Friday 8 May 2015

Why E-Learning? Why Not?

I have just started another e-learning course through the University of Toronto's Continuing Education. This one is How to Design an E-Learning Program. The first week is essentially an overview of the other two courses I've taken - Visual Design and Display of Information, and Writing for the Web.

My first discussion topic is:
Comment on a few of the advantages and benefits of e-learning in terms of why you might choose e-learning as your educational medium, and list specific advantages and benefits that impact the program you will be developing as part of this course.
Here's a quick summary of the program I'll be developing in this course:
  • Posting on the Intranet Using Umbraco is intended for employees who are tasked with posting content on the intranet. The intranet platform, Umbraco, is relatively easy to use for most simple posting tasks.
  • Employees are located across the country and presently get personal face-to-face training / coaching when possible. Otherwise, I use a combination of web-ex and conference calls.
  • Front page of the Posting on the Intranet Using Umbraco Program
    Front page of the Posting on the Intranet Using Umbraco Program
  • There are only a few employees in each business unit who post on the intranet, however there is often a very high turn-over for performing these tasks since it is often in addition to the rest of their regular jobs.
Advantages and benefits to having this program be delivered through e-learning:
  • Convenience: employees will be able to follow the course at their desk, where ever they are. No more scheduling of boardrooms, web-ex and conference calls.
  • Flexible: they will be able to access the parts of the course that they are interested in or are having difficulty with. 
  • Self-paced: Instead of learning the basics within a two-hour time frame, employees will be able to stop the training when they feel they have had enough at the time.
  • Economic option: it is not feasible to keep teaching/ coaching employees one at a time, or in small groups. Eventually another method of delivery will be required.
  • Consistent with the skill sets of the employees: employees who will post on the intranet are usually quite comfortable with technology. An e-learning program will not be outside of their comfort zone.
What I learned in this first week:

  • It's going to take me more than one day a week working from home to complete all the readings and assignments for this course!
  • I read a few articles on the difference and effectiveness between e-learning and face-to-face training. The bottom line is that e-learning can be as effective or as bad, as face-to-face training. The quality of the training is generally based on its design and how it addresses the learning needs of students. 
  • I discovered a couple of MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) websites. I had found one website but the course I wanted was neither free or nor available in Canada. I've now registered for the course, Leaders of Learning with edX. It's a course in their archive which suites me better since I can do it at my own pace.  I suspect I may have my hands full with my Design course. I was also intrigued with Coursera. There have less archived courses and more actual asynchronous online courses. 
Wish me luck!

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