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Holistic E-Learning

 

 

 

 

By

 

 

 

 

Oye Nathaniel David

 

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Preface

 

This book provides an insight on Holistic E-Learning.  This will be beneficial to students in tertiary institutions, government administrators and business managers etc.. The question on how e-learning is transforming education, government, knowledge and business endeavor is properly thrashed out. The book also comprised some of the authors publications related to e-learning. It is hoped that the book will be useful to university administrators, Managers and ICT policy makers.

 

 

Bio-Data

 

Oye, N. David, is a Nigerian born in 1955 in a town call Mubi in Adamawa state, north-eastern part of Nigeria. He is married with six children. He holds a masters ’degree in Operations Research from the Federal University of Technology Yola-Nigeria and a Bachelors’ degree in Mathematics- Education from the university of Jos Plateau state- Nigeria. Currently he is a lecturer in the department of Mathematics and Computer Science in Federal University of Technology Yola (for the past 15years). At the moment, he is a PhD candidate and a Research Scholar in the Department of Information Systems, Faculty of Computer Science, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai Johor. His primary research interest is in the area of E-Learning, M-Learning, E-Banking, IT-Management, E-Education and ICT Acceptance and Integration in Organizations. He has published more than fifteen (15) journal papers in these areas which are online now.

 

 

 

Chapter One: E-Learning

 

           Introduction

           Definition of E-Learning

           Review of E-Learning

           Challenges of E-Learning

           Challenges of Nigerian University Education

           Holistic E-Learning

           E-Learning Technologies

           Future of E-Learning

           Reference.

 

Chapter Two: Awareness and Adoption of ICT in Higher Education Institutions

 

           Introduction

           Impact of ICT

           Adoption of ICT in HEIs

           ICT in Education

           Conclusion

           Reference

 

Chapter Three: Knowledge Management and Transfer

 

           Introduction

           History of E-Learning

           Knowledge Management (KM)

           Knowledge Transfer (KT)

           Knowledge Transfer Principles

           Knowledge Transfer Barriers

           Solution to Barriers of Knowledge Transfer

           Conclusion

           Reference

 

Chapter Four: E-Learning Methodology

 

           Introduction

           Categories of E-Learning

           Informal Learning

           Blended Learning

           Communities

           Learning Networks

           E-Learning Methodologies

           Hypermedia and Web-based Instruction

           Multimedia-based Virtual Classroom

           E-Learning Tools

           Conclusion

           Reference

 

Chapter Five: Mobile Learning ( M-Learning)

 

           Introduction

           Problems of M-learning in Nigeria

           Review of M-Learning

           Motivation

           Engagement

           Personalization

           Collaboration

           Interactivity

           Sense of Community

           Reference

 

Chapter Six: E-Government

 

           Introduction

           What is E-Governance?

           Paradigm Shifts in the Public Sector

           Definition of e-Government

           E-Government Web of Interrelationships

           E-Government Opportunities

           Quality of service Delivery

           Transparence and Accountability

           Government Capacity Increase

           Improved Quality Decision Making

           E-Government Challenges

           Change Management

           Partnership and Collaboration

           Reference

 

Chapter Seven: Social Network Sites

 

           Introduction

           Review of Literature

           Perception of Using SNSs

           Academic Performance

           Students’ Perception

           Positive Influences

           Communication

           Materials and Resource Sharing

           Distraction from Study

           Reference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

With  the  rapid  development  of  information  technology,  the  age  of  E-Learning  is  walking  to  our  educational circles.  Thus we have  E-Business  E-Marketing E-Government  E-Management  E-Learning,  E-Library and so on. In the era of knowledge economy of globalization, informationization, and networking, e-learning plays a more and more obvious role in the education training [1].

