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ABSTRACT The current focus with all the educationists is to ensure that technology is used effectively to address various issues with - problems related to student motivation, participation, absenteeism, drop-outs and gender bias, performance to name a few. Using technology in Science education is no exception to this. In fact nurturing an inquiring mind and a scientific temper in students has always been the aim of education across the world. This paper is to review the different e-learning techniques and their impact on professional education
Keywords: Technology and e-learning
1 Introduction: Online data has revolutionized many of the ways we receive and use information these days. The availability of online resources has changed everything from finding a new house to reading the newspaper to purchasing plane tickets, and as a result has disrupted established structures. Internet technologies have also present challenge to established telecommunications companies. Lots of blogs, social networking sites, and interactive online games have created new modes for interaction between students and teachers. Digital technology makes informative content easier to find, to access, to manipulate and remix. Virtual web based environments for teachers now enable them to seek help from other teachers, locally, nationally, or globally in solving their day to day educational issues
sharing lesson plans and materials,
interacting with experts in particular fields,
planning collaborative curriculum development projects.
2 E-learning - an introduction
To infuse technology into learning, in the early years of the program, the institutions have focused on getting teachers ready for an environment where every student has at least one technology device at their fingertips. Between cell phones, laptops and slates, students are coming to school already equipped to learn differently. The digital tools are engaging and motivating to students and teachers are excited about the changes they are seeing. The one-to-one computing environment actually personalizes the educational experience for students. Teachers are able to customize learning, designing targeted activities focused on a child's strengths and weaknesses. The virtual environment lends itself to a blended approach to teaching and the ability to collaborate with other teachers to create assignments that connect curriculums so that learning is more meaningful and relevant.
2.1 The Significance of E-learning : In today's times there is an important view that organizations form on the investments in human capital and enterprise IT systems with enterprise success metrics such as revenue, profitability, knowledge measurement, retention, and talent attraction. Therefore, there is no doubt that e-learning provides a foundation for performance monitoring that makes those correlations between people and learning technologies possible. The benefits of e-learning are as follows
One focused on the needs and interests of individuals who are linked to competency and accomplishment.
The other more closely aligned with the needs of the enterprise, tied to true business results.
Learning is a deeply personal act that is facilitated when learning experiences are relevant, reliable, and engaging.
During those early days of e-learning, we learned the hard way that simply building a learning system that could be accessed over the Internet did not guarantee that people would have much need for, or interest in, the courses and programs, regardless of the provider.
We learned that shoveling courseware online did not provide anyone faculty, students, or administrators with an online experience that was much more than tedious electronic page-turning. Sometimes we learned the hard way that doing learning unto others could quickly de-motivate and disengage the very people we had hoped to serve.
Therefore, technology engages learners by structuring and organizing information, by displaying and demonstrating procedures and operations. It can help make a learning experience more memorable and can help relate new information to that which is already known.
2.2 Education for everyone: When technology and learning will be together, it will solve many of the problems faced by India by creating a complete education system for every student, young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural. Because of the following reasons
• Technology and Learning can enable education that is not anymore limited to a particular region or age group.
• It will be learning anything, anytime, and anywhere from multiple authorities from the comfort of your home, village, town, city from any web-enabled device.
• It will lend a helping hand in the process of identification of brilliant global students living in villages of India, based on their ability to interact within an intelligent e-learning environment.
2.3 Internet usage and web-based education: Web-based courseware is not merely an electronic duplicate of the original course material. It represents a new type of educational materials which takes full advantage of the emerging Web and multimedia technologies in order to achieve an effective yet enjoyable learning process. These, complex concepts are introduced in innovative ways. Full linking to vast resources available worldwide introduces new levels of value to the courseware. A Web-based course is envisioned as a dynamically-evolving resource that will prove beneficial to both students and instructors alike. That is, a Web-based course is developed through the efforts of a team of professionals with a complementary range of skills, as opposed to classical course design, which is typically developed by faculty alone.
2.4 learning in a group : An online lecture or presentation of teaching material published on the Net becomes accessible to many learners. The most common technology for this communications was the electronic bulletin board (BBS) and electronic mail discussion lists where course notes were given with read-only access for students. Since the extensive implementation of interactive WWW technologies in the distribution of educational information, various forms of courses on the WWW have become common. WWW technologies have made it possible for materials on the Net to be published with ease. Other learners can thus become the source of information for the learner.
