A global revolution is taking place in education and training. It is driven by the changing nature of society, the realities of the information age, new global partnerships and an awareness of the need for equal distribution of educational opportunities.
Information and communication technology is central to this global revolution. Digital media has revolutionized the information society. These advances in information and communication technology have dramatically changed the learning and teaching process, and have expanded new learning opportunities and access to educational resources beyond those traditionally available.
Internationally education systems have an obligation to deliver on public expectations of quality education for economic growth and social development and it seems the solution or answers lie in e-education.
But what is this e-education? e-Education is more than developing computer literacy and the skills necessary to operate various types of information and communication technology. It is the ability to:
o apply information and communication technology skills to access, analyze, evaluate, integrate, present and communicate information;
o create knowledge and new information by adapting, applying, designing, inventing and authorizing information;
o enhance teaching and learning through communication and collaboration by using information and communication technology; and
o function in a knowledge driven society by using appropriate technology and mastering communication and collaboration skills.
What is the significance of e-education? Information and communication technology create access to learning opportunities, redress inequalities, and improve the quality of learning and teaching and deliver lifelong learning. Information and communication technology can accommodate differences in learning styles and remove barriers to learning by providing expanded opportunities and individualized learning experiences.
Experience worldwide suggests that information and communication technology does play a role in the transformation of education and training. Information and communication technology can enhance educational reform by enabling teachers and students to move away from traditional approaches to teaching and learning. In a transformed teaching and learning environment, there is a shift from teacher-centered, task-oriented, memory-based education (with technology at the periphery), to an inclusive and integrated practice where students work collaboratively, develop shared practices, engage in meaningful contexts and develop creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
What are the benefits of e-education? There is sufficient empirical evidence that investments in information and communication technology yield positive results for students and teachers. Studies have demonstrated improved student achievement in:
o Application and production of knowledge for the real world;
o Ability of students to manage learning;
o Ability to promote achievement for students who experience barriers to learning; and
o Access to information that increases knowledge, inquiry and depth of investigation.
Furthermore, the use of information and communication technology has demonstrated improved inventive thinking skills, such as creativity, problem solving, higher-order thinking skills and sound reasoning, along with improved effective communication. Improvements in interpersonal skills, such as writing, public speaking, teamwork and collaboration, and improved productivity skills, including creating high-quality products, have also been reported.
Information and communication technology encourages a teaching and learning milieu that recognizes that people operate differently, have different learning styles and have culturally diverse perspectives. Information and communication technology embraces inclusive education by providing opportunities, alternative methods of instruction and flexible assessments for students who experience barriers to learning.
Benefits to the broader society include increased opportunities for lifelong learning, communication and exchange essential to democratic living and the creation of a pool of globally competitive human resources.
Our world is changing, and information and communication technology is central to this change. Digital media has revolutionized the information society. e-Education – the future is here and now!