Information is the lifeline of the digital age and 21st century is shaping itself in the Knowledge Economy at a breath-taking pace. People now have the power to learn on their own time and at their pace. e-Learning technologies allow for the real-time performance, thus enabling individuals to spend time on their deficiencies rather than spending time on areas that they have mastered already.
1.The advancement of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has allowed teachers and lecturers worldwide to test the power and capability of the technology to meet the demand of the new generation in teaching and learning approach. The development of the user-friendly computer networks, internet, multimedia, on-line instruction, satellite and other high-end ICT peripherals have enhanced the usage of this technology in education. Education in the future will exist in different format and technology will transform and dictate the format.
2. The technology in higher education gives greater impact on the teaching and learning process. It demands for a change in the mindset of the students, lecturers and administrators of the university. E-learning could customize the academic programs based on the demands and the geographical constraint of the students.
The ultimate development objective is to bridge the digital divide, in terms of knowledge and opportunities, among communities in Malaysia through the provision of tools and training required to effectively utilize educational and development-related information to participate in the K-economy for social and economic betterment.
E-learning objectives include the following:
• To reduce the need for classroom training
• To track employee progress
• To track training effectiveness (or absorption)
• To link training with Knowledge Management
• To reduce time away from the job
• To improve job performance
• To support business objectives
• To make learning available anytime, anywhere
When computer and communications technologies are combined, the result is information technology, or “infotech”. Information Technology (IT) is a general term that describes any technology that helps to produce, manipulate, store, communicate, and/or disseminate information.
The paper reviews and extends different aspects of Information Technology in education.
The different aspects of information technology can be divided into four as follows:
1. Learning about information technology
Learning about information technology, which is basically programming; software and its applications as well as machinery structure.
2. Learning with the aid of information technology
Learning with the aid of information technology which refers to a further aid to the learning process, using Internet, a CD-ROM encyclopedia, a graphics calculator, or sensors for collecting data; in all such cases the computer is used as s support or a resource, but does not provide the teaching modality.
3. Learning by means of information technology includes both Computer Aided Learning (CAL) and Computer Managed Learning(CML)
Learning by means of information technology includes both Computer Aided Learning (CAL) such as science and geography simulations and computer based modeling; and Computer Managed Learning (CML) referring to computer based programme management of a pupil’s learning progress through a particular course.
4. Information Technology as an aid to school management.
Information technology as an aid to school management, refers to the use of IT for carrying out tasks related to the school management and to store information related to the students learning progress.
Latest Technologies in e-Learning Education:
New computing devices, faster networks, and enhanced digital imaging techniques are expected to drive your future. Many of these new technologies are closer than you might realize. New technologies are expected to revolutionize the way people learn. Listed below are some new technologies in the
field of education.
1. Portable Computing Devices
Handheld devices and laptops are likely to be the mainstay of computer use in education. According to a latest report from market research company IDC, public school districts in the United States are expected to spend $9.5 billion on information technology by the 2005–2006 academic year.
It seems certain that ultimately all students will have some type of personal computing device. Institutions in all probability will accelerate this revolution by providing electronic versions of textbooks on their Web sites. With a couple of taps on their screens, students will use fast wireless networks to download content to their portable computing devices.
2. Wireless Technology
At the regional and local levels, the use of wireless technology is exploding. A recent wireless technology development is the emergence of equipment for the 802.11a wireless standard. This new standard for data transmission allows wireless networks to perform better, stronger, and faster and up to five times as fast as 802.11b-based systems. With the help of this increase in throughput, wireless LANs will become an acceptable conduit for applications such as video and streaming media. For heavy data transportation, high-performance computer networks will continue to expand. These networks are expected to be the future of educational networking and will bring fast connections to regional hubs and nodes.
3. Tele-Immersion and Three-Dimensional Imaging
While most users watch jerky video and listen to stuttering audio, Internet2 users have the benefit of true tele-immersion: the ability to be immersed in a realistic environment with crystal-clear video and digital stereo sound. Tele-immersion allows users at diverse geographical locations to collaborate in real time in a shared, simulated, hybrid environment as if they were in the same physical space. These new tele-immersion atmospheres are created with display types, which are like entire rooms that immerse the viewer in three-dimensional virtual environments.
4. Multimedia Projectors
Multimedia projectors are getting smaller, lighter, and much brighter. Most manufacturers have launched new projectors into the categories of “ultraportable” (units between 6 and 12 pounds), “microportable” (units that are under 6 pounds), and “mini-projectors” (units that weigh less than 4 pounds). The future will certainly offer units that are brighter and lighter. By the beginning of 2004, we might see units breaking the 2-pound barrier, and average lumen ratings will be around 2000.
5. Flatter Display
Most of the new computers being purchased for learning are generally equipped with LCD displays. Of late, LCD displays have finally cracked the 30-inch barrier and are moving toward 40 inches and above. Most of the Japanese and Korean manufacturers are ramping up production of flat-screen plasma displays in sizes ranging from 32 to 61 inches.
By the end of the year 2010, it’s quite likely that learners will carry around a very thin computing device that can access data quickly and efficiently from multiple sources. Just try to imagine the possibilities: video, voice, and data on demand; interactive communication with peers and teachers; and no more heavy books to carry around.
A number of factors should be kept in mind when designing a meaningful learning environment; many of them fall into six dimensions:
1. Pedagogical Dimension.
The pedagogical dimension addresses issues concerning content analysis, audience analysis, goal analysis, medium analysis, design approach, organization, and instructional methods and strategies. Various eLearning methods and strategies include: presentation, demonstration, drill and practice, tutorials, games, story telling, simulations, role-playing, discussion, interaction, modeling, facilitation, collaboration, debate, field trips, apprenticeships, case studies, generative development, and motivation.
