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E-learning present and future in Greece

By April Cooper,2014-06-11 19:50
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    E-LEARNING PRESENT AND FUTURE IN GREECE

    Α. Kokkosis, A.Charitopoulos,C.Prekas,L.Athanasopoulou

    ΤΕΙ of Piraeus, Department of Electronics, 250 Thivon & P. Ralli, Athens -12244

    akokkos@teipir.gr, axarito@teipir.gr, prekas@teipir.gr,

    ABSTRACT

    Over the last years, the actual usage of web-based systems has become more extensive, especially in the case of distant education programs for enterprises or, as most commonly observed, in educational programs of universities. This is mostly a result of more affordable computer hardware and software, and more recently, ubiquitous Internet penetration.

    Corporate investment in information technology has also led to a new delivery method for corporate training that both rivals and complements classroom- based instruction: e-lerning. As time passes by, new technological accomplishments and proportional implementations of web- based educational systems have, also, been inserted in the e-learning educational process in Greece. E-Learning, referring to learning via the Internet provides people with a flexible and quite personalized way to learn. This paper focuses mainly on the web- based educational systems, which are primarily divided into synchronous and asynchronous and describe the e-learning systems LMS (learning Management Systems), CMS (Course Management Systems) and LCMS (Learning Content Management Systems). We will, also, describe the basic categories of educational methods which can be divided according to criteria such as the fundamental points of educational progress. According to this, systems can be divided into the following categories:

    1. Learner-led e-learning

    2. Facilitated e-learning

    3. Instructor-led e-learning

    4. Embedded e-learning

    5. Telementoring and e-coaching

Keywords: E-learning, distance learning, web-based systems

    Introduction

    Economic, social and technological forces have and continue to change the global economy, and the way of life in organizations and the world. The Internet and associated technologies have spurred evolutionary business processes in organizations. Where the corporate homepage was once the ‗thing‘ to have, today‘s organizations have progressed from the homepage to the intranet to e-commerce. There are some organizations that have moved forward into e-business and there are still others that have just now started their e-enterprise.

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    E-learning has its historical background in about 30 years of development in computer based training and education. With the growth of the internet this kind of training became much more accepted and the creation of multimedia contents and systems to manage learning activities went on faster.

    Additional e-learning is based on a long tradition of teaching and learning experience. The larger worlds Information Technology and Education and Training influenced the new term e-learning and so e-learning became a subset of both of them. Nowadays, e-learning refers to learning that is delivered or enabled via electronic technology. It encompasses learning delivered via a range of technologies such as the internet, television, videotape, and computer-based training. In principle, e-learning is a kind of distance learning. Learning materials can be accessed from the web or intranet via a computer and tutors and learners can communicate with each other using e-mail, chat or discussion forums. Therefore, it can be used as the main method of delivery of training or as a combined approach with classroom-based training. The major e-Learning trends for future is that this learning procedure is expected to become the most widely used application for an organization, in order to train new staff, cross train their existing staff and training of management and leadership personnel. E-learning is, also, expected to become an integral part of the Educational System all around the world, since it allows students to take prerequisite courses remotely and to distribute the students demand on an educational facility, by combining both e-Learning and typical classroom/lecture style of learning. E-Learning will allow access to this knowledge for all students, at any time and at any place. This easily leads to the conclusion that in future e-Learning will be the most widely used method for individuals who want to acquire knowledge.

    The tools that support e-learning activities on the selected combination of media can include the following:

    ; Voice over Internet and Whiteboard

    ; Chat and Video Applications

    ; Discussion board and Polling

    ; Conference meeting and Life streaming audio/video

    ; Animation, Simulation and Hypertext

    ; Broadcast

    ; E-Mail and News group

    ; Slide show, Document library and Calendar

    Up to this point, most e-learning has been consumed by learners in the form of full, off-the-shelf, or slightly customized courses.