2.3 Creating a new educational platform: One of the first areas that requires change is education perception of technology as it relates to its mission. For the past decade, most attempts to use technology in higher education have been very haphazard: systems have been designed only to automate existing processes, computers have been thought of as strictly computational devices, and desktop workstations have not accomplished much more than replacing the typewriter and the adding machine. Today, however, technology is creating a new educational platform and is reconfiguring the way a student learns. It can be
Interaction between the students and professors in the educational process
Interaction between the students and professors while searching for information on the Net
Joint activities of professors and administration.
Students joint research projects.
3 Types of E-learning: E-learning is emerging as a solution for delivering online, hybrid, and synchronous learning regardless of physical location, time of day, or choice of digital reception/distribution device. E-learning programs are implemented in the following ways:
3.1 Virtual classroom: This model of e-learning continues to be the most familiar analogue for building e-learning programs. The intention of virtual classrooms is to extend the structure and services that accompany formal education programs from the campus or learning center to learners, wherever they are located. The virtual classroom is for learners who may be pursuing a distance education degree made up entirely of online lessons, and it may include campus-based courses, where students join in from a variety of on- and off-campus locations-in a real-time class session via the Internet.
3.2 Online learning: This model of e-learning revolves around its dependence on courseware, delivered over the Internet to learners at a variety of locations where the primary interaction between the learner and the experiences of their learning occur via Networked Computer Technology.
3.3 Rapid e-learning: This is a direct response to e-learning products that made it hard for nontechnical subject matter experts and learners to contribute and make use of multimedia learning content to the knowledge base.
3.4 Mobile learning: This type of learning builds on the availability of ubiquitous networks and portable digital devices, including laptop computers, PDAs, game consoles, MP3 players, and mobile phones, and it takes advantage of place-independent flexibility that comes from working away from the desktop. Mobile learning provides the opportunity to connect informal learning experiences that occur naturally throughout the day with formal learning experiences. Common tools for producing mobile learning content include Flash Professional, Flash Media Server, and Flash Lite.
3.5 Interactive group learning: The key premise for science education has been to involve young minds in activities that arouse curiosity, generate interest in research, invention and innovation. Learning based on understanding is essential to innovation and creativity. Finding answers to the question 'WHY' leads to 'WHAT' and 'HOW', which takes one on a path of discovery and understanding. Interactive Group Learning provides immense possibilities for achieving this. Observing, Discussing, Exploring, Problem Solving, Doing and Creating with your peers, not only makes the process fun but also nurtures teamwork and collaboration. Building hypothesis and validating them as a team ensures that children can handle all types of real-life situations as well.
4 Fundamental Ingredients
4.1 For Building Virtual Learning Solutions: In the Adobe world, common tools used for constructing virtual classrooms include such applications as Adobe Acrobat® 8, Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional (formerly known as Macromedia® Breeze® Meeting), Adobe Presenter 6 (formerly Breeze Presenter), and Adobe Captivate 2.
4.2 For Building Online Learning Solutions: Adobe tools, which have long been the de facto standard for creating interactive digital learning content, include such familiar products as Flash®, Dreamweaver®, Photoshop®, Illustrator®, Adobe Premiere®, Adobe Contribute™ and Adobe Captivate, to name a few. The rising trend of integrating dynamic, modular learning content-learning objects-in face-to-face and e-learning programs alike is expected to drive greater demand for solutions built on Adobe Flex® and Adobe LiveCycle® platforms. Greater interoperability with industry leading LMS platforms extends integration of Acrobat Connect Professional.
4.2 For Building Rapid Learning Solutions: Rapid e-learning uses tools such as Adobe Captivate 2 and Adobe Presenter 6 to reduce the time it takes to produce rich, engaging Flash learning content, while allowing more non-technical contributors, including subject matter experts (SMEs) and students, to share their SCORM and AICC conformant Adobe Captivate learning objects as a stand-alone Flash movie or as an element of a multimedia portfolio that can be securely shared within an Adobe PDF document.
4.3 For Building Mobile Learning Solutions: From specialized content creation tools such as FrameMaker® to Adobe Acrobat and all of the Adobe Creative Suite® and Adobe Studio tools, to server products such as ColdFusion® and those for creating rich Internet applications with Flex and LiveCycle, Adobe tools are a fundamental ingredient for building e-learning solutions that respond to any and all e-learning deployment models. It is important to understand that all solutions for e-learning are all based upon creating and extending rich, retentive, engaging learning experiences that connect learners with instructors, other learners, and rich learning content assets regardless of physical location.
