E-learning : The silent revolution
(By Sudhir Sharma)
Learning Management systems (LMS) or
e-learning has resulted in a paradigm shift in education systems.
E-learning is defined as Internet-enabled learning that involves the
convergence of the Internet and learning. The rapid development of
Internet has facilitated its growth. E-learning uses the concept of
distance learning but at a faster rate. Traditional distance learning
was conducted by mailing the course contents and then student is left
alone to study till the test. On the other hand e-learning provides
faster learning at less cost, an access to large number of learning
resources and an accountability for all participants. It is made up of
several components, including content delivery in multiple formats,
management of the learning process and a networked community of
learners, trainers, content developers and experts.
E-learning should not be just a machine
based method for teaching and will be only effective in engaging all the
participants when it has a human touch. The learning can be on any
level, elementary school, college, or corporate. E-learning is gaining
popularity because of the obvious advantages it offers -
It minimizes travel
Open for working people
Career oriented training easily available
There is no time constraint
Little infrastructure needed
Provides innovative and interactive
The future of e-learning looks extremely
bright. Worldwide revenues for e-learning will be more than $23 billion
by the end of 2004 – this represents an increase of over $21 billion in
five year. North America represents the largest opportunity for
corporate e-learning and account for two-thirds of worldwide revenues.
Western Europe represents the fastest-growing market, increasing its
revenues at a compound annual growth rate of 97% from 1999 to 2004.
Currently non-IT contents of e-learning, account for over 54% of
revenues as compared to 46% from the IT contents.
India entered this expanding and lucrative
field, a little late. But thereafter India has made good progress in the
field of e-learning. Only last year (2003) Indian government launched an
ambitious project of e-learning and e-governance and $ 2660 million
(Rs.12, 0000 million) will be spent in next four years. Aim is to take
e-learning to schools in every district across the country. This project
will ultimately cover 0.6 million (6 lakh) schools in India. Computer
labs would also be set up to aid the learning process, where students
can use multimedia and other software to enhance their learning
capabilities. Government and industry will fund this project. Another
major e-learning project was launched in 2003 by Karnataka government.
The Government of Karnataka and IBM India signed a Memorandum of
Understanding to promote e-learning within the state. IBM has the global
expertise in providing e-learning services and setting up e-learning
infrastructure. IBM will develop an e-learning platform for BITES (Board
for IT Education Standards) for higher technical educational
institutions in Karnataka. The e-learning platform with the Government
of Karnataka will create one such eco-system and develop educational
institutions in the state as Centers of Excellence". Next few years will
determine whether or not the dream of making e-learning available to our
billion strong population becomes a reality.