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This chapter focuses on implications, limitations of this research plus recommendations for those who intend to use and develop further research in the future.
Based on the research and achievement of e-learning, and the findings presented in the preceding parts, this chapter offers implications including literature review on e-learning as well as Moodle's natures in online writing that have recently investigated at some colleges/universities as STU, HCMCOU.
5.1.1 Implications of literature review
Economy development, social changes and technological process revolutionize teaching and learning in educational organizations. E-learning, the form of web-based teaching and learning, is built with a system of networked computers that includes the server and workstations. Server is a computer program that provides specific services to client software running on other computers. Teachers will create course content that consists of required skills and knowledge in the form of text, image, animation, streaming video, audio, etc. that can transmit to students in distance learning via the Internet, intranet/extranet. In reality, the individual or organizations can easily establish a free online school (e-school), since building the network infrastructure does not require a high expense as constructing real school and complicated licensed formalities are not required, while students have not to pay a travel fee, save time to go to school for studying.
5.1.2 Implications of research findings
The findings of this study revealed various implications of online education and online writing teaching and the website.
18.104.22.168 Implications of online education
Most of the choices about settings of website and course in during installing and configuring Moodle will affect the user experience. After having been creating the categories and courses, and selecting blocks to use, participants create a framework for their site. Then they're ready to fill their courses with learning material. Moodle's courses contain anything that can appear on the World Wide Web (texts, pictures, audio, video, games, etc.). Based on the relationship between participants, Moodle's content is classified into "static course material", "interactive course material" and "social course material" (Rice, W., 2010).
In Moodle, static course materials consist of resources that the student reads, but doesn't interact with. They are added from the Add a resource... drop-down menu. Using this menu, students can create text pages, web pages, links to anything on the Web, the course's directories of files, a label showing any text or image, multimedia files using sound, pictures and film.
Interactive course materials are activities, which help students to communicate with partners, instructors or the learning system, include Assignments, Lesson, Quizzes, SCORM/AICC, Survey, Choices, etc. They are created by clicking "turning the editing on", then "Add an activity...". SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) is a package of detailed descriptions that permit accessibility, reusability and interoperability of learning objects.
Social course materials are ones in which student-to-student or student-to-teacher interaction exists. They include Chat, Glossary, Wiki, Workshop, etc. that is chosen from the "Add an activity..." menu with the button "turning the editing" on.
Owing to copious forms, attractive appearance, manageable activities, bidirectional exchange and collaborative learning, Moodle has become a powerful tool which helps participants improve and develop writing skill attractively and variedly. Therefore, in schools, Moodle is supported and recommended for use to raise training quality. However, e-learning system with Moodle not implemented over a large area, and only installed in prominent universities or high quality centers due to expensive cost of technical infrastructure and a lack of clever experts of information technology. Moreover, e-learning training courses in foreign languages departments are restricted in the amount of time as well as curriculum materials are too difficult for participants to apply and employ in online writing teaching and learning. Their computer-literacy is not enough high to deal with problems and troubleshoot faults in a computer system.
22.214.171.124 Implications of online writing
Since the Moodle's features satisfy condition and structure of teaching and learning activities based on educational theory, it is an ideal platform for learning management system. Through online activities, students usually enjoy performing writing activities. They not only feel comfortable and easy to add images, sound, video, and a game element as well as to modify the color, the font face, font size and layout of the text but also diversify online writing activities from simple to complex. Considering the angle of a text unit, they can conduct tasks step-by-step from choosing appropriate word level, writing accurate sentence, making paragraphs, and finally, constructing whole text. When clever at writing, students have enough knowledge and skills to construct and post the writings on the Internet so that other people can access to and share them.
Producing texts at word level implies much significance: (1) How to use words correctly, effectively, and imaginatively; (2) How to distinguish sets of commonly confused words; (3) How to link words to definitions and examples, etc. All of tasks help us to express what we think. In the website, courses introduced some typical vocabulary practice as a crossword, a fill-gap and matching words. In addition, some other items are added to aid students to complete their skills.
There are several means to produce texts at sentence level. Student can practice typical exercises as dangling constructions and parallel structure. Teachers can create lectures by using the Quizzes module to present particular grammar point in an interesting way. The texts are connected with images and videos and audios from websites. Students can receive informative feedback on efforts to consequently make them happier and improve their learning. From responses of students, the teacher can completely improve the feedback and suitably change the questions. Through this, they can raise students' awareness of how certain types of the sentences are structured.
