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Attitudes towards E-Learning:

Literature Review
DEFINITION OF THE E-LEARNING E-learning is the acquisition and use of knowledge distributed and facilitated primarily by electronic means. This form of learning currently depends on networks and computers, but will likely evolve into systems consisting of a variety of channels (e.g., wireless, satellite), and technologies (e.g., cellular phones, personal digital assistants) as they are developed and adopted. E-learning can take the form of courses as well as modules and smaller learning objects. E-learning may incorporate synchronous or asynchronous access and may be distributed geographically with varied limits of time. Some Notable E-Learning Definitions Various authors on this topic have provided many definitions on e-learning. Below are a few notable ones: 1. E-Learning is instruction that is delivered electronically, in part or wholly via a Web browser, through the Internet or an intranet, or through multimedia platforms such as CD-ROM or DVD. 2. E-Learning is a structured, purposeful use of electronic system or computer in support of the learning process. 3. E-Learning covers a wide set of applications and processes, such as Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It includes delivering content via the Internet, intranet/extranet (LAN/WAN), audio and videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, and CD-ROM. 4. E-learning is training delivered on a computer (including CD-ROM, Internet, or intranet) that is designed to support individual learning or organizational performance goals.

5. Web-based training [an alternate term for e-learning] is the integration of instructional practices and Internet capabilities to direct a learner toward a specified level of proficiency in a specified competency.

THE EVOLUTION TO E-LEARNING The E-learning models of today are analogous to the earlier distance learning approaches. The roots of E-learning can be, therefore, traced back to the correspondence course model of learning. One of the first correspondence programs in the U.S. was developed at Pennsylvania State University in 1892, where the main mission was to provide higher education access to remote and rural areas (Banas et al., 1998). In later years, the correspondence model was further developed into a more robust distance education program with the integration of technology. During its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s, school such as Penn State experimented with the use of radio to broadcast their correspondence course lessons nationally. To keep pace with the demand generated by the GI Bill in the 1950s, prestigious universities such as Columbia, Chicago, and Penn State launched several distance education programs. In recent years, the knowledge based economy has exhibited a pervasive and ever increasing demand for innovative ways of providing education and this has led to dramatic changes in learning technology as well as organizations. As the new economy requires more and more people to acquire new knowledge and skills in an appropriate and effective manner, the advancement of computer and networking technologies are providing a diverse means to support learning in a more personalized, flexible, portable and on-demand manner. These radical and sweeping changes in learning needs and technology have catapulted a revolutionary transition in modern learning tools in the backdrop of the internet, commonly referred to as e-learning. In the midst of this transition, corporations, government organizations, and educational institutions have to keep pace with the e-learning phenomenon and make strategic decisions on how to adopt e-learning techniques in their unique environments.

Practitioners and researchers agree that technological advances are dramatically altering the training and development landscape. In particular, the increased use of Internet technologies to deliver training has been heralded as the e-learning revolution. Although precise estimates for growth in e-learning vary, published estimates indicate that organizations have increased and will continue to increase the use of technology to deliver training. History Timeline of E-Learning E-learning evolved gradually through the phase of time. Computers and Internet are major roles in bring e-learning to what it is today. Education has various standards in many countries and regions. Softwares are designed to meet various these standards and academic curriculum. Below we shall discuss a brief timeline on the evolution of elearning. Instructor Led Training Prior to the availability of computers everywhere and with everyone, Instructor Led Training (ILD) was the primary training method. ILT allowed students to focus on their studies and to come in direct contact and interaction with their instructors and classmates. Drawbacks of ILT were high costs and time. Students had to ensure to take time off from all other activities and be enrolled into academic institutions and spend most of their time there. These also hiked and educational expenses whereby it was not easy for everyone to afford these standards. Multimedia Era (1984 to 1993) The mid 1980s and early 1990s saw a much changing computer era. Most of the people started to understand the importance of computers and it started to become a need rather than a luxury product. Various operating systems like Windows, Macintosh for Apple Computers with their easy to use Graphical User interface made it easy for the users to take a much more liking towards computers. Applications also evolved with higher standards focusing on the ease of use by the end-users. Microsofts Office package that

