Modern Technology and Mass Education: A Case Study of a Global Virtual Learning System

Modern Technology and Mass Education: A Case Study of a Global Virtual Learning System

Ahmed Ali (University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-116-2.ch013


This case study examined the effectiveness and significance of the Internet and interactive video broadcasting as instructional and communication media in a global virtual learning system. The study explored how differences in students’ technology experiences, curriculum, cultures, and access to technology influence learning and student attitude in a technology-based distance education environment. The research also investigated whether the use of online references and materials is adequate and appropriate for successful distance learning. The setting was a virtual campus that linked universities in the U.S., Australia, and Canada with learning centers in different African countries. E-mail and face-toface interviews, observations, and Web-based surveys were utilized to collect the data. The study reveals that students had mixed perceptions about the effectiveness of technology, with positive attitudes exhibited towards interactive video and some anxiety and dissatisfaction with the use of the Internet.
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Distance Learning: Use Of The Internet

Use of the Internet for education is common in the developed world, though there is increasing need for online education in the developing world (Zembylas & Vrasidas, 2005). In the developed world, educators and students use the Internet to supplement classroom learning. The Internet is also increasingly utilized as a distance education medium.

Whichever way the Internet is used, the potential of the Internet as an instructional tool and instructional medium has been recognized globally. To integrate technology in distance learning, learning experiences should not based on traditional classroom concepts of teacher-directed instruction, but rather should include interactive learning principles that apply student-centered learning styles. Further, it is important to consider the audience for which online education is developed because, “in a global context, online course designers and teachers may face many questions concerning how to design and teach across geographical, social, linguistic, and cultural distances…” (Zembylas & Vrasidas, p. 62)

Scholars and practitioners have talked and written about the application of online learning. Miller, Rainer, and Corley (2003) posit that although Web-based learning has tremendous potential, poor application can be detrimental to effective learning. Poor pedagogical and course management practices can negatively affect learning as traditional classroom techniques do not necessarily work in an online environment. For example, factors such as lack of structure and organization, poor time management on the part of instructors, and lack of interaction can hinder the effectiveness of the online medium as an ideal instructional tool.

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