The term ‘e-Learning’ means ‘electronic Learning’ that encompasses all forms of technology enhanced learning. e-Learning is the use of technology to enable people to learn anytime and anywhere. e-Learning can include training, the delivery of just-in-time information and guidance from experts. These services are delivered, enabled or mediated by ICT (Information & Communication Technology) for the purposes of delivering education.
e-Learning is a catch-all term that covers a wide range of instructional material that can be delivered on a CD-ROM or DVD, over a local area network (LAN), or on the Internet. It includes Computer-Based Training (CBT), Web-Based Training (WBT), Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS), distance or online learning and online tutorials. The major advantage to students is its easy access.
The education sector of Bangladesh has been suffering from many deficiencies including quality teachers, quality content and quality environment. So, at present great challenge faced by Bangladesh is to create a ‘Knowledge based Society’ and ensure that their citizens are equipped with knowledge and skill of Information & Communication Technology (ICT). There is potential that using ICT in the education sector, the costs can be brought down. It also improves the quality of education and imparts uniformity. If the country wants to enhance the concern over the significance and excellence of education then it is essential to expand educational opportunities to all, including most vulnerable group, like low income and less skilled people, girls and women, children out of school as well as illiterate youths and adults.
Generally e-Learning is seen as offering solutions to several challenges currently facing in education sector. e-Learning can improve the quality of education by:
* providing access to a range of resources and materials which may not otherwise be available or accessible, for example graphics, sound, animation, multimedia
* giving control to students over when and where they study
* allowing students to study at their own pace
* providing a student centred learning environment which can be tailored to meet the learning needs of individual students
* providing attractive multimedia learning without any tutor
* making it easier to amend and update materials
* creating an environment that promotes an active approach to learning
* reducing learning time
* releasing time for more active, engaging and interactive forms of teaching
* supporting increased communications between staff and students, and amongst students
* providing frequent and timely individual feedback, for example through computer assisted assessment, and positive reinforcement
* motivating students through appropriate use of interactive courseware
* supporting and encouraging collaborative learning
* supporting economic reuse of high quality, expensive resources
* encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning.
From the very beginning era of ICT integration in education sector to till now, different initiatives have been taken by different countries through different projects. Among those initiatives one is the use of Television (TV) in Malaysia. Ministry of Education of Malaysia has a private TV Channel and this channel is used only for teaching learning method. Various educational programmes are broadcasted from this channel regularly. Recently China started English learning through mobile phone so that any learner can download his/ her important lesson/s. India unlocked a very new system, ‘Interactive Radio Learning’ for students’ learning and teachers’ training in order to make learning cost and time effective. In this system, there is an interactive radio in the class; and an instructor or specialist in the studio who guide the teacher in the class. According to the instruction of the specialist, the teacher conducted the lesson to students. This teaching method is very much effective in India (Mahmud, 2009).
The Tata Computer Based Functional Literacy Programme (CBFL) in India uses a mixed method, including computer software, animated graphic, multimedia presentations and flashcards to teach literacy skills. (UNESCO, 2006). Tata Teleservices are offering mobile education for rural communities and physically challenged people. Under this model the mobile phone is used as a device which allows the user to access to voice, text messaging and educational content and takes mock tests on the move no matter where the person is (Tata, 2009).
Bangladesh is also initiating to step toward the same path with vision of integrating ICT into its education system. Government of Bangladesh initiated a pilot study of e-Learning of Math in Secondary Schools in Gazipur and Comilla from 2009 with the support of BRAC under TQI-SEP (Teaching Quality Improvement in Secondary Education Project). Ministry of Education formally inaugurated Mobile ICT Lab of TQI-SEP on 23rd February, 2010 in order to provide e-Learning for the underprivileged secondary students of rural Bangladesh. A total number 17 Mobile ICT Labs in 17 Cars (14 Microbuses & 3 Four Wheel Drive Pickups for hill tracks, haor areas and remote areas) will move all over the country to introduce e-Learning system with the teachers and students of one thousand schools by December, 2010. Each lab contains five laptops, five wireless internet modems, two digital cameras, multimedia projector, webcam, printer, pen drive, interactive board, e-Learning CD, speaker, generator etc. This initiative will ensure primary ICT knowledge as well as ICT based education for the students and also enhance the teaching capacity of the teachers. (The Daily Samakal, 2010).
