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The term e-learning encompasses much more than online learning, virtual learning, distributed learning, network based learning. The epistle "e" stands for the word "electronic", e-learning would slot in all enlightening and informative activities that are carried out by individuals or groups working offline or online. (Commonwealth of Learning, E-learning a guidebook). E-learning is an exceptionally broad term which is used to demarcate and describe any type of learning atmosphere that is computer enhanced. There can be numerous technologies existing that can be engaged in E-learning. Today it has turned out to be one of those categories of words that are so common and general that now it has lost some of its meaning. Distance learning is something that has developed from the umbrella term E-learning. It is something which is exploited to illustrate a learning environment that takes place away from the real traditional classroom and campus. (Natalie Aranda, 20th Mar' 2007)
Since E-learning is now up-and-coming as one of the best basis of remote learning or acquiring knowledge regardless of being in a location that might be geographically away, and the impact that it is going to have on the teachers and the students is the reason that has made me ignite research on this question - "How has the advent of e-learning impacted the teaching fraternity in Mumbai?" Another important reason for choosing this research question is that all my life I've been studying in a CBSE Indian School when the conventional methods of teaching using the board and the chalk were used and now after joining an IB school I was exposed to these methods of learning which fascinated me. In today's tech-savvy world this new technology has not only impacted the students but also affected the teaching fraternity. It provides with a more interactive and a livelier environment for the students to learn and also makes the teaching process easier as the teachers can access the Internet to share more information and show video or audio clips. The research question specifies Mumbai as it is the commercial capital of India and it houses many esteemed educational organizations. India is a developing country and all the parts of the nation still do not have proper access to Internet. It makes me curious to study how this technology has impacted the learners and the teachers in my home city of Mumbai.
History of E-learning
E-learning commenced at the same time when a computer was discovered and developed that was sensible as well as realistic for our private use. In reality, the idea and the exercise of remote education predates the computer area by approximately 100 years. In England, in 1840, shorthand lessons were being presented by the correspondence courses through e-mail. The step up in the postal service prepared this process of distance learning very popular in the premature period of the last century. This showed the way to the huge number of "through the mail" style of edifying program. The computer helped to make distance learning simple and enhanced. Television, video recorders, and even radios all have made some kind of contribution to distance learning. (Natalie Aranda, 20th Mar' 2007)
Secondary research was done with the help of a variety of information available on the internet. There was a mixture of resources that were used to complete the entire secondary data analysis. Different sources from the internet were used so as to get qualitative and quantified information that would further give some points that are relevant to the above mentioned research topic.
Secondary Data Analysis:
One can go online, and thus save paper in the classroom. Students will now be able to upload course works online, have talks in forums and check their marks or mails online. Educators can upload many kinds of reading materials, by giving Power point presentations and giving students some sort of feedback for their perusal. All both need, is just an Internet accessible laptop or computer. (E-learning goes online now, 2009)
The world is dealing with two trends that have foremost implications for the world's education systems. The first trend is the exponential spreading out in the knowledge and technology that is transforming all aspects of universal civilization and economy. The second trend is the deficiency of the teachers in both urbanized and embryonic nations. This becomes a challenge for those different nations to bring in and create new tactics, strategies and guidelines. Today, many nations both developed and developing nations are not only trying to get by with the scarcity of teachers but with the challenges of modernizing the knowledge and dexterity of the existing teaching force. (Paul Resta, 2010).
E-learning also has a very immense and noteworthy role to play in the life of the students. They are as follows:
Internet access to digital versions of materials unavailable locally.
Internet access to search and transactional services.