Producing paragraphs and whole texts incorporates many processes. Here, we emphasize the process of collecting, sharing and developing ideas, then planning, drafting, proofreading and revising texts. Writing can be organized in individual activities or in a small group activity or a whole class activity. Feedback on writing can be immediate (as in Activities 1 and 2) or delayed (as in Activities 4 to 12). One of the attractive features of Moodle is that it enables writing to be enhanced by images and striking layouts. After gathering informations, students will expand, explore and organize a set of ideas for writing by extra module as mindmap. The add-on module, Mindmap is a useful tool to share and develop and brainstorm writing assignments. It is related to other activities as Journal, Assignment, Wiki to make writing creative. Personal profile is a Moodle's module that helps students engage in writing personal profiles in production activities. After finding out the personal profiles of peers , they can comment on these personally in classroom, or could post the comment on a Moodle web page for a remark. Students' writing is showcased on Moodle site by creating a Moodle Blog or installing the add-on OUblog to allow other students to comment on the blogs. If using the Book module, students cannot edit pages and teachers has to check and import this writing into Book before it exists. In other options of teaching writing an essay, the teacher finds a topic that is appropriate to the class and illustrates it in an extremely attractive way. The Glossary module allows students to present the gathered information. After writing about the topic, students will add pictures to make the entry enticing. Then, the teacher grades the students' work. The final outcome is the form of a mini encyclopedia that gives the information about topics. The Chat module providing frameworks for students to paraphrase what they're saying to get their meaning through writing. The Assignment module to provide a stimulus, motivate students and to provide a more realistic background and make up a writing task. It allows students to take part in process writing in which they can submit a draft, get feedback, re-submit other drafts and get better feedback. To motivate students and provoke their response, the teacher usually use the pictures of real life or a set of photos of an event involved. A series of collection of copyright-free images can be searched for on the web, or private photos are selected to serve for writing. The Forum module is a place where all students can add their slideshows by uploading photos and captions and participants can read and comment on other students' slideshows. The Wiki module helps students cooperate on a writing project and use different and separate attempts to contribute to the same project. Alternatively, with the features of Wiki, only group members can see and modify its web pages involved.
126.96.36.199 Implications of the website
Online education is highly assessed by participants in the fact that "Modular Layout" is reasonable and scientific , "Interface" is attractive, user-friendly and intuitive, "Management" of enrollment, time, activity, and course is strict in exactness but flexible in extent, "Assessment Strategies" is wide in range ,varied in type, "Cooperative Learning" is conducted in student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction. However, the ratio of agreement of teachers is rather higher than the ratio of agreement of students.
In teachers' and students' opinions, online writing courses are performed in the process-based approach and genre-based process, elements labelled by (1) and (2) are selected much more than others. In the teacher-to-student ratio of selection, the former is rather higher than the latter.
The website received the positive response from the respondents. Almost opinions assumed that courses are informative and comprehensive. In terms of interaction, course materials allow participants to see, to read and refer to and course activities enable participants to interact with the partners, the learning system, or others. In terms of writing activities, course materials are recognized from writing order and text structure and learning activities encourage to express personal opinions. The number of teachers chooses choices labelled by (1) and (2) is rather higher than the number of students.
Moodle becomes Learning Management System popular and widespread and is indispensable learning environment in the educational system. Its activities are always enhanced and promoted. Nonetheless, this does not mean that Moodle has not its limitations. From this research plus some other existing research, limitations can be recognized.
5.2.1 Limitations of the literature review
Generating from critical literature review, e-learning limitations can be considered in the corner of technologies, methodology, personal psychology issues and other issues. With the statement in this part, the things agree with e-learning also accords with Moodle.
Necessary hardware and other ICT resources are core elements required for e-learning implementation in schools and institutions. In order to have access to the Internet for online learning, government organization and non-government organization spent a large amount of money to buy desktop, laptop computers, printers and ICT hardware for colleges, universities and agencies that implemented e-learning. Individuals that have needs of online learning can buy or rent necessary computer equipment so as to learn.
E-learners have access to the Internet without time restriction but the prominent benefits are not feasible for some people living in farther and remote areas due to a lack of services for accessing the Internet. High-speed bandwidth is easily accessed in the central universities while it has trouble with the other schools with poor Internet backgrounds. Uys (2003) stated that limited telecommunication infrastructure and facilities are hindering the e-learning process.
