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Faculty Action Research

Focus : Achieving Quality in Education: Strategies for Change
Topic : Assessment Procedures – theory and practice

Title : INTEGRATING E-LEARNING AMONG THIRD YEAR BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY STUDENTS TAKING UP COMPUTER SYSTEMS  AND ADVANCE COMPUTER NETWORKING COURSES AT  ALDERSGATE COLLEGE

By: MARLOU FELIX S. CUNANAN III, MBA, MIT

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

In 1922 Thomas Edison predicted that “the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and … in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks.” Twenty-three years later, in 1945, William, the director of the Cleveland public schools’ radio station, claimed that “the time may come when a portable radio receiver will be as common in the classroom as is the blackboard.” Forty years after that the noted psychologist B. F. Skinner, referring to the first days of his “teaching machines,” in the late 1950s and early 1960s, wrote, “I was soon saying that, with the help of teaching machines and programmed instruction, students could learn twice as much in the same time and with the same effort as in a standard classroom.” Ten years after Skinner’s recollections were published; President Bill Clinton campaigned for “a bridge to the twenty-first century … where computers are as much a part of the classroom as blackboards.” Clinton was not alone in his enthusiasm for a program estimated to cost somewhere between $40 billion and $100 billion over the next five years. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, talking about computers to the Republican National Committee early this year [1997], said, “We could do so much to make education available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, that people could literally have a whole different attitude toward learning.”

Looking back on the last century and the comment by Oppenheimer, it is interesting to note how there has been a subtle shift in focus from promoting a variety of information and communication technologies in the learning environment to the expectation that education could be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. What was omitted was the additional time period of 365 days a year. It is this leap of understanding that has taken many people in education by surprise and accounts for a healthy dose of both skepticism and optimism. Since 1997 when Oppenheimer wrote his paper The Computer DELUSION, examples of 24/7 education in schools has not evolved at the anticipated rapid rate to meet the promise and expectations. This is in direct contrast to the enormous growth of the Internet and the level of access in both homes and schools over the past four years. Greater access does not infer greater uptake of e-education.

The e-learning approach on the program is based on an underlying assumption that engagement in study will take place alongside participants’ professional work, with academic study enhanced by reference to current practice, and direct relevance of study to challenges and issues within the work context. With this in mind, almost all modules encourage assignments and project work to be contextualized within real educational contexts, and students are encouraged to combine a depth of exploration into issues pertaining to e-learning within their own contexts with mutual and peer learning through comparison and contrast with the contexts of their online colleagues.

All have been involved in the design of active learning activities which include online seminars, mini-action research projects, the development, implementation and evaluation of a period of e-Teaching Practice, the design and development of e-resources, and the development of a collaboratively-owned e-dossier comprising individual papers investigating a negotiated theme and topic related to e-learning management and implementation.

Engagement in this program has provided a valued form of professional development for some other academic colleagues and support staff across the college and has been instrumental in informing the development of online provision of modules and program within their own departments and faculty.

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