IJCRR - Vol 03 Issue 08, August, 2011
Date of Publication: 30-Nov--0001
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CREATION AND APPLICATION OF WEB TOOLS FOR EFFECTIVE DISTANCE LEARNING
Author: C.Manoharan, M. Jeyakumaran
Category: General Sciences
Abstract:The proliferation of information and communication technology has brought profound changes in the
availability and accessibility of information. It enables the learners of flexible learning to stimulate a
virtual learning. The World Wide Web technology as a vehicle for disseminating course materials and
its arrival has triggered the beginning of some fundamental changes in teaching, training, and selfdirected
learning. In this paper the authors highlight the different categories of web-based learning,
software tools used in web-based learning, equipment and requirements for creating electronic portfolio
and the uses of web-tools in distance education.
The rapid development in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) provides tools such as computers, interactive multimedia CD-ROMs, E-mail and Internet. The use of such well advanced technologies has now enabled the learners of flexible learning to stimulate a virtual learning and take the learners to virtual campus wherein teacher-learner interaction becomes possible in the cyberspace. The flexible teaching-learning strategies provide high quality education and ensuring equity in educational opportunities, particularly to the disadvantaged like physically challenged adult learners etc. The World Wide Web technology as a vehicle for disseminating course materials and for creating active learning experiences within a classroombased course.
Web-based communication is seen by many as the key technological innovation of the last decade of the twentieth century. Web-based communication has attracted the attention of educators and trainers to the idea of distance education in a way that no earlier technology managed to do. The explosive growth of this technology, applied in designing and delivering instructional programs and in facilitating learner-instructor and learner-learner interactions in Web-based delivery of distance education. Web-based learning is a major sub-component of the term ?e-learning‘ with which instruction is delivered. It seeks to serve learners at some distance from their learning facilitator. It attempts to serve learners interacting with the learning source and thus it reduces the barriers of time and space to learning.
CATEGORIES OF WEB-BASED LEARNING
Web-based learning has the following formats within ?learning context? i.e. how and when a learner encounters and undertakes the content (Robert H. Jackson, 2004)
ASYNCHRONOUS FORMAT (DIRECTED STUDY FORMAT)
In Asynchronous format learners rely on some structured plan that directs the learner through learning experiences without real-time interaction from an instructor. Self Study may be supplemented by asynchronous interaction with the instructor, for instance through email, voice mail, comments from threaded discussions. The majority of today's ?on-line learning‘ is in the ?directed study‘ format. ?Self Study‘ requires the learner to have a highly developed internal selfmotivation characteristic. Failure to have such internal drive leads to higher dropout rate of correspondence learner compared to traditional residential learners on most campuses.
SYNCHRONOUS FORMAT („LIVE, REALTIME? LEARNING)
In Synchronous format learners rely on the instructor. Here, some commonly shared experience or event generally occurring in realtime with highly interactive and structurally dynamic is led by the instructor. Instructor-led events have the capability to dynamically react to real-time environments and change the plan of study or flow of learning to meet the needs of learners at that particular time. This engagement style helps sustain learner interest and probably contributes to reduction of dropout rate.
SMALL GROUP COLLABORATION
Small group collaboration is an informal context defined as that informal education that goes on learner-to-learner gathering in hallways and libraries between classes and informally digests and shares their learning experiences. This learning method depends on learner-learner interaction rather than learner-content interaction. Small Group Collaborative activity may utilize asynchronous tools such as email, threaded discussion groups, listserves as well as use of synchronous tools such as telephone, text chat etc. Research indicates that successful incorporation of small group collaborative learning activities both increase the learner's satisfaction with the learning process and can decrease the time required from an instructor in administering and structuring a course or programmes.
SOFTWARE TOOLS IN WEB-BASED LEARNING
There are several software tools used in webbased learning in the context of what general and administrative functions they address (Robert H. Jackson, 2004). They are;
These are multimedia creation tools. A multimedia professional uses these tools to create media that can either stand-alone or be added as a module into a management system. Examples range from simple tools like Microsoft PowerPoint to sophisticated, programmable tools like Macromedia's "Director" and "Author ware" software. These tools are used to develop content for all the content delivery systems.