Internet diagnostic or adaptive tutorials
Remote control access to local physical devices.(TV Rao, 2009)
"Green is in"! The companies are in a great effort to keep their pockets tight in the middle of monetary surge; but at the same time there is a rising strain on them to save the ecology from the clutches of the wearing resources. For several associations and other businesses, it is now like a cost cutting way as CSR i.e. Corporate Social Responsibility. Various firms have a mixture of interactive mediums such as blogs, intranet or wikis etc. with the assistance of which the workforce can get hold of acquaintance and learn better things. With the aid of video conferencing erudition can be done as well as the information can be shared real time. Sriram Raghavachar, Head, Satyam Learning Technologies, says that, "The increasing diversity of organizational processes and systems has warranted many a transform in the manner in which learning is delivered. (Renuka Vembu, December' 2008)
E-learning is for learning everything everywhere at anytime. Further than being introduced about the e-learning tools that are provided online, the teachers were trained to put into practice them to improve and develop the learning familiarity. Sasi Kumar an associate director (research) of CDAC Mumbai said, "Blended learning where students can video conference from home, learn from student-teacher forums, study through multimedia content, download and submit assignments online, is probably a more effective model. Classroom lectures therefore are not the best pedagogical tool." There are many such types of software that are accessible online for helping the students. These in turn help to solve many different problems like deficiency of interest or concentration in classrooms. If teacher shortages is an obstruction, that can be eliminated by such online software packages. These softwares include several components like blog, grade book, forum platforms, conference etc. Bhat told the instructors about Drupal which is an admired free content management software system that is offered online. He says that with these kinds of softwares it is not necessary for us to know about programming or HTML to put up a website. An individual without any difficulty can make public, direct and organize content like computer files, image files, video files, audio files, e-documents etc for students.
E-learning becomes further efficient and effective as supplementary essentials are set off or increased. E-learning provides a kind of environment which is well thought-out as the most constructive learning atmosphere where teachers attain focused development and course support. Each apprentices and professors have a personal, mobile learning machine with internet access and digitized training resources. Teachers seize a more sanguine approach and towards their work they are capable to extend more modified and personalized learning. The e-Learning for Educators Initiative is a federally funded program seeking to establish an effective and sustainable model of online professional development that will help address state-wide teacher quality needs and have an impact on student achievement. (Sheralyn Dash, Jessica Masters, 2010)
Teachers and tutors interested in working for an online university also have many factors to take under consideration. One of the advantages to being a teacher or tutor for an online university is the fact that they don't have to travel back and forth to the university. With the price of gas, getting one of these jobs can effectively increase the profit the teacher or tutor makes. On the downside, teaching online courses generally does not utilize books as much as traditional teaching. Rather, teachers and tutors may be responsible for authoring content for the students to read. (Education 7)
Even when books are used with the course, the teacher will need to write out information for the students to read since this is how the classroom "lectures" will take place. Therefore, teachers that are not comfortable with this platform may not enjoy online teaching. In addition, teaching online can make it more difficult to have a conference with a student that is struggling with the subject. For some teachers, the inability to work more directly with students can be frustrating, while others enjoy working under these conditions. For this reason, teachers and tutors need to carefully consider their teaching preferences before taking an online teaching position. (Education 7)
Mumbai is a embryonic city where e-learning was still never implemented therefore the teachers in this city had to be properly trained so that Mumbai would emerge to be a city where best and efficient use of e-learning is made. Over 80 metropolis educators were trained in e-learning by means of Free and Open source software to deal with the globalisation of learning in the nation.
A two-day University Grants Commission's symposium group that was held in relation with Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), CDAC and IIT-Bombay, skills more than 80 lecturers in Information Communication Technology (ICT) said Principal of Kapila Khandvala College, Vandana Maheshwari. The state-owned foundations supplied infrastructure and the reserve persons incorporated Sasikumar from CDAC, Jitendra Shah from VJTI, Mumbai, and Nagarjuna from HBCSE and Kannan Moudgalya from IIT-Bombay. This was the opening in the series of e-learning workshops and plentiful such training plans will be held for instructors in the city throughout the year, she said. The seminar's focal point was on the utilization of Open Education Resources (OER) using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). The partaking teachers said the most motivating characteristic of the nationwide seminar-cum-workshop was the hands on knowledge presented on spoken tutorials using two softwares - Netlogo and Geogebra.
