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This guide will introduce you to e-learning – an exciting new way to find and undertake education and learning programs using the Internet.

What exactly is e-learning?
E-learning is another form of distance learning where education and training courses are delivered using computer technology. Typically, this means that courses are delivered either via the Internet, or on computer networks (linked computers). With the increased availability of PCs and Internet access, e-learning is becoming more and more popular. Courses offered on the Internet are varied and you can access training programs, certified and non-certified, from all over the world.

There are lots of advantages to taking an online training course. One main advantage of this type of study is that you don’t have to travel to lectures and you can study in your own time, at your own pace. It gives you access to a wide choice of courses that may not be available where you live. Some courses commence with the academic year but others can be started at any time allowing you to fit your study in between work or family commitments. However, you should know that both e-learning and other distance-learning courses do have a very high drop out rate. Some people find that the unstructured nature of e-learning does not suit them and prefer regular class times, while others enjoy meeting new people and the social aspect of a training course. Online learners need to be highly motivated to ensure they meet their goals. They also need to be good self-managers, to ensure that they leave sufficient time for their studies.

Before registering for a course and paying the fees, make sure you are choosing a reputable training provider. If you are doing a certified course, you can check with the awarding body to make sure your provider is registered with them. You can check to see if providers of higher education courses, such as diplomas and degrees, are registered with the relevant government department in their country of origin. It is also a good idea to shop around as many providers offer similar courses at different prices. It is also possible to source completely free courses – for example Introduction to Web Design or Introduction to Spanish.

The LifeSteps project has recently added a large collection of Web pages about eLearning. This builds of an initiative by Wexford Public Library Service. On this website, you will find a lot of helpful information on e-learning, as well as an extensive listing of e-learning and distance learning courses. The website also gives information on how your local library service can help and support you while you are studying.
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