E-learning is one of the fastest growing technologies and will continue its trend far into the future. The aim of e-learning is to improve the quality of learning experience for students. American society for training and development (ASTD) defines e-learning as teaching and learning delivered, enabled or mediated purpose of learning. E-learning is a form of learning that uses network for delivery. It is also known as distributed learning, distance learning and technology enabled learning. E-learning is empowering a paradigm shift from the traditional classroom to network based digital learning environment.
One of the natural responses to the challenges of e-learning environment is the introduction of the digital library to support e-learning with resources network, designed to meet the needs of the learners, in both individual and collaborative settings, constructed to enable the dynamic use of a broad array of materials for learning primarily in digital format, and managed actively to promote the reliable access anytime and anywhere to quality collections and services, available both within and outside the network.
The introduction of digital libraries into the education process was made easier by distance education, which has developed over the years. With the Internet and the World Wide Web, distance education programs can mount sets of materials on web servers to support online courses. One of the basic ideas is to aggregate the learning materials on various topics, written by many educators, in a digital library of courseware. Digital libraries have the potential to significantly change the fundamental aspects of the classroom in ways that could have an enormous impact on teaching and learning. New pedagogical methods should accompany digital libraries as an emerging technology for education to reach the compelling vision of education. Therefore, for an ideal e-learning situation, digital libraries are regarded as the hub of the library collections and services that function together in the real e-learning environment.
E-Learners’ Expectations from the Librarians:
Communication is not just important to break the isolation of students in an e-learning environment but also for a much more basic reason: Whatever one person says or writes, the receiver of the information will always interpret the information in the receiver’s personal context, created through upbringing, culture, language, etc. This does often lead to deep misunderstandings. The only way to make sure that the information is properly understood is not by reading, listening, or looking, but by being able to check or ask if things have been understood. That is why an e-learning system ignores the importance of communication which will not workout.
What do e-learners need from the librarians? Suggestions advocating the changes in librarians’ role in support of e-learning in the information age appear throughout the literature. Librarians must assert themselves as key players in the learning process, thereby changing their roles from the information providers to educators, and they have been transferred from ‘information gatekeepers” to information gateways and advocates the librarian’s involvement in teaching communities so as to shift the focus from explaining library resources to meeting the ongoing information needs of the students in the broad information environment.
In responding to the need to provide ongoing digital library support, librarians have worked at translating what they do in a traditional library into virtual or digital environments while customizing their services and resources for e-learners. The traditional role of academic library services has always been to provide information resources for the teaching and learning activities within the academic sphere. Its role in supporting the virtual learning environment is not different. The linking of digital libraries and virtual library environments is required to provide a meaningful connection between learning activities and learning resources. The digital libraries can help to provide information content to teaching staff who are engaged in e-learning. Traditionally, libraries offer circulation services, interlibrary loans, course reserves, an information desk, a reference desk, and library instruction. To serve learners connected to their institutional libraries primarily through a computer network or interne, librarians are providing remote access to, and delivery of, library resources and are using communication technologies to deliver electronic reference services and instructional support.
As the literature suggests, e-learners are a wider community of learners than “students”. An academic library’s learners may include students, faculty, staff, teachers, etc. The library is seen as a source of training and guidance to a community of learners who are concerned with navigating the complexities of locating and using digital resources and services. Moreover, the move towards a digital environment has resulted in a shift from the systematic one-to-one information flow of the past to a new model in which the users and the providers of information are able to relate in a many-to-many, dynamic relationship. For example, in the traditional model, a librarian provides a bridge between the learners and the information providers by selecting and cataloguing the resources and by providing assistance with these resources. In the new model, the library serves as a facilitator by offering ongoing support, enabling the learners to interact and exchange knowledge with others, to communicate directly with the publishers and vendors of information resources, and to participate in a collaborative endeavor to make available rich collections of online scholarly information resources.
Parameters of Success in e-Learning Implementation:
The success of e-learning depends on how learning takes place online, that is, the underlying pedagogy and the real value of e-learning lies in our ability to deploy its attributes to train the right people to gain the right knowledge and skills at the right time. The successful implementation of e-learning depends on the adherence to underlying principles that are embedded in the e-learning experiences. Though these principles apply to both the e-learning and the traditional classroom delivery method, they are yet to be included in the former. These pedagogical principles should form the basis for inclusion of features in e-learning management systems. Bixler and Spats (2000) have identified seven parameters affecting the successful implementation of e-learning: institutional support; course development; teaching and learning; course structure; student support; faculty support; and evaluation and assessment The availability of strong institutional support is crucial for e-learning deployment and success. The changing roles of staff must be recognized and acknowledged. Support strategies must be developed for management of the transformation processes. Standards must be set and applied consistently. Although the teaching and learning process encourages a flexible and independent approach to knowledge acquisition, the notion of student support is markedly different from the traditional method.
Learning is supported through the use of information and communication technology. E-learning can take place in one of the two modes:
Synchronous e- learning : It is a computer assisted e-learning where instructors and participants can log on and interact with the instructors and other participants at multiple locations.
A Synchronous e-learning: Computer assisted training where the instructors and participants are involved in the course at different times.
Example: Web-based training, Electronic bulletin boards, Blocs and e-mails.
E-learning includes a number of different delivery methodologies within it, including self—paced contents, virtual classrooms, online chats, threaded discussions etc.
Merits of E-Learning:-
Depending on the course objectives with experience or expertise of learners, e-learning may include some of these components like:
Assessment reinforces the learning approach of a student and is an indispensable part of teaching and learning. Evaluation and assessment of learning should be based on higher order thinking skills so that students may adopt a deep holistic approach to e-learning. Based upon the underlying parameters, the authors have developed the above conceptual academic e-model as depicted in Figure.
E-learning is required in Educational Institutes because:-
E-learning improves the quality of the learning experience of the students. The driven changes are numerous and learning quality ranks poorly in relation to most of them. A student who is learning in a way that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) is using an e-learning. These interactive technologies support many different types of capabilities. Internet access to digital versions of materials unavailable locally, internet access to search transactional services, personalized information and guidance for learning support, simulations or models of scientific systems, tools for creativity and design data analysis, modeling or organization tools and applications. Over the past few decades, the new information and communication technologies have a huge impact on the world economy corporate management, globalization trends and education at all levels, including higher education.