The visionary decision of many of the Middle East’s governments to transform their respective states into diversified economies has enabled the region to emerge as a global icon of growth and progress. Educational and human capital development in particular has been a central theme in region-wide efforts to broaden the income base. Growing parallel to the Middle East’s rise as one of the world’s most vibrant economies, then, is the demand for well-trained and skilled talents capable of sustaining this diversification-driven growth.
Preparing the Arab World’s workforce for the unique challenges of the 21st Century requires advanced tools and techniques that can deliver far beyond what conventional education and training models can offer. Given how society now thrives in an Information Age, the shift to e-learning has become a natural progression for educators and learners alike.
E-learning is the delivery of learning, training or educational programs through electronic or digitized channels. Regardless of the technology used, learning remains the primary objective. Over the past few years, e-learning has made significant contributions towards addressing educational inequality and advancing economic development throughout the world.
While the ‘e’ in e-learning stands for ‘electronic,’ in the educational context it can also mean ‘enhanced.’ This concept vastly improves on many aspects of learning, from accessibility and pacing to availability and portability. With many Middle Eastern countries making the transition to knowledge-based economies, e-learning is a very promising tool for maximizing the capabilities and potentials of the regional workforce.
E-learning offers numerous benefits to the Middle East’s working professionals, including the following:
- 24/7 availability
Rapid and real-time action is important in today’s highly competitive world, which is why it is vital for information to be immediately accessible. Especially for the region’s professionals who value their time and effort. E-learning can be availed of by anyone with access to a connected computer –anytime, anywhere, at their own convenience and pace – without compromising their personal and professional priorities.
- Short duration
Due to the higher availability of resources and instructors, most online courses can be offered at a shorter period than their normal counterparts. It is thus preferable for working professionals who have busy schedules and are pressed for time to dedicate to self-development courses.
- Lower costs
Expenses typically associated with classroom learning such as electricity and janitorial services are not applicable to e-learning. Learners also do not have to spend for travel to a physical facility. Moreover, since normal classroom courses are taught linearly, learners have to spend hours and days in a training room when they could be attending to other professional matters instead. All of these make e-learning a more economical alternative.
In e-learning, activities can be conducted with minimal to no need for physical items such as paper and pen, thus reducing or altogether eliminating the generation of waste. Moreover, since learners do not have to travel to a physical classroom, they reduce their carbon footprint.
- Higher retention
E-learning enables students to acquire information or knowledge and apply them immediately in their daily practice. This keeps them interested and confident that what they are studying can be put to practical use even while the course is still ongoing. The retention rate can thus be higher than in the regular classroom setting.
- Organizational efficiency
Organizations benefit from e-learning’s focus on key subjects and skill sets relevant to the trainee’s work. The approach also involves a shorter learning curve, provides information to learners when and where they need it, and relates lessons to practical situations and applications already familiar to the working student.
Moreover, organizations can save from expenses associated with traditional onsite training by using existing IT equipment and infrastructure, and not losing employees to too much downtime as the latter’s studies do not intrude with working hours.
- Improved competitiveness and professional development
The highly competitive nature of the Middle East’s business landscape requires professionals to constantly acquire new skills while remaining the best in what they know. E-learning provides a channel for the workforce to remain sharp, improve at their own pace, and pursue specific skills.
These are just some of the reasons why e-learning is a promising option for developing the Middle East’s professional talents. A well-educated employee works better, sells better, and is more environmentally-conscious; the web-based learning approach provides a feasible route towards achieving this end. Although e-learning is not yet as common as conventional classroom instruction in this part of the world, it is expected to be more of the norm rather than the exception in just a few years. Professionals who engage in e-learning not only broaden their personal and professional horizons, but also help drive technological advancement and economic progress.