Online learning has long ceased to be a set of lectures that can be viewed on the computer. Today, it is an effective tool for gaining knowledge. Distance learning technologies have reached a new level and have become more accessible.
What are Distance Learning Technologies?
Not so long ago, the distance learning format was considered complicated and incomprehensible. But today it is actively used in all academic fields – for example, in school and higher education, training a new essay writer free in academia, in personnel development in companies, and in the training of online school clients.
By online learning, many still mean the work of the teacher and the student at a distance. This concept is much broader. Distance learning technologies are a set of the newest information methods and forms of development, which provide the learning process at a distance. Distance no longer interferes with live communication, interactivity, and practical experience.
From an educational point of view, e-learning gives a choice: to participate in webinars in real-time, to write in chat and ask questions to the lecturer (synchronous format), or to watch recorded and prepared lessons in your own time (asynchronous format). But such opportunities were not always there.
History of E-Learning
The first steps and stages in distance learning were made back in the early 19th century in England. A teacher of stenography sent study materials by letter and took exams by mail. Almost simultaneously, “correspondence learning” began to be practiced at higher education institutions in Europe and America. The idea was popular because it opened access to education for people of different religions, nationalities, and social statuses.
In the 20th century, the Post had worthy competitors – radio and television. Everyone could listen to discussions, lectures, and assignments and later watch training courses on TV. But it was still a one-way interaction. Everything changed with the advent of the World Wide Web, which made the learning process interactive and two-way.
Today, distance learning is no longer an auxiliary form of learning. Video lessons posted on the Internet no longer appeal to people as much. For the most part, new online courses do not do without feedback, analysis of results, and verification of the effectiveness of the training program.
Distance technologies are actively implemented not only in school and university education but also in the corporate culture. According to statistics, 60% of young professionals prefer an employer that offers on-the-job training to its employees. So-called onboarding (from the English “adaptation”) in a distant format is especially popular in a pandemic and will only gain momentum in a changing world.
Seven Advantages of Distance Technologies Over Full-Time Education
Distance learning is the future – it’s not just a hackneyed phrase but a reality. Online education technology for schoolchildren, students, office workers, and corporate employees has several significant advantages:
- Learning from anywhere in the world and at any convenient time facilitates access to education for people with disabilities, from remote areas, and foreigners
- Reduced operating costs for businesses – no need to rent classrooms, “write out” an overseas coach, or pay travel expenses for employees
- Online training can be scheduled independently, for example, at home or during lunch, without disrupting the work schedule.
- Hundreds of employees from remote offices or students from different countries can be trained simultaneously without worrying about the number of seats.
- Training materials are stored in a shared virtual database to which each participant has access.
- Automatic analysis and control of the training process through a variety of charts, reports, and ongoing monitoring
- Individual training according to the scheme of continuous education allows keeping an employee in a tone that increases his demand in the labor market.
Difficulties of Online Learning and How to Solve Them
Let’s dispel some of the most popular myths about the disadvantages of distance learning:
Lack of Live Communication
We can not touch the interlocutor during an online class, but there is visual and emotional contact, even during a regular Skype video call. It is also possible to exchange experiences, discuss, ask questions, and do practical exercises together online. There are few irritants and distractions in honest communication, and information is available around the clock.
Inadequate Technical Equipment
If a student has an old computer or slow Internet, it is difficult to learn online. But there is a “spoon of honey”: most distance learning courses are available in mobile format, and everyone has phones; you can take them anywhere.
Greater Likelihood of Procrastination
Those who don’t want to learn and comprehend something new will always find a way to avoid it with offline training. And for those who want to learn a new profession or improve their skills in online learning, the possibilities are endless.
Difficulties in Mastering Techniques by Older People
A simple instruction for a program or a test quickly solves this problem. Modern information technology provides convenient options, education, and an understandable interface. If necessary, you can ask for help from the technical support of the course.
The distance learning approach to education has its weaknesses, but we live in the 21st century, which means a solution can be found.
Six Modern Technologies of Distance Learning
Distance learning technologies include not only the regular webinars and conferences in Zoom. Today the toolkit is so wide that encyclopedias of online education formats are already being compiled. Let’s look at the most effective and promising technologies used in online education.
Information technologies of distance learning do not necessarily imply tons of material in audio and video format, quite often for effective solutions of everyday business tasks suits simulation of real working situations. Modern virtual means allow you to easily embed a learning game in any company’s online staff training system. It can be both personal and multiplayer training games. An employee will acquire the necessary skills, as they say, without discontinuing work.
For example, in an online game, a mechanic of a maintenance service needs to accept a new car and do the job in the right sequence.
A dialogue simulator is not rote memorization of hackneyed phrases but an indispensable assistant in sales. It represents a virtual character with whom you need to hold a conversation correctly. For example, a person comes to a travel agency to book a tour. The employee has to build a dialogue to not only scare away the client but also keep his positive image of the company.
Such a test case is suitable for building communication skills when negotiating, presenting a product, closing a deal, or communicating with colleagues or partners in a foreign language.
The essence of scribing is to accompany textual information with visual images. Our brain is much better at remembering what it sees than what it hears. For example, in PR and marketing, scribing is indispensable. Graphic and dynamic presentations are well-received and memorized. Employees quickly absorb large amounts of dry theory and immediately apply the acquired knowledge in their work.
A chatbot is a special program for messengers and social networks which “knows” how to ask and answer questions, search for information, take orders and run simple errands automatically. These are the kind of robots programmed to communicate with users.
Modern chatbots have artificial intelligence and imitate real-life communication very well. Every day they become more “human,” learning to recognize emotions and perform analytics. It is the educational technology of the future that combines personalized and engaged learning. Some research proves that training in chatbot format is much more popular among users and goes several times faster than conventional online lessons.
Many people are familiar with Virtual Reality (VR, virtual reality) through gaming. But it is expanding its horizons and is already actively used for educational purposes. With VR, spectacular simulations can be created: a person puts on glasses and enters the working space – for example, an airplane pilot enters a virtual cockpit. Professional skills are practiced very quickly while being completely safe.
An online course can combine several methods mentioned above and also be familiar with all formats and types of content – video, text, webinar, podcast, animated infographics, educational chat, and practical exercises. And training organizers can conduct exams and online tests and monitor the speed and results of training for all participants.
For example, you need to train new salespeople. At the same time, they need to know all the information about the products in the store, communicate correctly with the client, work out objections, and, preferably, constantly increase sales. These tasks can be combined into one training course, adding presentations, a dialogue simulator, a video lecture, and tests.
Jana Rooheart is a writer who has proven that it is possible to combine parenting and a writing career. She knows firsthand how difficult it is to learn in college. That’s why she shares valuable advice for students on the WowEssays.com blog.