Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Technology Behind Online Education

Guest Post By:

Author: Charles Norwood is a trained teacher and avid content writer, contributing to college review sites such as "". He currently lives in Toronto with his wife Britney and their Cocker Spaniel Libby.
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Online education has seen mainstream acceptance over the last couple of years, particularly due to major universities all around the world coming up with courses that can be taken online. Whether you're a busy professional with no time to make it to a physical campus, or an individual who wants to go back to school but can't due to immobility brought about by sickness, e-learning is a flexible and convenient way of earning that diploma, degree, and even PhD. In this post, we'll take a look at some of the technology behind e-learning, highlighting their ease of use and integrated functions.

E-learning is made possible by highly-developed platforms that are woven into the infrastructure of a course. Software maker IBM is at the forefront of this technology, and has come up with their Lotus Learning Space program, used by colleges and universities around the world. Based on the Lotus Learning Notes platform, this software brings together a variety of databases that enhance the learning experience by incorporating live chat, student access to whiteboard, notes and email services. This is a perfect example of a self-sufficient system that incorporates flexibility, as well as a collaborative learning environment.

Apart from Lotus, we have some basic and not-so-glamorous tools used in e-learning. One of them is the use of podcasts by lecturers. All a student has to do is to subscribe to this service and access the tens or hundreds of podcasts prepared for them. You can access podcasts with a laptop, iPad, iPod or mp3 player that has streaming capabilities. One great thing about podcasting is that the information is stored in a database for easy access. If you want to touch up on your revision before a major test, you can do so easily, helping you retain more information without the fear of having the teacher repeat himself in an ordinary brick-and-mortar setting.

Next, we have virtual classrooms that incorporate a mix of technologies. A typical class requires you to log on to a database with your username and password, and make sure that you have a working headset and webcam if needed. Teaching occurs in a remote setting, and students get to pick and choose which classes they would like to attend. Real-time chatting in a group setting makes it possible for students to exchange ideas in a low-stress environment; this kind of platform also makes it possible for students and teachers to share their workspace windows after authorization, as well as download course materials, check their progress throughout the school term, as well as take individualized tests that display their scores once they're completed.

Email and text messaging both feature heavily in e-learning, and can be used by the teacher to inform students on changes to schedules, as well as share coursework documents and arrange for meet-ups. The beauty of online education is the ease of availability of information to students who don't have to put up with administrative red tape, long commutes or fixed schedules that are typical of your average brick-and-mortar classroom. E-learning is set to evolve into a cloud-based solution that incorporates a concept called 'the internet of things' to make learning fun, wholesome and accessible to all.

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