eLearning is defined as an internet-based utility where curriculum purposes and actions delivered via the Internet are systematized into sections of educational programs. ( Harris, 1999 ) This includes online courses and internet based curriculum. Aspects of eLearning are supported by sociocultural theory, transactional distance, and computer mediated communication.(Seok, 2006) With eLearning, interactions and communications can take place between individuals beyond the limits, even though they are not together at the same place and time.
eLearning is considered a new form of pedagogy for learning, which includes teaching styles linked to engagement of learners, organization of teaching tasks, feedback and curriculum integration (Meyen, Aust, Gauch, et al., 2002, p. 40). Facilitators who conduct eLearning are known as e-Teachers or instructors. The four main roles of e-Teachers are instructional designers, facilitators of discourses, subject matter experts and also technicians. (Anderson, 2004, p. 276; Garrison & Bayton, 1987; Prensky, 2000). They have to manage and control the learning software, resources and materials as well as infrastructures used for the course. In order to learners to understand what is being presented, the messages must be conveyed efficiently. Additionally, e-Teachers are sufficiently knowledgeable to resolve curriculum disputes and also motivate learners.
The main characteristic of eLearning enables learners to have easy worldwide access to educational courses, learning materials and resources (Carliner, 1999; Moallem, 2003). This is supported by the presence of digital library, where learners can discover, locate and use the information published. Also, digital library has greatly improved the quality of education and also contributed much towards goals achievement. The digital library provide broader scope of information and benefits to more diverse e-Learners.
One unique benefit provided by eLearning is undergraduates today can learn regardless of where they are. For instance, the degree courses offered by Metropolitan College, in conjunction with the Curtin University of Technology have provided what they call "iLecture". This is where lecture are presented and recorded in a video mode, where students can access to it via the Internet from the student portal. Thus, individualized instructions can be offered, students' specific needs can be accessed and targeted as well and most importantly, self-paced.( Kruse 2002-2004) Meaning, students can learn at their desired speed, place and time.
In conclusion, the technology has change the structure of education in this modern globalized era. eLearning is slowly adapted and applied throughout education system in many countries, including Malaysia. Computer technology has become a medium of eLearning in this modern age with the existence of e-Teachers as the facilitators. ( Seok, 2006 ) E-Learners will surely benefit from the introduction and application of e-Learning as part of their studies.
Kruse.K. 2002-2004. The Benefits and Drawbacks of e-Learning. http://www.e-learningguru.com/articles/art1_3.htm ( accessed September 7,2009 )
Seok Soonhwa n.d. Teaching Aspects of E-Learning: International Journal on ELearning. Norfolk: 2008. Vol. 7, Iss. 4; pg. 725, 17 pgs. http://proquest.umi.com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/pqdlink?index=5&did=1580113181&SrchMode=1&sid=3&Fmt=4&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1252253956&clientId=22212 (accessed September 7,2009 )