Making a Strong Case for E-learning – Dr. Daphne Koller

Making a Strong Case for E-learning – Dr. Daphne Koller

One of the strong arguments against eLearning is that it is rather impersonal. On the contrary, instructor-led training is more personal, as there is face to face interaction, resulting in the instructor being able to gauge the reactions of the participants and altering his/her mode of instruction accordingly. However, Dr. Daphne Koller begs to differ. Dr. Daphne Koller, as many learning professionals might know, is a pioneer in starting “Coursera” which is a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

She made an interesting point during a TED talk titled,
What we’re learning from online education”, which challenges the claim that face to face instructor-led courses are more “personal” than online courses. Instructor-led classroom sessions may not be providing personal attention after all! She says that when she asks a question to group of students in a classroom, chances are:

  • Quite a few of them are not paying attention.
  • Others may be still jotting down notes on what she last spoke.
  • A few, who were paying attention, might respond to the question with an immediate answer.

As a result, those were not paying attention and those who were still jotting down notes, don’t even get a chance to pause and contemplate on the question. The instructor moves forward, satisfied on receiving a correct answer to the question. However, would this qualify as personal attention?

On the contrary, let’s take an example of an eLearning course. At the end of an eLearning module or session, there are questions. The participants are given time, to pause and think of a suitable reply. If a wrong response is given, there is an immediate feedback, urging them to reconsider the answer. It is only after the correct response that learners can proceed further. You can control and program the assessments, as per the requirement of the course material and learners.

Individual feedback and flexibility of choice are key offerings of an eLearning course

Another advantage, which online instruction provides, is the freedom to break a long lecture into a number of smaller modules, of 7-8 mins duration, which are easier to assimilate. It also provides multiple learning paths to learners, who can approach the subject matter based on their prior knowledge and background. Some might choose to take refresher modules, while others can dive directly into their subject of focus. Isn’t that a case of personalized learning environment for students?

Dr. Koller makes many other interesting points in her talk. Click on the play button to watch the complete video.