Liberia and rest of the world is changing, and information and communication technology (ICT) is central to this change.
Digital media has revolutionized the information society and our lives. These advances in ICT have dramatically changed the learning and teaching process, and have expanded new learning opportunities and access to educational resources beyond those traditionally available.
The provision of a telecommunication infrastructure available for learning and teaching is gradually increasing, and many schools in other parts of the world are exploiting the benefits of ICT to enhance the quality of teaching. The introduction of ICT to our Liberian educational system will create new possibilities for learners and teachers to engage in new ways of information selection, gathering, sorting, and analysis.
The basic objective of this article is to understand the concept of e-learning and to examine the type of E-learning. It also summarizes several opinions regarding the comparison between traditional learning, classroom learning, and e-learning. This article aims to discuss in detail the advantages and disadvantages of both the ways of learning and tries to give some solutions by considering the advantages of both systems of learning considering the constraints of the situation.
The traditional learning system is being used in Liberia and was sustainable for long. But the educational needs are changing and global education standard is imposing itself and forcing our country educational system to undergo many changes. The concept of e’learning is definitely gaining popularity in the country but at a slow pace as compared to other countries.
The Liberian educational policy resolves to provide quality education to all and in an effort to fulfill the educational needs of the country specifically for the diverse societies and cultures of the country the government has chalked out different educational categories: Elementary education, Junior High education, Senior High education, Higher education, and Technical and Vocational education is nothing but the development of the whole individual and nurturing the potentials inherent traits.
E-learning is a useful medium through which mama Liberia can attain the goal of reaching the unreached in rural areas, motivating the learners for higher education as well as rural girls and young women empowerment through their education.
In the current super-fast era and globalized world, education needs to meet the additional demands of the present time such as creating a globally competent workforce. Due to globalization, the whole world has become a global village. Now, education can be used as a useful tool to raise awareness of the environment, peace, culture, social diversity, increased competitiveness and the concept of a global village.
In the present world, education is being used as a means of becoming a global citizen. In order to work in this more competitive world, one has to be competent enough to survive. Education gives us that powerful tool by which we can live a life of worthiness.
It is only through improving the educational condition of a society that the multi-faceted progress of its people can be guaranteed. E-learning is the best option available to achieve these goals.
E-learning is also a powerful medium to improve the inclusiveness of education in our country. If an educational institution is committed to giving high-quality education, it should be built on values and ethics, and be innovative in offering its teaching programs. E-learning is not a single strand but is multifaceted, covering a wide range of approaches and methods.
Concept and Aspect of e-Learning
E-learning is electronic learning, and typically this means using a computer to deliver part or all of a course whether it’s in a school, college, part of training or a full distance learning course. E-Learning is learning to utilize electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional.
A study has also shown that E-Learning is referred to as teaching and learning by using electronic media. This methodology supports the use of networking and communications technology in teaching and learning. E-Learning is generally meant for remote learning or distance learning, but can also be used in face-to-face mode.
E-Learning applications and processes include computer-based, web-based, technology-based learning and virtual education opportunities.
Content delivery is with the help of the Internet, intranet, extranet, audio or videotape, satellite TV, and CD-ROM and it includes media in the form of text, image, animation, streaming video and audio
The implementation of e-learning in Liberia will allow us to learn at our own way i.e. on our own time with a flexible, interactive and engaging online experience even when handling other life-related matters in Foya, Suakoko, Zorzor etc….
In this process, educational activities can be accomplished by using networking and communications technology in online or offline, synchronous as well as asynchronous, networked or standalone teaching and learning.
As the popularity of the Internet is growing day by day in Liberia, E-Learning is also growing interest. People have started using the Internet for accessing information via the Internet.
The corporate sectors in other parts of the world which were providing distance education has also started using online learning as an added activity in their distance education because E-Learning is a way of improving the accessibility of the study material, moreover, the cost of accessing information online is decreasing by the advancement in the field of information and communication technology.
This mean, I can even sit right here in Glahyee Zorpea, Yarwin Mehnsonnoh district, Nimba County and access courses in the United Methodist University (UMU), University of Liberia (UL), Bluecrest University (BCU), or other accredited universities in Liberia when internet service is provided.
Just in recent times, the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) tested Liberia’s first online learning system which is intended to initially serve graduate students, and subsequently serve the entire student population. This will save students who have busy schedules time and offer them an opportunity to obtain their degree while handling other life-related matters.