The limited Internet coverage can be hindrances to all educational establishments nationwide that are able to approach information services, digital educational information, and online training technology. Technological barriers can badly affect Internet application as equipment failed, malfunctioned, or asynchronous, time to learn a new technology and difficulty to schedule classrooms with technology. Limited bandwidth due to a slow ADSL connection and poor transfer rate of a communications network may hinder the learning process as the downloading of multimedia materials, sometimes interrupted or students'answers for their instructor during an online discussion session. In educational activities, video conferencing as interactive telecommunication technologies which allow two or more students to communicate with two-way video and audio transmissions concurrently. It might not be feasible for learners who use the slow DSL connection from their homes. Broadband service is overloaded and limited to certain locations where there are higher population density sharing Internet capacity. Consequently, it is easily recognized that most of the e-learning courses are simply text-based as the Internet bandwidth is limited.
Personal psychology issues:
Newcomers get accustomed to thinking that e-learning environment is the same as traditional learning environment. To gain effective work, they need to psychologically prepare for the online writing environment. Therefore, to have accurate orientation and to avoid proceeding by trial and error, they need informative instruction from online courses as well as website creators. Besides, Dearnley (2003) stated that newcomers to nontraditional learning may get lost because they do not know what to do as there is no detailed guidance from the teacher.
E-learning is the product of the high technology that requires e-learners to grasp new skills and mastery associated with it. New e-learning student feel puzzled as exposing to the unconventional e-learning environment and separation from others. In addition, the lack of ICT skills is one of the obstacles in e-learning training that adheres to new process and manipulation connected with the technology. As a result, gaining new technologies is a complication to the beginner in e-learning.
E-learning is a learning activity that requires several self-disciplines and independence. It encourages the autonomous and comfortable style of learning, but the learners' self-motivation and self-control are the determining factors in maintaining and completing studying. Schott et al. (2003) asserted that the e-learning success rate was very dependent on students' abilities to be self-directed and internally motivated. Naturally, e-learning students have a higher dropout rate than their conventional counterparts (Abouchedid & Eid, 2004). E-learners need additional encouragement and support, to compensate for the isolation; motivation is the key for them to successfully complete the course (Lessons from the e-learning, 2002).
Specifications of online course:
According to a new approach to learner-centered instructional design, students can control and adjust their coursework. In an e-learning environment, learners need to manage their learning and schedule their assignments (Grant & Spencer, 2003). This is rather different from the traditional learning environment where learners need to attend some courses in physical classrooms, and they need to do their assignments or take examinations within a certain time frame (Miller & Corley, 2001). As a result, e-learning learners may take a longer time to graduate, as compared to traditional students who need to complete their studies within a time frame (Choy, 2002).
Requirement of online writing skill
Writing skill is one of the essential skills in e-learning environment and traditional environment. Learners with weak writing skills can be at a obstacle to an e-learning environment (Smith & Rupp, 2004). In online learning, it is a text-based environment that learners need to frequently communicate in. Consequently, that exists on many shortcomings in writing skills badly impact on the learning process and ability to express students' thought.
Another limitation in e-learning is the lack of real communication. Schott et al. (2003) expressed that the lack of physical interactions made e-learning students feel isolated and apprehensive. In an online environment, it is too difficult for students to receive advice, when compared to face-to-face classroom. In live classrooms, interacting with the instructors or peers for information, learners are aware of the problem easily and learn more rapidly.
Body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements do not exist in e-learning. An example is when a student stated that he missed "facial and hand gestures", from which important cues can be derived (Meyer,2003). The lack of lively interactions will omit students' observation and can inhibit their feelings and emotions, may prevent instructors from giving their feedbacks on student's requirements and accordingly lead to limitations of the learning process.
E-learning not only lacks physical interaction but also blamed for not having facilities like traditional environment: internship, volunteer opportunities, access to physical library, book stores, career and development counselling (McCraken, 2004). Some learning institutions tried to provide these facilities but they were too limited (McCraken, 2004). McCraken further pointed out problems such as budget, compatibility of software, and college policies, that hindered the development of integrated supporting systems.
In fact, students need to perform a lot of living reality observations in nature as well as in society so as to develop their skills and knowledge, and this may be hard to realize through e-learning simulations.
