August 2008

New Communication Technologies in Distance Education

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The new technologies are facilitating learning to different groups scattered at different locations, helping them in accessing the course content online. The implementation of e-learning can be understood in terms of the diffusion of technology, a process that involves not only logical reasoning, economic considerations and technical skills, but also, and perhaps decisively, the sentiments and frame of reference of the teachers, students and decision makers who are to be the end users


According to Everett Rogers (2003) the perceived attributes of innovations are: Relative advantage (how the innovation is perceived to be an improvement), compatibility (consistency with existing experience, values and needs), complexity (perceived difficulty in understanding and using an innovation), trialability (the degree to which an innovation can be experimented with), and observability (how visible the results of an innovation are to others).

Each of these five very useful concepts can be seen to have an ''external'' dimension that can be measured and quantified, and an ''internal'' dimension, the perception, that is relative to the individual. In order to distinguish clearly between these two dimensions as well as to bring out the complexity of introducing ICT solutions in a learning environment, we have chosen to combine diffusion theory of analysis of the observability on how these new information technologies are effectively used by the end users.

Despite this new trend a very few research has been done on the impact this new change has brought in meeting student's learning needs and expectations, and learner's ability to use these technology effectively, during their study. This research will focus on the types of types of Physical learning environments or resources learners use for online studying. Here a physical learning environment is defined as the place or physical surroundings where a student can gain knowledge or skills either by themselves, or by interaction with a teacher or other students.

Objectives of the study

Following broad based objectives were derived for his study.

  • To identify the types of physical learning environments and resources used by the students.
  • To analyze the theory and practice on the use of online teaching and learning.
  • To inform the course designers and teachers to apply appropriate teaching strategies and students support systems to meet the needs and demands of students.
  • To inform the appropriateness of the physical learning environment as an important component in the design of course materials and support systems to meet the needs and demands of students.

Methodology

The main aim of the study is to assess the place or physical surroundings where a student can gain knowledge either by themselves or by interaction with teachers and fellow students. How the students use the internet resources for their learning purpose. The research is done by using a survey technique. The survey is divided into two sections.

The first section asked the participant (Both distance education/Regular) questions relating to the types of information gathering techniques used for their study.

How often they have participated in different learning environments? The types of resources they have used in their previous study. Responses are collected on a four point likert-type scale ranging from

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