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I'm Shiran Juttla, Digital Learning Specialist at SAGE Campus. I want to talk to you about how online learning can benefit learners, and in particular how it allows learners to fail.

eLearning is one of the most convenient, effective and personal ways of learning. It can transform your learning experience giving you accessible, up to date content in an environment that allows you to learn in a way that suits you.

This doesn't mean I don't see the benefit in face to face training - quite the opposite, in the past I've worked for a training and qualifications provider where the main form of learning took place in classrooms. However the role of eLearning and its offerings to the modern day learner are different. Working within the realms of membership bodies, training and qualifications, corporates, further education and CPD, I’ve worked on courses that are short and teach one skill or concept, to producing a full masters programme online. Why I think more and more people globally each year across industries are choosing to take their learning online is because of what online learning can offer:

  • It allows individuals to up-skill in their own time alongside a full time job and/or parental duties. Night owls and early risers are welcome, as are folks that prefer to do an hour of work a week or those that prefer to spend 10 hours over a weekend. You can fit it around your life.
  • It provides a comfortable environment for those who find sharing ideas in-front of others uneasy. Courses can be built with collaborative and social elements letting learners decide what they want to share.
  • It lets learners take control of their learning - if there's a topic you're weaker on or more interested in, you can pause and research/spend less time on it and then carry on- something that isn't as easy to do in a face to face environment. 
  • The biggest difference learning online has to offer in my opinion is the freedom to fail. Being in a class and not understanding a concept but not speaking up is something a lot of people do, whether it’s because they wish not to hold the class up or whether they need that extra time to digest a concept. To compensate learners take notes and then the “real learning” begins when they have time to sit down with a textbook and the class notes.

Real learning requires failure, and with an online course I can fail and get my syntax wrong on my python course as many times as needed until I get it right. I can check my answer against the solution and rewatch the video where the course instructor shows me step by step what I need to do. Being able to fail online without fear encourages exploration and testing of ideas and with the right feedback you become immersed in a great learning environment or worse case, you can always start over.

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I believe most of us are lifelong learners - I think that’s the environment we’re studying and working in. We don't stop learning, whether we're googling how to create a pivot table in excel, or how to turn a squared image circular using Photoshop, or whether you need to find out more about Princess Margaret because you’re watching The Crown and you just need to know if she ends up happy. With all that learning the online space is a great source of information. It becomes tricky when you know you want to learn a skill, but you don’t know the specifics of what you need to know (because you don’t know) and then you end up reading for hours, going through forum posts weighing up how trustworthy is Janet from Pennsylvania’s use of and/or conditions.

That’s where eLearning providers come in. We create you a programme, and make sure it’s relevant to you, with quality content and a thought through learning experience teaching you the skills you need to learn in an environment that suits you.