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What Is Fourth Generation ELearning?

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2012-01-29 01:33:41     
Article by Gregory Parker

E-learning, or taking classes and coursework using the Internet instead of in a traditional classroom, has been around for a while. In the early days, e-learning was awkward, with coursework presented online but much of the teacher's job still done offline. Papers were mailed to professors and tests were still done by hand.

As e-learning progressed, more and more was done on the computer, but old programs had to be awkwardly updated and extensions had to be created to make this possible. Today, fourth-generation e-learning is a complete e-learning option, with all components built into a platform that is designed specifically for an e-learning environment.

Features of Fourth-Generation E-Learning
With a fourth-generation e-learning program, you receive the following benefits: - Ability to manage all parts of the learning experience, including forums, documents, and other non-course items. - Ability to tailor training content or course presentation based on a student's prior performance using "agent" technology. - Versatility to provide for self-study, virtual training, and online classroom environments in the same course. - Paradigms that allow the teacher to group students into categories, allow the categories to interact in a structured way, and manage students as a group when needed. - Technology that allows the teacher to manage training, whether live or not, at the same time, using the same tool set. - Supports discussion between teachers, learners, administrators, and even subject matter experts, in whatever matter the teacher or administrator sees fit.

How Fourth-Generation E-Learning Is Being Used E-learning environments are most often thought of in the college or university market. Many schools are now offering courses and even entire degrees through online education. Instead of attending a traditional class, students take classes on their computers, making it possible to incorporate a college education into a busy schedule filled with work and family responsibilities.
As e-learning technologies are becoming more and more precise, universities are turning to them as options for graduate and post-graduate degree programs as well as undergraduate programs. It would not be surprising to see a college professor in the next 20 years who earned his doctorate entirely online, because e-learning is quickly becoming a standard offering for many universities.

Fourth-generation e-learning is not confined to the college setting, however. Employers can use these programs to train their staff, creating modular education programs that staff members can complete at the office, without the need for a set training time. This also allows one teacher to facilitate training for hundreds of employees, when appropriate.

E-learning is also showing up in the elementary and high school settings. Some students who do not do well in a traditional classroom are taking their classes online. Home or private school families are able to provide their children with access to advanced science and math programs without sacrificing their desire to home school by taking advantage of fourth-generation e-learning programs.

Will e-learning eventually replace the traditional teacher? Probably not, since teachers are necessary even in an e-learning environment. However, the future of education is going to rely on the computer more and more, and fourth generation e-learning software is paving the way.

Specialized in: Elearning - Education
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