Lina Lafta Jassim
College of Art at the University of ThiQar
As a result of the tremendous development in using Internet and information technology, the world has become a global village, and accessing information nowadays has become available to almost every one regardless of where he/she is. Moreover, information technology has a dramatic impact on societies (Shoniregun & Gray, 2003). With the ubiquitous services offered by the World Wide Web (WWW) and the fast development of information tools and telecommunications technologies, there is a strong tendency to use information technology (IT) in education sectors (Woodfine & Nunes, 2006).
After the emergence of internet services, many educational centers around the world have attempted to make use of these tools for educational purposes. Because of the rapid increase in the use of modern technology, internet has become a key element in many universities because of its importance for administrative, academic staff and students (Lorens & Salanova, 2002). Internet has indeed became one of the most important instructional tools and the most effective means of communication in colleges and universities (Noor & Agboola, 2005).
After the upsurge of internet in the mid 1990s, Watkins and Leigh (2003) pointed out that million college students and more universities throughout the world took at least one online course. Additionally, more than half a million of those students were completing their degrees entirely online. So, it is evident that e-Learning can be considered as a very effective learning system (Sun & Cheng, 2007), and it can be exploited and enhanced by the development of technology. It can be applied everywhere, and at any time. By applying e-Learning, there is a possibility for producing new competent generations (Forcier, 1999).
On the other hand Wang and Chen’s study (2006) revealed that there is still shortage of effective use of educational technology in the educational process. In the same line, they argue that teachers of certain subjects, such as History and Geography, hardly use information technology in their teaching
According to Resta (2006) e-Learning plays an increasingly important role in developing the economic and educational growth of industrialized nations, and it can play a significant role in preparing a new generation of teachers in higher educational establishments.
By accepting and adapting the new changes in the learning environment, many educational institutions started using internet to provide access for their students to register, buy books, attend lectures and participate in discussions. This is what can be called the activation of technology in education (Lorens and Salanova, 2002). In this respect, Shoniregun and Gray (2003) argue that:
“In today’s rapidly changing electronic world (e-world) the key to maintaining the appropriate impetus and momentum in organizations and academic environments is knowledge. Therefore, continuous, convenient and economical access to training and qualification assumes the highest priority for the ambitious individual or organization. This requirement is met by electronic learning (e-Learning). E-Learning is one of the fastest growing areas of the high technology sector” (p.43).
Furthermore, Baptista-Nunes and Mcpherson (2002), (as cited in Rosenberg, 2001)
“The biggest growth in the internet, and the area that will prove to be one of the biggest agents of change, will be in e-Learning.” e-Learning has provided more opportunities for sharing information and interaction among individuals and groups”(p.9).
E-Learning is a self-learning process that depends on students more than teachers in using modern technology (Goel & Kumar, 2004; Jochems & Merrieboer, 2004). So, with the activation of technology, it is predictable that the role of lecturers will change in education as well.
Baptista-Nunes and Mcpherson (2002) pointed out that not long ago, students would sit in lecture halls, use pen and paper to note down what their professors are sayingand writing on the board. With e-Learning the matter is very different; because this system is dependent on the internet, and this indicates that teachers’ role in e-Learning is expected to be more flexible in the sense that they can now tutor from their offices or from their homes, in campus or outside campus, so their teaching isexpected to be less constrained (Keegan, 2002).
In the same vein, Rasaratnam (2006) pointed out that educationists should think of new methods to face the evolving challenges of the new situation in a more efficient and expedient way. This system of e-Learning is conducted through educational software called (Instructional Software or Courseware) designed and developed by a competent team to provide the student with the teaching required on a computer screen (Sadik, 2007; Haverila & Barkhi, 2009).
So, it is expected that with the application of e-Learning, teaching methods are going to be changed. This implies not only changes in course models, but also in attitudes, in order to know the new challenges posed by e-Learning in general and higher education (HE) in particular (Baptista-Nunes & Mcpherson, 2002).
However, one of the challenges that face e-Learning designers is that there is no universally designed product. Akbaba-Altun (2006) explains this point and argues that universal design is a process which yields products (devices, environment, systems, and processes) that are usable by and useful to the widest possible range of people. Consequently, it is not possible to create a product which can be used by everyone or in all circumstances.
Joris and Berg (2003) pointed out that there is still a gap between material design and model design. They argued that the material still needs more preparation, more time and efforts to be designed properly in all forms. This is why the design of the format must be provided as a model to introduce material which is easily accessible for all. Additionally, Jochems and Merrieboer (2004), pointed out that there is a massive and huge gap resulting from the recent development in information technology and in order to compensate for this gap, much preparation and training are needed.
The preparation process is the important part in the stages for the evaluation and designing of appropriate models, but we must choose the appropriate time and good design, after the preliminary examination in terms of the availability of the necessary infrastructure. This must be a concerted effort for the success of all participants in the process of teaching members of the university staff and students. The responsibility is borne by the university, because a significant change in the methods of education will occur in the university (Vooi & Dahalin, 2004).
In spite of the great expectations from applying and implementing e-Learning services, it is evident that there are many factors that can affect either positively or negatively the success of this new application (Ataizi, 2006). One of the factors that a researcher wants to explore is staff’s readiness which can affect positively or negatively the application of e-Learning.
According to So and Keung (2005) staff readiness in using the technology will determine the success of e-Learning implementation. This study investigates e-Learning readiness and implementation in Jordanian universities, explores e-Learning implementation and provides detailed information on the use of e-Learning by university departments.
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