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Developing Countries Are Facing Challenges for E-learning Adoption

Education is one of the most significant factors for economic growth and poverty alleviation in developing countries and the access and utilization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for spreading education is considered to possess high potential for these countries struggling for meeting a rising need for education while facing a number of challenges. E-learning is encountering a lot of challenges and hindrances in developing states and drop-out rates are normally too higher than in conventional classroom based learning. (Bollag, B. and Overland, M.A.,2001)

A study conducted by Dept. of Informatics, Swedish Business School Örebro University, Sweden, categorized the challenges, into four major groups:

  1. Course challenges, These include design, content and delivery
  2. Challenges associated with characteristics of a teacher and a student
  3. technological challenges
  4. contextual challenges – cultural, organizational, and societal issues

1. Course

The most common and biggest challenge is related to course, its development and delivery. Concerns have been raised regarding content, its design and the activities to be carried out in a course, the support functions offered and course delivery mode. There is a need to especially design a new curriculum suitable for E-learning environment, in order to create awareness how E-earning is different from conventional classroom based learning.

2. Individual characteristics:

The characteristics of the students in developing countries have to do a lot with E-learning adoption and its success. The student motivation is the factor that holds prominence in most of the surveys conducted in this regard. Students in developing countries have been found to have little motivation for becoming a part of E-learning setting. Several reasons are responsible for this. One of the reasons is conflicting priorities. These are concerned with the amount of time students have to, and desire to, dedicate to the course.

Students in developing countries revealed that it is very stressful and difficult for them to arrange time for an E-learning course because of conflicting priorities with family and work commitments. Most of the students in developing countries are found to be doing part time and low paid jobs. A third issue is the student’s financial difficulties. Developing countries are badly hit by poverty since long and lack of student financial support can be a forecaster of student withdrawal. A secure and helpful study atmosphere affect e-learning to an extremely big extent and some researches even propose that this is the most significant factor impacting drop out and student retention.

3. The Technological Challenges

One of the major concerns under this challenge is the access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), by students and teachers. In developing countries the access to computers, laptops, tablets, TV etc is not wide spread and a large number of students are still deprived of the basic requirements for effective E-learning setup. Secondly, the cost of the technology and equipments also matter. The cost factor is critical in developing countries because in these regions there is a need for low cost and affordable ICT alternatives with low service charges.

4. Contextual challenges

Every society holds certain beliefs, culture and values that affect its education system. One challenge identified here is the role of student and a teacher. In most of the developing countries, students are trained to show honor for teachers who are considered as the experts and cannot be questioned. In these cultures where students behave as receivers, the effective implementation of E-learning is challenging. Students being spoon fed by teachers and student’s too much dependency on teachers are taken as obstacles in E-learning settings.

Bollag, B. and Overland, M.A. (2001) Developing Countries Turn to Distance Education, Chronicle of Higher Education, 47, 40, A29-22.

E-learning & Social Media- Can E-learning maintain its effectiveness?

Pursuing effective E-learning in the era of Social media seems a big challenge. While the yield of education is preferably the freedom, it is currently being conducted in a regulated and controlled manner. E-learning has risen as the solution to offer freedom for students in the way that traditional face-to-face interactive learning cannot provide. Now, the most excellent learning experience has become a reality by blending both in-class and E-learning. However, peer interaction probably the major lacking on the part of E-learning. It is the factor that stresses comparison between teacher control and student freedom, which is boosted by social media. With the comparison generated, teachers are unable to direct the learning way anymore. The role of teachers have confined to influencing the students for attaining the finest learning experience.

Is Social Media causing Education Improvement or Chaos?

According to the statements of two experts named Henry J Eyring and Clayton M, most of the online courses let students to work individually at their own speed but given no peer-to-peer interaction, until social media utilized along.

In 2004, a website was developed by Mark Zukerberg, which is considered as the earliest iteration of social networking process and facebook. It was a stream of technology revolution that copy the way users socialize and interact by means of electronic media, short sounds, texts, which are named as Social network. (Lawrence, R., 2009).

Today, social networks are strong enough to be a true and novel definition of collaborating, conversation and sharing in quite innovative form. While social network implies collaboration, sharing and conversation, it is typically in reverse polar from extremely controlled and regulated education. Hence collaborating social networks to present controlled courses of E-Learning proposes chaos, particularly, in unstable field of E-learning.

Social networking concerns more about liberty and freedom to be created among users. It provides leverage to collective voice of students as equal to teachers’. Hence, the participation, thoughts and opinions of the students cannot be neglected or taken as of low worth any more.

By integrating social networking with E-learning, a new form of learning style occurs. In a classroom where teachers up till now used to be a centre, teachers are now not able to limit the involvement and participation of students just in class. Students can raise their voice, opinion, and ideas anywhere, anytime. And, in case, if any idea gets the interest and favor of the majority of the mates, it can take a shape of collective voice strong enough to alter the manner, the class is conducted. Hence, classroom learning can easily shift from teacher- direct style to sharing students’ interest, by means of collective voice. There is a possibility of E-learning environment to be chaotic as teachers would be there without any ability to direct or control.

