eLearning (1) - a modern concept

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• You can attend our web-based courses independent of time and place; all you need is Internet access.

• Our courses are developed by professionals in their content and have been designed for easy learning.

• Efficient learning requires that you have someone you can ask when you get stuck, a teacher who can provide you feedback and a social stimulus. We provide a net tutor, an experienced teacher of relevant security studies with good communication skills.

• Distance learning allows maximal learning for students of various starting levels; students thus can join any time. We offer individual guidance based on the students' backgrounds and their aims and interests.  

DISTANCE LEARNING: THE BEST INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGY

A description of distance learning as practiced by BSA/EUBSA is very much like the concept other institutions are currently using, such as the Division of Media and Training Services, Public Health Practice Program Office, various police and sheriff departments and countless other government agencies, both security and non-security related, as well as many universities worldwide.

Distance Learning:

The Instructional Strategy for the new millennium

Distance learning is an idea whose time has come. It is not a new idea—correspondence study has been with us for many years. But today, a variety of sophisticated communication technologies provide instructor and learner with numerous ways to participate in learning at a distance. The purpose of this info here is to present distance learning as an increasingly attractive instructional strategy for security training.

EUBSA was one of the pioneers to start using and developing security related distance  learning concepts, in the early 1990’s, when (besides ourselves) only the US-based “Professional Security TV” also started using distance learning programmes. Today, distance learning is being used in many official agencies and companies worldwide and also non-security related institutes and universities use distance learning to a growing extent each year.

Characteristics of Distance Learning

1. Physical distance between instructor and learner. The distance learning strategy is often given other names—distance teaching, distance education, distributed education, learning at a distance, eLearning etc. All of these names refer to some form of instruction in which instructor and learner are physically separated from one another. This physical separation is the principal—and defining—characteristic of distance learning.

2. Independent study or study groups. Distance learning may be set up to have learners participate either individually or in groups—or both.

3. Many delivery options. Instruction may be provided in a variety of media, from printed materials to live satellite videoconferences to electronic messages on the Internet or videos.

Whatever you call it, and whatever form it takes, distance learning can be an effective and economical strategy for reaching widely dispersed learners—such as members of a security forces widely dispersed in one or several countries or regions.

Media Used with the Distance Learning Strategy

Print. As noted earlier, correspondence study as practiced by universities, the military, government admin and other organizations is the classic distance learning format. This format relies almost exclusively on the medium of print. Printed textbooks and training manuals have allowed generations of learners to add to their knowledge and skills while remaining in their home communities and continuing to meet other responsibilities.

BSA/EUBSA has provided correspondence study in public health topics since the 1990's. BSA/EUBSA's original self-study courses were print-based. And we continue to use print-based courses, because print remains an efficient and effective means of conveying large amounts of information in an organized way, relatively inexpensive and usable wherever a person may be.

Personal computers / Internet. Although print-based instruction can allow learners to apply and assess their knowledge in simple ways, used alone, it does not easily allow the practice and assessment of complex skills. Computers provide an excellent means to engage individual learners in active problem-solving in a realistic way, and of course the internet provides for excellent means of fast, inexpensive communications and the use of further learning formats, such as online tests, streaming media etc.

Well-designed training via computer/internet is ideal for addressing some types of learning objectives, but its development is time-consuming and costly. Perhaps for this reason, many developers of computer-based instruction unfortunately use the computer mainly as a "page-turner," in which the computer presents screen after screen of text and the learner's only interaction with the material is to tell the computer to advance to the next screen. This type of material is better and less expensively performed by printed materials. The reason for the reluctance on the side of some training institutes to use distance learning is the lack of understanding and capability to develop such courses. That is, in our eyes, a mistake because distance learning adds an enormous wealth of training and learning options, 24/7/365 .

Videotape. The growth in the quality of inexpensive videotape and the general availability of VCR's started to make videotape an attractive medium for distance learning in the 1990’s. Recent advances in computer technology make it possible to include excellent computer-generated graphics, including animation, relatively inexpensively. Videos can be used to allow students to hear an instructor's lecture, but showing a "talking head" is not the best use of the medium. On the other hand, videos are ideal for demonstrations.
BSA/EUBSA is increasingly using videotape as a medium for distance learning. Of course, in the modern world of today, DVD video is the format of choice. Actual “tapes” are practically no longer in use at BSA.

Telephone lines, compressed video, and satellites. Instruction provided exclusively through the media discussed above usually separates instructor and learner psychologically as well as geographically. The writer or presenter of the instruction—whether print-, computer-, or video-based—seldom has any personal interaction with those who learn from that instruction; learners are sometimes frustrated at not being able to explore what they are learning more fully with an instructor. Some organizations that provide distance learning instruction attempt to address this drawback by allowing written “snail mail“ correspondence between instructor and learner, but for many organizations—including BSA/EUBSA—this is not a satisfactory alternative.

Recent developments in internet technology make it possible for instructors and learners separated by vast distances to come together in a live, and lively, exchange of information. Chat, Forums, and of course e-mail are the main means of communication today.
BSA/EUBSA is using all three of these media to provide learning

Electronic communication. Advances in computer technology have enabled widely separated groups to communicate quickly and easily through electronic mail and the Internet. Instructors in universities, especially, are widely using this medium for communicating with learners. It can be used for discussions held simultaneously or over a period of time. It allows learners to ask instructors questions and receive an answer promptly with little inconvenience to either.

The best medium. There is no one medium that is best for distance learning. All have their advantages and limitations. As practiced—at BSA/EUBSA and elsewhere—the best distance learning experiences combine a variety of media, selected for different purposes.
The format for a particular distance learning course, then, could combine print (for presenting a body of information and for providing practice exercises and feedback) combined with a constant 1-on-1 tutoring via e-mail, group sequences (seminars) from time to time plus additional material such as videos.

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