Success Factor of E learning Program

Internet has affected and changed the world of communication. Internet is a medium of collaboration and interaction of people of different geographical locations.
Many networks existed in the world, often with different hardware and software. People connected to one network often want to communicate with people attached to a different network. This desire require connecting together different, and frequently incompatible networks, sometimes by using machines called gateways to make the connection and provide the necessary translation, both in terms of hardware and software. A collection of interconnected networks is called Internet.
     With the advent of Internet, it has become clear that we are living in the information age. The information age is supposed to be the third revolution after agricultural and industrial revolution, as suggested by many historians. The information age is the analysis of the information quotient in military and geopolitical affairs; it is an epoch of fundamental change in philosophical, intellectual, cultural and social terms.
Many historians are agreed that information had a great impact on many things and produced a new environment from technologies that already exist. The information technology affected many things like intelligence, logistics, command and control etc.
 Some historians are of the opinion that the information revolution actually shaped the Agricultural and industrial revolutions. They said that the seed of information age were sown thousands of years ago. To give evidence for their claim they said that the civilization began when the nomadic traders and merchants traveled from one place to another. These traders and travelers have access to many cultures. They shared products as well as stories and customs between different tribes. They learned the tactics of different tribes of problem solving, learned the customs of different tribes etc. this sharing of information was the beginning of the civilization.
This sharing of information is supposed to be the basis, which led the humanity towards agriculture and farming. Similarly the information sharing about the tools and the information about how to use it led the man towards the Industrial age. Thus it is sure that if the civilization began with the nomadic traders then the seeds of information Age were sewn then.  
The Information Society can be determined as the large group of people within a country or a region wherein most workers generate or depend upon information for performance of their jobs. Today information is the largest export of most News services, banks, insurance companies, television stations etc. these all organizations collect data, process it into information, distribute it, and store it as a major part of their business.
The term Information Society is often used to refer the new socio-economic technological paradigm, which occurs due to the results of changes that are taking place. The information society has the ability to improve the quality of life of the citizens of today’s world, the efficiency of our social and economical organization and to reinforce cohesion.
·         Information society has the capacity of shrinking the distances between people and countries and that is something we have already experienced in our present day life that Internet has shrunk the distances between us and made the world a global village to live
·         In market economies there are strong forces that lead us towards concentration. In information society social cohesion are necessary to balance economic progress and justice
·         Equality of opportunity between men and women has enhanced in Information Society and that is something which we experience in our daily life
·         It has the potential to improve the quality of life of old people by facilitating independent living in the community
·         Information Society helps to redesign and reshape the healthcare delivery and scope
Information society is important because:
·         Communities are better able to generate employment opportunities and wealth in the global market
·         It helps to change the social and demographic welfare trends
·         The Information Society has the ability to support more cohesive and integrated communities
·         The unemployed persons can find some ways to play an active role through Information Society
As discussed earlier Internet has changed everything. Thus it has affected the education also and gave birth to the concept of distance learning or e-learning. Let us first see what is E-learning anyway?
1.2 Background of the Problem:
     Distance education is not a new thing; it has a rich and long history. The earliest form of distance education took place in Europe through correspondence courses. In the late 1950s and early 1960s master teachers conducted classes of distance education through television. Unfortunately this practice was not successful because of the teachers appeared on television were not the good television presenter and mostly failed to hold the interest of the audience. The trend has changed in 1970s and professionally designed and produced television series introduced students to new subject matters that was not currently being taught in the classroom.
     The major drawback of this type of distance education was lack of two-way communication and interaction between the teacher and the students. With the emergence and popularity of Internet, this problem has solved and the distance learning has evolved into e-learning. The office of technology Assessment said that, “teachers have to be allowed to choose, willing to make choices, and qualified to implement their choices effectively. OTA finds that, just as there is no one best use of technology, there is no one best way of teaching with technology. Flexibility should be encouraged, allowing teachers to develop their personal teaching approach utilizing the variety of options offered by technology” (US. Congress, 1988, p. 17).