Then, how will a teacher teach contents as suggested by curriculum without having ability to control the route and pace of the class, attached with social networking? Nicolas Lamphere suggests the following three rules that can help using social media in an effective manner:

Rule 1: Social media is about making conversations among your market and audience.

Rule 2: You cannot direct interactions with social media, however conversion can be influenced.

Rule 3: Influence is the foundation on which all reasonably practical relationships are created.

Teacher can utilize social media resources to influence face-to face conversation to go in track as proposed by the curriculum. When utilized effectively and cautiously, the integration can make learning atmosphere more motivating and exciting in a cyber setting.

Lawrence, R. (2009). E-Learning and Social Networking. Retrived March 28, 2012, from http://ezinearticles.com/?ELearning-and-Social-Networking&id=2811820

E-learning And Its Social Implications

There is recently a technological revolution, especially in the field of higher education, called E-learning. No doubt, the development and adoption of E-learning seem explosive right from the beginning, it is extraordinary, it is thrilling, and it is interesting and something new both for students and teachers. The way E-learning has been affecting and changing the scenario of traditional form of teaching and learning, the same way it has come up with its significant implications in social sector as well.  Since, E-learning is rapidly and deeply penetrating into societies all over the world, its social implications appear to be an interesting and explorative subject for the experts.

Every society consists of people, belonging to diverse religions, background, values, beliefs, preferences and likes and dislikes. While studying the social implications of E-learning, it is vital to take into consideration all those factors that make up a society.  E-learning’s social implications can be classified into the following kinds of issues. Palloff, Rena M., and Pratt, Keith., 2003).

  • Cultural
  • Gender
  • Geographical
  • Lifestyle
  • Religious
  • Literacy
  • Digital divide
  • Disabilities

Cultural

The cultural category includes content, writing styles, writing structures, multimedia, participant roles and web design. If a teacher is familiar with sensitive part of the material or discussion, how can that teacher lead his/her class to include or exclude that stuff? Writing styles can also affect the process of an online course.

Both the teacher and students are required to have knowledge regarding rules of written assignments. And, if expectations are not fulfilled, who will be responsible to keep homework and discussions on track?

Gender

The issues related to gender also exist in the class, despite of the fact that attendants are physically too far away from one another. Maybe it is the task of the teacher to track facilitation and shift leadership roles in various groups in order to ensure gender neutralization. Any issue identified related to behavior must be tackled and resolved immediately.

Lifestyle

There are many forms of lifestyle changes and the teacher is required to make sure that class members are equally treated, irrespective of their preferences and lifestyles. In certain circumstances, the students take on this role themselves. The saying “diverse strokes for diverse folks” should be maintained with minimum disruption in class.

Geographical

Geographical differences and issues become even more evident if we look them from a global perspective. For instance, if there is a discussion room activity to be happen, all affected time zones should be accommodates. Within this class, there would also be the thoughtless locale jokes. And also the technology issues like internet access must be taken into consideration.

Religious

Religious considerations should also be honored and addressed. Maybe, it would not be suitable for the teacher to ask students to get work done on a Saturday or a Sunday, as these are spiritual days for few religions. This is a sensitive issue where decision making is quite critical.

Literacy & Disability

It is wise to consider literacy for an online course, and it is unwise to overlook. Irrespective of the course level, there is a strong possibility that some people lack certain required skills or skills that need improvements like writing, typing, reading, using software etc. Disabilities must never be neglected. Text options and other formats might be essential.

Reducing the digital divide

Regardless of societies, there are digital gaps between major and minority groups, younger and older, men and women, disable people and rest of population, whites and blacks etc. Access to latest technology and training to utilize it also help decreasing the bridge of digital divide between haves and have-nots.

Palloff, Rena M., and Pratt, Keith. (2003). The Virtual Student: A Profile and Guide to Working with Online Learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Wiley Imprint

E-learning- A Technological Revolution With Wider Impacts

The societies around the world are changing. Although these changes, which are a lot in number, are attributed to various environmental factors, we cannot neglect the impacts of increasingly popular mode of learning, called E-learning. Not just the students and academies are getting benefited by rising concept of E-learning; it is impacting the entire society as a whole, including families, economies and societies. The good news is that, the influences that it portrays upon these forces are quite positive, containing long lasting benefits.

The impacts of E-learning are vast. You can find them both at individual and collective level. Effective E-learning arises from an information communication technology, in order to widen educational opportunities and facilitate students to polish the skills and capabilities; they and their economy require coping in 21st century. A promising body of evidences proposes that E-learning has the potential to show substantial positive impacts. It listed them as follows: (Bebell, D. & Kay, R., 2010).

  • E-learning makes students to be more engaged and helps them to develop the most wanted skills of 21st century
  • Teachers can have positive attitude regarding their duties and E-learning also helps them in providing personalized learning to students.
  • E-learning has also been influential on a collective level and enhances parental involvement and family interaction.
  • The digital gaps can be reduced in communities, bridging the societal divides.
  • E-learning specially aims to benefit students who are economically disadvantaged and/or disable. With various E-learning models, they can get learning just like other normal people.
  • On macroeconomic level, E-learning portrays its impact in the form of job creation in information technology industry, resulting in economic progress and production of more educated and able workforce.