included standards day-to-day applications like MS-Word, MS-Excel, MS-PowerPoint, MS-Access and such added softwares made using programs easier. Out of this applications such as PowerPoint became handier tool for e-learning. CD-ROMs made it easier for these programs to be carried and stored easily rather than carrying multiple numbers of Floppy Disks. All this led to the advancement of the multimedia era. With the use of multimedia applications and in an attempt to make training more transportable and visually engaging, Computer Based Training (CBT) courses were delivered via CD-ROM. This availability of anytime, anywhere via CD-ROMs provide time and cost savings compared to the ILTs and gradually reshaped the training industry. These too had its disadvantages. Despite these benefits and saving of time and cost, these courses lacked the personal student-instructor interaction and dynamic presentations making the experience somewhat less satisfying. Students started to find it slower and less engaging. Introduction of Web - (1994 - 1999) Introduction of the internet and the World Wide Web, gave insights into training providers to explore its potentiality and find ways to improve training. The introduction of email, Web browsers, HTML, media players, low fidelity streamed audio/video and simple Java began to change the face of multimedia training. CBTs improved with text and graphics, but the graphics provided were of low quality. E-mails provided standards whereby CBTs and similar contents could be reached to students with ease, but care had to be taken for these files to be of small file size due to the Internet bandwidth capacity. The Next Generation Web (2000 to now) Various technology advancements have enhanced the way e-learning has shaped today. Application like Java and other IP (Internet Protocol) applications help streamlining rich media. Internet has evolved with high bandwidth lines enabling users to access large files

Easily and with speed. This has led to a combination of ILT along with electronic highway. Today, live instructor led training (ILT) via the Web can be combined with real-time mentoring, improved learner services and up-to-date. This growth in Internet, Web enables instructors to deliver high quality content directly to the users. With the evolution of PDA (Personal Desktop Assistants) and Smartphone and wireless technologies such as WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network), GPRS (Global Packet Radio Service) web based contents and emails can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. These enhanced training solutions provide greater cost savings, higher quality of learning experience and are the educational standards are being revolutionise and changing to adopt e-learning as the basis for many educations levels. Uses of E-Learning E-Learning is used in everywhere and across all types of areas. Businesses private or public sectors, non-profit organisations, NGOs (Non-governmental organisations) and educational institutions. E-learning is deployed with the objective of enhancing the students knowledge and cost saving. E-learning also helps to reach geographically dispersed groups, to provide anywhere-anytime learning, to provide consistency, to ensure compliance with regulations, and to improve productivity, to name just a few. Businesses used e-learning for introduction or orientation learning of the organizations and their products and services in addition to remedial training, to provide certifications, to promote products and services, to support organisational initiatives and to keep up to date with the latest softwares. Educational institutions used it for broadening the academic scope. E-learning can provide much more references and learning scopes than the ones provided in the usual text books. Class assignments can become assigned to the students and also submitted back using e-learning portals.

E-LEARNING DIMENSIONS Attitudes Previous researches found by and large a favorable attitude towards e-learning. For example, Peters (1993) explored the possible benefits provided by e-learning. Results show great conformity to deriving benefits of e-learning in both teaching and research. However, faculty members in this study expressed certain reservations regarding the future implementation of e-learning at the university; for example: One day the university will receive all its learning provision through e-learning, e-learning will help faculty members develop better teamwork and inter-personal skills and Implementing e-learning at the university will make faculty members flock to sophisticated technologies in teaching. These attitudes reflect faculty members lack of trust in one anothers ability in using advanced technologies in teaching as well as in building up teamwork spirit in the workplace. The most appreciated aspect of Web-enhanced instruction was the enhancement of communication opportunities with the course instructor, followed by the availability of instructors presentations through the internet, getting grades from the web, online submission of assignments, posing questions through the internet, saving time, thorough understanding of the course materials, and enhancing communication opportunities with classmates respectively. However, most female students preferred having a hardcopy of the course syllabus rather than printing it from the web. 2.3.2 Advantages Previous researches listed several advantages for e-learning. These include:

1. Obtaining grades from the Web. 2. Communication with the course instructor. 3. Discussions on course content through the discussion-board. 4. Easy access to course related materials. 5. Submitting assignments through the Web.

