There are many words like E-government, E-health, E-shopping, E-business, E-commerce, E-book, E-libraries, E-learning and so on. Almost everything today has gone electronic, while a few years ago World Wide Web was considered a Privilege, today it is necessary. Everyone can use and learn electronic devices. A greater flexibility is provided through online access to learning when, where and how to do it? Today anyone can obtain education anywhere, anytime through online education. Thus breaking the shackles of traditional classroom and adapting to new and electronic learning Technologies empowers all learners irrespective of their diversities. This development in ICT has resulted in a learning environment called E-learning.
CONCEPT OF E-LEARNING
E-learning is essentially imparting education through computer and network enabled digital technologies which include among other things, internet, intranet, computer, satellite TV, CDROM, audio and video resources. The term E-learning was first used in professional environment in the year 1999 at CBT Seminar at Los Angeles. Therefore e-learning could be broadly defined as use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to enhance and support learnings. This term is used synonymously with virtual learning, online learning, computer based learning, web based learning, and networked learning. E-learning is used inconsistently, in order to gain a clear understanding of what e-learning is. The letter “E” in E-learning stands for the word “Electronic”, E-learning would incorporate all educational activities that are carried out by individuals or groups working online or offline via networked or standalone computers and other electronic devices.
E-learning is defined by the Welsh Assembly as “the use of electronic technology to support, enhance or deliver learning.” This includes online courses, courses on CD-Rom, classroom based courses using video, audio or CD-Roms as well as informal learning and communicating using email and the internet. Simply put, e-Learning is an umbrella term that describes learning using technology, giving us the opportunity to learn almost anytime, anywhere. The aim of all this is to make learning more interesting, flexible and tailored to individual needs.
E-learning refers to the use of Internet technologies to deliver a broad array of solutions that enhance knowledge and performance. Rosenberg claims that E-learning is based on three fundamental criteria:
• E-learning is networked, instant updating, storage and retrieval, distribution and sharing of information is therefore possible.
• E-learning is delivered to the end user via a computer using standard internet technologies.
• E-learning focuses on the broadest view of learning: Learning solutions going beyond the traditional paradigms of training.
• E-learning involves the use of computer or electronic devices (e.g. a mobile phone) in some way to provide training, educational or learning material. (Derek Stockely 2003).
E-learning defines as: Web-based training (WBT), also known as e-learning and online learning, is training that resides on a server or host computer that is connected to the World Wide Web. (Allison Rossett, 2001).Thus E-learning is the use of technology to enable people to learn anytime and anywhere can include training, the delivery of just-in-time information and guidance from experts. E-learning could also be considered distance education in an evolved form, which has taken advantages of all the emerging technologies for enhancing learning experiences of every learner. In that sense E-learning could be considered as a new generation of distance education.
E-learning is instruction that is delivered electronically, in part or wholly via a web browser, through the internet or intranet, or through multimedia platforms. Modern Technology provides us with a plethora of options for communicating. The most common Communication tools used in E-learning include email, instant messaging and Blogging. There are several organizations working towards standards and to make sure learning content is ‘interoperable’ with various learnings management technologies. The E-learning standard support interoperability, durability, manageability, re-usability and accessibility. E-learning is the employment of technology to aid and enhance learning.
Focusing on the use of the internet in E-learning, three primary uses have emerged:
1) Non-Academic/Corporate: Both small and large businesses are increasingly using E-learning for initial and updating staff training. Both external resources and in house programmes developed on company intranets are used
? Information (such as healthy and safety) can be kept current by updating the intranet site. Staff can be instructed to update their training as and when the information is updated; without the need to organize trainers and courses, and find the time for staff to attend them. This is seen as the best way for staff to keep skills up-to-date.
? Enables ‘just in time’ learning. When employees face new challenges in their day-to-day work, they can immediately access a central training resources to equip them to deal with it, on a situation by situation basis.
? Staff can train as and when they want to, and can break the course up into section as they see fir (removing the problem of concentration loss).
? Money is saved by reducing the need to book venues and trainers. Staff are released from the desks for a minimum amount of time.
2) Academic (VLEs) : Universities are increasingly opening up to the possibilities of “VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS”, sometimes used alongside MLEs (Managed Learning Environments). VLEs are currently being used more and more effectively by new universities are therefore feeling the need to ‘keep up’ and are also beginning to invest in this technology. The concept of the VLE is still relatively new, and some institutions are currently only using them on trial /pilot scheme basis.
? Widens access to the course: students can learn from wherever they are and numbers do not have to be limited.
? Can be more cost effectives.
? Provides access to more information and allows students to use their own initiative to find it.
? Simply a ‘different’ way of learning, which some students enjoy.
? Students imbibe extra computer skills that may prove useful generally.
? Students can study whenever can study wherever they want to.
3) Academic (Educational website) : Some institutions have preferred to develop their own online educational resources rather than use something as structured and pre-determined as a VLE. These are basically individually designed websites that are tailored to a particular audience, often on a particular subject. They are much like an interactive text book, including audio, video and 3D graphics. Some also contain activities and quizzes etc to aid learning. They can make learning more interesting and have can help students to visualize situations and objects in a realistic way that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to see. They are often based on a particular resource such as digital library or collection. This site may also contain the discussion board elements of a VLE, and give students the opportunity to ask questions of experts via email.
Some sites also contain an area for teachers, giving advice on have to use the resources for a particular age groups and curricula. Many also include printable material to accompany the web site and to use in class. These site can also serve to promote the work of the organization. It is however, less easy to fully integrate such a site with a specific course or program of study. However, by working with schools, colleges and the Government, more institutions