Alongside of Government initiative, some non-government initiatives are also mentionable. Among those schemes one is CTEE (Computer Teaches Everyday English) project initiated by D.Net (Development Research Network) with the financial support of VAB (Volunteer Association for Bangladesh), New Jersey, USA, to assess the effect of e-Learning of English on secondary school children. In order to assess the effectiveness of the developed English learning CD, 10 schools were taken. In each of 10 schools two groups (Control Group and Experimental Group) of students (with a size of 10 for each group) were taken. They were similar based on their results in the immediately past final examinations. Thus, total 200 students were selected for experimentation. Group 1 was the ‘Control Group’ and Group 2 was the ‘Experimental Group’. For both group an English test was arranged. The answer scripts were evaluated and graded like ‘Strong’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Weak’ with the help of teachers. Out of 100 students (from 10 schools) in the control group, 61 were in the week group, 25 were in the medium group, and the rest 14 were in the strong group. On the other hand, the result of the pre-test for the experimental group was weak-65, medium-22 and strong 13. After the pre-test, a 36 hours course was conducted with 100 students using the CD. Classes took place in regular classrooms using a big screen monitor to show the multimedia content. After six months, when all the courses in 10 schools finished, another test was taken for both control group and experimental group. It is to be mentioned that, the control group received only regular English class. The result of post-test showed that the impact of the multimedia learning was significant. The result of control group was weak-46, medium-31 and strong-13. On the other hand, the result of the experimental group was week-32, medium-45 and strong 23.
Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing are the pre requisite of learning among which listening is the first and foremost obligatory. If an amalgam of listening and visualization can be made then obviously the learning process will enhance. For the control group, number of students in the strong group is reduced from 14 to 13 and number of week students reduced to 46 from 61. For the experimental group, number of students in the strong group increased from 13 to 23, a 77% rise and the number of students in week group reduced from 65 to 32, reduced 51%. Students were extremely excited with their new learning system. They received the multimedia content as a very useful assistant to them. Especially the animated picture and the movement of the characters made them spell bound. They spend much more time with exercise as the exercise has been designed as different famous games, like Cricket, Carom Board, Football and so on (Alnoor, 2009).
It’s a matter of pleasure that the present Government of Bangladesh declared a vision to build ‘Digital Bangladesh’ by 2021. The term ‘Digital Bangladesh’ has four inter-related components: (a) Digital Government (b) Digital Education (c) Digital Business and (d) Digital Citizen. Computer Literacy and the availability and use of computers and ICTs are integral to the Digital Education component of the Digital Bangladesh, which requires restructuring the education system to ensure equity in terms of access to quality education (Raihan, 2009). So, this vision will come into light if the non-government organizations integrate ICTs into Education sector alongside of Government initiatives.
1. Alnoor, M.Z. (2009). Role of Multimedia in Learning English Language: A Case Study. In Yixin, Z. (Ed.), Proceedings of 2009 World Congress on ICT for Development. Beijing, China: China Science and technology Press.
2. Mahmud, M. (2009). ICT in Education: A New Milestone. Dhaka, Bangladesh: The Weekly Ekota, Vol-38, Issue 15, November, 2009.
3. Raihan, A. (2009). ICT for Development: The Immediate Doables. Paper presented in the Conference on Development with Equity and Justice: Immediate Tasks for the Newly Elected Government, Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre, Dhaka, Bangladesh; 28-29 March, 2009: Centre For Policy Dialogue (CPD).
4. The Daily Samakal, Dhaka, Bangladesh: Vol-5, Issue 331, January, 2010.
5. Tata. (2009). Mobile Education initiative launched by Tata Indicom in India.[online]. Available from http://www.mobiletor.com/2008/01/29/mobile-education-initiative-launched-by-tata-indicom-in-india/ [Retrieved January, 05, 2010].
6. UNESCO. (2006). ICT in Education Programme. ICT as a Tool for Achieving Literacy for All-Using ICT to Develop Literacy. Dhaka, Bangladesh: UNESCO.
Writer: Assistant Director, D.Net (Development Research Network); M.Phil Researcher, e-Learning, University of Dhaka. [email protected]