Education has been undergoing an e-learning revolution. With technology spilling over into virtually every part of our lives, education is no exception. While traditionalists may adhere to the traditional model of teachers delivering to a classroom full of students, there is increasing recognition that students learn better outside of a classroom context. Many tertiary education providers are now utilising online education to offer this kind of flexible learning, but secondary schools are lagging behind. To offer the best educational outcomes, secondary schools need to be implementing more e-learning strategies that complement what is being taught in the classroom.
E-learning is essentially an extension of distance learning through correspondence schools, but with a far greater potential to deliver quality education outcomes. Correspondence schools offer a flexible education for students who cannot practically commute to their nearest school, as well as those who struggle to learn in a traditional classroom setting. This is a benefit shared by online education, which similarly removes geophysical barriers for students to participate in learning. However, correspondence school has typically involved only printed materials, with minimal use of technology. It does not provide the same accessibility to learning materials nor the dynamic interactive nature that a virtual learning environment does. With e-learning, there is huge potential to deliver a learning experience beyond what a pen and paper course such as a Leading SAFe 4.5 Training could.
For one, e-learning can provide a learning experience tailored to individual learning styles and needs. In a traditional classroom context, it is difficult for teachers to engage every student in the classroom, and impossible to cater for each and every student’s personal learning needs. Every individual has a different learning style, which impacts upon the way they best absorb and retain information. This is where e-learning steps in to complement what students are being taught at school. With big data creating the opportunity for designing more customised courses and tracking student patterns, teachers are able to access information that can be used to enhance teaching methods. Utilising AI, courses can then be delivered in a way that constantly adapts to individual learning patterns and behaviours, solving teachers’ perpetual headaches over how to keep students engaged and motivated in the learning process. E-learning’s capability of delivering education beyond the “one size fits all” model
E-learning can also be used to support students above and below curriculum standard. There will inevitably be some students who cannot keep up with the rest of the class, and without any help, they will find it even more difficult to catch up. E-learning can help supplement gaps in knowledge early on, to ensure students do not fall further behind if they are struggling with a small part of the course. Being able to catch up on their learning outside the regular school day via e-learning removes a huge barrier faced by students with busy teachers. It also encourages students to take ownership of their own learning as the material is there at their fingertips, and not subject to anyone else’s availability. E-learning thus frees up school resources, enabling teachers and teacher aides to focus on students who need even more help. On the other side of the coin, e-learning can be used to deliver extension courses for bright, motivated students to further accelerate their learning. With the priority usually on ensuring students meet curriculum standard, those flying above the standard can become disengaged as they are not being challenged in a classroom setting. Opportunities for e-learning would open a door for bright sparks to continue fostering their love of learning.
From a secondary school’s perspective, an increased uptake of e-learning would have great benefits as well. There is a shortage of teaching staff in many regions, partially attributed to high living costs in some areas, poor working conditions, and pay that does not accurately reflect the amount of work the teachers put in. Online education remedies this by cutting out the need to have a human being deliver a class in person. Furthermore, a greater range of courses can be offered, especially in subjects that have low enrolment rates; instead of cutting these courses to optimise available resources, an online course can be offered instead.
With benefits for students above and below curriculum standard, as well as for teachers and the school budget, online education is the next step for secondary schools. To accelerate the uptake of e-learning in secondary schools, developing e-learning curriculums and providing adequate training on how to use e-learning technology is paramount. This grows more achievable every day, with a fast-growing e-learning market to meet growing demands. While there are other obstacles to overcome in offering quality online education, the possibility of a tailored, readily accessible and highly-interactive learning experience should be enough to spur secondary schools to action. There is certainly huge potential for this marriage of technology and pedagogy to take education to new heights.