ADVANCED COLLABORATION TOOLS
Advanced Collaboration tools (Real-time Virtual Classroom) is a software product that facilitates the synchronous, real-time delivery of content or interaction by the web, but is not necessarily intended to comprehensively measure performance over time or handle course administrative tasks. Place ware Auditorium andCentre‘s Conference products are examples of real-time virtual classrooms.
ASYNCHRONOUS DELIVERY TOOLS
These tools used to embrace a wide range of learning management. Within a Learning Management System (LMS), learners generally are provided an integrated view of all their active coursework and assignments in a "syllabus" spanning multiple courses and that provides comprehensive assessment and goals tracking. Bryan Chapman (2004) categorized the systems based on the capability to accommodate third party materials. These systems accommodate learning content from other sources than that they themselves deliver. Bryan Chapman (2004) distinguished the two vendors: Computermanaged instruction (CMI) and integratedinfrastructure system provide distinct sets of services.
If third-party courseware is among one‘s priorities, choose a CMI system. CMIs are open system one can attach third-party courses and they tend to focus on self-paced courses. The drawback of CMIs is they focus little on the community aspect of learning. CMIs include Docent, Ingenium, Manager's Edge, Librarian, Phoenix and WBT Manager
INTEGRATED-INFRASTRUCTURE OR INTERNET-INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEM
Integrated-infrastructure system does not accommodate third-party courses as well. On the other hand, it accommodates a mix of selfpaced, virtual and live-classroom training. Internet-infrastructure systems tend to be quick starters. They tend not to be self-paced, instead focusing on collaboration and involvement of an instructor. The drawback of Integratedinfrastructure systems is they may not recognize courses created elsewhere. Examples of integrated-infrastructure systems include Generation21, Mentor ware, Top Class, Virtual U, Web Course in a Box, WebCT, and WebMentor.
An electronic portfolio is a web or otherwise electronically based compilation of documents, images, and projects that relate to a learner's professional development. It can contain items from simple to complicated visual art presentation. The traditional storage format for portfolios in education is paper-based, usually in folders, boxes, or three-ring binders hold papers, pictures, cassette tapes, larger containers and more. With an electronic portfolio, information can be stored digitally on a computer hard drive or some sort of removable media such as floppy disk, Zip disk, CD-ROM, etc. Documents can be stored in many digital formats such as text documents, pictures files, web pages, digital video and presentation files. This electronic information takes up very little physical space and is easily accessed. In an electronic portfolio one can easily add text, sound, pictures, graphics, and even video. A standards-based portfolio uses a database or hypertext links to clearly show the relationship between the standards or goals, artefacts and reflections. Electronic Portfolios are a creative means of organizing, summarizing, and sharing artefacts, information, and ideas about teaching and learning, along with personal and professional growth. A portfolio is a sampling of the breadth and depth of a person's work conveying the range of abilities, attitudes, experiences, and achievements. Learners can gain valuable computer skills while creating or editing parts of their own electronic portfolios. Often, the terms Electronic Portfolio and Digital Portfolio are used interchangeably; however there is a distinction: an Electronic Portfolio contains artefacts that may be in analog form, such as a video tape, or may be in computer- readable form; in a Digital Portfolio, all artefacts have been transformed into computer-readable form. An electronic portfolio is not a haphazard collection of artefacts (i.e., a digital scrapbook or a multimedia presentation) but rather a reflective tool that demonstrates growth over time. (Barrett, 2000). An ideal Electronic Portfolio should include the following: i. a brief biographical sketch ii. Include one‘s resume, copies of documents, licenses, tests, etc. iii. a description of the classes one has taught (in brief), include grade level iv. describe one‘s teaching philosophy, one‘s teaching style, and include why he or she teaches v. demonstrate one‘s continuing education and creativity vi. include copies of recent lesson or unit plans one has used with photos of class engaged in the activities; student papers, even a video clip in action, and photos of classroom vii. letters of commendation, evaluations, recognition or honours one has received
EQUIPMENTS FOR CREATING AN ELECTRONIC PORTFOLIO
To create an electronic portfolio the following equipments are required; i. A Computer works best with video input and output and with RAM. ii. A colour flat-bed scanner is the best choice. iii. A Digital Camera with close-focus adjustment (e.g. Cannon VizCam). It also allows one to capture video and take single frame pictures. iv. A Hand-held Digital Camera used at the time of a field trip, or out to recess. v. Multimedia Software Programme or Web Authoring Programme. Multimedia Software Programme used portfolios can be easily learnt and it allows the learner a great deal of flexibility. If one does not want or need a lot of multimedia features like sound and videos, may use a web authoring programme to create electronic portfolios. A web authoring programme changes the format of graphics so that they take up very little space, so portfolios would take up much less hard drive space. Once the portfolio is completed, it could be uploaded to the internet so that it could be shared with educators, friends, and relatives around the world.
