ICT based distance education

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Information and Communication Technology (ICT), as a medium for teaching is playing an important role to support learning as a different classroom activities, group work, team work projects, individalisation, interaction and student motivation etc. ICTs have the potential to enhance information distribution, learning, teaching and managing of educational services and make them affordable and available anytime, anywhere.

In e-learning, the beneficiaries of the ICT are illustrated by Robertson (2003, pp. 284-285):

Information technology promises to deliver more learning for every student accomplished in less time; to ensure 'individualization' no matter how large and diverse the class; to wipe out the differences and disadvantages associated with race, gender, and class; to vary and yet standardize the curriculum; to remove subjectivity from student evaluation; to make reporting and record keeping a snap; to keep discipline problems to a minimum; to enhance professional learning and discourse; and to transform the discredited teacher-centered classroom into that paean of pedagogy: the constructivist, student-centered classroom,

Globalization and technological change have created a new global economy "powered by technology, fueled by information and driven by knowledge." (US Department of Labor, 1999), The growth of such global economy has serious implications for the nature and purpose of educational institutions. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) which include interanet, Internet, computer, radio and television have been touted as potentially powerful tools for quality and quantity education. ICTs support to expand access to education, strengthen the relevance of education to the increasingly digital workplace, and raise educational quality by, among others, helping make teaching and learning into an engaging, active process connected to real life.

ICT is defined as a "diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information."4

ICTs have the potential for developing countries to improve the relevance and quality of education as well as accessiblity from anywhere for everyone. It thus represents a potentially equalizing strategy for developing countries.

[ICTs] greatly facilitate the acquisition and absorption of knowledge, offering developing countries unprecedented opportunities to enhance educational systems, improve policy for- mulation and execution, and widen the range of opportunities for business and the poor. One of the greatest hardships endured by the poor, and by many others who live in the poorest countries, is their sense of isolation. The new communications technologies promise to reduce that sense of isolation, and to open access to knowledge in ways unimaginable not long ago.12

How can ICTs help expand access to education?

ICTs are a potentially powerful tool for extending educational opportunities, both formal and non-formal, scattered and rural populations, groups belong to multiple culture or society such as ethnic minorities, girls and women, persons with disabilities, and the elderly, as well as all others who for reasons of cost or time constraints are unable to get eduction.

  • Anytime, anywhere. The major feature ICTs is their ability to transcend time and space. ICTs make possible asynchronous learning. Online course materials, may be accessed round the clock. ICT-based educational delivery for example educational programming broadcast over radio or television also distributes or deliver to accomplish the need for all learners and the instructor to be in one physical location. Furthermore, certain types of ICTs, such as teleconferencing technologies, enable instruction to be received simultaneously.
  • Access to remote learning resources. Rely on printed books, liabraries and other educational resoruces bound to tearchers and learners to move from one place to another as well as spend money to meet their educational needs. But, the interanet, extranet, and internet provide lot of learning material in almost every field of life. This bundle of learning material which is available electronically can be accessed from anywhere at anytime by unlimited number of learners or users. ICTs also facilitate access to resource mentors, experts, researchers, professionals, business leaders, peers and even anybody either belong to any field, subject, profession etc all over the world.
  • Research has shown that the appropriate use of ICTs can catalyze the paradigmatic shift in both content and pedagogy that is at the heart of education reform in the 21st century.19 ICT-supported education can promote the acquisition of the knowledge and skills. ICTs tools especially computers and Internet technologies provide advance way of delivering knowledge and learning rather than simply allow teachers and students to do what they have done before in a better way. These new ways of teaching and learning are supported by constructivist theories of learning and constitute a shift from a teacher-centered pedagogy.
  • Active learning. ICT-enhanced learning mobilizes tools for examination, calculation and analysis of information, thus providing a platform for student inquiry, analysis and construction of new information. Learners therefore learn as they do and, whenever appropriate, work on real-life problems in-depth, making learning less abstract and more relevant to the learner's life situa- tion. In this way, and in contrast to memorization-based or rote learning, ICT-enhanced learning promotes increased learner engagement. ICT-enhanced learning is also "just-in-time" learning in which learners can choose what to learn when they need to learn it.
  • Collaborative learning. ICT-supported learning encourages interaction and cooperation among students, teachers, and experts regardless of where they are. Apart from modeling real-world interactions, ICT-supported learning provides learners the opportunity to work with people from different cultures, thereby helping to enhance learners' teaming and communicative skills as well as their global awareness. It models learning done throughout the learner's lifetime by expanding the learning space to include not just peers but also mentors and experts from dif- ferent fields.

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