Online learning has become so common in the K-12, secondary school and college setting that it’s easy to forget how revolutionary it is. eLearning is not just an add-on for classroom teachers. It is a radically different model than the teacher-focused classroom model, where students have to haul their textbooks to class and learn at the pace that their teacher can manage.
Online learning is student-focused, meaning that while the student must complete a curriculum assigned by the teacher, there are also opportunities for the motivated student to get more education out of the same amount of teaching resources.
Classroom teachers who keep up with current events and the politics of their local school boards are some of the most ardent proponents of online learning as a solution for budget crunches. Tight fiscal budgets means less resources for students and teachers. Technology is the way to compensate, as Microsoft’s Bill Gates recently pointed out:
We need a lot more of this going on at different levels: college level, high school level, elementary school level, to really figure it out for all the different topics, all the types of students out there. With the financial crush of state budgets, these techniques give us a way to make things more effective without having to increase the amount of resources that goes to education.
Fellow business magnate and News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch put it a little more bluntly (and less charitably) when he tried to motivate global business leaders to help improve the education system:
"In every other part of life, someone who woke up after a 50-year nap would not recognize the world around him," Mr. Murdoch said in a speech at the e-G8 forum in Paris, a two-day digital conference leading up to the G8 Summit. "But not in education. Our schools remain the last holdout from the digital revolution."
There are still holdouts among some teachers who have had success with a traditional approach to education. But it is clear that online learning offers significant benefits for educators. Some of the main ones include:
- Less time spent on administration, more time actually teaching. Learning management systems like Moodle allow teachers to track student progress more easily and consistently using the Student Reporting feature. Instantly see how the student has done on tests and assignments and track their blog (for writing assignments), with a lot less paperwork.
- New and interactive ways to teach. Longtime educators understand that not all curriculum material is intrinsically fascinating. But with online learning, teachers can offer students a richer learning experience. As educator Meg Wilson puts it, the Web Is What You Make Of It: “The incredible amount of resources available on the Internet today allow students access to connect to information wherever and whenever they want to. Students are no longer just consumers of content, they are now active users, creators, and publishers of content. Young people are learning in informal, nontraditional ways everyday.”
- Good teachers love to teach, but as well, the best educators like to constantly learn. Teaching with eLearning resources forces teachers to constantly up their game, and make professional development a daily activity: “As new technology, unearthed historical information, new data, and advanced strategies for teaching are identified, teachers are in the enviable position of utilizing or communicating this newfound knowledge to many others.”
Are you interested in incorporating online learning for your classroom? Ask your school administrator or university managers to consider adopting an online learning LMS like Moodle to give your students – and yourself – more opportunities to learn