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A Review of the Impact of ICT on Learning - page 12 / 26

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achievements and on the way ICT is used in education. It throws light on the question of whether ICT should be a supplementary tool or an enabler of change and innovation.

In its report on the use of eLearning in tertiary education, the OECD (2005) distinguishes four different levels, depending on how prominent the eLearning tools are in courses:

Web-supplemented courses focus on such as putting a course outline and online resources.

classroom-based teaching but include elements lecture notes online, use of e-mail and links to

  • Web-dependent courses require students to use the Internet for key elements of the programme such as online discussions, assessment, or online project/collaborative work, but without significant reduction in classroom time.

  • In mixed mode courses, the e-learning element begins to replace classroom time. Online discussions, assessment, or project/collaborative work replace some face-to- face teaching and learning. But significant campus attendance remains part of the mix.

  • In fully online courses, students can follow courses offered by a university in one city from another town, country or time zone.

The types of e-learning offered by universities range right across the e-learning spectrum, but in most campus-based institutions, the growth of e-learning has not altered the fact that face- to-face classroom teaching remains central. Contrary to the predictions, distance online learning in general and cross-border e-learning by students outside the country where the institution’s central campus is located have yet to emerge as significant activities. In most institutions, cross-border enrolments for e-learning are small-scale, peripheral activities and fully online courses account for less than 5% of total enrolments. Most e-learning activity is thus related to modules, or segments of a course, reflecting the dominance of e-learning as supplementary tool (OECD 2005).

But it could be that in the short to medium term, universities are less concerned with developing fully online courses. They are concentrating more on improving their on-campus programmes by using e-learning to offer increased flexibility and better access to learning content. It seems that ICT has indeed had more impact on administrative services such as admissions, registration, fee payment and purchasing than on the fundamentals of classroom teaching and learning. As a result, the OECD (2005) concludes that eLearning has not really revolutionised learning and teaching.

There are many reasons for this, such as resistance by teachers as a result of lack of time, motivation, support, reward, coupled with insufficient ICT and eLearning literacy. Educational institutions are also concerned about intellectual property rights when providing learning content online. Furthermore, they may be unconvinced by the promise of lower costs compared to conventional campus-based provision of courses. There is little evidence for this, at least in the short term, though there is a belief that eLearning could have a positive impact on costs in the medium term. This could be done by increasing the number of students taking online courses, using open source software and open source content, by more re-use of learning content and greater course standardization.

But costs are not, and should not be, the only concern. Course standardization, for example, should not reduce the diversity and creativity of learning modes and course content. The overall qualitative enhancement of the student experience is also important and is also a positive argument for increasing the use of ICT in education (OECD 2005).

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