The Internet, since its inception, has been the ultimate store for a great wealth of human knowledge — limitless, indexed, interlinked. It’s no surprise, then, that self-education has become one of the ultimate killer apps for global digital interconnection.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of technology, where self-taught professionals continue to dominate the industry. With technological advances outpacing the ability of traditional curriculum-building to deliver courses to self-motivated geeks thirsty for knowledge, it’s only fitting that sites for IT professionals remain a hotbed for cutting-edge e-learning solutions.
We’ve come a long way from the early days of a bunch of random text files nestled in an FTP or Gopher directory, though. The industry has learned a lot about the potential of the e-learning environment, and some trends and best-practices in online education are becoming clear.
Universities Join the Internet
Colleges and universities, sticking with what they know, have been getting behind the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) concept. MOOC essentially opens the lecture hall and syllabus structure of traditional college courses to online learners. Video lectures, e-textbooks, and computer-scored tests are a staple of the format, sometimes served with a side-dish of group collaboration via forums or mailing lists. The multimedia aspect of these courses fills a niche for learners who get more from hearing and watching material than simply reading a textbook.
MOOCs also characterize one of the first, and strongest trends in e-learning: flexibility. You can take part from across the country or around the world, and to a greater or lesser extent timeshift to study whenever is most convenient.
Enter the E-Learning Platform
But many e-learning providers are going behind the traditional class structures and truly exploring the potential to deliver education tuned to more optimally engage individual learners.
These sites embrace the reality that each individual will have different requirements, from the beginning level of knowledge they bring to the subject, to the learning style which suits them best, to the degree of reinforcement required along the way.
These e-learning sites take flexibility to another level by offering content via apps that will work on any cell phone or tablet, further freeing students from a desk or office. uCertify, for example, offers a free app (although the courses themselves are not free) that allows users to take any of its more than 400 courses on their phone.