    The experiences provided by these courses are instructionally sound and typically general enough to provide content vendors with large prospective customer bases a

    build-once, sell-many model. However, corporate customers also need a way to efficiently turn their proprietary knowledge into effective e-learning content. Although general knowledge provides a necessary baseline, proprietary knowledge provides companies with competitive advantage. Furthermore, organizations need a mechanism for managing and delivering e-learning content in a digestible form to the end user who can immediately apply it to perform better enter the learning content

    management system to help speed individuals‘ time to performance and perpetuate organizational success.

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    Synchronous and Asynchronous Systems

    It is quite difficult to give a representative and satisfying definition of the term of e-learning. This difficulty initiates by the fact that there are many different types of e-learning procedures which exist and are being implemented within the educational systems. These web- based educational systems are primarily divided into two categories: synchronous and asynchronous.

    Synchronous systems implement real-time communication. They include whiteboard, chat forums and video conferencing applications. Yet, they make it obligatory for all participants to be online at the same time.

    The synchronous educational systems demand for extensive educational use of technology, since it takes place in real-time and is divided into two categories: a) deal lessons, which include spreading educational material according to the traditional methods and b) non- traditional students, in which the educational process attempts to offer knowledge to groups of people who are not students (employees, soldiers, etc.).

Asynchronous educational systems use technology as an auxiliary tool, without

    substituting the traditional teaching methods with virtual classrooms and maintaining the frequency of the actual gathering of students and trainees with their teachers. Still, educational material can be provided via web and communication through chats and forums seems to be the key to success without obligating participants to be online at the same time. This seems to be a more convenient method though a speedy reply is less expected.

    E-learning procedures can offer diverse learning experiences through the following types of activities: Audio conversations, one-way or two, by phone or VOIP, shared whiteboard, synchronized web browsing, text chats, application viewing/sharing, content windows, videos, one-way or two, live or canned, discussion boards record and playback by instructor or student, polling, hand-raising and yes/no buttons, pre-session content distribution, assessment/testing/scheduling, software simulations, collaborative workshops, threaded discussions, role-playing simulations, group study meetings, online lab, expert-led chats, peer-to-peer chats, quantitative simulations, certification prep tests or even reference articles.

    Types of e-learning

    ; Learner-led e-learning aims to deliver highly effective learning experiences to

    independent learners. It is sometimes called standalone or self-directed e-

    learning. Content may consist of Web pages, multimedia presentations, and

    other interactive learning experiences housed and maintained on a Web server.

    The content is accessed through a Web browser. In learner-led e-learning, all

    the instruction must be provided through the course materials. There is neither

    an instructor nor a facilitator to help learners over the rough spots. There is no

    mechanism to allow concurrent students to communicate and share ideas. Nor

    are there any restrictions of when and how much the learner studies. The

    learner is truly independent.

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    ; Facilitated e-learning combines the reliance on Web content found in learner-led e-learning with the collaborative facilities found in instructor-led e-learning. It works well for learners who cannot conform to the rigid schedule of classroom training but who want to augment learning through discussion with other learners as well as with a facilitator. Assignments are typically made by posting them to a class discussion forum, where learners can also ―hand in‖ their completed homework.

    ; Instructor-led e-learning uses Web technology to conduct conventional classes with distant learners. These classes use a variety of real-time technologies, such as video and audio conferencing, chat, screen-sharing, polling, whiteboards, and the plain old telephone. The instructor typically shows slides and conducts demonstrations. These presentations are transmitted by a streaming media server along with the instructor‘s voice and possibly a video

    image of the instructor. Learners may use a media player for the presentation and they can ask questions by typing their questions into a chat window or sending them by e-mail.

    ; Embedded e-learning provides just-in-time training. It is usually embedded in computer programs, Help files, Web pages, or network applications. It may even be a component of an Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS). Embedded e-learning caters to the solitary learner who has a problem that needs to be solved immediately. It is often located on the learner‘s computer and is installed along with the program with which it is associated. Embedded e-learning can also be entirely Web-based.

    ; Telementoring and e-coaching use the latest technologies for one of the oldest forms of learning. They use video conferencing, instant messaging, Internet telephones, and other collaboration tools to help mentors guide the development of protégés. Mentoring relationships tend to be long term and focus on career development. Mentors offer learners a more knowledgeable and perhaps more mature partner from whom they can learn things not written in books or taught in classes.

