University of Nebraska Medical Center

Has “E-Learning” Become a Negative Word?

The use of “e-learning” has taken on a much bigger spotlight in recent years, and so has the controversy surrounding it. This may in part be due to people’s perception of what exactly e-learning entails.

Think about e-learning as the use of electronic media (computers, tables, or phones) to educate learners. It may be called web-based, online learning, or computer-based training, but it’s all under the same e-learning umbrella. E-learning encompasses a wide variety of tools that can be used in and out of the physical classroom.

E-Learning Is as Varied as the People Using It

Not all e-learning courses share the same fingerprint, ranging from basic to complex:

Basic techniques can easily be incorporated into a course
This may be a slide that contains Next or Back navigation buttons and incorporates assessment with true-false or multiple choice questions. Or it can be using a student response systems like smartphone apps or small devices that students use to select an answer to a question the professor poses in class.

Complex techniques take more time to develop
This could be a software simulation or it could be very interactive featuring role playing and complex decision-making scenarios.

Considerations for Developing E-Learning

With so much change, and the pressure to make medical education payoff for students, medical institutions and the economy, it’s critical to address the question of how best to teach students and take advantage of advances in instructional techniques.

Awareness: Which colleagues are adopting new techniques? What tools, models, or methods are being used and what is right for me? What tool: Evaluate your ability and skills to execute a new teaching tool. Start with something basic and progressively expand as your skill set and confidence grows.
Support: Determine your availability of time and resources to adopt new teaching tools and methods. Motivation: Determine if you want (or have the time) to learn about and incorporate innovative methods and non-traditional teaching concepts. Identify the benefits that will help you move toward student-focused teaching.

Is E-Learning Right for You?

You may be surprised to know the answer doesn’t have to be yes. There are a variety of other ways to engage your students that may be a better fit. Remember, using e-learning shouldn’t be done just to be able to say you are using it. It must be done with purpose and student learning in mind.

If you want to learn more about e-learning and how to incorporate it into your course, it is important to talk to an expert who can consult with you on techniques that will work for you.

Contact Peggy Moore, Director of E-Learning, or April Elker, E-Learning Associate, to learn about e-learning support at UNMC. Also be sure to visit the UNMC E-Learning Resource Center for helpful tips and tricks as you develop your e-learning project.

Note: Information in this post was adapted from The Adoption Curve: How Professors Learn About Change.


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