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Discuss the impact of electronic learning. The pros and cons of learning and teaching electronically. Illustrate your essay with specific examples.

The Open and Distance Learning Quality Council defines electronic learning as "the effective learning process created by combining digitally delivered content with (learning) support and services."  Electronic learning can also be referred to as technology-based training, online training, web-based education or training, computer-based training or learning, technology-based leaning, media-based training, interactive learning or interactive training.

The term refers to the enhancement of learning through the use of digital media; computers and networks, handheld computers, computer-based technology, electronic whiteboards and interactive TV, to name a few.  It covers many different applications and processes and has a huge implication in the design and practicality of education at all levels of schooling.  This type of learning, by definition, consists of digitally delivered content and quite often needs to have some kind of support, for example, for younger generations, a CD-ROM often needs to be accompanied with teacher support to be properly effective.  Education and Learning Wales believe in the delivery of this type of learning through learning in the presence of a teacher, learning from a remote location or independent learning from electronic medium with access to on-line support. 

She also discusses the impact that the rise of young people using digital technologies has on literacy, spelling and the use of different formality levels of language.  Many young people, in writing an online web log or when instant messaging their friends, develop their own language, or use the language socially excepted by their peers, i.e. using capital letters and punctuation to convey various emotions or importance of words, ignoring punctuation and sentence structure to make the content of their work very informal but understandable to people in the same generation.  Carrington states that the "production and circulation of, access to and analysis of information have been missing components of early literacy".  If the generation information gap is to be bridged, then digital technologies and electronic learning needs to be incorporated into all levels of schooling, from early education at the age of 4 up to higher and further education.

If the information gap between generations is to be bridged, then the governments and educational institutions around the world need to realise the importance of including electronic learning in education.  From the beginning of schooling right up to further and higher education and beyond, electronic learning has implications to both sides of education; the learners and the educators.  Learning through the use of digital media involves the whole scope of education from the introduction of new information and the encouragement to research and learn for one self, to completing an online course through an internet university, and assessment methods such as automated multiple choice tests.  In today's digital world, where people of all ages and cultures are in constant communication or have the continuous ability to communicate via instant messaging, email, hand-held internet devices and mobile phone, electronic learning is extremely important and does not look set to decrease in importance as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st Century.

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