Educational Technology insight for educators and technologists

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The Benefits of Educational Technology and e-learning

Educational Technology empowers the learner. Traditionally learners enrol on a course and are given a timetable of classes which are held in a particular venue at a particular time. If the learner cannot attend, the opportunity is lost. Through technology learning resources are globally available 24/7.

Traditional classes are delivered at a pace determined by the instructor. The instructor also makes assumptions about learners expectations and prior knowledge. It is unlikely the instructor’s assumptions will be valid for every learner.

e-learning technology allows learners to access learning materials when and where they choose. If the learner already knows a topic s/he can skip the lesson, or jump straight to the assessment, just to be sure. If the learner needs to repeat a particular item s/he can do so as often as needed - without fear of embarrassment.

People learn in different ways. Traditional classroom learning is not suited to everyone. For example, I quit school at the earliest opportunity but later obtained a first class honours degree through distance learning. Technology has the power to deliver learning in a variety of ways. Some people learn best by reading, some by watching audio-visual presentations, some by discussion, some by interacting. Technology can deliver learning in the way that is right for the individual, every learner can enjoy a unique learning experience.

Traditional education can be a passive experience for learners in which instructors transmit information for their absorption. Learners then regurgitate this information in assignments and exams. There is often a period of intense revision in which lots of facts are committed to memory only to be forgotten shortly after leaving the examination room. Technology mediated learning is a much more active involving learner engagement and learning through experience. The result is likely to be better retention and a greater ability to apply acquired knowledge to real life.

The greater adoption of pre-existing learning materials (Reusable Learning Objects) is likely to result in the provision of higher quality resources to learners and savings in time (and hence money) to instructors and institutions.

The use of Computer Based Assessment can benefit both learners (in terms of self-diagnosis and instant feedback) and educators (in terms of saved time and effort).

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