THE IMPORTANCE OF E-LEARNING IN THE PROCESS OF LIFE-LONG EDUCATION OF TEACHERS
Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering (MACEDONIA)
The first part is dealing with terminology issues. For many authors, the concepts: Independent Learning, Self-Learning, Open Learning, Distance Learning, e-Learning, Online Learning, Distance Education etc. are used as synonyms. However, we have to take into account the significant differences between these and similar concepts.
Follows a brief explanation of where e-Learning is applicable and how. It has wide range of usability, from informal courses to the serious university courses. Nowadays, despite the fact that e-Learning has less than half a century of experience, it is considered as a serious concurrent to traditional education. E-Learning could include different educational technologies. There is no right or wrong technology for e-Learning. Each medium and each technology for delivering it has its own strengths and weaknesses. In this discussion we can include also the importance of the interactions and communications, as well as, the standards in the field, including SCORM, AICC, IEEE, IMS, ADL, ARIADNE, ISO, and etc.
The central part is devoted to the crucial role of e-Learning for teacher’s professional development. E-Learning is supposed to be used by the teachers as a part of their professional development, i.e. in the framework of their life-long education and training. What are the main advantages of e-Learning? Conformity, equal opportunities, reusability, etc. We have to also be aware of the possible obstacles of using e-Learning from the teachers’ perspective, including language barriers, lack of computer literacy, difficulties in changing the habits for some teachers that prefer paper-based and face-to-face learning. If less experienced teachers in ICT are not carefully guided through Internet and e-Learning tools they could develop a resistance to the new technologies. This is also true for less motivated teachers.
There are numerous powerful e-Learning software platforms that could be used for teachers’ e-Learning training. Some of the successful stories are BlackBoard, WebCT (acquired by rival Blackboard in 2006), MOODLE (Modular Open Oriented Distance Learning Environment), eFront, Dokeos, Claroline, Atutor, ILIAS, OLAT, Sakai, and .LRN. The author proposes MOODLE as a representative free Course Management System (CMS), Learning Management System (LMS), and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Web-based learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments. The main advantages of MOODLE are explained in detail.
The final part discusses the concepts of organizing e-Learning process for teachers and what issues and challenges they should include. Among them, preparation, adaptation the curriculum and teaching styles to meet learners’ needs, implementation of active learning methods, understanding the characteristics of technology used, awareness about the role and importance of multimedia, animations, simulation and interactivity, as well as their proper combining in e-Learning courses, and adoption and integration of the most respectable European and world standards, policies and recommendations in the sphere of e-Learning.