E-learning and teacher education

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E-learning is here to stay. While it is still evolving as a tool and platform for learning, equal attention has to be paid to teacher education and the need for values and accountability, avers Dr. Ravindra Kumar.

“We become just by the practice of just
actions, self-controlled by exercising
self-control, and courageous by
performing acts of courage”

–Aristotle

E-learning can precisely be termed as the use of electronic educational technology in learning and teaching, both. Meaning thereby, it is connected to both – a learner (student) and a teacher.

Defining e-learning

As it is well within our reach, e-learning is a concept associated with, or synonymous with instructional technology and educational know how. Which know how or technology? Definitely, the one that emanates from the ongoing process of development, as per the demand of time and space, with the objective of making the process of education comprehensive, meaningful, quick, accessible for all, and indeed, result-oriented. This is not a new thing before the world. Rather, it is a dimension in the learning process. In this regard, I endorse to an extent Paul Nicholson, the author of A History of E-Learning, who says:

“In many contemporary sectors, e-learning is often regarded as a ‘new’ form of learning that uses the affordances of the internet to deliver customised, often interactive, learning materials and programmes to diverse local and distant communities of practice”.

We are well aware that the emergence of computer and computer science has played a vital role in this regard. It has undoubtedly accorded a distinctive dimension to the process of education and learning. E-learning is an outcome of this, and that is why, besides instructional technology, information and communication technologies in education, learning technology, multimedia learning, computer-based instruction, internet-based training , flexible learning, web-based training, online education, virtual education, or learning platforms of virtual learning environments are associated with e-learning.

E-learning and its impact on education

E-learning has made education, especially the process of education – gaining knowledge and teaching comprehensive and dynamic. It has undoubtedly extended the range of the process making it elaborate and open. It is for this reason that Bernard J. Luskin, a pioneer and an eminent figure in the field of educational technology, put forth that “the core of e-learning should be interpreted to mean exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, emotional, extended, excellent, and educational in addition to electronic”.

E-learning has, as mentioned already, accorded an unprecedented dimension to the process of education. Along with enlarging the scope of the process, it has made people’s reach or the association with programmes related to it, possible. Further, e-learning has made the process more dynamic. In the process of connecting everyone it has affected and mobilised all other spheres of life.

Not only this, due to its allembracing nature, Eric Parks, another eminent scholar in the field has in one of his worthy write ups titled, What’s the ‘E’ in E-learning, suggested that the ‘E’ from e-learning should be referred to as “everything, everyone, engaging and easy”.

E-learning has, as mentioned already, accorded an unprecedented dimension to the process of education. Along with enlarging the scope of the process, it has made people’s reach or the association with programmes related to it, possible. Further, e-learning has made the process more dynamic. In the process of connecting everyone it has affected and mobilised all other spheres of life.

The role of the teacher in e-learning

Despite being an advanced method of learning, or even after the addition of an unprecedented dimension like e-learning in the routine education, which has made the learning so easy and accessible for all age groups anytime anywhere, the role of a teacher not only remains intact in the whole system, but in my view, multiplies many folds. A teacher stays not only as the backbone of the entire process, but his responsibilities increase to a great extent, much more than ever in past. That is why the role and contribution of e-learning in teacher education is being discussed widely.

From this viewpoint, e-learning must become the basis of developing a friendly attitude and excellence in the behaviour of a teacher. This should lead him/her to thoughtful decisions based on evidences and experiences. We know it well that in teacher education, from meaning or purpose viewpoint, it can be included to design policies and procedures to equip future community of teachers with the attitude, behaviour, knowledge and skill, which they acquire to perform their tasks effectively in the classroom, schools-colleges and communitysociety.

Without a doubt, the role being played by e-learning, in these days of of rapid globalisation in the process of education, is well before all of us. But, even in this situation, if values are not connected with it, no concrete and satisfactory results can be expected. It is because in the absence of values the desired spirit of responsibility cannot grow.

It is, therefore, necessary that from the viewpoint of developing the moral ethical dimension of teaching, values should be made an integral part of e-learning. It must be a predominant element in the initial teacher education, to repeat, for developing the spirit of responsibility – the moral dimension of teaching in each practitioner. Moral values and their acceptability are vital to this process and is, in fact, the pressing demand of time. Not only this, behaviour, practice, or action is also necessary accordingly, keeping in mind the message of Greek philosopher Aristotle quoted at the commencement of this talk. Without this, any debate, deliberation or dialogue cannot be worthy and meaningful in this regard.


Dr.-Ravindra-Kumar

Dr. Ravindra Kumar

The writer, an Indologist, is a former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut,Uttar Pradesh. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal. This piece is based on a keynote address of the writer at an international seminar organised by RHPG College, Kashipur (Uttrakhand) on 2 February 2015.

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