Maheshwari said the call to become ICT-savvy was able to be seen in the irresistible retort to the tutorial and the amount of paper arrangements made. Open software was the most reasonably priced way to produce instructive matter for self-learning and can be brought into play in the vernacular languages too, said IIT's Kannan. (Zee news, April 09' 2010)
Just similar to the learner, even the role of the teacher has been altered in the process of e-learning. Learning based on traditional blackboard instruction and coaching is now getting substituted by conveying lessons and instruction through video conferencing, web-based methods, and equivalent with the students using the e-mail for close communication with their teacher. When such kind of expertise is operated as an essential teaching and instructing tool, it helps the teacher to be a facilitator which makes the students to take on a practical role in their learning. A considerable and significant addition to the process of implementing of e-learning is the knowledge and tutoring brought about by the modern advanced technology-driven means that make open-minded use of such high impact graphics and animation to develop and explain real life applications of those relevant concepts or theories. For a teacher, e-learning improves and develops the diversity of responses and other arguments. It helps to get back the likelihood of spotting a talented student positioned at anywhere on earth. Furthermore, it stops and makes the constrained practice of campus based learning out of date. (Vivek Patkar 2009)
I conducted a couple of interviews to get a holistic viewpoint on my research question. I suppose that this would help me in strengthening the findings of my secondary research or establish any new relationships between facts, if any. Different stakeholders were interviewed where they were supplied with questionnaire which they had to fill. After the necessary records and information was generated it was abridged and then the following data analysis was done.
Primary Data Analysis:
After interviewing the teachers, it was quite evident that all of them were in support of E-learning as a technology which would help the teachers to interact with the students no matter if they're in a totally different location. Since students will be exposed to a variety of e-learning gadgets they would be prepared for the digital age which would in turn save time, resources etc. Mr. Zvikomborero Katsande quotes that "E-learning has made lesson delivery simpler and fun-filled. It has helped to decrease chalk board writing". Also Mr. Jagadeesh says that "the pace of teaching and learning improves as well as the quality of information available is better". It was pretty obvious that teachers to some extent are in high spirits with the coming on and the usage of E-learning technology in day to day life. This assists them to conduct the classes in a way that would prove to be beneficial for the students. But when it comes to the comparison between E-learning and the conventional methods of coaching they want a balance between the two. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. For instance Mr. Zvikomborero tells us that "Computers cannot be operated when there is an electrical power failure. E-learning can create laziness and cheating if students' are not monitored properly".
Mr. Zvikomborero and Mr. Jagadeesh discover E-learning to be a very interactive mode of learning because training and conversing with the students has become more cordial and the same time more responsive. This is achievable due to the usage of internet, power point presentations, audio-video clips, animations, simulations etc. This makes the learning environment to become more interesting which comforts both the students and the teachers. It could then help to make the relationships between them better.
But according to the primary research inspected, it also gives the impression that the escalating popularity of the technology could perhaps have many concerns attached to it. The stakeholders i.e. Mr Zvikomborero and Mr. Jagadeesh are expressing their feelings of dissatisfaction regarding the popularity because they think web pages over and over again enclose inaccurate data, and hence, vigilant selection of sites and information is very necessary. Limited practice of E-learning is always advantageous and gainful but complete substitution of conventional teaching with e-learning will remove the personal component totally. But this again has limitation that goes with it, its very time consuming for searching truthful and precise data.
The expertise makes the teacher equipped with modern skills required in today's tech savvy world. But in some cases it can put together a kind of feeling where some teachers would feel redundant. If properly implemented and teacher's guidance given it can be better otherwise it could lead to plagiarism and copying directly from the web sources. Direct lift of data from the web sources undoubtedly shows that the student has not worked appropriately.
