Let’s take a look at online learning

It seems that online learning is taken for granted. Most people just plug in and start typing, not even considering the advanced wonders of technology, but it turns out that this revolutionary tool has a lengthy background.

 Most of today’s parents experienced Computer Managed Instruction (CMI), beginning around 1966. CMI was known for the professional way in which it taught students how to use new devices, and the mastermind behind this very early programmable machine proclaimed that it was necessary for tutoring elementary children more individually. CMI was valued for its personalized instruction and the ways it which it supplemented classroom learning.

 By 1977, Apple released the personal computer. This exciting machine produced colorful graphics and sound and appealed especially to young students. A whole new world opened up for software development and educational networking. By 1983, the biggest online educational network was established specifically for colleges and universities. 

The buzz over online learning accelerated worldwide in 1989, as academic institutions were able to share information over the World Wide Web. With more technology to use, fully accredited high schools and universities turned to online education. 

The term “E-Learning” was established officially in 1999, and online learning programs became widely available to college and university students. Now, online learning programs are available not only for students, but for large corporations as well.

A large percentage of students currently take online classes. This opportunity is beneficial for both teachers and students; for students, it helps to reduce the pressures of an in-person class, and the instructor can conduct a class from elsewhere if they are unable to access their classroom.

Guilford students provided their thoughts on online learning.

 “Being comfortable in my own setting while in class relieves my anxiety,” said sophomore Cassie Turnr. “I don’t always like social interaction, but online classes allow me to feel like I am still socializing.”

Online programs often offer a wider range of courses, so students will be less likely to miss out or wait to get the classes they need. 

“Taking online classes allows me to have a flexible schedule and I can multitask while still learning,” said first-year Logan Monkus.

The pros of online learning include increased knowledge, more individual learning, potentially improved performance and a more self-paced schedule. The cons include potentially generalized learning, little to no peer interaction and  an overwhelming workload. A student with a busy schedule may need to learn at their own pace, while someone with a lighter load may choose to be in person in the classroom. Everyone has their own learning preference, and it is up to each student to figure out a balance in their learning.

The future of e-learning is ongoing.

“I don’t think that we are getting rid of in person classes,” Turner said. “Teachers usually like the face-to-face learning environment, because you can’t always tell if a student is actually listening online.” 

With online learning, training materials and other educational tools will become more personalized, leading to more realistic assessments of student knowledge. The world is waiting for new innovators of educational technology.