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E - Learning for Academic Organization

Why technology for education?

There are two major questions that follow any debate relating to implementation of Information and Communication Technologies in education. Firstly, "Why use technology for education?" and secondly, "Where technology helps in education?” Both of these questions are important in order to align teachers and administrators around common vision for the implementation of Information and Communication Technology in engineering education. These questions play particular importance to classroom practitioners who are involved in design and delivery of E - Learning.

Why use technology for education?

As we move towards intelligent industries in knowledge-based economies, it is becoming increasingly important to underline worker's abilities to turn knowledge in value (intellectual capital). This move separates industrial age that emphasizes roles of disciplined workforce, from needs of industries in new millennium. Access to information is not longer simply access to content through providing means (books, teachers/trainers, company records) but an entry into open-ended knowledge management channels that exist in the virtual world. The concern is no longer where and how to access information, but it is important to be able to use information to solve problems and to innovate. The innovation is an imperative that keeps industries and entire economies a step ahead from their competitors. Ability to solve problems is critical to innovation, as innovation occurs through independent and collaborative problem-solving. In any workplace, people are valued according to their problem solving abilities rather than according to their ability to only recall information and execute specific instructions. In technical education we must re-examine if our curriculum and practices allow for development of skilled problem-solvers.

Information and communication technologies place further demand on individuals to be equipped with skills needed to use these technologies in their own professional areas – where they solve problems. Constant technological developments introduce new technologies accompanied with new work methodologies. Suitable base knowledge to use broad range of IT tools and positive attitude towards technology are essential in order to be able to embrace new practices, and perhaps, to remain employable.Educational institutions must position learners to make use of technology tools in order to develop positive attitude, comfort and skills in using technology.

Today’s industries are requiring workers to continuously upgrade their skills. In the last few years, we witnessed appearance of so called Corporate Universities. Learning,for many corporations, is increasingly becoming a key business strategy. Due to the increasing needs for the continuous provision of training, many corporations are turning away from traditional training methodologies towards

E - Learning as a mean for provision of continuous learning opportunities. These solutions place importance on employees to be equipped with lifelong learning skills inclusive of effective learning-with-technology skills. Educational institution must equip their learners with these skills so that they enter industries ready to learn and use technology for learning.

In summary, using technology in the class is important, not essentially just to deliver content - which might already be available in different formats. Technology-based learning prepares individuals to face continuous learning and work challenges.Education must provide learners with opportunities to develop competencies for lifelong learning and problem solving with technology skills as integral part of these competencies. We attempted to achieve this through problem-based learning accelerated and supported in an e-learning environment.

Where technology helps in education?

This second questions addresses the curriculum content. In particular, we noted that technology might help to bridge between theoretical concepts and application. Typically, there are classroom-based and workshop-based activities that take place in technical education programs. However, difficulty begins when we try to compartmentalize knowledge units and assessments into one of these two modes. Structured curriculum demands play considerable influence by dividing learning outcomes into those that can be classified as being theoretical or practical. It is important to look at the relationship between two rather than to question what comes first in teaching. It is appropriate to think about theory and practice as two inseparable entities parts and to perceive technology as a tool for learning that can help us to close gap between the two by facilitation of transfer of knowledge into practice and vice versa. Validating theory through practice as well as collecting evidence to generate theory from inquiries through practice is powerful strategy for use of technology as a tool for learning in education. This practice is essentially about solving authentic problems, which exist in professional context.