E-learning and Communication in Teachers’ Training and Professional Development
A learning system based on formalized teaching but with the help of electronic resources is known as E-learning. While teaching can be based in or out of the classrooms, the use of computers and the Internet forms the major component of E-learning. E-learning can also be termed as a network enabled transfer of skills and knowledge, and the delivery of education is made to a large number of recipients at the same or different times. Earlier, it was not accepted wholeheartedly as it was assumed that this system lacked the human element required in learning. There has been an increasing interest in e-learning in teacher training at universities during the last ten years. With the developing technology, educational methods have differed as well as many other processes. Firstly, a definition on e-learning as a new approach should be given.
E-learning could shortly be defined as a web-based educational system on platform with Internet, Intranet or computer access. The concept of e-learning has two main subtitles as synchronized (where a group of students and an instructor actualize an online conference meeting in a computer environment) an asynchronized (where individuals actualize self-training in computer environments). Students have access to the course contents whenever they want and communicate with their peers or teachers via communication tools such as e-mail and forums.
E-learning and Communication in Teachers’ Training and Professional Development
As a matter of fact that, E-learning has been proved to be the best means in the corporate sector, especially when training programs are conducted by MNCs for professionals across the globe and employees are able to acquire important skills while sitting in a board room, or by having seminars, which are conducted for employees of the same or the different organizations under one roof. No doubt, it is equally important to take forward the concept of non-electronic teaching with the help of books and lectures, but the importance and effectiveness of technology-based learning cannot be taken lightly or ignored completely. It is believed that the human brain can easily remember and relate to what is seen and heard via moving pictures or videos. It has also been found that visuals, apart from holding the attention of the student, are also retained by the brain for longer periods. Various sectors, including agriculture, medicine, education, services, business, and government setups are adapting to the concept of E-learning which helps in the progress of a nation. There have been many studies on e-learning.
Davies & Graff (2005), in their study on the performance of e-learning applications, focused on student interactions within online programs. The interactions of 122 university students were compared to their end of year grades. A significant increase in the performances was observed, however, some factors were determined to cause some gaps in online programs
In the main aspects of e-learning, e-learning models, communication and contacts and finally evaluation in e-learning, this theoretical part is the review of well-known facts concerning e-learning. Important factors that influence on e-learning are introduced. There are also the models of basic e-learning courses and the research results from other studies concerning studying in the virtual courses.
The literature reconsideration is based on adults’ motivation to learn and achieve the goals in e-learning. It includes the theories of adult learning techniques and motivation factors. There are also presented the factors that either are promoting or diminishing the learning experiences. The theories of the pedagogical changes are also presented because they are an important part of e-learning. Especially people who will design the virtual courses should be aware of the e-learning specialties, considering the learning technics and guidance during the teaching process. Motivation, communication and the course content are the main factors which will have an influence on the learning experience in the virtual learning environment. (Figure 1) Motivation is depending on many individual and environmental elements. Motivation to study is mainly depending on each person’s own learning styles and how well the virtual learning environment will support the different mixture of learning styles. Communication and contacts between the learners are one of the most important factors in collaborative learning. Communication between others has an effect on the learning results. The structure of the course content and the learning materials can be designed in a way that they will support collaborative learning. The support of teachers and other learners has a significant meaning in the learning experience. Feedback from teachers is not there only for assessing the learning results, instead, it is a way for teachers to guide learners to use their own skills and lead their studies to the right direction. Learners’ own technical skills and earlier experiences in virtual learning will also have an effect on how challenging learning will be.
Changeable influencing on E-learning:
The experience and skills to use technical instruments have an influence on motivation. Between the young and older adult learners are seen these days. People who have been born at the Internet era are more familiar with computers than people who have been born before that. This is also reflected in the learning culture. Goals are still the same but the learning approach and perspective are different.
Expertise from learners and teachers:
This indicates that the previous experiences have a positive influence on how new things are perceived. One research was studying the capacity of adults’ to participate in the lifelong learning process by using the virtual learning technologies. Study shows that if the person has poor computer skills, it will limit his/hers fluent involvement into both the lifelong learning process and the labour market. In these cases, the computer is usually used only for the information search on the Internet or carrying out the job tasks.
Pattern of e-learning courses:
There must be the possibility to do experimentations and learn from practice, in order to create the innovative learning environment. Success in virtual learning is depending on the co-operation of different experts who are involved in the virtual courses. This includes teachers, students and IT experts. To create the positive culture of virtual learning, the support from management is necessary.
Now a days, Internet has been widely used for less than ten years; however, it has changed the contents of many concepts in our lives as a modern communication tool. Many common concepts such as government, trade, democracy and learning have gained new meanings by taking the prefix “e”. E-learning or web-based education is one of the important concepts and opportunities provided by the Internet. The concept of distance learning actually emerged much before than the Internet; actually, it is said to be as old as education.