1.2.1 Delivery Methods:
     Distance learning or the e-learning used the following methods to deliver its content:
·         Compressed Video: it costs less than the interactive television systems. It involves two-way audio and two-way video connections for fully interactive, multimedia connectivity through fiber optics.
·         Audio-Conferencing: it usually incorporates an audio bridge where the students at remote locations call in for synchronous conversation. Audio-Conferencing is well-suited for lecture, seminar, and round table discussions of higher level education
·         Internet: Internet provides point and click access to the instruction, which is linked with hypertext. Web also provides pictures, text, graphics, audio and some video in an interactive environment. According to Thomas McManus it “combines media advantages of other media so that it conveys video and sound better than a book, is more interactive than a videotape and, unlike a CD-ROM, it can link people from around the world cheaply” (McManus 1995).·         Computer Conferencing: Computer conferencing can be both synchronous and asynchronous. It includes Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Multiple User Domains (MUD) and Multiple User Object Oriented. Assignments can be done usually offline and then uploaded to the server where it can be e-mailed to professors.  
·         E-mail: E-mail is a necessary element in e-learning and used for most of the student to professor and student to student interaction.
·         Asynchronous Learning Networks: it uses computer-mediated communication from an institutional system approach. Asynchronous Learning Networks needs that technicians, librarians and the academic support personnel work together for its success. “The A-V technician of the past must become an instructional technologist who combines the application of technologies with the design of instruction" (Lemke Dressner, p. 1 1995)·         Electronic Classrooms: it allows a particular number of students from their homes anywhere in the world to enter the classroom in real time.
·         CD-ROM: CD-ROM is also used as a tool for bringing distance learning program at the homes of the students. It helps to cut cost and can be more effective than the class room training.
·         Computer Supported Collaborative Work: it combines the computer technologies and communications within groups in a distributed environment. Functions include decision support systems, project management tools, shared editors and conferencing systems·         Computer Supported International Learning Environments: it can assist the students by allowing information to be entered on a database which can be reviewed or retrieved over distributed networks.
     The statistics have shown that there exists a dramatic shift from conventional classrooms to the e-learning classrooms.
     It has been predicted that the uptake for e-learning become 11.4 billion in the year of 2003.
·         Mix Mode: it uses several different methods of delivery instead of a single method. “Single mode delivery systems do not provide enough instructional power to ignite the student's interest because they fail to provide student involvement". (Hirschbuhl et al. P. 95, 1995)
1.3 Statement of the Problem:
The most prominent question is why e-learning become so popular and what are the benefits of e-learning. David Porter has said, “As completion and success rates improve, as students continue with their education, gain access to courses previously unavailable to them, and as they increase their chances of going on to post-secondary education or workplace training, the benefits to the system and to society as a whole can begin to be factored in to the policy options and decision making equations” (David Porter, p.26, 1994).
This study will attempt to show the critical factors responsible for the success of the e-learning program.
1.4 Purpose of the Study:
     The major objective of this study is to present the critical factors of success of e-learning program which helps the universities in successful development or enhancement of their existing learning program. The study will use a web-based survey to rank critical success factors and this study will query the faculty ad administration of e-learning programs.
1.5 Research Question:
The question, which can be dealt and tried to be answered in this report, is:
What are the critical factors responsible for the success of an e-learning program?
     A web based study, which will query the faculty and administration of e-learning program, will be used to rank the critical success factors of e-learning program.
1.6 Significance of the Study:
     This research study is important because it describes the importance and quality of an e-learning program. It defines what are the important factors, which make an e-learning program successful and which could aid universities in successful development or enhancement of their existing learning program.
1.7 Scope of the Study:
     This study will look at critical success factors of online learning program and its importance on teaching and learning. This study will also conduct a web-based study, which is relevant principally to faculty and learning program directors. This study will help to rank the critical success factors of an e-learning program.
1.8 Limitation of the Study:
There is a methodological limitation in this study as it is a pilot study. Thus the generalizations will be left to the discretion of the concerned persons.

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