When asked if E-learning has led them to job obsolescence, Mr. Jagadeesh was of an opinion that "Since technology can't provide personnel and emotional support to the learner, teacher never becomes obsolete". This shows that as far as their profession is concerned they haven't faced any difficulty as such. The technology has not affected them in that way.
When the completion of the students' assignments and their academic results are mulled over, the data congregated is expressible enough to pass on a judgement that with this technology students are able to complete their home works and task on time. Mr. Zvikomborero states "E-learning has reduced dependence on the library". Assignments that have to be completed can be mailed and at the same time if any doubt needs to be clarified, it can be done anytime by seeking their teacher. The knowledge levels of the students have improved which has helped them to widen and develop their analytical skills.
E-learning has helped Mr. Sunil Mishra to enhance the way of his teaching. He quotes that "E-learning is used to enhance the teaching methodology in the form of audio-visuals to show slides and cd's etc tapes can also be used to improve the listening skills of the students". According to him, the conventional way of teaching cannot be replaced totally by e-learning in country like India but he also states that the day is not very far when e-learning will replace the conventional teaching method due to its rising popularity. It has also helped to minimise the usage of chalk which in turn doesn't affect the health of both the teachers and students. When asked about the mounting popularity there was no such major concern because according to Mr. Mishra, e-learning is the demand of the new times and learners both. The technology can help the learners to gain sufficient knowledge in their learning. Mr. Mishra says that "When students are not able to access teachers, e-learning devices helps them a lot. Moreover, it can be used for project works, assignments, power point presentations and sharing information with each other. The education board wants a qualified faculty with adequate knowledge of e-learning devices such as computer, using the internet. At first, when Mr. Sunil Mishra started getting accustomed to the e-learning technology, he was uncomfortable due to lack of sufficient familiarity with the same. But now at present everything is easy. Till date, it hasn't been a reason for job obsolescence for him. There are many different kinds of e-learning devices which need to be operated by teachers as a result, teachers don't get obsolete.
For getting more information, even a content provider who provides e-learning services was interviewed. They provide software simulations for math and science related subjects to schools and coaching classes. Mr. Vinay Joshi says that e-learning can impact a teacher's way of teaching immensely as they can make their lessons much powerful in terms of delivery and the theoretical clearness is augmented. Also, the software that they provide is resourceful enough as the lessons become more interesting and ultimately the students are the one who gain out of it. When asked about the requirement of the e-learning services Mr. Vinay states that "Today's leaner's needs are different and hence, e-learning has become a key tool in the education sector". They also have training modules in schools along with content delivery so that they can adopt the technology with ease. Mr. Vinay has subject matter experts who can guide the flash programmes and animators. In last 6-7 months, 10-12 schools have accepted their products. The most important thing that Mr. Vinay said was that e-learning can never replace teachers because the technology and the classroom pedagogy go hand in hand.
After completing both the data analysis, what we can conclude is that in today's fast changing world, teachers are adopting e-learning technology in their day-to-day life. In the secondary data that was carried out we could see that the technology does have some advantages and disadvantages at the same time. For e.g. for a teacher, they wouldn't have to travel. Instead with the help of online sources teaching can be done. But here the problem that may arise is that sometimes there is a possibility that something needs a detailed explanation which might not be as effective if it would have been done in the class. When we talk e-learning as a whole, the benefits prevail over the limitations. The primary research also suggests us that if e-learning go hand in hand with the conventional mode of teaching it could prove to be of great help. In a nascent city like Mumbai also, e-learning has had an influence on the teaching fraternity. With the aid of the research that was performed it was clear that, there are some problems present concerning e-learning's effect on the teachers in Mumbai, but the majority of them seem to be happy about the arrival of the service. The teachers are now getting more and more tech-savvy by implementing it in their teaching. Students are able to understand lessons and teaching better. Hence, the research question i.e. in what way and to what extent has the advent of e-learning impacted the teaching fraternity in Mumbai?