Learning in the digital age
E-learning holds the potential to profoundly change the way post-secondary education (PSE) is designed and delivered. From a quality perspective, e-learning may be more engaging, less passive, and more customized to different learning styles than traditional lecture-based learning. There are about 1.3 million enrolments in fully online university and college courses in Canada. E-learning accounts for between 10 and 15 percent of PSE learning. Greater adoption of e-learning will happen if institutional focus on traditional classroom delivery can be reduced; faculty are adequately supported when they teach online; and e-learning design, development, and delivery practices improve. E-learning is the common term for the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to deliver learning. E-learning holds the potential to profoundly change the way post-secondary education is designed and delivered. The essence of learning is information―the transfer of information to students and the development of students’ ability to understand information and apply it in a variety of situations. Clearly, ICTs have greatly lowered the cost of transferring information. And, they also hold the potential to change the learning process by which students understand and apply information. One of the purported benefits of face-to-face instruction is personal connection. Yet, average class sizes have been growing, which undermines the engagement between student and instructors and among students. From a quality perspective, e-learning may be more engaging, less passive, and more customized to different learning styles than traditional lecture-based learning. It permits learning to be delivered just-in-time, when the learner needs it. It allows learners to learn from each other, through networking technologies. Although e-learning is not appropriate in every setting, it does hold the potential to greatly improve the quality of post-secondary education. This report explores the potential of e-learning in the Canadian setting.