Therefore, e-learning and technology mediation, play a significant role and we need to stand up and realize the value that rich, engaging content creation, distribution, and management tools contribute to the experience of rich, effective e-learning programs enables new levels of engagement and participation among all learning stakeholders
5 E-learning Contents
5.1 Content which enables active and constructive learning: Content that enables active and constructive learning focuses on exploration. The user interacts with the content, explores objects in the defined environment, observes effects of the exploration and concludes from the experience. For example, explaining phenomena like 'Eclipses'. What is the basic concept behind eclipses, how do they occur, are some of the questions that fascinate every student. Imagine, getting an interactive learning aid, where you can form shadows and explain the formation of eclipses. Simulations like these will not only explain but prove to be a powerful teaching aid. Relate this to the real life coverage in television and the understanding is complete.
5.2 Content which redefines 'interactivity' : Interactivity is not about clicking the mouse and exploring data on the computer screen, but is about making a meaningful learning experience for the user and class. Content can be explored with the help of a mouse, but it also has to bring context to learning. It has to provide for observation, correlation and conclusion. Presentation and design of the content should ensure that by viewing and exploring it, the class gets 'interactive'.
5.3 Concept based content versus syllabus-mapped content: Computer based instruction is a reality all over the world and India is no exception. Governments across are keen to create and develop content mapped to their syllabus. There are two important considerations here:
a) whether the content covers all the concepts and
b) whether the content is culture specific.
5.4 Designing computer-based teaching learning aids: A variety of teaching-learning strategies can be used while designing content. Listed below are a few key ones:
Active Learning - These strategies focus on exploration. Users can explore content and construct interpretations.
Constructive Learning - Strategies that bring context to learning as students begin from a point of already existing personal experience, knowledge or interests.
Cooperative Learning - Strategies that take advantage of and build upon shared individual knowledge.
The possibilities of using technology and computer-based teaching learning materials in the science classroom are immense. The need is for professional educators to be actively involved with instructional designers and multimedia experts in the creation of this content. The need is for teachers to participate in the process and act as facilitators. This will ensure that we expand the resources for teaching and learning in the science classroom beyond imagination.
6 Challenges and opportunities: Major changes have occurred in the world economy, in particular with regard to the information-bearing technologies. These demand the attention of governments for education and for human resource development. While the last two decades have seen considerable growth in education and training, the world still suffers from intolerable inequalities at the international level and sometimes within nations. Low quality and insufficient relevance are other concerns. At the root is often the problem of financing adequate provision, and of outdated structures for education and training. This is giving rise to contradictory situations where those who have the greatest need of them like rural communities, illiterate populations or even entire countries who do not have access to the tools which would enable them to become full-fledged members of the knowledge society.
For the student/learner digital learning means increased access and flexibility as well as the combination of work and education. It may also mean a more learner-centered approach, enrichment, higher quality and new ways of interaction.
For employers it offers high quality and usually cost effective professional development in the workplace. It allows upgrading of skills, increased productivity and development of a new learning culture. In addition, it means sharing of costs, of training time, and increased portability of training.
7 Impression on Student Learning: How does one evaluate the nature and depth of the learning that takes place in any environment? Students' performances provide some clues. A complex chain of thinking skills fuels the process of presenting a science project. These skills include mastering fair-testing concepts, applying them in order to craft new hypotheses, and designing ways to test them. Students use prior knowledge and then interpret, implement, analyze, and evaluate it to create a new product. We can share the learning experiences by taking the following steps
• Video interviews with the early-adopter teachers regarding their experiences
• Video clips of student-teacher interactions
• Screenshots and multimedia submissions of student work, including e-portfolios
• Text documents delineating the rationale for using a technology-enhanced methodology
• Footage of teachers relating how they overcame initial resistance to technology-rich learning environments.
8 Future Trends of Learning object: An interesting future trend could be the use of 'Learning Objects' in school education. Creating computer-based learning materials iscostly and time consuming. Syllabi are updated and upgraded every five years. Learning objects will not only prove to be cost effective, but will empower the teacher totally, giving them total independence to create multimedia content of their own choice. Learning Objects in this context are digital entities in the form of animations and graphics supported with voice-over and text. Traditional multimedia gave the teacher a pre-structured sequence of frames within the unit. In this solution the lesson is divided into different components of animations with voice-overs and text, graphics with voice-over and text and only text.
9 Conclusion: It has been shown that the use of the Internet in the sphere of organization and management of education leads to the increase of education accessibility on a global scale, and may lead to the growth of economic efficiency of an educational institutions activity. Taking the huge scale of the Internet into account, the creation of mechanisms designed for effective navigation of the Internet, and the collection, analysis, exchange and distribution of information for the specific use of education acquires great importance. Therefore it is suggested that we should Integrate Digital Learning Objects in the Classroom if we want to be the leaders in education industry because it is the need of the hour. We can recommend the following point for effective classroom learning