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E-Learning-Impact on Studies

A Synopsis.

Learning is not compulsorybut neither is survival- w Edwards Deming

Learning is a never ending process that happens through out a persons life. It starts at
home, develops in educational institutions, but it never stops. Education today, plays a
crucial role in framing the personality, paves way for the development of mind and is an
important factor that determines the quality of a persons life. It is an instrument that
hones the skills of an individual and as a person graduates from school to college,
provides the necessary degree of independence and confidence to face the world.

Lectures and seminars, case studies, presentations, industrial visits, internships and
projects are the usual methods of imparting education. The existing educational system
has been successful, but not without flaws. Quite often they restrict to the prescribed
syllabus and sufficient attention to update the students knowledge is not provided.
Another flaw is the absence of easy availability of study material at all places.

This paper aims to study the concept of E-Learning, along with its modes and various
methods of implementation. It mainly focuses on its impact on studies- both positive and
negative.

Self-Directed Learning
Self-directed learning is that learning which is initiated by the learner himself/herself,
making the decisions about what are the courses/subjects to be taken up and how it
should be taken for studying. The learner selects and carries out his/her own learning
goals, objectives, methods and means to verify that the goals were met.

In todays rapidly changing world, the most important skill is that of self-reflection. A
highly motivated, self-directed learner with skills in self-reflection will be very successful
in understanding the concepts.

Self-directed learning becomes even more powerful when it's systematic, that is, when
the learner decides:
1. What areas of knowledge and skills he needs to gain in order to get something done?
2. How he will gain the areas of knowledge and skills?
3. How he will know that he has gained the areas of knowledge and skills?

E-Learning

Technological change THE only constant in todays world

Change has accelerated to the point where innovation is the name of the game. This has
penetrated into the field of education too. E-Learning is a method of self-directed
learning that overcomes some of the disadvantages of the traditional learning methods.
This study aims to find out the acceptance level of E-Learning among students.

Technically, E-Learning can be defined as a general term that relates to all the learning
that is delivered with the assistance of a computer and communications technology; it is a
form of mobile learning. Such devices can include personal computers and CD-ROMs.
Communications technology enables the use of the internet, e-mail, discussion forums,
collaborative software and learning system. It is a kind of self-directed learning.

As opposed to the computer based training of the 1980s, the term e-learning is most
frequently used to refer to computer-based training which incorporates technologies that
support interactivity beyond that which would be provided by a single computer.It is thus
an approach to facilitate and enhance learning using the advancements in technology.
E-learning may also be used to support distance learning through the use of Wide Area
Network, and may also be considered to be a form of flexible learning where just-in-time
learning is possible. Courses can be tailored to specific needs and asynchronous learning
is possible. It acts as a means to effective or efficient etc. learning, due to its ease of
access and the pace being determined by the learner. Others point out that e-learning
software developers tend to limit their focus on course delivery and content, while online
education institutions require a much wider range of educational services. A major
criticism of e-learning is that it lacks perosnal touch i.e, human interaction in the course
of learning which is also essential. This can be overcome by encouraging interactive
learning through web-conferencing programs. Further, continual advances in technology
allow a wider range of learning experiences such as educational animation to be made
available to support online learning.

Hybrid Learning

Not every e-learning resource, usage or provision is necessarily 'exclusively e-learning',
sometimes a hybrid blended learning solution is available, either combining distance
learning with direct contact 'close at hand' human educational resources, or combining
software driven resources with human intervention. Advances in technology have
allowed for the growth of collaborative web-based learning opportunities. Asynchronous
activities use technologies such as blogs and discussion boards, and allow participants to
contribute when time allows. Synchronous activities occur with all participants joining in
at once, as with a chat session or a virtual classroom or meeting.

Implementation


A pre-requisite for the implementation of E-Learning will be computer, networks and
communication technology. It can be implemented in educational institutions to provide
students its various benefits by one or more of the following ways,
Complete courses offered online- Students who geographically are located far
from the institution can take advantage of such courses.
Hybrid Learning- It can be used as an effective aid; Both day scholars and
correspondence students can be provided courses online, which can be an
effective aid i.e., a supplement to their curriculum.
Courses of variety- Students can be offered an array of courses to choose. They
should be given the opportunity to pursue those of interest to then also, even if it
is not exactly related to the subject matter.

Educational institutions, once they decide to implement E-Learning as a part of their
system, apart from the courses which are regular and related to the subject matter in
concern, could conduct a survey to find out the courses which are of interest to the
students.

