Technology advancement and application has been in application in almost all fields of the economy. Technology is associated with both positive and negative effects according to a specific situation and what it is able to achieve. Information Technology – enabled online learning is utilized in learning institutions. It entails the use of different technologies aimed at enhancing teaching and learning.
Enhanced learning is realized by employing a variety of media, especially the visual effects that help the students to get a clear picture of what is being taught. Information Technology – enabled online learning integrates audience response technology, effective learning software, and networking (Anonymous 2011). This paper investigates the aspect of Information Technology – enabled online learning and the relevant technologies that are utilized.
Information Technology – enabled online learning has been a product of development and adoption of Technology in the education sector. Traditionally, learning practically occurred in physical classrooms where teachers and students came together to allow the learning process to take place.
In the event of the need for some practical experience, there was some assembly of some equipment in a separate room (such as a laboratory) and the teachers together with the students engaged in the practical experiments to supplement the skills and knowledge acquired in the classroom. Learning was only possible through physical contact with the students and the teachers.
With the advancement of technology, such as the streaming of video on the web, the need to have a classroom as a meeting point is no more. This is because Information Technology – enabled online learning technologies have facilitated listening of lectures from any place.
Recording of what transpires in a lecture room has also avoided the problem of having to obtain the information together with the rest of the students as one can always listen at a convenient time and as many times as possible (Shelly, Cashman, and Vermaat 2007).
Some of the technologies include multimedia on the internet, for instance, streaming audio, push technologies and data channels which are used to feed information from relevant sites for use in a classroom, audio chat and voice over internet protocol for communication purposes, web whiteboarding; a form of graphic conferencing, instant messaging for urgent and fast communication and learning and knowledge objects which are integrated into lessons to enhance learning.
There are also hand-held and wireless technologies, all facilitating transmission of information from the instructor to students. Peer- to peer file sharing is also a technology that is utilized in online learning. It is very useful in the exchange of learning objects and units of learning hence providing teachers and students with a wealth of knowledge (McGreal et al. 2004).
The availability of different technologies has enhanced online learning through smart classrooms where interactive communication and collaboration instruments such as chat rooms, electronic forums like teleconferencing, and email applications, among others, are used.
Online learning has changed people’s perception of learning, with most of them appreciating the fact that effective learning does not have to occur in a physical classroom as long as the objectives of learning are achieved (Marzano and Paynter 2001).
According to Nakashima, Aghajan and Augusto (2009), Information Technology – enabled online learning has brought a lot of positive changes in the education system most notably the possibility of effective distance education programs that entail learning from a remote place without necessarily having to be involved physically in a classroom but rather to obtain significant information on various subjects, doing the required assignments and submitting them online.
It has been made possible through the utilization of various technological aspects like networking and online applications like chat rooms, emails as well as different social networking applications that have enabled effective sharing and dissemination of information.
Smart classroom technology also enables instructors to handle the remote and the local students effectively simultaneously and allows them to have control of the presentations in terms of what should be provided and what should be left out. This has been an effective learning method that saves on resources like time.
There are, however, some challenges that are associated with Information Technology – enabled online learning. They include expenses incurred in the purchase and maintenance of the various equipment as well as training aimed at equipping the people involved with the required skills and knowledge to make the overall process a success.
Another challenge is that most learning institutions prefer to buy some equipment that is relatively cheap, and they tend to become obsolete easily with the advancement of technology, making them have to purchase new ones every now and then a procedure that is expensive and inconveniencing.
Lack of the required skills is also an issue of concern as it hinders effective learning. Some instructors do not also have an understanding of the purpose of Information Technology – enabled online learning and their responsibilities, and they see it as a form of relieving them the agony of teaching, which should not be the case (Shelly and Vermaat 2010).
From my personal experience in Technology-enabled online learning, I have found the advantages to surpass the drawbacks, and for this reason, am fully in support of online learning. First, there is the aspect of convenience where one can learn from any point without necessarily having to go to a physical classroom, courtesy of the networking technologies that enable transmission of information over long distances however remote they may be.
The essence of recording the lectures has also enhanced life in general since one is able to plan and prioritize work appropriately without necessarily having to attend class whenever the lecturer or tutor is presenting. However, there are some challenges that I have encountered in the course of online learning, for instance, interrupted internet connection. Lack of personal contact is also an aspect that I experience, making me prefer a traditional classroom.
It is evident that the aspect of online learning is a positive move in the education system. It was, in a great way, facilitated the learning process through the utilization of the various technologies that allow better understanding since some aspects could be better understood using a certain media as opposed to the other.
Through the application of online learning technologies in the education sector, learning has been enhanced through the creation of a superior, innovative, and favorable environment that facilitates aspects of learning such as distance learning that was not possible prior to the introduction of the technologies.
The remaining part is the improvement of the effectiveness of online learning settings to cater to emerging learning needs and the changing rate of Technology.
Anonymous, 2011. “Smart Classroom”. NUIT, Northwestern University.
Marzano N and Paynter P, 2001. A Handbook for Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
McGreal et al. 2004. Technologies of Online Learning (E-learning).
Nakashima H, Aghajan H and Augusto CJ, 2009. Handbook of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments. New York: Springer
Shelly, GB. and Vermaat EM, 2010. Discovering Computers 2011-Introductory: Living in a Digital World. Boston, MA, Cengage Learning
Shelly, GB, Cashman JT and Vermaat EM 2007. Microsoft Office 2007: Brief Concepts and Techniques. Boston, MA, Cengage Learning