The AMEU online learning initiative also provides students in other parts of the country, including those that are residing in Pleebo, Tapeta, Tienie, Totota, Tuzon, Bandela, Belefuanai, Bensonville, Bo Waterside, Bombotown, Buutuo or any parts of the country with internet access to be able to obtain quality online education.
The e-learning activities are important for the development of Liberia and any country. In the modern era, everybody is thinking about growth.
If it is planned properly then proper results come. We look forward to seeing other universities in Liberia initiating an online learning system in their institutions.
Hence, the advantages of E-Learning mainly within the above-mentioned counties are, the best information can be accessed from the place where it was originally created.
The students can access the information across Liberia or the world at large from their homes’ only, which is seen as the main constraint for those who cannot afford the opportunities due to the lack of financial aids or assistance. Studies have also shown that the impact and new challenges of E-Learning for the students and instructors in online or distance E-Learning course is that E-Learning presents a host of new support requirements and institutions must provide the appropriate resources to address them.
As a passionate Digital Rights activist, I have suggested organizational strategies for accessing E-Learning opportunities with having the availability of the broadband connection. Today in Liberia, Rural areas and residents face a number of issues when it comes to access to and adoption of broadband. The issues include availability, cost, and lack of technical skills and knowledge. The largest discrepancy in the reasons between rural and urban residents not having home internet is lack of access.
It’s important to know that access to broadband and online learning is a key element to prepare our students and employees for the future. A strong correlation exists between broadband access and educational attainment, employment opportunities, and individual and community-wide economic viability.
For the Next Generation Internet, in which usage of the Internet is growing tremendously but restricting the applications like Virtual Reality to be made available for distance learning purpose without higher bandwidth. Next Generation Internet is the area of Digital Libraries which requires an improved quality of services such as continuous digital video and audio.
For Natural Language Interface, it would be a way by which humans can communicate with the machine in a language that is natural to them. It is in the nascent stage today but has tremendous potential for rural areas.
The Government of Liberia, the Liberia Information Technology Students Union (LITSU) or rural-based NGO’s which are working for rural development and capacity building could build such training applications directly without needing to wait for the IT industry to develop applications for them.
In addition, ICT has the potential to enhance the management and administrative capacity of schools. As a passionate ICT activist and President emeritus of the Liberia Information Technology Student Union, I want to ensure that every higher learning institution in Liberia which includes; Starz College of Science And Technology, United Methodist University (UMU), African Methodist Episcopal Zion Union (AMEZU), BlueCrest University, Barshell University, Advent University and all community colleges across Liberia has access to a wide choice of diverse, high-quality communication services. I want all learners and local communities to benefit from this investment.
The services provided by the eLearning initiative will enhance lifelong learning and provide unlimited opportunities for personal growth and development to all. The challenge of providing modern technologies to schools in order to enhance the quality of learning and teaching will require a significant investment.
Given the magnitude of the task ahead, and in the true light of public and the private sector should join hands to ensure that we and our unborn children receive high-quality learning and teaching both in the rural and urban communities.
Through this initiative we hope that we will be able to turn our schools into centers of quality learning and teaching for the twenty-first century. It is my intent that this article will establish the right conditions for ICT in education to flourish in the coming decades.
Finally, E-Learning is found to be a highly emerging knowledge tool today. It has wide scope in developed as well as in developing countries. The areas which are undeveloped and not so educated get the attraction of ELearning. E-Learning provides a method of delivering knowledgeable content through CD, DVD, multimedia and other tools.
The main constraint identified in this process is the availability of proper bandwidth, the willingness of E-Learners and some sort of skill set to deliver the material to learners.
Overall, eLearning is beneficial to rural gentry for knowledge, better job opportunities, and promotions and to learn new developing technologies in the market. Especially focusing on rural areas it helps in developing people’s social and mental ability.
I put my pen down for now, before doing that, let me remind you that ICTs are here to stay. They have changed the way we live and they will continue to do so for a long time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Willie Bee Tingba, Jr. holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Technology Infrastructure Management Services/Computer Science at the United Methodist University (UMU). He is a Digital Rights Activist, Lecturer at the BlueCrest University Liberia, Founder and President Emeritus at the Liberia Information Technology Students Union (LITSU). He can be contacted on the following numbers and email addresses 0777538605. Email: [email protected] / [email protected]
WILLIE BEE TINGBA, JR
DIGITAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST
REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA