WikiEdProfessional eLearning Guidebook/Management and implementation of eLearning/Implementation requirements of e-learning
In conventional classroom-based educational settings, teachers spend a great deal of their teaching time in subject matter content presentation. This activity usually takes the form of lectures where teachers go through a body of subject matter content. Students on the other hand, spend a great deal of their study time in sitting in lectures taking down lecture notes. Irrespective of whether this is a good or bad educational practice; it is certainly an inefficient and ineffective use of teachers’ and students’ time. If subject matter content needs to be presented, then there are surely several more efficient and effective ways of presenting it. Sitting students down in a lecture room and having them take down notes, often not so accurately, is certainly not one of those ways. E-learning, with its use of information and communications technology, enables the presentation of subject matter content in alternative forms, as such freeing up lecture time which can now be more usefully devoted to the facilitation and support of learning activity.
However, e-learning in itself does not guarantee efficient or effective learning and teaching. For it to be efficient and effective, a great deal of care and attention needs to go into its implementation. This comprises attention to the recruitment and registration of students, facilitating and supporting learning, assessing learning outcomes, providing feedback to learners, evaluating the impacts of e-learning on the organization, and a host of other issues related to these functions (see also Naidu, 1994, 2003).
Student registration. Most educational and training organizations have rigorous systems and processes in place to manage student registrations and their graduation. Those who choose to adopt on-line learning would want to also ensure that they are able to recruit, registrar and manage their students online in the fashion of e-commerce and e-business. Doing so would be consistent with an ethos and philosophy of making one’s registration processes accessible online. This would require administrative systems to be in place and that the staff members are appropriately trained.
Learner support. In the context of e-learning, learner support takes on an added importance, as learners become separated in time and place from the teacher and the educational organization. This does not mean that necessarily more learner support is required. What changes is how learner support is provided, where and when and how often it is provided and who provides it (see Holmberg, 1986). An online learning course, may not be supported and facilitated by those who developed these courses.
Assessment of learning and the provision of feedback. While in e-learning, the fundamental and guiding principles of assessment of learning outcomes and providing feedback on learning remains the same as that for any other educational setting, what changes is how some of the learning outcomes can and might be assessed and also how feedback may be provided. Most educational settings must also deal equitably and fairly with unfair practices such as plagiarism and authenticity of student work. E-learning because of the flexibility it affords in terms of time and space independence are more prone to unfair learning and assessment practices. Opportunities for these occurrences need to be properly managed.
Evaluation of the impacts of e-learning. It is crucial to have processes in place for knowing how you are doing with what you have initiated. This will include how your staff and students are engaging in e-learning. Without this kind of evidence, you are in no position to know how you might be traveling and what changes and/or improvements are necessary. Evaluation of impacts is often neglected or inefficiently carried out in most educational settings. Evaluation of the impacts of your processes should be closely integrated into the planning and implementation of any e-learning activity (see Naidu, 2005).