PCF5:Appropriate learning technologies: eLearning guidance for policymakers and practitioners

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Title of session

eLearning: guidance for policy makers and practitioners

Session details

  • Date: 16 Jul. 08
  • Time: 4:00
  • Room: 642

Session papers

  • Exploring the introduction of e-learning as an open and distance learning delivery mode in Botswana by Phineas Sebopelo, Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning
  • Education for a digital world: advice, guidelines and effective practice from around the globe by Sandra Hirtz, Canada
  • Effective management and application of ICT in distance, collaborative, and elearning among by Tan Luk Lee, Malaysia.

Key Issues that arose in the session

  • From the first presentation: National ICT policy in Botswana focuses on supporting sustainable growth in the digital age and e-learning. The Tertiary education council produced a white paper on the establishment of a sector wide tertiary elearning system. The college (BOCODOL) also has a strategic plan to implement distance learning. In that context, a feasibility study was designed to determine the readiness of learners to do their course work on line, if they are interested, and if the necessary factors are there. It determined that more than 75% of learners are computer literate, internet access at 60%, but a lack of knowledge and experience of elearning exists. Nevertheless, there is an interest, and so the conclusion is that the college can consider it feasible to implement elearning per its strategic goals. Critical requirements are considered to be an effective elearning strategy, appropriate change management strategies, and collaboration among stakeholders. The right equipment and staff also have to be acquired. Computer facilities must also be made available in the college and regional offices and even workplaces (with the permission of employers) to help those who do not have internet access at home.
  • From the second presentation: Virtual teams and COPs have become commonplace in the professional world. We need to prepare our children to take part in this type of future. The book “Education for a Digital World” was published as a collaborative project with contributors from around the world. It is an example of ICT-enabled cross-sectoral collaboration. PDF format from the COL website.
  • From the third presentation: Emerging from the increasing need for ICTs in distance and collaborative learning in the workplace, research was done among 4 randomly-selected Malaysian universities to determine how to most effectively manage ICTs. Each university provides eLearning facilities to their faculty and adult learners. Lecturers are committed to getting course content on the portal. To be effective and efficient, the portal must be given priority and be used consistently by lecturers and students. If the ICT and e- learning portal facility is insufficient to cater for the needs of the users, responsible administrators must make an effort to raise funds to fulfill the needs. To summarize, The six factors that contribute to effective management and application of ICT in collaborative and e-learning among adult learners in the tertiary education in Malaysian Public Universities are: demographic, culture, environment, external factors, learners’ technological efficacy, ICT and e-learning platforms/ LMS. Therefore, the significant difference between the tangible resources of ICT in the surveyed universities is due to the administrators’ managerial effort towards the increase of the ICT infrastructure. The administrators’ duty is to oversee adequate ICT infrastructure and its effective utilization

Points for future action (Policy, recommendations, commitments etc.)

  • What can we learn from the experience of developing ICT applications and OERs and from their application? How do we ensure that they are culturally and socially relevant?

There is an agreement for a mixed mode of delivery using some face to face, using partner colleges, teleconference, and other forms of study centres. User guided management system such as moodle which is affordable and flexible. Use of cultural aspects in the learning system, it provides an opportunity for sharing the culture of different countries; it also helps students to identify with the content. This is important to the learning process. The element of culture can be maintained by collaboration of institutions in the delivery of a course. It can be modified to reflect the culture and language of the country where there are students. This was considered as a good thing for south-south collaboration. The need for student exchange missions face to face and internet collaboration.

  • Are there examples of ICTs that can facilitate cross-sector collaboration? Yes. Illuminate, Skype, etc. The online collaborative book, Education for a Digital World, is an example of an achievement. However, some pitfalls are that: often the teacher and learner are more cautious when it is an online course and when things are in print (i.e., permanent); not all teachers are comfortable with collaborating via technology and using technology, which inhibits use. Also, teachers are content experts but not necessarily tech experts. However, synchronous learning combines the best of both—social online learning is successful if all online tools are being used effectively. We could all benefit from more examples of how to benefit from collaboration through technology—maybe topic for another conference??

  • Q3: Through innovative approaches, can we mitigate the widening of the digital divide? What innovations cam we learn from?

Building technical capacity for ICT (instructional) design, and LMS that are currently available (i.e, Moodle) to apply and customize them to make them appropriate. Technical support people are crucial to being able to put courses on line. Many teachers also leave their jobs for better opportunities once they start to gain ICT skills through professional development—Gov’t needs to bridge the gap between leaders and teachers in order to keep the teachers in their positions. An example is the Government in Nigeria providing laptops and phones to their students. Awareness of how/why ICT is needed should be supported, using a holistic approach (top down), mobilizing populations—legal, finance, educationalists—exposing them to using things that we have like regional or local centers for students to use and have eLearning programs parallel with existing programs. Nigeria, NTL and Celtel maintain internet cafes. Infrastructure is important for the holistic approach, power supply problems need to be addressed.