E-learning is a broad term that generally refers to any kind of learning done with a computer and Internet connection or CD-ROM. It is used by individuals, educational institutions and businesses. As with any type of learning, it works better for some than others. The quality of e-learning has improved in recent years, as teachers and students have become more comfortable with the technology.
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E-learning is an excellent option in education, particularly when there are hindrances to traditional learning situations. For example, some people wish to continue their educations but do not live within driving distance of a college or university and don't find it feasible to relocate. E-learning is a viable alternative for these students. Another hindrance to traditional learning, especially in grades K through 12, is the "one size fits all" mentality it embraces. Many students just do not learn well in a traditional learning environment, but thrive in a more flexible setting. To address this issue, parents are turning to e-learning opportunities for their children. Some choose full-time enrolment in a virtual school, while others use e-learning to supplement a home school curriculum. In the business world, e-learning provides a way for companies to train and instruct employees without requiring them to travel to a central location.
Convenience is one of the major advantages of e-learning. It allows students to work and learn at their own pace without the unyielding time restrictions of traditional learning. Because e-learning provides access to learning materials at any time, students have the flexibility to schedule around families, jobs and other activities. Another major benefit of e-learning is the accessibility it provides. Students can learn from anywhere in the world. This is an especially important consideration for students who wish to study in a different country. In addition, because e-learning can be done from home, students have less clothing and driving expenses than with traditional learning.
A major disadvantage to e-learning is the self-discipline it requires. While being able to work at your own pace can be an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage. This is especially true for students who have difficulty with time management and procrastination. These students tend to be more successful with the structure of traditional learning. Another disadvantage to e-learning is the technology involved. Some people do not have ready access to a computer and Internet connection. And some who do have the required equipment feel ill-equipped to use it. Lack of interaction between teacher and student is another drawback to e-learning. Some students need the immediate feedback that interaction provides.
There are several types of e-learning situations. The most common include taking a single course online, full-time enrolment in an online high school or college, distance learning via satellite and learning from information on a CD-ROM. Many businesses and organisations offer training for their employees using various e-learning methods.
E-learning greatly increases the availability of educational opportunities. Unfortunately, it also increases the number of scams related to online education. Persons considering e-learning possibilities should be alert to such scams and thoroughly investigate any program before making a commitment.