The various modes of E-Learning which are available are the following,

Study Material on CD- This is the provision of all the material required for a
subject/course in a Compact Disc. This provides the students the facility of
flexible learning. The study material is all condensed in a Compact Disc, which is
easy-to-carry and easy-to-use. This would be easier for a student who normally
has to spend a lot of time collecting relevant and sufficient material; besides, its
weightless!
Virtual Classrooms- A virtual classroom is a learning environment that exists
solely in the form of digital content that is stored, accessed and exchanged
through networked computer and information systems. Everything in a virtual
classroom occurs in a non-physical environment; students access the classroom by
connecting to the internet rather than traveling to a real, physical classroom. Tell
me, and Ill forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and Ill
understand. Virtual classrooms are 100% successful at involving the students in
their learning.
Through the Internet- Many courses are offered online and there are discussion
forums where students can express their view and have discussions with other
members. E-Learning is an interactive experience with access to on line tutors and
can be done from any computers once you have your password
Discussion forums, Online newsletters- Students can be allowed to join
discussion forums where they can read the views of all those who are a part of it
and post their views; get comments on it. They can subscribe to online newsletters
to gain more knowledge and update themselves in the chosen area.
LA/ Intranet- Local Area Network, intranet can be created to allow the
students to keep constantly in touch with themselves, their professors and all
material can be made available online in electronic form.

Functional Environment
The functional environment of E-Learning can be divided into three sections, each of
which has their own responsibility towards ensuring the success of its implementation as
follows,
Learner Section- The learner should be an initiator and since this is a form of self-
directed learning, he should be a good planner, to plan his programs of study
Faculty Section The faculty should always be available for support and doubt
clarification.
Management Section The management on its part, should keep the technology
and premises which form a pre-requisite updated. Further constant innovation should be
there and they should arrange sessions with experts in the field for the students, this will
help them understand their concepts better.

Impact of E-Learning in Studies

Every course of action comes in a package of two- its advantages and disadvantages,
bundled together. The same is true in the case of E-Learning too. When its implemented
as a method of study, its impact will be greatly felt. The following consist of the positive
impact or the advantages,

Availability of material anywhere, anytime- An uninterrupted access to the
study material i.e., made available at all places and at all times. This is collateral
to another advantage i.e., flexibility in learning. It is the basic advantage whose
absence in the traditional learning methods is greatly felt.
Database of content- It is a known fact that information is not only wealth, but
also power. Access to a very large and wide ranging database of content is a by-
product of implementing E-Learning. This is especially true when all material is
made available in electronic form.
Specific topics- The student can choose specific and desired topics both within
the curriculum and related to it or even which is simply of interest.
Learning based on students capacity- The pace of learning varies from one
student to another. In the traditional learning methods due consideration is not
always given to this. In E-Learning, especially in case of study material on CD,
students can take their own time to understand and learn the concepts.
Flexible- Learning becomes very flexible, as per the requirements of the
subject/course; learning style and pace of the student and various other factors,
that determine the quality of learning.
Scope of learning more- It is widely accepted that information is wealth and
through E-Learning students are not restricted to learning from only the
curriculum, they can also expand their knowledge base.
Updation- Students can keep themselves updated by making use of the various
modes of E-Learning.
Virtual Communities- Traditional classrooms have many disadvantages
overcoming the traditional classroom limits through the creation of larger
heterogeneous virtual communities
Availability of quality education- E-Learning provides the unique facility of
offering quality education online without any discrimination. It ensures quality
personification in the courses to all the students.
Curricula Standardization- It permits the standardization of the didactic
itinerary for each student or instructor, maintaining great flexibility while at the
same time keeping open, the possibility of customizing the needs of each student.
Interactivity: E-learning brings about a guarantee of a high level of interactivity
between instructors and students; and also among the students themselves
irrespective of the distances via text, voice and video chat
Economy- E-Learning provides economy in terms of time and cost. Learning
time depends on the capacity and capability of the students, hence those who are
fast learners save their time, while others take their own time to understand the
concepts. It accelerates learning times and optimizes costs with large economies
of scale.
Techno-savvy- Students will constantly be using technology to learn; they will be
updated in terms if technology which is becomes a crucial part that contributes
towards the success and confidence level of students in his/her future career.
Further it will simplify the work too.

