It is without doubt that technological advancement has in so many ways influenced and improved education systems all over the world. This has revolutionized the way teaching and learning have been carried out, with institutions moving to virtual learning, with e-learning being commonly used. E-learning enables anyone to learn from anywhere at any given time without making any travels through a Learning Management System (LMS), which bridges geographical gaps (Buzzetto-Hollywood, 2007). Globally, e-learning for corporates has been rising over time and it is projected that it will still grow by 13% by 2022.
Source: Market Research Future (2018).
According to Fernando (2017), given the importance of pedagogical training, e-learning training techniques and the methods of training the learners should blend to ensure that quality of content delivered is not compromised, and the learning outcomes are attained. However, there are concerns as to how agriculture teachers can be imparted with the desired pedagogical skills through e-learning; and this is what this paper seeks to answer. It is possible to train the teachers to acquire skills via e-learning if the following thematic areas are considered and carefully implemented;
The content to be trained should be developed using a systematic approach in order to ensure that the learning materials are congruent with the predetermined and the desired outcomes and objectives. The teams who are tasked with developing the content should ensure that the e-learning content is designed as well as developed into bits of manageable nuggets, commonly referred to as learning objectives (LO). The importance of the LO is that it enables the learners to access and also internalize it in a single sitting. It also enables to gauge the learners on whether they can proceed to the next set of LO, or be directed to another rudimentary LO which acts as a prerequisite. The LMS should also fully integrate all possible features of technology on pedagogical learning.
Since in e-learning the trainees only have an interaction through instruction systems which are programmed, all manner of problems are bound to be witnessed. In order to ensure its effectiveness, therefore, the trainer should foresee these problems in advance, and also come up with features that are tailored for performance support. The trainers can adopt Laurillard’s Conversational Framework, which champions for the use of an interactive teaching strategy between the trainer and the learner (Holmberg, 2016). The learner should be given a chance to have an interaction with the learning material as they reflect on what is being taught. On the other hand, the trainer should give a constructive feedback to any of the learners’ concerns. The learners should be reinforced positively after tracking and reviewing their rate of access by distinguishing the high achievers from the slow learners, and tailor making revision modules.
Course objectives and expectations
From the onset, the learners should be made aware of the expectations, how long it will take the course to complete, and the best way to communicate. This sets the student at pace and makes them plan their time well. Moreover, the e-learning should synchronize the activities and make them more interactive, as well as allow the students brainstorm a topic. See below example
Source: FAO (2011)
In addition, e-learning should be prepared accurately, and creative instructional techniques used, as this makes the learning experience motivating as well as engaging. The learning materials presented should use simple language and should be devoid of jargon for it to be understood by all learners. Different e-learning resources and elements should be adopted, for instance, by the use of word, charts, audio, ppt, graphics and story boards. This makes the process interactive and eliminates monotony and boredom. Use of graphics as shown below allows the learner draw attention to a particular element in the course, supports understanding and also makes the content more interesting hence motivating the learners.
Source: FAO (2011)
The e-learning approach used should be able to assess the learner’s achievement of objectives. Both summative and formative assessment can be used. The use of multiple choice questions, if cautiously selected and designed proffers the learners with an in-depth understanding of what is being taught. Take for instance, a learner who wants to gain more knowledge on plant species can filter all questions on this subject area from the repository. Going through the many questions will help the learner to master the content and cement his/her understanding.
In conclusion, since e-learning offers flexibility and makes learning more efficient, the right teaching methodologies if adopted in training the teachers will enable them acquire the desired pedagogical skills. Given its versatility, a well-designed program of e-learning is able to technically offer fulfillment to the diverse learning needs of the teachers. In order to retain the interest of the teachers, the e-learning instructional strategy should incorporate elements that are quite engaging, as this ensures that there is a sturdy transfer of knowledge.