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E-Learning Research Paper

E-Learning in Higher Education Research Paper Fatma Al-Azher AlhinaiSultan Qaboos University

IntroductionThere has been a big shift in the political, social, economic, cultural and technological developments that have occurred in the world in our time. E-learning has caused a revolution in higher education in all countries due to its benefits in the learning process. It is proven to increase knowledge retention by 25% to 60%. The number of colleges and teachers that use electronic courses are increasing day by day. For example, "4,600,00 college students are currently taking at least one of their classes online and by 2014 this number will increase to 18,650,000. By 2019, half of all classes taught will be delivered online"(Gutierrez, 2012). I choose this topic because I think there is a great need to determine the status of E-Learning in higher education institutions in the world generally and in Oman specifically to improve the future of E-Learning in higher education. In addition, I want to know how E-Learning impacts on education system in general.This paper will discusses the E-Learning trend in learning systems and explain the trend in relationship to Oman and other gulf countries. It will also outline the future of E-learning in Oman.

E-Learning in Learning SystemE-learning is an online learning, which describes the use of technologies to support learning, teaching and assessment (Vrazalic et al, 2009. Sometimes researcher use distance or blended learning or online education to explain E-learning which all of them based on electronic media to deliver information. E-Learning is a strange new word that was used for the first time in a professional environment in October 1999 during a classroom based training systems seminar in Los Angeles. The inventor of the word of "E-learning" was Jay Cross in 1998 ( 4 ).The rational of its' invention was to satisfy the needs of different leaning styles and to help busy students who have others tasks besides learning.Online learning in higher education is increasing everyday due to the continue increasing of students in higher education level and revolution of information. The stakeholders of this research paper are students in higher education who are the consumers of E-learning undergraduate or graduate students enrolled of all type of institutions. There are other two global trends that are related to E-learning which are: new teaching methods and open education resources. E-learning is a new teaching method and it has a positive impact in output of learning system in term of students' academic achievements, skills and attitude. In addition, E-learning provides open education resources. Students don't have specific curriculum to limit themselves and their knowledge but they are free to learn from other educational websites, videos, Wikipedia and educational blogs in anytime and anywhere (14).Status of E-learning in some Gulf CountriesLots of studies had shown that all gulf countries used E-learning but in different levels. For example, Saudi Arabia is the most gulf country that use E-learning in higher education. E-leaning estimated to grow about 33% during 2010-2014. The government spending millions for developing strategies, Academics trained in E-learning and providing the basic infrastructures of E-learning ( AlMegren, 2011).There are more than 12.3% of students in higher education took online courses ( Atallah & Moussa, 2013). According to the study of "Emirati Student Voices on E-learning Readiness", there was willingness on part of students to enroll in E-learning courses due to the flexibility of time and location, and money saving. There are more than 8% of students in higher education took online courses in Kuwait. Also, all text books in Kuwait are digitized (15). The public and private sector of education use E-learning in Kuwait because E-learning supports high quality of education, reduce environmental impact through lower paper use and higher retention of information.E-learning in OmanThere are more than 62% of higher education institutions offer at least one ICT major and19% of the students who took online courses (8). For example, WebCT, Moodle, and e-portals have been implemented at many educational institutions. Moreover, The Omani branch of the Arab Open University is a full-fledged distance learning higher education institution (11) & (19).The location of E-leaning in education system is in process because it has taken by instructors to alter the way of teaching instead of depending on traditional methods like face to face. According to Al-Musawi (2007), he accentuated on the importance of using E-Learning as an effective teaching method in higher and post basic education. Moreover, lifelong learning use E-learning to support learning process. E-learning requires digitizing curriculum, electronic device and qualifying teachers as input in learning system. It is also impacts on the quality of output of education system in term of skills, knowledge and attitude of students. The purposes of education are to prepare Omani citizen to be able to deal with digital and technological tool which are very close to the purpose of E-learning. It focuses also to build people with lifelong learning which can be achieved by online learning (18). Teachers training and Quality Assurance initiatives in E-learningThere are many conferences and training program that are doing for instructors before and in the service to enhance the quality of teaching and to increase information and communication technology (ICT) awareness (14 ). Moreover, there are more than 13 workshops in SQU that were done for teacher before services to prepare them to use E-learning though their teaching. IC3 and ICDL training program offered for all instructors in education to improve the skills in this field. Generally, there is still poor of teachers training on using E-learning in our country.There were many initiatives of quality assurance in Oman. For example, there was much research to measure the academic achievement of students who took online courses. Moreover, there were more than 10000 free personal computers for all graduated students in 2010-2013 to assured that material for E-learning are available for all students in higher education. Moreover, there were many conferences that are done on this field to exchange the experience between other countries.SWOT analysis and the future implications of the trendThe strength of E-learning in Oman is found the way to the bigger number of students who enrolled higher education each year without need to build new class. It has also, keeps money of the hard copy of books because they are digitized. The weaknesses are teachers who respond to students' question are less efficient than offline universities and this point is proven by different research. The opportunities of E-learning are IT-proficient people can have better opportunity for employment in private and public sector because most of universities work on E-learning. In addition, due to the E-learning infrastructure the internet speed has improved. The threats of using E-learning in Oman are increase security breach and copyright issue. It has also, Dependency on IT, i.e. small technical problems will disrupt the entire networks especially when the network connected locally. The implication of E-learning in the future is: all levels of educations either public or private institutions will be based on the online education. Moreover, all books will be digitalized. Moreover, training programs for instructors and students in E-learning will be online.PEST analysis and the future implications of the trendAccording to the political aspect of E-learning, there is political willingness to use it in private and public institutions and there is a rapid conversation to improve strategies of E-learning. There is public policy for all class to make the mission and vision of learning institutions clear. In the economic aspects, instructors suffer from unemployment because the number of teacher through online learning is less than face to face teaching. Low cost of Internet Subscription and keep money of physical universities and hard copies of books and etc. The social aspect of E-learning is clear from the view of some people who think it is less effective than face to face. In technologies aspects, Dependency on small technical problems will disrupt the entire networks. According to the implications of E-learning in the future, E-learning will not be used only in education but also all political, economic, social institutions services will be through online. E-leaning will be available.

Preferred future of E-learning and its implications

The preferred future of E-learning will pay more attention to logical and critical thinking because the learning will focus on the science subjects. It will also focus more on the students' responsibility and learning will be based on learner center rather than teacher center. Students will work on problem solving, projects and experiments. In addition, E-learning will encourage the learner to construct meaning of knowledge in their won ways because the future of E-learning prefers to work on constructivism learning theory. Moreover, different media used to deliver information they will enhance the principles of engaged learning will becomes active, collaborative, and support Mastery (13). For example, students will recognize what and how of learning through content and process and that will support the meaningful of learning. Students will be engaged in the E-learning environment that fosters an active learning, employs appropriate learning technologies and reward innovation. For example, instructor will prepare tutorial with pre and post-test to measure the previous knowledge of students and provide them with glossary to make sure the words are clear to students.ConclusionInformat