the user to acquire information by watching a video.
Content creation & curation
Α crucial e-learning trend with which content on a specific topic is created completely from scratch by someone, or curated (with already existing information gathered from relevant topics and ideas) to deliver a well presented, engaging result.
As the name suggests, mobile training is a way to deliver content and training material through mobile devices (cell phones, tablets etc.). Mobile learning (or mLearning) did not pick up as fast as the rest of the trends as only a few companies created mobile friendly versions of their apps at first. However, as the demand grew for more fast, convenient and on-the-go training and information, Mobile Learning slowly became one of the most popular trends.
Adaptive learning is probably one of the most useful methods of e-learning, as it customizes content and information for each specific student, according to their needs and experience. This is possible through special algorithms and assessments.
To conclude, e-learning systems have created easily accessible, fast and interactive teaching and learning environments for users, delivering information and content at a mouse click. As technology advances, more and more e-learning tools and systems will continue to emerge and change to adapt to societal needs, reducing the physical distance and opening the world to new learning possibilities.
What will come next?