REQUIREMENTS OF AN ELECTRONIC PORTFOLIO
An electronic portfolio should fulfil the following requirements; i. Each portfolio should be designed for electronic access on the web. ii. Each portfolio should include a table of contents and an opening narrative that highlights how one‘s portfolio meets the professional standards. iii. A personal statement of educational philosophy and a current resume are also the required elements for every portfolio. Seminar and class discussions, papers, and teaching experiences should assist the person in shaping the philosophy statement. iv. The portfolio should contain evidence of one‘s teaching and learning that represents one as a professional educator. Examples may include lesson and unit plans, digitized photos or video and audio clips, selfassessments or reflections, evaluations and assessments, professional development activities, class organization and management information, research, and the integration of interactive technologies into the classroom. v. Each piece of work or evidence should contain a caption, annotation, or shore narrative to explain how this piece connects to one‘s learning and the professional standards. The electronic portfolio is not an electronic scrapbook or a fancy multimedia presentation. One‘s portfolio should International Journal of Current Research and Review www.ijcrr.com Vol. 03 issue 08 August 2011 90 demonstrate that one has the knowledge, skills and perspectives to be an effective educator and that one is capable of translating pedagogical knowledge into practice. The portfolio should contain thoughtful responses about each item that connects with one‘s teaching philosophy in relation to professional standards.
MERITS OF WEB-BASED LEARNING
Web-Based Learning has the following advantages: i. Fosters meaning-making, discourse ii. Moves from knowledge transmission to learner-controlled systems iii. Provides for reciprocal teaching iv. Is learner-centered. Self-paced learning is possible in this method v. Encourages active participation, knowledge construction vi. Based on higher level thinking skills -- analysis, synthesis, and evaluation vii. Promotes active learning viii. Allows group collaboration and cooperative learning ix. Provides multiple levels of interaction x. Focuses on real-world, problem solving xi. More and recent information related to a topic can be accesses and delivered. xii. Updated information is available in the web sites. xiii. More information will be gathered in short duration of time. So energy and time will be saved. xiv. Abstract concept can be easily explained with the help of animation and graphics. xv. It can be used for increasing course delivery for a large number of clients at a particular point of time. xvi. Learners on- the- job are facilitated by it for own-time access and interaction. xvii. Instructional materials are already instructionally designed for wider use. xviii. Web-based instruction will be more effective at higher education and research level.
The World Wide Web has streamlined the communication process across the world. It is very useful for learners due to its ability to remove time and space barriers. It is more effective when combined with the synchronous media. This process is immensely useful for distant learners because it is highly interactive and cost effective. It is the easiest and the most popular way to access the internet. The web has also emerged as recent mode of instruction. Because of the E-mail, internet, World Wide Web (WWW) and easy access to remote database, the distance learner have new opportunities to find information at the press of a computer key. The web designers, educationists, cognitive psychologists and scientists are looking forward at how the instruction can be organized and presented effectively through web sits. Web courses are exciting and, if designed properly, can provide valuable and active learning experiences.
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