Improving Services to Online Learners essay

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has become a powerful tool for participating in global market, for improving the delivery of basic services and enhancing local development opportunities. (http://sdnhq. undp. org/it4dev/) Traditionally, learning happens in a typical classroom setting; with the physical presence of a teacher and students to exchange information and to discuss a particular lesson. However, with the rapid advancement in the field of Information and Communications Technology, a lot of trends emerge especially in the field of education.

The education sector continues to seek for change and opportunities to improve the quality of education. The education sector has also adopted the challenges in ICT in incorporating technologies in delivering instructions. The education sector has also been challenged by these technologies since they know for a fact that these can strengthen the quality of education. One best example of this is the birth of online learning or distance education. This setup happens not in a real classroom setting.

This is advantageous for some students who opt to stay home and still be able to gain a degree. With this type of education and learning, many grabs the opportunity. Online Learning or Distance Education is widely applied these days by some universities. Distance Education is new field in Education that focuses on pedagogy, instructional design and technology that is intended to deliver education to students who cannot be physically present in a classroom.

Classes do not happen in a classroom setting; instead teachers and students communicate in their own chosen time through e-mail or any other technology that allows them to exchange information such as teleconferencing, instant messaging communities and the like. The type of technologies available for online learning can either be synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous technology happens when learning occurs in different places but at the same time such as using telephone, broadcast video, internet chat, videoconferencing and net meeting.

On the other hand, Asynchronous technology happens when learning occurs in different places but at different times such as using fax machine, email and other printed materials. Types of distance education courses includes Correspondence conducted through regular mail, internet conducted either through synchronous or asynchronous technology, Pocket PC or Mobile Learning and Telecourse or broadcast. (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Distance_education) Distance Education technologies are expanding at an extremely rapid rate in the education sector today.

In some cases, educational institutions have become enthralled by the latest technology without taking into consideration the issues underlying it. Successful distance education system involves interactivity among the students, the teacher and its learning environment. Interactivity is not just limited to audio and video or just solely student-teacher interactions. It also represents connectivity the students feel with the distance teacher and their peers.

Without connectivity, distance learning can be reduced to the traditional way of delivering classroom instruction. An effective distance education should not be an isolated form of learning but it should approach and authentic learning experience. Adult learners may come with a variety of reason of pursuing distance education. These can be constraints of distance, time and finances and the ability to come in contact with other students. However, effective learning requires knowledge of learner styles and the advance preparation for the teacher or facilitator.

Site facilitator has the advantage of personal and eye-to-eye contact with students in the classroom whereas studio teachers often rely on recorded lectures, televised images and emails for feedback on student preference. (Sherry, 1996) Successful distance learners have common characteristics: ? They do just as well without people looking over their shoulders and they are able to motivate themselves and they set their own goals. ? They rarely procrastinate because they enjoy the freedom of working at their own pace instead of waiting for an entire class to finish their work.

? They have good reading comprehension skills because they are expected to master material through reading alone. These students are able to comprehend texts without the direct guidance of a teacher. ? They can resist constant distractions since they can handle constant disturbances such as phone ringing, kids screaming or the allure of the television. They feel comfortable turning down an invitation when they know there is work to be done. ? They feel alright without missing the social elements of traditional schools since they are convinced that independence is absolutely worth it.