“Electronic” diploma for distant electronic learning – is that really possible? Surely it is. In recent years, all modern tendencies which come from technological innovations are slowly gaining popularity.
The transition from traditional to computer-based learning took dozens of years. “Millennials” should probably remember how at the dawn of the computer era, huge archives of information were stored on machine-friendly data storage devices like CD-disks. It was even before the Internet came to every house, but with so large volumes of information capable of being transported from one place to another so easily came the idea to use those devices in distant learning.
Distant learning is sometimes seen as a synonym to e-Learning, although historically one came before the other, so electronic learning is based upon it, but not vice versa. Distant learning proposed a whole new educational approach which got rid of all minuses of the previous evolutionary stage and provided new advantages. It came as a targeted and intensive self-study of students who could choose the preferable time for learning by his or her schedule, having all the necessary means for studying and being in contact with tutors.
With flexible time schedules, the ability to study by an individual plan and following individual demands, the independent assessment which minimized the human factor and relative cheapness it was not a big surprise when distant learning became popular. With high-speed Internet and CD-disks being a history for a very long time, e-Learning of today is an evolutionary development of distant learning.
Today it is a whole market for professional education where students don’t have to be physically present at a lecture hall but instead get all necessary knowledge at home (or else). At the same time they can communicate with their tutors and ask necessary questions when needed.
Advantages of E-Learning
E-learning is distant online learning, but it is more than that. Apart from solving the key task of using the Internet as a way of communication, e-Learning is also a good addition to the intramural form of study and serves to further improve the quality and effectiveness of traditional education. At the same time it provides several advantages which are absent in traditional forms of studying, for example:
1. More flexibility in access, meaning that with a good Internet connection, a student can get knowledge from almost everywhere.
2. Competence and quality: such online courses are normally developed with the participation of large teams of true professionals.
3. Lower prices for educational services may be explained by the fact that with electronic learning, the whole process includes only the exchange of information via the Internet without additional costs to purchase learning materials and supplementary literature.
4. The ability to divide the online course into modules: smaller blocks of information enable even more flexibility in learning and make searching for required materials much easier. Students also determine duration and order of acquiring information in accordance with his or her individual preferences. Updating of learning materials is, again, much easier that way.
5. “Learning at work” is another great opportunity: no need to choose between working now and making a career later. Why not do this together? Likewise, why choose between learning and traveling, for example?
6. Students and their tutors alike can “stay in trend,” developing their knowledge, expertise, and skills in line with modern technologies+. Using WordPress in classrooms is a good illustration of how advanced programs can greatly increase the efficiency of traditional methods of learning.
7. Last but not least, the ability to determine knowledge assessment criteria in e-Learning means being able to identify clear and transparent factors which influence the final mark of every student.
In one way or another, you can find examples of e-Learning almost everywhere. Those familiar with international financial reporting standards probably know that the IASB recently updated all of its 35 learning modules for “IFRS for SMEs” – international accounting standards for small and medium entities. After free registration, they may all be accessed here, at its official website (which itself was updated not so long ago, by the way).
Similarly, the international accounting firm Deloitte – one of the “Big Four” accounting companies – publishes its own IFRS e-Learning modules from time to time.
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) added a new Ethics and Professional Skills module to its programs. Those not quite familiar with professional accounting education may ask why, but in fact, it all became a very logical reaction to modern developments in standards of corporate governance. Sophisticated investors of today are interested not only in financial results but also in how well ethical standards are followed by companies in which they plan to invest.
And another recent example for illustration: last month the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) announced that transition from its previous G4 guidance to new Sustainability Reporting Standards (or simply “GRI Standards”) had been completed. And yes, those new standards also have module structure and thus may be studied by modules. Standards of “sustainable” reporting, by the way, are themselves an excellent example of recent developments, although this subject is so huge that it requires another article or maybe a dozen.
The advantages of e-Learning are widely recognized, although one should not forget about potential problems here. One of the most obvious ones is the quality of online courses. It is true that, as was said before, they are developed by qualified professionals, but who can prove that? A good thing when their provider can show certificates as proof, but it is not always the case.
There are also legal problems of protection of intellectual property, financial ones which are related to the development of courses and their regular updating, staff problems attributed to the continuous professional development of tutors (let alone finding people with a desire to participate and share their knowledge that way), and many others. Maybe because of those reasons it is too early to put traditional education completely out of commission.
Nevertheless, it is for certain that e-Learning may be distant. However, still it is the future of global education, something which all modern students “must-have” if they want to stay in touch with modern tendencies and compete in today’s highly technological reality.