From The Classroom Education to E-Learning:
E-learning offers many advantages to student, e-learning enables the user not the one-way communication as in the classroom education but the duplex interaction. When compared to the classroom education, firstly, during the e-learning process, All the decisions on issues such as learning speed and the intensity of the topic depends on the student. Student has the right to get in contact in case of any problems. It does not require any expenses such as transportation or accommodation. Since e-learning process is a student-centered educational system, the learning materials could be organized according to the professional responsibilities and qualifications of the student. An effective e-learning system enables a student to determine and process his/her learning style, content, aim, current knowledge and individual skills. Therefore, person-specific education could be provided through creating individual learning styles. E-learning enables the individual to plan and direct his/her own learning process, so each student takes the responsibility of his/her own learning. In additional, the forums, created within the e-learning system, provide students with a discussion environment where problems are solved cooperatively in chat rooms. With the help of cooperation, which is the best way of effective learning.
Some types of E-Learning Applications:
E-examination: In this application, students are administered many proof exams in the internet environment before the formal exams, which enables them to determine their approximate levels. These proof exams, which enable the students to determine their approximate readiness levels, are the most facilitated e-learning services.
E-Drills: With the Internet-based drill softwares, it is aimed to create an effective and productive studying atmosphere for students. As students access these activities on the Internet, they could study on the units through interactive multimedia softwares and reinforce their knowledge by examining numerous examples. Internet-based drill software with animations and intensive student-computer interaction could be in service within this program. Students enrolled in the distance learning system, could study on the software with or without sound effects.
Therefore, students of the system could study more effectively and productively in the Internet environment.
E-Book and E-Television: In order to enable the students to access the books and TV programs on the Internet, the contents of the course books and TV programs could be presented on the Internet as e-books and e-television. Therefore, a student of the system could easily access the course books, TV programs, study through the multimedia research softwares and assess him/herself through the proof tests in an Internet-café or at his/her own PC at the office.
E-Counseling: The one-to-one academic counseling provided to the students could also be provided in a similar format on the Internet. Parallel to the research softwares, students are allowed to ask questions to their academic counselors related to their course contents.
E-Sound Book: The E-sound book application, which enables especially the visually retarded students to listen to the course book contents, could be provided on the Internet.
Therefore, visually retarded students and the students with screen reading difficulties could access their course books form their offices or from an Internet-café.
The Benefit of E-Learning Applications:
The important point in e-learning applications is its being able to educate the learner through technological tools whereas in traditional classroom teaching, the learners have to be together with the educator. Many e-learning applications involve mutual interaction; for example, in virtual classroom applications, students (from different places) could get education together in a virtual classroom. Since there is no need to go to a campus, they have no expenses for accommodation or transportation
As a matter of fact that, the trainer could ask questions to the classroom and the participants could respond to these questions through their screen. It enables the reviewing and renewing of educational materials in terms of accuracy and appropriateness. Technological tools not only make education more attractive through rich audio-visual presentations but also increase the level of learning.
The Characteristics of an E-Learner :
The students, who would participate in e-learning applications, need to have some characteristics or abilities: The first condition of learning is to have the will for it. E-learners direct their own learning. This is an advantage but sometimes problems may occur. An e-learner should aim to keep his/her self-motivation for learning at the highest level. E-learners have to spend certain times of the day for education. They should not make themselves sit in front of the computer for long hours. It is a fact that the planned educational sessions increase achievement. When deciding on the time for education, e-learners should choose less busy hours of the day when education could be less interrupted. They should keep their attention away from the outer factors as much as they can. After completing each course, e-learners should think about the knowledge they attained as well as how to use it. This would increase the level of motivation. E-learners should determine daily targets for themselves. E-learners should not hesitate to get in contact with the teachers or peers via e-mail or forums in case they need to reinforce or repeat a topic.
Learner-Content Interaction in E-Learning:
Within the designing process of teaching, it is an important step to organize the interaction and communication opportunities. Interaction is an important factor especially in Open University where students, teachers and teaching resources are away from each other in terms of time and place. Learning-based interaction mainly has three types. These are learner-content, learner-teacher and learner-learner interactions (Moore, 1996).
Suggestions for E-Learning Applications:
When e-learning programs are administered as a support or alternative for the traditional learning methods, the learning process becomes more consistent as well as the learnt knowledge. Although the infrastructure expenses for e-learning are high, the long-term education and service quality are more satisfactory.
The equipment for this program should be well designed. The design team should first determine the target audience accurately and consider many aspects such as the type of the education and media.
So, teachers of e-learning programs need to be trained in information technologies and Internet in order to gather with their students in virtual classrooms. Additionally, they have to have the ability to administer all applications successfully and to follow the developments in pioneer countries in e-learning and distance learning.
It is also very important for teachers to be able to provide academic counseling together with their competence and expertise in information services. E-learning has made the communication easier related to education.
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