2. Technological Dimension.
The technological dimension examines the issues related to technology infrastructure in eLearning environments. This includes infrastructure planning (e.g., technology plan, standards, metadata, learning objects, etc.) and hardware and software needs (e.g., LMS, LCMS, etc.).
3. Interface Design Dimension.
This refers to the overall look and feel of eLearning programs. The interface design dimension encompasses page and site design, content design, navigation, usability testing, and accessibility.
4. Evaluation Dimension.
This includes both assessment of learners and evaluation of the instruction and learning environment.
5. Management Dimension.
This refers to the maintenance of the learning environment and distribution of information.
6. Resource Support Dimension.
This examines the online support (e.g., instructional/counseling support, technical support, career counseling services, other online support services) and resources (i.e., both online and offline) required to foster meaningful learning environments.
The purpose of these six dimensions is to help designers think through every aspect of what they are doing during various steps of the eLearning design process. As the scope of eLearning design expands, design projects change from one-person operations to complex team efforts. The eLearning structure should ensure that none of these important factors are omitted from the design of eLearning, whatever its scope or complexity.
One may find that designing open, flexible, and distributed eLearning systems for globally diverse learners is challenging; however, as more and more institutions offer eLearning to learners worldwide, designers will become more knowledgeable about what works and what does not. Organizations should try their best to accommodate the needs of diverse learners by asking as many critical questions as possible during the planning period of eLearning design. The number and types of questions may vary based on each unique eLearning system. By exploring more and more critical eLearning issues, one can create meaningful and supportive learning environments for learners.
4C’s of e-Learning Success
While the dawn of Internet technology made it a viable educational alternative, electronic learning can never truly prosper without paying careful attention to the following “4 C’s”:
• A Culture of learning;
• Champions who will lead e-Learning efforts;
• Communications that position eLearning’s value; and
• Attractive Compensation scheme for people to accept the eLearning culture
These 4C’s are broadly described as follows:
Culture – building winning strategies that work
Focus at the enterprise level.
New cultures can be successfully adapted when a sufficient critical mass of people wanting that particular change to happen exists. Trying to work those cultural issues group by group can only prove frustrating and failure-prone. In the event that the training and development community within the organization is fragmented, try to bring unity to the function. Otherwise, not enough clout will exist to change much of anything. A learning management system like Excelearn can assist in this endeavor.
Incorporate learning directly into the work environment.
As far as possible, make eLearning a part of everyone’s daily work activities. A simple way to begin doing this is to take time out of the daily schedule to share new insights or problems.
Resources should be easily accessible.
This means placing main eLearning access points on the intranet pages people visit most often. While this may create some initial fears about cost and security, the advantages that result often more than compensate for the risk.
Champions – helping senior managers & early users
Give your employees some short, business-oriented eLearning publications that address their chief concerns. Try to offer them benchmarking data that indicates the effectiveness of eLearning. Suggest to your employees a business conference where they can talk to their peers and experts about eLearning.
Pay no attention to the disbelievers.
Never waste your time trying to sell eLearning to those who are resistant to it. Their inability to adapt to eLearning methodologies could be based on good intentions, genuine strategic disagreements, or personal issues such as fear of losing power. Many people come around when they witness that some benefits are resulting from the eLearning process. A custom eLearning development program can illuminate these results more quickly and vividly.
Communication – conveying eLearning needs effectively
Communicate value from the top order.
Always make sure your sponsors are involved in the communication process. If you’ve built management ownership into your agreement, getting them to spread your message to others should be easy. Communication from the top also lends trustworthiness to your efforts to institute an eLearning culture.
Build support with coaches first.
Design a separate communication strategy for front-line managers, as their support is vital if workplace learning is to be successful. Commence your work with them early, before the deployment of your eLearning initiatives, since it will definitely take some time to win them over.
Build and promote an initial win.
Position your communications around best practices and solid examples of what eLearning can accomplish. Highlight what you have already achieved, even if it’s a small win, Tout your eLearning successes with endorsements and testimonials of the resulting benefits and impact on senior managers and learners, if possible.
Compensation – appraisal on eLearning progress
What will I achieve from this?
This is likely to be the first question most of the employees in any organization will ask themselves. Top management has to deal with the incentives issue if they hope to encourage their employees to adopt the new culture readily. If management can effectively relate the eLearning effort to the performance appraisal, workers will see this as directly affecting their own bottom lines: in the form of bonuses, raises and promotional prospects within the organization.
Make everyone aware of the consequences.
The managing committee should clearly spell out the positive consequences of adopting such cultural changes to their employees. Alternatively, the negative consequences should be implied to those who are unwilling to adopt the new culture. Whichever of these two consequential approaches is employed, management must take up fair measurement criteria to track the progress of their employees’ job performance.
This paper was written to add voice to the growing awareness of the tidal wave of opinion on technological learning tools. Furthermore, e-Learning is gaining the attention of industry and the education sectors alike. In the meantime, the following questions are worth asking:
How long should the scoping process for e-Learning last?
How long before there is a common realization that the term e-Learning is nothing more than another piece of techno-jargon?
How long before there is a realization that the Web-based learning context involves as many components outside the current techno-idiosyncratic framework, as within information technology – that knows no bounds, and truly extends the learning journey through time and space?