Last updated: 26.06.12

Online learning in schools 'could learn from businesses'

E-learning in academic settings can learn from the successes online training courses have had in the world of business

This is according to chief executive officer of software consultancy Intertech Tom Salonek, who wrote in the Star Tribune that so-called blended learning, wherein "the best of traditional classroom instruction" is supported by the "ease and cost-saving" mobile and internet tools provide, could be the best way to deliver education.

Distance learning online can be bolstered through high-tech academic environments led by professional educators, providing dialogue, opportunities for students to ask questions and expert, dynamic teachers, he argued.

The specialist highlighted a recent International University Consortium for Executive Education study, which found modern-place blended learning - involving combining traditional education with virtual learning environments - is significantly improved when compared with the "click-and-learn" products of the 1990s.

It also found e-learning courses are becoming key elements in the strategies of many universities, he added.

In the last two decades, substantial amounts of research have gone into how adults learn and how technological advances can be used to support this, Mr Salonek said.

Furthermore, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University are embracing the potential offered by online learning, he pointed out, stating he was "interested to learn" of this move.

While traditional educational terms may end in the summer, "school's never really out" for people who wish to remain competitive in their sectors, the expert argued.

"But thanks to innovations in online education, it's easier than ever to keep learning throughout a lifetime," he declared.

Mr Salonek called on universities to make their e-learning platforms interactive, while schools ought to invest in facilities that enable students to hear and see their professors, such as through mobile applications or over the internet.

"In a blended online world, a local professor could select not only the reading material, but do so from an array of different lecturers, who would provide different perspectives from around the world," New York Times columnist David Brooks recently stated.