The negative impact or disadvantages that will be possibly be felt by students consist of
the following,

Absence of personal touch- Classrooms in traditional learning methods enhances
interpersonal skills and face-to-face communication of students. E-Learning Such
a classroom environment, in case of distance education or virtual classrooms is
completely absent.
Immediate doubt clarification- Immediate doubt clarification may not be
possible in some cases- for example study material on CD. In such cases doubt
clarification may take some time as it takes time for the student to approach the
professors for the purpose.
Dependence on technology- E-Learning is completely dependant on computer,
networks and communications technology. Any default on the part of any of these
would be drastic for the students. It has to be constantly maintained and upgraded.
Expensive- As opposed to the advantage said that it is economical, there is also
another argument that it is expensive, especially when it is to be implemented for
the first time. This is due to the cost involved in purchase, setting up, maintenance
and updation of computers, networks and other such required factors.
The Survey

It is said that a questionnaire-based survey is one of the best tools available to get a feel-
of-the-field.
In order to understand the attitude of students towards E-Learning, a survey was
conducted among 100 students of different educational institutions and from different
streams.
This survey is limited to students studying in regular institutions. Distance education
students have not been covered. The following was the findings of the study,

Modes of E-Learning preferred by respondents

Preference of the modes of E-Learning by the respondents- 54% of the
respondents preferred study materials on CD and 26% preferred virtual
classrooms
44% of the respondents fell that study materials on CD would be the most
effective mode of E-Learning

Advantages and disadvantages of E-Learning as perceived by the respondents,
32% felt facilitation of updation is the main advantage
22% felt availability of material anytime, anywhere is the main advantage
52% felt that the mail disadvantage is that doubts can not be clarified immediately
48% felt that lack of personal touch is the main disadvantage

Respondents perception of E-Learning
91% of the respondents felt that it can be used as an effective aid to learning

Chart showing the respondents level of interest in E-Learning


Interest in E-Learning
42%
8%
50%
Yes
No
To some
extent




Chart showing the view of respondents on the advantages of E-Learning


Advantages of E-Learning
22%
2%
14%
18%
12%
32%
easy material
availability
Specific topics
Learning as per ones
capacity
Flexiblee
Scope of learning
more
Enables updation




Recommendations

E-Learning could be used as an effective aid to learning, ot will prove to be a
decisive supplement to the existing learning methods
Study materials for the various subjects/course can be made available on CDs
Virtual classrooms could be used as a tool to teach or for arranging lectures from
eminent persons and experts on the various subjects to impart knowledge and the
students can benefit from this
Online discussion groups, newsletters can be introduces for the students

Conclusion

X-Generations demand X-cellent training in X-celerated speed.
Knowledge is the greatest asset of any individual, because through knowledge, all other
resources are converted into utilities. All the efforts in making education more available
and quality oriented has always been a sensitive issue.
E- Learning opens up new vistas for educational development and renders multiple
learning techniques to the Open and Distance Learners. Internet is an electronic marvel of
this century permitting to provide education online and even make it available globally.
E- Learning helps learners in developing self-educational practices to acquire knowledge
and explore possibilities to solve problems. It also improves their planning and
organizing skills, besides which instills in them an initiator instinct.
Education will be effective only when students and educational authorities are open
minded and willing to change. Education should deliver what students expect and should
help them to achieve all round excellence. This study reveals that students are willing to
exploit this new method to keep them updated and continue learning anytime, anywhere.
This century brought about the mobilization of various aspects, E-Learning when
utilized appropriately, can bring mobility in learning; truly revolutionizing the field
education!


Annexure
Questionnaire for survey

Name: Course/Degree:
Educational Institution: Sex:

1. Are you interested in E-Learning?
a. Yes b. No c. To extent
2. What are the modes of E- Learning that you prefer?
a. Study material on CD
b. Virtual Classrooms
c. Discussion forums/ online newsletters
3. What do you think would be the most effective mode of E-Learning?
a. Study material on CD
b. Virtual Classrooms
c. Discussion forums/ online newsletters
4. What do you feel are the advantages of E-Learning?
a. Updation of information
b. Availability of material anytime, anywhere
c. Database of content
d. Flexible
e. Scope of learning more
f. Specific topics
g. Learning based on ones capacity
5. What do you feel are the disadvantages of E-Learning?
a. Doubts can not be clarified immediately
b. Lack of personal touch
c. Too much dependence on technology
6. Do you think it is possible for E-Learning to replace traditional learning systems?
a. Yes b. No
7. If no, can it be used as an effective aid to traditional learning systems?
a. Yes b. No
List of References

1. www.exomedia.ca
2. www.learngroup.com.
3. www.e-learningguru.com