A set of method is based on technologies and are developing and altering rapidly along with e-learning. Moving into e-learning is difficult for instructors who are already familiar with the traditional teaching environment (Angelina, 2002a, p.12; Strauss, 2003; Kearsley, 2000; Wang, 2003). Strauss (2003) said that transition into e-learning is rather difficult as it involves conversion of physical teaching materials into e-learning materials and this takes time to complete. Many instructors are not exposed to the necessary software, and do not want to change their teaching styles (Levy, 2003). In an online classroom, instructors are also required having many pedagogical skills to communicate, guide and assess effectively. As a result, instructors need e-learning training before transitioning (Levy, 2003; Strauss, 2003; Pachnowski, 2003). A style of teaching in an online classroom is particular and different from a general way of a traditional classroom. Due to underrating e-learning, some instructors might equate it with face-to-face learning environments. All these complicates instructors' transition towards e-learning.
Bad design of the e-course is a major matter for learners and e-learning providers. It make users a stressed state and not well treated feeling (Ivergard & Hunt, 2005). They further mentioned this makes users to feel dissatisfied and finally give up learning. E-course design should be adapted for the needs of the learners: it should be easy to use and students should have easy access to instruction and information (Howell, Williams & Lindsay 2003; James-Gordon, Young & Bal, 2003). Svensson (2004) said that it is not easy to design the e-learning e-course, as it should not be limited to just content and should include other components to enhance learning. In brief, the poor usability of the online course will prevent the learner's ability to acquire knowledge (Smulders, 2003).
Since e-learning is usually designed basically for practical knowledge and understanding of the ICT, it may be too technical for ICT novices (James-Gordon, Young & Bal, 2003). Therefore, to preserve popularity and easy usability, e-course is redesigned for learners from all backgrounds and classes to successfully access and effectively use.
Although there are many e-courses available in the market, Sambrook (2003) mentioned that it is not easy for learners to choose a suitable courseware that comes with relevant content and adequate levels. Before creating or constructing an online course, the trainers and instructors need to consider and evaluate software applications as well as the quality of the training materials and curriculum. The appropriateness of the courseware may increase the learner's satisfaction (Grooms, 2003). Therefore, it is difficult how to reconcile the quality of software implementation and training course to reinforce knowledge and skill.
Although e-learning provides unlimited access anytime and anywhere, this may not be favourable to some individuals. Dringus (2003) explained that learners can post any questions in the forum or send e-mails whenever they are free (even during weekends). This neverending learning and teaching process will easily stress both the learners and especially the instructors (Newton, 2003). It is also more time-consuming to guide online students, assign a task and give students a feedback on their writings. These e-learning instructors have heavy workloads and this may undermine their performance and even reduce their chances to grow with the environment (Dringus, 2003). This will affect their work in teaching or assist students, hence learners may only get an unacceptable range of services.
It is rather hard to obtain academic honesty and justice in terms of online assessment. because the e-learner can share the username and the password with others during unsupervised online tests. Patalong (2003) provided another good example of cheating when students shared or "cooperated" during an online examination in Coventry University, United Kingdom. Submitting the online assignments, e-learners can be dishonest because they may rely on a partner for help to do the assignment. Schott et al. (2003) referred to all these problems as "digital cheating", when learners "utilized" computer technology for cheating or plagiarism.
Many unaccredited schools have organized e-learning courses. Accordingly, a number of companies and agencies do not recognize online degrees and recognition of e-learning courses is currently certain limitation. Therefore, attaining a qualification with accreditation status from e-learning is usually a problem for students (Collins, Buhalis & Peters, 2003). It is normal to acknowledge that there exist some online education institutes even selling degrees for a certain amount of tuition fees and without any type of assessment (Khoo & Azizan, 2004). Due to the feature and function of e-learning, it must be examined further carefully and thoroughly examination for accreditation and recognition. Similarly, Eaton pointed out that accreditation is difficult for distance learning institutions, as there are issues in the evaluation of education quality and the assessment of the effectiveness of the distance learning framework (Baker, 2003).
Taking part in online learning, learners from all over the world will face the difficulties because of difference in time zones. It is rather hard for the instructor to schedule an online class to meet and satisfy the requirements of different students from different time zones. It is evident to identify that in an online course, students scarcely specify a time period for group discussion due to the different time zones in some sections.
Despite e-learning's current popularity, does it have any limitations? Evan & Hasse (2001) found out that learners are moderately lacking in computer proficiency and, since e-learning is centered around computer technologies, it is a barrier to those learners without good computer skills. In addition, studies of Evan & Hasse (2001), O'Regan (2003) and Rovai & Jordan (2004) found out that learners face limited physical interactions among themselves in e-learning.
5.2.2. Limitations of the website
Due to the main restrictions on allocated time and e-learning's infrastructure, the empirical study and its the results have the limitations cited as follows.
