Learning without Boundaries : Designing and Teaching an E-Learning Program in Horticulture and Environmental Science

Learning without Boundaries : Designing and Teaching an E-Learning Program in Horticulture and Environmental Science

Elena Verezub (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-751-0.ch014

Abstract

Technological innovations have transformed the boundaries of research priorities within the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector. In line with research priorities set by NCVER, Swinburne University of Technology has made an ongoing commitment to the development of research that aims at improving the flexible delivery of program for students in the Training and Further Education (TAFE) sector. The present study showcases a research project conducted at Swinburne. The aim of the project was to design an e-learning program for students studying within the Department of Horticulture and Environmental Science, with an additional focus on improving students’ reading comprehension of hypertexts in the subject-specific context. This case study also discusses social and educational, technological, economic as well as political/organizational issues the project had to deal with.
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Setting The Stage

The rapid development of information and communication technology (ICT) has brought its changes to the education sector. In particular, the e-learning concept has been widely included in contemporary education, since it blurs the limitation of time, distance and space. In addition, it offers flexibility and convenience to both learners and educators by providing social and technological advantages. These changes also have implications for governments and their policies as well as education sectors which implement innovation programs to reflect changing needs and expectations.

The introduction of ICT has evolved and will continue to evolve, forcing people to keep up with these changes and the challenges that they bring. In the area of education, ICT has reshaped the meaning of “literacy”, which is a complex concept that includes the ability to read and comprehend the various forms of conventional texts and internet-based texts or hypertexts (OECD, 2001).

The era of web literacy or technological revolution has not evolved without its critics and has been regarded by some as signaling the end of print-based materials and the skills associated with them. However Kellner (2002) has argued that this technological revolution brings the opportunity to reshape education to better serve democratic needs and to prepare citizens for a global multicultural world. Also Kellner (2002) stresses that the debate about the role of computers in education should be about how they are used in education not whether they are good or bad.

The use of ICT in learning and teaching will continue as new technological tools are made available for the purpose of education. Policies promote the development and use of these technological tools which are regarded as innovative and important in the area of education. By utilizing these tools people will develop skills needed for the workplace as well as life-long skills in general. Some ICTs such as the Internet, email and digital media are now used routinely in many schools across all sectors, primary, secondary and tertiary.

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