    LMS, CMS, LCMS

    ; Learning Management Systems are sophisticated web-based applications

    that are being created in increasing numbers by numerous institutions and companies which attempt to get involved in e-learning either for providing services to third parties, or for educating and training their own people. Even though the construction of such systems takes place many years now, they are still designed and developed from scratch. The reason is that experience from previous Learning Management Systems, is not codified or documented, resulting in forcing the development teams to re-evaluate the system itself. Behind the scenes, an LMS is a Web-based database application that tracks learners and the courses they have access to or have completed. Through an integrated, Web-based interface, an LMS lets administrators perform common tasks, such as registering learners, adding courses, enrolling learners into courses, launching courses for learners, recording course completions and grades, and generating reports. The actual structure of the system varies from product to product but LMS databases typically track learners and courses.

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    Course records include the Web address to launch the actual course which

    may be stored separately. The database also defines curricula as sequences of

    courses and tracks or records enrolmentsthat is, the learners assigned to

    each course.

    ; CMS. The specific systems use web in order to provide applications and tools

    for guided educational purposes and also for making statistic assumptions

    connected to specific ranges or single users. Usually, they consist of they

    environment text and this is why they are thought as easy to use but though

    less flexible. Their most commonly used applications are content management

    and the asynchronous communication. Most CMS systems tend to transmit

    themselves into LMS or LCMS systems. This category includes both

    Blackboard and WebCT.

     CMS differs from LCMS in a certain variety of issues. The first difference is that the

    former is a horizontal software application and the latter is a vertical market software application. The two are architecturally similar in that they take content through the entire process of organization, maintenance, security, and protection. However, an LCMS, as a vertical market application, requires development and deployment layers that cannot be addressed by the generalized content management features found in a CMS.

    First, LCMSs emphasize the development layer, or front end, as the operating piece in rapidly building substantial content, importing it, and converting it for storage and management. LCMSs are also customized with a back end, or deployment layer, to handle the specific needs of learners such as the instructional outputs that include CD-ROM, classroom-based materials, and Web-based training. In addition, learning objects will further the LCMS‘ position as a highly customized vertical application.

    Learning objects use specialized processes, business methodologies, and presentation rules for learning tasks that are important to an LCMS yet are not present in a horizontal CMS.

    ; LCMS is a learning content management system which simplifies the task

    of creating, managing, and reusing learning content, that is, the media, pages,

    tests, lessons, and other components of courses. LCMSs manage learning

    content by maintaining items of content in a central repository. From this

    database, instructional designers can organize, assemble, approve, publish, and

    deliver courses and other learning events. An LCMS lets authors create, store,

    and refine learning objects or other units of content. It helps learners locate

    and take just the learning they need at the moment. Learning content

    management systems sit slightly left of centre in the tools framework. They

    facilitate administration and authoring at the course, lesson, and page levels.

    As the name suggests, LCMSs are closely related to content creation and

    display tools. The content managed by LCMSs may come from content

    creation tools, especially Web-site creation tools and media editors. LCMSs

    may provide courses to an LMS that tracks students and the courses they are

    enrolled in. Courses in an LCMS may be accessed and navigated through a

    Web browser. If the LCMS does not provide testing capabilities, it may

    deliver tests created and administered by a test-creation tool. So, with a full-featured LCMS, an organization can obtain the following benefits:

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Learning in context. An LCMS selects the learning objects and puts them in a

    sequence determined by the learner‘s query, job role, prior experience, and/or some

    kind of pre-assessment.

     organization‘s Content presented to a learner reflects the individual‘s needs and

    objectives. This approach ensures that knowledge workers spend time learning the information they need, not looking for it or sitting in a classroom hoping the instructor will eventually present it. An LCMS allows for nonlinear ―search learning‖ that is, a

    user who has a learning need can immediately seek the requisite information to fulfil that need and subsequently be directed to other relevant resources.