6. Enhancement of course understanding. 7. Communication with classmates.

In one study autonomy/freedom has been listed as the most common student response to the question of benefits of a virtual school course. Although, most students identified the teacher as the ultimate source of information, many students enjoyed the opportunity to work on their own and to figure out things for themselves without having to wait for their teacher to tell them what to do. Student wrote, You can challenge yourself, and get a real taste of what high school is going to be like You can see how well you can do without a teacher to always turn to. Another student put a slightly different spin on this theme: You dont get into trouble for doing nothing; you dont have to log on everyday. These students felt empowered and in control of their own learning and they appreciated the opportunity to make decisions about when, where, and for how long they worked on their cyber school tasks. This students statement encapsulates this sub-theme. I got to choose when I wanted to do parts of the course, like if I was sick I could leave or come back and do more later on. I could also do more at a time instead of having to quit when the bell rings. I didnt feel as rushed. Flexibility also has been listed as a major advantage of e-learning. Flexibility in a variety of forms was also an often-identified positive feature of the on-line school. Students were able to work at home, to get extra credits that did not fit into the regular school day, and/or to take a course that was not offered at their home school, particularly for the grade-8 students. The advantages can be summarized as follows: Flexibility, accessibility, convenience. Multimedia capability. Increased reliability. Cross-platform capabilities. Web browser software and Internet connections are widely available.

Inexpensive worldwide distribution. Ease of update. Just-in-time, personal, adaptive, user-centric. Travel cost and time savings. Can take it multiple times (improved retention, comprehension).

2.3.3 Disadvantages Every application has two sides. E-Learning also has its disadvantages:

Access capabilities: Application accessibility should be ensured 24x7x365. Internet connection speed/bandwidth: Care should be taken to ensure that students with low bandwidth also can access these. Cost (longer development time): The subsequent section will discuss about the various implementation barriers, but one of the observed factors here is the high cost and long time of development used in bringing an effective e-learning platform to its users.

Developer limitation: This is still a platform in its growing stages due to which the developers still have many limitations to consider in developing these platforms.

Type of content (not all content is suitable for e-learning): It has to be ensured that all contents provided are suitable for e-learning, but with the educational institutions are not yet ready to adapt to the e-learning capabilities due to which many of the contents cannot be adopted to the e-learning platforms.

Learner motivation and initiative: Students are used to ILTs and hence the adoption to an e-learning platform is still at the beginning stages. For this, the initiatives of the users have to be developed upon and the interest level has to be increased.

Loss of a live (physically present): Instructor may cause concern for some learners and lack of instructors may not be perceived as a positive sign at many educational institutions. This can be perceived negatively and hence poses a threat to the growth of e-learning.

Portability: E-learning platforms should be made portable and compatible to all computer applications via CDs, DVDs and Internet.

Implementation Barriers Several barriers to the implementation of e-learning had previously been identified in the literature. The examples are: 1. Increased time commitment (workload) for academic staff. 2. Development time. 3. Delivery time. 4. Lack of extrinsic incentives/rewards. 5. Lack of strategic planning and visions. 6. Lack of support. 7. Lack of training in technological developments. 8. Lack of support for pedagogical aspects of developments. Differences In Attitudes Toward E-Learning Based On Gender Previous research generally found no differences between males and females in attitudes towards e-learning. Generally speaking, gender does not have an obvious effect on the students level of acceptance in applying e-learning for business courses. However, the means for males almost always appeared to be higher than those for females. Differences in Attitudes towards E-Learning Based On Educational Levels Generally speaking, the experience of applying e-learning has been found to play an important role in e-learning. For example, in one study the survey results indicated that the students who opted e-learning for business courses were found to be much more willing to utilize e-learning again. It is easy to see that students who applied for elearning for business courses have a positive attitude and inclination towards the elearning.

The Future As discussed earlier, e-learning has already revolutionized the educational patterns in all areas. E-Learning is not limited to the boundaries of academic institutions like schools, colleges and universities but is applicable to all kinds of areas where leaning is a continuous process. We shall now discuss as to various aspects that will be affected by the introduction of e-learning.

E-Learning Web Services Today companies offer their applications to scale and meet the requirements of small, medium and large scale organizations. E-Learning is not just limited to academic qualifications but to all levels were learning is a continuous process. E-Learning service providers will also start to look at this kind of product scalability where it is affordable to all. Use of ASP (Application Service Provider) based applications will be of greater advantage towards e-learning. An ideal e-learning ASP-based product will enable multiple authoring permissions with editorial hierarchy. This will not only be for content publishers within the corporation, but also for other developers and development companies that are partners with the organization. Many IT courses and administration today happens over the Internet. Microsoft, Cisco and other major software and application vendors conduct their learning and evaluations over the Internet. Product updates and improvements from e-learning ASP based companies will simultaneously occur across their entire client base, enabling faster deployment, lower cost per user and more profit potential.