INTRODUCTION: Online Learning encompasses a range of technologies such as the worldwide web, email, chat, new groups and texts, audio and video conferencing delivered over computer networks to impart education. It helps the learner to learn at their own pace, according to their own convenience. Online Education requires a great deal of resources and careful planning. In this, teachers act as facilitators rather than transmitters of content knowledge, and ICT is regarded as resource that enhances the learning experience of students. Learners learn through e-learning tools which are available to all. E-Learning has brought back the joy in learning through its innovative and interactive content delivery and has proved to be more appealing among students.
TYPES OF ONLINE LEARNING COURSES: online- Learning courses sit on a continuum of a “partially online” or a “fully online Learning course”. Partially Online Course: A “partially online” course is one that integrates existing resource materials that are available either in print or non-print form such as textbooks etc. with some elements of online learning. This might include the use of a learning management system or simply a mailing list for some asynchronous discussion Fully online Course: A “fully online” course, on the other hand, is one that will have most of its learning and teaching activities carried out online.
Wrap around Model: This model of online-learning relies on study materials, which may comprise online study guides, activities and discussion “wrapped” around existing previ-ously published resources such as textbooks or CD-ROMs etc. This model represents a resource-based approach to learning, as it seeks to use existing material that is relatively unchanging and is already available online or offline. Such courses, once they are developed, can be taught or tutored by persons other than the course developers. Collaborative learning activities in the form of group work, discussion among peers and online assessment are the requirements of the course.
The Integrated Model: This model is closest to a full online- learning course. Such courses are often offered via comprehensive learning management system. They comprise avail-ability of much of the subject matter in electronic format like opportunities for computer conferencing, small group-based collaborative online learning activities and online assessment of learning outcomes. For the moment though, some of the subject matter content may be best assessed offline in already published textbooks and other sources. The learning and teaching in these courses takes place in computer conferences, in which the prescribed readings and the assigned tasks are discussed. Much of this learning and teaching activity is fairly fluid and dynamic as it is largely determined by individual and group activities in the course. To some extent, this integrated model dissolves the distinctions between “teaching and learning” in favor of facilitation of learning
ADVANTAGES OF ONLINE LEARNING: Instructional Technology is highly beneficial for students, especially students pursuing a professional course . Online learning is consid-ered a boon due to the reasons given below:
Accessibility: Online learning provides accessibility due to which a student can learn from any-where in the world. This is an especially important consideration for students who wish to study in a different country. It doesn’t matter where a student lives and what he wants to study- he can always find a suitable course or even a Degree Program that can be followed from home. Students learning options are not con-strained by their geographic location.
Personalised Learning: Online Learning system enables a student to determine and process his/her learn-ing style, content, aim, current knowledge and individual skills. Therefore, per-son -specific education could be provided through creating individual learning styles. E-Learning enables the individual to plan and direct his/her own learning. It has the potential to motivate, develop confidence and self-esteem, overcome many barriers that learners encounter, personalize the learning experience, widen access and improve the learning experience, while also helping people to develop their ICT skills.
Develops cognitive Abilities: In a study, it was found that E-Learning may be effective in developing cognitive abilities of pupil teachers (Singh & Mishra, 2009). It was found that students of e-learning program had higher achievement levels than their counterparts. A student can find unlimited information which he can access just by the click of a but-ton. Many Online programs are offered by some of the most prestigious universities from all around the world. The student can take such a course online which can be helpful for the development of his cognitive abilities.
Cost-Effectiveness: Online Learning is cost effective because less money is spent in travelling and in buying books or spending money in college context. Since it can be carried out at any geographic location and there are no travel expenses, this type of learning is less costly than learning at a traditional institute. Students who want to study through this mode need to have access to the necessary computer hardware as well as paying often substantial fees for access to an internet service provider.
Promotes Research: Students are excited to publish their work when they produce something of extremely high quality. With the permission of their teachers, they post the work on the web as examples for current and future students. Publishing students work helps form a classroom legacy and archive of successful products.Basic Computer Skills:Both on and off campus students who choose to study online have an opportunity to gain technical skills in using Information Communication Technology(ICT). These skills are likely to be useful to them in their professional life and all future endeavors which may be in themselves marketable features of their education.
Equal Opportunity to all: All students are equal, they are not treated differently based upon caste, creed, race, sex, religion, and disability, etc. Rather Online Learning is a boon for learn-ers who are disabled and face problems in commuting and for those sections of the society who live at far off places where the schools/colleges are at a distant place.Self-Pacing:Due to individual differences, all learners are not able to complete the work/assignments at a given time due to which they have to face difficulties. Online learning allows students to work and learn at their own pace without the time restriction. The Learner is free to complete the course work according to his own will and he can take as much time as he requires without being termed as slow by the peers.
Globalization: New Technologies are narrowing geographical barriers in the way of education. The world has become a small village and the opportunities to have information about other nations are within our own access. Electronic Net world connects peo-ple all over the globe, therefore, it is vital to experiment with electronic learning situations wherein students share ideas and resources, access information about current events and historical archives, interact with experts, and use online data-bases.
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