E-learning undergoes study
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Jun 14, 2001
Report: The State of E-Learning in the States
Whether online, through videoconferencing or with CD-ROMs, e-learning is
one of the fastest growing fields in work-related education. But it is also
largely based on traditional learning methods, quality isn't always assured
and access isn't always equitable, according to a national study.
The study, "A Vision of E-Learning for America's Workforce," was co-sponsored
by National Governors Association (www.nga.org) and
the American Society for Training and Development (www.astd.org). It aims to frame emerging policy issues regarding e-learning
delivering instructional content via electronic technology, such as the
Internet, satellite downlinks and interactive TV.
One of its contributors, Evelyn Ganzglass, the NGA's director of employment
and social services policy studies, said it's important for the public and
private sectors to jointly develop e-learning in a nonregulatory framework.
"This is a very borderless environment across states as well as countries
so the instruction comes from all sides," she said. "Government has a
real interest in consumer protection and quality."
E-learning is a mostly private endeavor that is expected to grow into a
$7 billion industry by 2003 in this country. It has the potential to retrain
adults to keep pace with the rapidly changing business environment, and
it can expand the reach of higher education. But the public needs information
to steer them to quality courseware that's accredited and ensures their
privacy, Ganzglass said.
Also, she said students need to be judged on their experiences and demonstrated
abilities to perform instead of traditional assessments, such as completing
a course within a specified time. E-learning institutions should be certified
on different measures, she said.
Ganzglass also said the e-learning market needs to be broadened to ensure
access for low-income and low-skilled individuals. This can be achieved
by developing common technical standards and reducing development costs.
In a companion survey, "The State of E-Learning in the States," the groups
looked at what states are doing to expand their postsecondary e-learning
facilities for work-related education and training, such as developing virtual
colleges and digital libraries.
Most states are developing delivery systems, promoting access and exploring
ways to ensure quality, privacy and security. Many states have commissions
looking into such matters, Ganzglass said. Their main concerns, she added,
are infrastructure improvement and the costs of developing content and training
Ganzglass said the groups plan to convene another meeting in the fall to
move the agenda forward.