E-learning and students:

Students are being able to get higher level of engagement, motivation and showing higher attendance after being a part of E-learning mechanism in their institutes. In a survey conducted by the Project Tomorrow, U.S, 64% of elementary teachers revealed that biggest influence on the success of a student can be attributed to the level of their motivation to learn.

The finding based on the responses of 388 district technology directors showed that half of the respondents reported the E-learning is the source of increasing the familiarity of students with technology.

Teaching outcomes:

Many of the latest studies have revealed that granting laptops to teachers or facilitating them purchasing laptops seems to empower their teaching, enhance lesson planning and preparation outcome, get a more optimistic and motivating attitude towards their tasks and improve effectiveness of administration and management tasks.

E-learning and family effects:

E- Learning seems to make certain positive impacts in the family and home life. An analytical study by PISA indicated that computers utilized at academic institutes seemed to have very little effect on outcomes, while utilizing the computer at home showed more significant effects on results.

The usage of technology by students is more common at home. It is also indicated by many studies that students like to use technology at home even when they do not need it to do their homework. According to the survey conducted by CDW-G, U.S., 86 percent of the respondents (students) said that they use computers at home more than in the class, 94 percent indicated that they take the help of technology at home to do their assignments and 46 percent of faculty members revealed that they assign assignments to students that require use of internet or other technology, on a frequent basis.

Along with that, E-learning seems to develop the economy in the form of job creation and effecting work force, by helping even those who consider it difficult to get learning because of their disability or financial crisis, thus E-learning contributes indirectly in the development of communities and countries at large. That’s probably the biggest impact, making it an increasing learning approach all over the world.

Bebell, D. & Kay, R. (2010). One to One Computing: A Summary of the Quantitative Results from the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 9(2). Retrieved from: http://www.jtla.org

History of E-learning

The word “E-learning” seems so general and common today, especially the speed with which it is becoming a learning norm nowadays, labels it as one of the widely practiced concept all over the world. But, till 1999, no one could even imagine that learning would be possible without meeting at a physical location and there had never been a term like “E-learning” till then. The word “E-learning” and its concept first emerged in October 1999, in a seminar at Los Angeles, organized by CBT systems. In this seminar, the origin and usage of this word in a professional field, was never thought to be the most admiring and adopted idea in just few coming years. It implies that the concept of E-learning is not that old.

The world “E-learning” is also associated with the expressions like “virtual learning” or “online learning”. Experts define E-learning as a mean to gain learning that is based on the utilization of new advanced technologies that permit access to interactive, online and sometime tailored training via Internet and other media like interactive TV, Intranet, CD-ROM, extranet etc so as to expand competencies while the course of learning is self-determining from place and time.

The growth of the e-Learning concept has derived from so many other ‘educational revolutions’. Some of such revolutions are quoted by Billings and Moursund (1988) as:

  • The development of writing and reading
  • The emergence of the teacher/scholar profession
  • The development of portable technology
  • The advancement of electronic technology

It seems that the basic ideas, didactical grounds and methodologies are not so new!

The history of E-learning has been a gradual evolution since long.

In the beginning of 1960s, Psychology professors from Stanford University, named Richard C. Atkinson and Patrick Suppes tested computers to be used to teach math to kids in elementary schools in East Palo Alto, California. These experiments gave birth to Stanford’s Education Program for Gifted Youth.

In the year 1963, Bernard Luskin set up the earliest computer in a community college for teaching. At that time he was working with Stanford along with others and made progress in computer assisted training. Luskin finished his milestone UCLA thesis while working with the Rand Corporation in examining the problems to computer assisted education in 1970.

Initially the e-learning systems, that are based on Computer-Based Training frequently tried to replicate conventional teaching methods whereby the function of the e-learning system was assumed to be for conveying knowledge, as contrasting to systems that were developed afterward. These were designed on the basis of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL), which initiated the idea of shared growth of knowledge.

In 1993, William D. Graziadei introduced an online computer-conveyed lecture, seminar and evaluation project via electronic mail. The first most online high school was founded by 1994. Till now the e-learning has become the hot norm of societies at large, all over the world. The global e-learning industry is anticipated to have value over $48 billion as per some conservative estimates.(Nagy, A., 2005, pp. 79-96). From 1994 till 2006 i.e. just within 12 years, over 3.5 million students had been reported to participate in on-line learning environment at various higher education institutions in US.

E-Learning is now being adopted widely and used by a number of companies to update and educate both their customers and employees. Companies with big and spread out division chains employ it to teach their staff even for the newest product advancements without the requirement of arranging physical courses.

Reference:

1. Nagy, A. (2005). The Impact of E-Learning, in: Bruck, P.A.; Buchholz, A.; Karssen, Z.; Zerfass, A. (Eds). E-Content: Technologies and Perspectives for the European Market. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 79–96