E-learning, the digital and higher education

[24-06-2020 04:24 PM]

AMMONNEWS - By Dr. Yousef Ibrahim Daradkeh - We are currently witnessing big changes in the world. The current financial crisis due to recession and the facing of new challenges everywhere, resulting due to increase of educated people and better access to information.

The idea of more people being educated has raised the expectations of educated youth which has brought great opportunities for human development. As a result of this new knowledge is required to cope with such challenges. And Universities are among those universities that need to address and adjust to this “new and brave world”. As much of the change has been mediated by digital technology we need to consider every forms of electronic mediation as the case of e-learning.

From a more traditional view point this places University in the centre as a house of knowledge. We need to further enhance University roles to address the need to train not only young people but also to recycle and harness the knowledge of experienced professionals. This is more of a need rather than the result of an increase in complexity and global competition that places every school and institution global education map and not just from our local perspective (being a city, a region or even a nation).

What is on the stake is our ability to address challenges of training people with an updated knowhow to perform work in worldwide standards and maintain cultural identity. The issue of culture and historical identity is becoming even more crucial in order to address not just the values but provide a unique perspective that can have added value and become useful for the changing attitude of the masses.

The importance of groups and the collective must be fuelled by the involvement of each individual, their training and knowledge enhancement can be an opportunity for the society – higher education can do it and make the way to get better and more educated people for advancement of society. As a result of this digital mediation can be an excellent tool to reach and promote each university with its own qualities and provide people with new channels to interact. Those e-learning channels can be explored in three main modalities:

(1) in e-learning pure interaction should take place, where the unique contact between those who study (students) and the university staff (professors) is made by electronic means, normally Web based communications;
(2) B-learning where b comes from blended which means that e-learning facilities are used both as an alternative and complement presentation classes, mixing the ability to have remotely present study with the traditional way of interaction between students and professors; and the last alternative is

(3) Using e-learning to complement presently classes where some sort of digital facilities are used to organize and get together to further consult, communicate and later access to past activity.

In the context of University, e-learning places some challenge which are independent of the e-learning modalities adopted (or mix of them). It is true that we have new connections to students and provide more alternatives to deal with travel costs, time restrictions and provide more ways to reuse and distribute content – been those some of the advertised advantages of using e-learning. But there is also a but …, we need to prepare and make a rubric to introduce e-learning. A number of issues must be placed on the table for discussion like the quality and existence of an Internet infrastructure, servers and Internet access, the cost and availability of personal Internet access and the widespread availability of computers, and more recently mobile devices. These are the requirements of hardware and we have seen huge advances in the last decades due to globalization and recent growth of android devices like tablets that provide ways to a more easy and cheap access to technology.

Although the so called hardware conditions are important, they are not the unique ones to consider. The challenge of using e-learning is more related with the need to address pedagogic strategies for using digital content and turning on the relationship between students and professors, more independently as the need to rely on student self learning abilities rather in the traditional process of the professor oriented flow for learning. As a result, existent context must be transformed and some new strategies must be placed to explore e-learning possibilities (that need also to consider the growing number of mobile devices and its use).

As a result of growing number of mobile devices in higher education there is an idea of mobile learning. The challenge is that, with such ideas also comes the need to get more individual responsibility for each student and this is a considerable change in the teaching and learning process.
We can expect the explosion of the digital content as well the growing availability and use of mobile devices will force some changes in the way Universities are giving their classes and the way in which we interact (students and professors). This can be the best way to see e-learning as a real, but challenging opportunity to improve learning and a thrust to reach and educate more people for our dynamic world.

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