E-Learning. You have probably heard this term a lot. In fact, by now most of us (or our children) have taken some online courses to supplement or earn a degree. But, perhaps you don’t know what all it includes. It’s not simply what most think of as just learning on the computer without a teacher (asynchronous learning –usually self-paced). It is much more than that. E-learning is described as the use of any electronic media and information and communication technologies used in education. When we think about all of the ways that we might utilize technology to better and improve our knowledge, the list is really endless. And, it does not have to necessarily take place without a teacher. In-class instruction (where you have a teacher guiding the lesson) or synchronous instruction is integrating more technology every day. Gone are the days when a student simply takes notes with pen and paper. The iPad or similar device is considered a necessity by most learners. Even our malls have charging stations so we have access to “power up” all of our many gadgets. We all learn on the go.
Times certainly have changed. A requirement in my middle and high school days was typing class. If you did well and had good timing scores, you were lucky enough to use an electronic typewriter. Now, you and I both know these devices are hard to find today. Geez, they are almost considered antiques. Recently I was watching an episode of “Mad Men” and it struck me funny when one of the veteran secretaries is introducing a “newbie” into the office. She unveils an electric typewriter and quickly tells the young new secretary not to be afraid of this state of the art device. Ha. We have come a long way since the mid 1960’s.
Web-based learning – in all of its many forms – isn’t going away. It has a place and a purpose. There are plenty of educational apps out there for children to learn and enhance anything from math skills to reading. The possibilities are endless. It’s hard to say where the future is going to take e-learning. One thing is for sure, students need to know, understand and be comfortable with technology in school and as they prepare for a future career. As more and more schools introduce and expand the boundaries of technology (online courses, tablets in the classroom, digital textbooks, educational apps, STEM integration, etc.) it will be exciting to watch. As a teacher, it’s interesting to watch the transformation. The ride is just beginning…buckle up.