The Open University (OU) is a prime example of a Higher Education institution which has had the savvy to realise the opportunity afforded through eLearning to target a specific type of learner who does not fit the traditional model of a university student (9).
As the leading model of distance learning institution, the OU is well accustomed to educating remote learners and has, through its commercial subsidiary Corous, begun offering “computer based interactive learning and training systems”(25) to organisations looking to train and equip their employees with a number of new skills(25) Despite Professor Lilliard’s assessment, eLearning now plays an integral part in the Open University’s strategy (4) and it is pivotal in their attempts to lure the corporate clients.
As far as an individual is concerned, eLearning presents the learner with the opportunity to engage in study without the need to be physically present at his/her institution and as such, is liberated from the need to attend preordained sessions or lectures (23). This emancipation of the learning process means that education is immediately made accessible to those who would otherwise find a fixed time table prohibitive or would otherwise be unable to attend the institution of their choice (26).
6. Limitations and shortcomings of eLearning
According to Macpherson, the overwhelming majority of information concerning eLearning gravitates towards its advantages (27), however the author’s experience would suggest otherwise and it has been possible to gather a considerable amount of information relating to the negative aspects of eLearning. As such, if one were to base any assumptions regarding eLearning on the strength of a single source, the result would provide a blinkered view as to the effectiveness of eLearning.
The overriding limitation cited in numerous texts dealing with eLearning appears to be the lack of face-to-face interaction between the student and the instructor (2). This lack of contact can impact on the learner’s motivation as it requires a greater degree of discipline on the part of the user, a fact that is not lost on Clark who highlights the level of commitment
needed “in a world of competing...