The empirical research is conducted on Moodle for second language teaching with writing activities. Therefore, it has yet not clarified the reciprocal relationship with other skills that substantially contribute to success of online writing.
The study was limited to only two characteristics - Moodle's features and process and genre-oriented writing instruction in the foreign language department of schools. Simultaneous, the assessment of the website is based on these two cues. Therefore, the other issues as themes on Moodle, extra programs, SCORM package, etc. are neglected.
The information collected about respondents focused mainly on students/teachers. Therefore, the investigation does not perform on employees in vocational organisations and business enterprises that are important takers to draw general conclusions of the installation and application of Moodle in the knowledge economy.
Students' online academic level and teachers' distant training standard are still limited due to inadequate training curriculum and a lack of ICT resources in institutes. Therefore, the results of research into online writing teaching will lead to certain restraints on application of Moodle.
Survey research and classroom situation observation are main research methods used in the thesis. The other research methods as instropection research, correlational research and experimental research are glanced up quickly only to support some diminutive details in research questions. Therefore, deep inferences from an exploratory investigation are scarce to draw from.
The recommendations are drawn from the literature review and findings of the online writing survey results achieved in this research are put forward.
5.3.1 Recommendation for further research into Moodle's system
The following is recommendations for further research in the future on the application and use of the Moodle software in online writing teaching.
In writing, the topics can be usually assigned for students and sometimes students can also select a topic on their own and have a chance to transcribe anything they are aware of and know very well. Topics are typical subjects of developing paragraphs and essays and can be modified to accommodate almost any kind of writing assignment. Instructors can further refer to topics through the web site address or the book about writing.
Owing to constraints on time and finance, the author only use the core modules and some add-on modules to implement activities on Moodle. To similar studies in the future, it is suggested that researchers should apply or develop authoring softwares or tailor-made software programs suitably redesigned to their students. For example, an extra program that helps students develop and organize a set of ideas to establish semantic maps for writing. This program is intended to reinforce Moodle's modular layout and attractiveness in online writing teaching by embedding audio, video, and hyperlinks in it.
In addition to using Moodle's techniques in course activities, the author also suggests a further study of the interoperable model between online writing teaching and traditional writing teaching so as to create links harmonious and inheritable between regular method and technology-based method as well as between process-based writing instruction and modular object-oriented writing teaching.
An experimental research is conducted among schools and business enterprises in Vietnam by using the same methodology and measurement instrument to draw comparative conclusions and to illuminate views on Moodle's features and activities
It has been suggested that newest version of Moodle will be used because it integrates with connectivist, the emerging theory of learning for the digital delivery to explain the technological impact on life philosophy: live, love and learn.
A research is conducted to determine whether Moodle's resources, activities other features, etc. are conditions necessary and sufficient for online activities in general and online writing in particular.
A further survey research is conducted to develop a software to create packaged online lectures for use in a distributed education environment, based on training management system as standard of IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) and Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL)
5.3.2 Recommendations for development research into e-learning in the future
Due to means and the subject of learning, the following recommendations for possible future research of e-learning are as follows:
Because of technological evolution and learners who are without infrastructure or persons whose jobs require them to continuously move. Therefore, learning activities need to be transferred through mobile technologies as mobile phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), digital pen and paper, etc.
Simulations in e-learning process:
Simulation technology is used to analyze the potential outcome of a given situation based on one or more known variables. The aim of the simulation is to minimize an undesirable outcome, but to increase the chances for success. So, simulations may enhance lectures, demonstrations, real world practice, immersive environment and experiential learning.
Owing to the diversity in individualized learning population, the diversity in the access media and modalities, and diversity in the context of use of such technologies. The most popular LMS like Moodle still does not support learning personalization. Therefore, Researchers need to bridge the gap between the worlds of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and Adaptive Learning Environments (ALEs). So, they map personalization functionality on different modules of LMSs. Similarly, researchers of ALEs integrate their ALE within existing LMSs.
Open source e-learning tools
From requirements of extensive developer communities and a certain e-learning software for education, open source software applications are noticed due to cost savings, stability, performance and access to code. Users in the near future will have access to best open source software that should be built on open standards for the public to study, change, improve and distribute the software in an collaborative manner.
Standards development is aimed at connecting interest and concern of different groups in distributed learning community. It is conducted through the combination between current technologies and public implementations. The notion is to establish a reference model for the foundation of effective Internet-based learning. These standards are considered as the guidelines for the creator to design, develop, and implement the learning content.