| How does it work?
A fairly brand new concept, E-Learning is still under a period
of trial and experimentation. Schools and Universities are testing
the Internet waters to find the best methods of instruction, levels
of intensity, and modes of communication between professors and
students. The goal of most E-Learning programs is not to completely
replace in-classroom programs; not yet, anyway. Their goal is
to offer an alternative and/or educational subsidy to students
who are not able to physically attend a university- because of
their job, geographical location, family obligations, etc. This
is changing. How it will change, however, is currently a hot debate.
Many Distance and E-Learning programs require that you spend
at least a minimum amount of time on campus attending a lecture,
a lab, a group project meeting, etc. There are also many programs
designed for students residing in a different country than that
of the program. For live interface with the professors or classmates
some programs offer video/audio conferencing, while others offer
live chat forums.
What is the difference between E-Learning and Distance/Correspondence
Distance/Correspondence Learning is simply a method of learning
that allows a student to study away from the educational facility;
i.e. at home, work, or in another country. This method is nothing
new; its been around for hundreds of years. At one time
students could only correspond with their universities through
mail with pen and paper. Now they can receive books, audio cassettes,
videos, and most recently instruction online with
E-Learning. E-Learning is a type of Distance/Correspondence Learning.
What kind of Courses are offered?
Courses from all realms and levels of education are offered.
You can find non-credit based courses that one might take out
of pure interest or for personal pleasure, or credit-based courses
that are geared towards a degree program. You can find courses
at the high school level, undergraduate level, graduate level,
postgraduate level, and certificate programs in specialized, technical
and vocational fields. There are courses structured on the traditional
university semester schedule, and some that have developed their
own schedule; often shorter than the traditional semester system.
Basic Structure- synchronous vs. asynchronous courses
There are two ways to "go to class" online: 1. take
synchronous courses, or 2. take asynchronous courses.
Synchronous courses take place in real time with live student-
professor participation and interaction (i.e. English 101 from
10:00 to 12:00 every Tuesday- attendance required). Depending
on the technology available this could entail simple text exchange
or live audio/video conferencing.
Asynchronous courses allow you to "go to class" on
your own schedule whenever you have time. Generally you are required
to "login" to lectures for a certain amount of time
per week. Logging in with asynchronous courses means logging in
to view any presentations, audio/video clips, exercises, lectures,
etc. Asynchronous courses may be better for those who have hectic
and dynamic schedules.
An asynchronous course is generally based on the following four
1. Students register online for courses. They are
then given a username and password that will give them access
to the course.
2. Professors create the material and content for
the course and put it online.
3. A Home Page with instructions and orientation information
will be the students guide on what to do and how to do it.
It is here where you will see what lectures you need to read,
what tests or quizzes you need to take, and/or what exercises
you need to complete. The Home Page will always be your starting
4. Communication between fellow students and professors
should be frequent in a good program. It is in this part of the
course that you learn the most- through feedback, chat groups,
group projects etc.
When looking for a program you should judge its value by the
following factors: its accreditation and official recognition,
the quality of its faculty and the extent of their experience,
the ratio of faculty/student, the method of instruction, resources
available to their E-Learning students (library, computer programs,
etc.), student support and academic advising services, completion
and success rate of graduates, and of course the costs (fees and
The schools accreditation will be the first thing to look
at. Find out if it is approved by the countrys minister
of education, or in the case of the USA, by one of the private
accrediting agencies. It would be a shame to spend your money
and time on a program that no one will recognize due to its lack
of accreditation or national recognition.