             Education is a main factor for sustainable development [2]. The  importance  of  education,  especially  in  developing countries,  is  increasing  because  of  advancing  pressure  to catch up with the developed world regarding, for example, global  competitiveness  [3].  Typically,  educational  settings are  different  in  developing  countries  than  in  developed countries,  such  as  low  quality  of  education  and  narrow possibilities  in  attending  schools  in  rural  areas  because  of far  distances  and  high  opportunity  costs  [2].  Country-specific conditions have to be improved regarding compulsory  and  free  education  to  foster  general  access  to  education. In Article 26 of 1948 UN universal declaration of human rights the right of compulsory and free education for everyone is already committed (UN Human Rights 1948).  A wide range of learning approaches exists already, for example,  e-learning,  blended  learning  [4],  and  distance learning  which  utilize  information  and  communication technology (ICT). Using ICT can benefit, for example, students in  rural  areas by having them attend classes  as distance learners and motivating them to learn like the “One Laptop per Child” (OLPC) initiative offers. Regarding this, the  potential  of  e-learning  seems  very  promising,  but  be-cause  of  gaps  between  developed  and  developing  countries  knowledge  transfer  is  not  only  difficult  but  also  ex-pensive. The world is confronted with two trends that have major implications for the worlds’ education systems. The first  trend  is  the  exponential  growth  in  knowledge  and technology that is transforming all aspects of global society and economy. The second trend is the increasing shortage of teachers in both developing and developed nations. E-learning can play a critical role in preparing a new generation  of  teachers,  as  well  as  upgrading  the  skills  of  the existing teaching force to use 21st century tools and pedagogies  for  learning.  E-learning  can  contribute  to  the  teachers’ development  as  part  of  a  national  strategy  for  educational and  economic  development,  its  role  in  helping  to  meet  the quantitative,  capacity-building  capabilities,  and  qualitative demand for teachers cannot be over emphasized. Many nations are not only coping with shortages of teachers, but with the  challenges  of  updating  the  knowledge  and  skills  of  the exiting teaching force [5]. E-learning has played an increasing  important  role  in  supporting  the  economic  and  educational growth of industrialized nations. It also offers opportunities for developing nations to enhance their educational and economic development.  In Section 2 various definitions of e-learning were looked into.  In  Section  3  relevant  literature  were  reviewed.  The challenges of e-learning in general and that of Nigerian university  education  was  the  content  of  Section  4.  Section  5 covered the issue of holistic e-learning, e-learning technologies and how social software can assist in knowledge transfer. Again  in  this  Section,  the  benefit  of  holistic  e-learning was discussed. Finally Section 6 concludes the matter, that if holistic  e-learning  is  adopted  in  Nigerian  Higher  education institutions,  the  use  of  social  software  will  lead  to  educational networking and knowledge transfer.

 

Definition of E-Learning

 

E-learning  is  not  only  about  training  and  instruction  but also about learning that is tailored to individual. Different terminologies  have  been  used  to  define  learning  that takes place online, a fact that makes it difficult to develop a generic definition. Authors agree that a single definition for  e-learning  has  not  yet  been  found.  Terms  that  are commonly  used  to  define  online  learning  include  e-learning,   Internet   learning,   distributed   learning,   net-worked learning, tele-learning and telematics distributed learning  [6,  7],  virtual  learning,  computer-assisted  learning,   Web-based   learning,   and   distance   learning.   E-learning covers a wide set of ICT technology-based applications and processes, digital collaboration and networking. It includes the delivery of content via Internet, Intra-net,  and  extranet,  satellite  broadcast,  audio-video  tape, interactive  TV  and  CD-ROM  [8].  Nonetheless, the different terminologies all point to a similarly conceived educational experience. All of these terms imply that the learner is at a distance from the tutor or instructor, that the learner uses some form of technology (usually a computer) to access  the  learning  materials,  and  that  the  learner  uses technology  to  interact  with  the  tutor  or  instructor  and other learners, and that some form of support is provided to learners [7]. The term E-learning brings together different fields as highlighted in the following definition: “E-learning is the unifying  term  to  describe  the  fields  of  online  learning, web-based  training,  and  technology-delivered  instruction”.  elearning.html  [9]  from http://agelesslearner.com/intros/elearning.html, the definitions  of  e-learning  highlights  the  use  of  computer and   communications   technology   in   this   process.   E-learning  is  an  approach  that  facilitates  and  enhances learning  through  both  computer  and  communications technology. Such devices can include personal computers, CD-ROMs,  digital  television,  personal  digital  assistants (also  called  PDAs)  and  mobile  phones.  Communications technology enables the use of the Internet, e-mail, discussion  forums,  collaborative  software  and  team  learning systems. E-learning may also be used to support distance learning  through  the  use  of  Wide  area  networks  (or WANs), and may also be considered to be a form of flexible   learning   where   just-in-time   learning   is   possible. Courses  can  be  tailored  to  specific  needs  as  either  synchronous (in real time) or asynchronous learning (stored for  use  later  on).  Where learning occurs exclusively on-line, this is called online education. When learning is distributed to mobile devices such as cell phones or PDAs, it is       called m-learning. Wikipedia [10] from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-learning.

