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E-learning: How to Use It Most Effectively

Posted in Ed Tech 101 on December 17, 2013 by

E-learning refers to the application of information and communication technologies to education. This is a broad term referring to the use of any digital media technology — including tablets, smartphones, electronics, computers, games, applications, and more — within education. In this TED Talk, Salman Khan of Khan Academy describes how he uses video to effectively teach math and other subjects:

Encompassing the burgeoning field of educational technology, e-learning is often associated with virtual learning, multimedia education, digital learning, computer-based instruction, and mastery-based learning. Though it is well-suited for distance, self-paced, and flexible learning arrangements, e-learning does not necessarily refer to distance or remote learning.

Convenience is one of the biggest advantages of e-learning: students can work at their own pace on their own time. However, some argue that given that kind of freedom and without the guidance of an instructor, unmotivated students could flounder. For example, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) make it easy for students to “attend” a class or lecture, but that is only part of the learning experience. The other part, which deals with the additional learning that students do outside of class, is absent. MOOCs generally don’t provide students with textbooks, libraries, or tutors. The social aspect of a traditional school is also missing. Students may end up feeling disengaged. Some may seldom study the material outside of class, and may eventually decide to stop attending.

E-learning is at its best when used by teachers to enhance classroom learning. The best example of this is a 1:1 device school, like the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, where every student is given a laptop, iPad, tablet, etc., or a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) school, like the Forsyth County Schools in Georgia, where students bring their own devices from home. In school, the students use technology to access media, educational apps or games, digital textbooks, and other digital course materials, while their teacher oversees their progress. The use of technology in the classroom provides students with access to both the unlimited wealth of information online and the wisdom of a competent teacher. This integration is paving the road for blended education in the future.

The State of Digital Education Infographic


To find out more, read Knewton CEO Jose Ferreira’s chapter on online education in Education and Skills 2.0: New Targets and Innovative Approaches, and check out these videos:

How Technology Can Automatically Differentiate Instruction

Big Data and Education