Over the past two decades we have seen a significant shift towards eLearning – especially in areas where the focus is on vocational training and the acquiring of job-related skills. Many of these skills have a large computer-oriented component, so that makes eLearning especially appropriate for this type of training.
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For example, when large numbers of workers are displaced from their jobs because of changing technology or other global trends, one of the first types of "retraining" they need is to bring them up to speed on the general use of personal computers in all types of business. eLearning courses are particularly suited to this task because learning on the computer gives them a chance to practise the very skills they are trying to learn.
But eLearning is not just about teaching people how to use computers. Rather, it is about using computers to teach people virtually anything. But of course the most important question is "Why?" Why use computers to teach things when for centuries it was assumed the best way to learn was at the feet of a learned instructor?
This really gets to the heart of the eLearning question. And as we will see, that question is not so much "Why?" as it is "Why Not?"
The simple fact is that the traditional learning model – a face to face relationship between teacher and student – is both expensive and inefficient. That, at least, is what the advocates of eLearning maintain.