Background of the Study

The term e-Learning means something different to almost everyone who uses it. Some use the term to refer to pieces of content packaged using technical infrastructures. Some think only of web-based self-study, while others realize e-Learning can encompass real-time learning and collaboration. Almost all also agree that e-Learning is of strategic importance. Almost all also agree that eLearning is an effective method that should be blended into a corporation current learning style.

E-Learning refers to the use of internet / ICTs i.e. Information and Communication Technology to enhance and support teaching and learning process. It is a way of using wireless and internet technologies to deliver a broad array of training solutions. E-Learners access the learning from computers via the internet or an intranet, or through a hand held device like mobile phone, palm pilot. In 2001 Marc Rosenberg suggested the following definition of e-Learning as “the use of Internet technologies to deliver a broad array of solutions that enhance knowledge and performance.” (p. 28). In less than two short years this definition has expanded to include wireless as well as internet technologies with the two technologies often working together to delivery focused learning to the problem site.

We are all familiar with classroom-based learning (c-Learning) which is face-to-face group learning led by an instructor or subject matter expert. In e-Learning environments learners interact with learning materials, their instructors and other learners from various locations and often at various times using network technologies. So by its nature, e-learning offers significant flexibility as to when and how learning occurs. E-learning can include independent, facilitated, or collaborative approaches to learning. Independent learning refers to each individual learner completing learning activities or modules on their own, on their own schedule and in their own environment. The learner is independent of a facilitator and the other learners. This does not mean that the learner does not have access to other resources such as a facilitator or coach, but the learner is in control of whether they contact them, when they contact them, and on main reasons.

Collaborative learning refers to working with other learners in an online environment. A typical example is an email discussion with other learners on a particular topic or everyone posting to a course room or a forum educational group discussing on a particular subject matter, topic or issue. On the other hand, Facilitated learning is designed to be completed through interaction with instructors or coaches. There are several ways and methods to achieve this task, for example, a learner might complete a section of learning on-line then discuss key concepts via e-mail with the instructor or with classmates.

E-Learning can be synchronous (meaning learners are experiencing the learning at the same time) or asynchronous (meaning learners are experiencing the learning at different times) or it can incorporate both drawing on the strengths of each. Independent learning is, by definition, asynchronous. Facilitated and collaborative can be either asynchronous or synchronous.

Salleh, Oye and Iahad, 2010 described e-learning as the use of Information and Communication Technology e.g. Internet, computer, mobile phone, Learning Management System (LMS), Radios, Televisions and other to enhance teaching and learning activities. They see e-learning as a unifying term used to describe the fields on online learning, technology delivered instructions and web – based training. It can also be defined as “a generic term covering a wide set of ICT technology-based learning, virtual classrooms, digital collaboration and networking” (Hambrecht, 2000; Kaplan Leisero’s online glossary). The E-Content Report (2004) describes e-learning “as an umbrella term describing any type of learning that depends on or is enhanced by electronic communication using the latest information and communication technologies (ICT)”.

Also, others refer to it as teaching and learning that is web-enabled (Rosenberg 2001: p 28-29, Govindasamy 2002: p 288; Garrison & Anderson 2003: p 2). Building on the above descriptions, the Europe Promoting Digital Literacy Initiative describes it as “the use of new multimedia technologies and internet for improving the quality of learning by means of access to resources and services, and long distance collaborations and exchanges”. In addition, the Commonwealth of learning in 1998 described e-learning in two ways:

i. As the application of information and communication technologies (ICT) to core institutional functions such as administration, materials development and distribution, course delivery and tuition, and the provision of learner services such as advising, prior learning assessment and programme planning.

ii. As an organization that has been created through alliances and partnerships to facilitate teaching and learning to occur without itself being involved as a direct provider of instruction.

Recognizing these elaborate definitions that have been given e-learning over the years, one must point out that, the scope of such learning is unpleasantly broad. The globally available definitions may however create confusion as a result of the fact that, not only that the subject is equally new to course producers, to technology providers and to the end-users (i.e. the learners), but it has not actually found its common ground and market position yet (E-Content Report,2004). Recognizably, the huge emphasis that has been given e-learning, especially by leading technology providers, might have resulted in the term rather being abused. However, as technology and business evolve, so does terminology, while other equally valid terms are likely to persist, e-learning seems to have finally captured the field.

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Updated: 4th March 2020 — 2:55 pm

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