What do you think of when you hear the term eLearning? Maybe your mind jumps to webinars or interactive courses in a Learning Management System (LMS). There are many different types of eLearning, so it isn’t surprising that they can be divided into categories. Let’s explore them and take a look at their advantages and disadvantages.
Asynchronous refers to eLearning offerings you take on your own. It’s just you and the content, no instructor, no classmates. Courses in an LMS usually fall into this category.
- You decide when to take the course (although it may still have deadlines or timers)
- Allows you to proceed at your own pace
- Content is the same for everyone who takes it, every time
- No one readily available to answer questions
- The scheduling flexibility can lead to procrastination
- Lack of other participants can decrease motivation and sense of accountability
Synchronous refers to eLearning offerings where you participate as part of a group and everyone in the group needs to be logged in at the same time. Live webinars and virtual classrooms are both great examples.
- Discussion with others (can ask questions, exchange examples, etc.)
- Participation in a community (collaborate, compete, study together, etc.)
- No travel required to meet with the group
- Need to set aside the scheduled date(s) and time(s)
- Can require the use of multiple devices at once (for example, calling in using a phone while being on a computer)
- Possible personality conflicts
Blended courses are a bit different because they’re not purely eLearning. As the name suggests, they’re a blend of eLearning and face-to-face training. If you sign up for an in-person workshop but need to watch an online video that explains the basics before you attend, that’s an example of blended learning.
- Maximizes the amount of in-person time that can be devoted to hands-on practice and other learning strategies that are difficult to deliver through eLearning
- eLearning can be used before an in-person event to provide all participants with standardized background information and/or it can be used for follow up (some in-person events even use eLearning during the face-to-face sessions)
- The use of different delivery methods and learning strategies helps maintain engagement
- Can require travel along with its related time and expenses
- Need to set aside date(s) and time(s)
- Can take more time to plan and execute effectively
Each category has its benefits and drawbacks. Knowing which ones are most important to you and your learners can help you decide which one(s) to consider. What category does most of your association or organization’s training fall under? Why? Sound off in the comments section.
If you’d like to learn more about custom eLearning course creation from Digitec Interactive, visit our eLearning page.
If you’d like to read more about instructional design best practices, check out the rest of this author’s blogs.
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