What is electronic learning?

What is electronic learning?

Electronic learning refers to a broad educational concept primarily characterized by the usage of electronic media and other types of communication technologies. Electronic learning encompasses any type of educational concept, or educational technology, which uses electronic media or technologies to support teaching and learning. This includes any type of teaching method which uses an electronic technology, such as a computer, the internet, DVD films, and so on. Specific types of electronic learning include internet-based training, online education, computer-based training, to name a few. This type of learning can be utilized in an almost unlimited amount of settings, provided that the setting has access to the electronic technology of materials required to take advantage of this particular type of learning.

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Although many people may immediately think of online education or the usage of computers in classrooms when they hear the term electronic learning, educational technologies have taken advantage of electronic technologies for about as long as they have been available for usage in school systems. For example, film reels were used in classrooms as early as the 1940s to educate students about a number of topics, such as hygiene, puberty, morality, and scientific subjects.

Electronic learning, like all educational concepts, is not a static educational technology. As technology grows, changes and adapts to the times, so does electronic learning. For example: Whereas a teacher in the 1940s might have used a film reel to interest students in a particular subject, a teacher in 2013 might use a DVD film or an online YouTube video. Electronic technologies in modern times, because they are often more complex than technologies available in the past few decades, often allow for more complicated or interactive electronic educational experiences than those available to students in the earliest years of electronic educational technology.

Technology used in electronic learning

Electronic learning encompasses a wide range of different types of education all technologies; because of this, the technology used within the concept of electronic learning is nearly limitless. The most common types of technology used in electronic learning include:

Audio Technology

Audio technologies include older audio technologies, such as: the radio, cassette tapes, CD-discs; it also includes newer audio technologies, such as: audio streams over the internet, downloadable music, webcasts, and podcasts.

Video Technology

Video technologies include older video technologies such as film reels and VHS tapes; it also includes newer video technologies, such as: DVD discs, online videos such as those found on YouTube, and even webcams via services such as Skype to interact with people around the world.

Computer Technology

Computer technology includes any access and use of computers in the classroom. Throughout the 1990s, it was common for educational video games–such as the popular Oregon Trail–to be used in the classroom as an education entertainment tool. Today, computers are often used in the classroom to educate students about using computers, using the internet as a resource, teaching typing or other computer programs to students, and utilizing computer-based technologies–such as the internet–for education.

Other Technologies

Although the above-mentioned technologies are the most commonly used electronic technologies in an educational setting, there is almost no limit to the types of electronic technologies which can be used in a learning or educational environment. For example, teachers often use classroom projectors to allow students a more interactive, easy-to-see visualization of a topic being taught. Classroom projectors are especially popular among mathematics teachers. Other examples of electronic technologies include portable keyboards, “smart” whiteboards that show projections from laptops or computers, digital microphones and recorders, etc. As long as the technology is electronic, it can be utilized for electronic education and learning.

Approaches to electronic learning

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Electronic learning technologies have adapted with technology throughout the 20th century. But it is not only the types of technology being used that has changed and adapted—it is how electronic education itself is actually used in a classroom setting. The earliest approaches to electronic learning did not differ in a significant way from verbal, non-interactive education from a teacher or other educational professional. In other words, electronic learning was used as a verbal tool to inspire later interaction, not as an interactive tool itself. For example: A group of students would be shown a film reel about a scientific topic, and then asked questions about the topic by their teacher after the film reel or asked if they had any questions themselves. This type of non-interactive education could also be applied to other types of sensory based electronic learning, such as radios, cassette tapes—and so on. Regardless of the type of technology being used, the primary means of instruction was a verbal, non-interactive experience.

Today, however, a growing number of electronic learning technologies are more heavily based on interaction than on simple verbal instruction. This type of interactive electronic education includes interaction with the teacher, interaction with other students, and even interaction with the greater world at large. An interactive DVD program, for example, encourages educators to pause the video at certain times to ask questions of their students.Some types of electronic learning even involve multiple types of interaction for an even more social experience. For example: A Skype debate between two groups of students on other sides of the world allows for interaction between the people on both ends of the Skype conversation, interaction with each other, and interaction with teachers. Other interactive electronic technologies include many computer-based technologies, such as using blog posts or websites.
This type of interactive, electronic-based learning is often applied in online educational setting as well. Many popular online-educational websites, such as Livemocha—a language learning resource—encourage a high amount of user interaction in order to immerse the user in an interactive, social educational experience. As new electronic technologies are being developed for classrooms and other educational settings, interaction is becoming a more prominent and potentially more important factor. As the world becomes more connected through the internet—social media, websites, blogs, online video chats, etc.—it is becoming easier for electronic education to take advantage of these new and highly social technologies.

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