Are you a teacher, an HR professional, developing your own brand or company, or maybe simply interested in what and how you could learn with the help of the Internet? In this article we will try to explain what online learning is, what forms of it exist and how to find the one that suits you most. Webinars, e-learning, m-learning, distance learning, webcast — these will be addressed in a minute.
Synchronous and asynchronous online learning
Let us start with mentioning that learning can be synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous learning is a meeting where communication between a teacher and its students happens in real time. All students are present in an online auditorium and can even participate in discussions with their teachers. When online learning is mentioned, it could be a webinar or online training. Such activities resemble traditional classes in general with one important difference – the teacher cannot assess the students’ reaction.
Asynchronous learning is a method of distance learning that implies an absence of meetings or contacts between teachers and students. It could be digital courses, blogs, CD courses, screencasts, YouTube videos etc.
D-learning, also known as distance learning is a method that allows studying remotely. Do not mix it with e-learning. Students do not meet their teacher; neither do they meet other students in real time. Notwithstanding this, two-way communication between them is an obligatory condition: email, Skype or traditional mail could be a good fit for this.
What is e-learning? It is one of distance learning methods that is often chosen for holding courses. To attend classes, students need only Internet access and a computer. Thanks to e-learning it is possible to participate in seminars, to complete courses or even graduate from a university without leaving hour home. A huge number of companies, coaches have selected e-learning to educate their employees and students. E-learning is suitable both for classes in small groups and for thousands of students.
If a mobile device or a laptop with a stable Internet connection is used for distance learning, it can be called m-learning, i.e. mobile learning.
B-learning or blended learning is mixed learning, a method allowing uniting traditional and distance learning. Depending on the goals of a particular course, different forms of communication with the teacher are used. If students need practical skills, they come to an auditorium. At the same time, some part of the information is delivered via email or is offered in the form of a video lecture. From time to time, students meet their teachers at webinars or trainings.
A webinar is a presentation, a lecture, a seminar or training organized using the webcast technology. Webinars provide two-way communication between teachers and their students. This technology is an ideal fit for synchronous learning, as at a webinar you can not only send and receive information in real time but also have discussions, surveys and brainstorming. A webinar room will be required for a meeting.
A webinar room is a web page where a webinar, a conference or a meeting. It can be referred to as an analogue to a conference room or an auditorium of the size that can be adjusted if necessary.
Like in an ordinary classroom, a presenter can demonstrate additional materials, make notes on a special interactive whiteboard and use a pointer. Students are free to communicate with their teacher by asking questions via chat or using their microphones.
Automated webinars for online education
Automated webinars is a technology that allows partially or completely automating the process of holding classes, which in turn makes it easy to hold lectures without teacher’s direct participation. Automated webinars have become popular due to the advantage they provide. They are a good fit in situations when you need a break to search for new ideas and you would like to get the maximum from the webinar room possibilities or have preplanned a series of free webinars. Yet, keep in mind this is not a universal solution for any case. Automated webinars will help you get new clients, but to retain them much more efforts will be required.
This does not necessarily mean that automated webinars belong to a form of learning that is comfortable only for the organizer. Students can get their own profit from the automated webinars. Such courses are much cheaper or even free. Moreover, students will have more opportunities to select the time most convenient for them as automated webinars can be held several times a day.
The above are the most popular kinds of online education. If you doubt which method would suit you best for your classes and you are not really willing to pay for a course that may become not really necessary to you in future, we would advise you to create a trial account for a couple of platforms for online learning. This way, you will be able to not only test the platforms’ possibilities but also compare them. Note that not every company offers testing one’s complete functionality for free. Additionally, it would be great to read forums and blogs dealing with online learning and ways of its introduction from time to time.