Keeping tacit knowledge from walking out the door. The consultant can access

    the learning object that captured the knowledge his predecessor used to make the project a success. Learning content management systems not only allow current members of the enterprise to share best practices, but they may lengthen the shelf life of proprietary best practices created by former members.

Using one application to educate disparate audiences. A clear benefit of an

    enterprise having a central repository of learning objects is that certain objects will be applicable to different learning audiences. The launch of a new product, or a new release of a software product, is a good illustrative example of this benefit. An LCMS can add consistency and enhance efficiencies of new product education. Since much of the software information is needed by the different audiences described above is the same (e.g., price, value to the customer, features, and functions), many learning objects can only be developed once.

Future-proofing an organization’s content. By separating content from the

    presentation layer through the use of XML, the content will still be reusable even if delivery methods change radically down the road (i.e., a disruptive instructional technology is developed).

• Increasing organizational know-how and performance through massive content

    conversion. Cost-effective conversion allows legacy content that previously would have gone unused to become an asset that can potentially benefit a company‘s income

    statement.

    An LCMS saves companies money when it is used to develop new e-learning courses rapidly using existing classroom-based content while updating and modifying only the content that needs to be updated. In this case, money is saved on two fronts: by saving the time and resources used in delivering classroom-based courses to thousands of learners and by decreasing time to productivity for the agents.

• Ensuring consistency of learning in a global enterprise. Centralizing learning

    object management using a single repository ensures that organizations are consistent in spreading their learning messages to disparate audiences.

    Some of the characteristics of learning objects that are specific to LCMSs include:

• Learning objects contain inherently ordered and structured information.

    • Learning objects involve extensive tracking capabilities.

    • An LCMS has assessment and certification components.

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    It may seem obvious, but the differences described above are the result of focus. LCMSs are designed with prescribed learning in mind.

    The following factors dramatically enhance the effectiveness of a knowledge management solution:

    • Content management

    • Learning

    • Expert tracking

    • Collaboration

    An LCMS can contribute to each of these aspects of a knowledge management program in the following ways:

    Content management. A formal process of converting, collecting, and organizing intellectual assets of a corporation in one location in the form of learning objects is essential to ensuring that knowledge is captured and disseminated efficiently Learning. Since the intelligence of people is both the raw material and end product of any knowledge management system, it is in the best interest of the organization to ensure that an efficient and flexible learning environment is available to its members. • Expertise tracking. If an enterprise is to take advantage of its human capital, it must determine who knows what and where the individual can be found. An LCMS can help learners locate content authors.

    Collaboration. Formal and informal interactions between these experts and

    ―greenhorns‖ often result in a conveyance of knowledge.

    An LCMS can facilitate collaboration by providing the user of a learning object(s) with the author‘s contact information.

    Conclusion

    Information and communication technologies are essential but the developments in this area are difficult to cope with in government, businesses, and at the universities. The new technology implementations provide huge opportunities but also threats in terms of demands for keeping up.

    The three areas of e-Governance, Knowledge Management, and e-Learning are interdependent and constitute the key challenge of the future: ―the e-Future

    Challenge‖.

    The purpose of this study was to identify the future of e-Learning from an academic and corporate perspective. E-learning is here to stay as the constantly changing pace of technology, the shortening product development cycles, lack of skilled personnel, competitive global economy, the shift from the industrial to the knowledge era, the migration towards a value chain integration and the extended enterprise fuel with strategic importance and realization.

    With e-business being an evolutionary process and with e-learning, a rapid, effective and less expensive form of training and development being a response to this new economy evolutionary processes, it is imperative to look at the future of e-Learning. This brief analysis of the organisational and technical challenges inherent in the emerging learning and information space suggests that the time is ripe for concerted action at the institutional level to integrate systems and services and to press for national and international collaboration on the standards and specifications necessary for global interaction between learning and information communities. The potential contribution of the library community is considerable but this will only be realised by adopting a much broader view of the service spectrum and by engaging

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    more actively with technical colleagues and with those responsible for delivering the learning experience.

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