   

 

Literature Review 

 

learning  in  tertiary  institutions  all  over  the  world  has undergone  tremendous  transformation,  especially  since the advent of information and communication technology (ICT). Czerniewcz  and  Brown  [11]  argued  that  globally, higher education has been required to become responsive to  many  more  social  interests  than  was  previously  the case and to engage with the imperatives being voiced by many different groups ranging from unions and associations   to   industry,   business   and   regional   authorities.   There is a shift from the traditional approach of teacher-directed  /  didactic  to  modern  methods  where  computer technology  plays  a  significant  role.  The  information  and communication  technology  has  promoted  learning  and made  it  more  meaningful,  where  students  can  stay  even in their homes or classrooms and receive lectures without seeing  the  lecturer.  The  aspect  of  information  and  communication technology that has brought  about this revolution  in  students’  learning  is  e-learning.  According  to [12],  the  21st  century  is  a  knowledge  century  and  the-would be engineers, doctors, architects and other professionals  to  be  produced  in  Nigeria  must  be  current  in knowledge.  Unfortunately,  the  diminishing  funding  of higher  educational  institutions  in  Africa,  coupled  with increased students’ enrolment has led to a decline in the quality  of  education  [13].  Although,  this  is  an  African problem,  but  it  seems  it  is  most  prevalent  in  Nigeria. Nwaka  [14]  observed  that  as  a  consequence,  Nigerian universities are now only a shadow of their former glory. In  Nigeria,  awareness  to  e-learning  started  gathering momentum  two  decades  ago.  The  early  exposure  came through lecturers who studied abroad and had opportunities  of  attending  conferences  on  e-learning  technologies. Even  at  that,  what  was  obtainable  as  was  the  case  with University of Abuja was the lowest aspect of ICT such as print, audio/video tapes and digital radios [1]. This situation  is  similar  in  other  universities  in  the  country.  This position is not a surprise because Nigeria has no specific policy  for  ICT  in  education.  It is  only  in  February  2007 that the Federal Ministry of Education created its ICT department [15].  However,  a  semblance  of  e-learning  exist,  at  the  departmental levels, rather than institutional, and these departments  are  more  in  the  medical,  engineering,  environmental  sciences  and  computer  science  or  informatics, where  the  synergy  between  research  and  teaching  was strongest,  and  the  essential  infrastructure  for  course  development  and  delivery  were  most  accessible.  To  meet citizens’  expectations  and  governments’  own  aspirations cost effectively, e-learning must become a key element of school,   higher   level   and   adult   education.  Today   e-learning  is  used  effectively  in  an increasing  number  of commercial  organizations  and  governments,  alongside conventional  methods;  there  is  also  an  emergence  of  e-Learning  systems  being  adopted  by  government  as  they begin to realize the benefits for students and teachers [16]. The  slow  pace  in  e-learning  development  may  have  in part accounted for the low rating of Nigerian universities globally  in  terms  of  impact  and  productivity  in  web-related  activities.  Interestingly,  no  Nigerian  University was  ranked  among  the  first  50  in  the  world  in  terms  of web size, papers, rich files and scholarship. In Africa, Nigerian  University  took  the  44th  position,  while  in  the world it ranked 5,834 [17]. According  to  [18],  the  core  medium  of  instruction  on the African continent remains print, with other technologies acting as a supplementary means of delivery. Nonetheless, there are significant investments which are being made in computer technologies to support functions such as the extension of programs to distant sites and the use of  ICTs  to  support  the  teaching  and  learning,  research and other management functions [19]. E-learning is meant to  encompass  all  approaches  of  delivery  instruction  to  a learner using electronics means. The traditional classroom of teaching and learning has always had the limitation of not  being  able  to  provide  personalized  learning  content that would meet the individual needs of each learner. E-learning  technologies  have  the  potential  of  being  de-signed to give the learner the appropriate content in line with the learners’ personal information requirements [20]. This  scenario  notwithstanding,  government  has  in  re-cent   past   evolved   and   funded   e-policy   programmes aimed  at  providing  e-learning  facilities  in  higher  institutions in Nigeria. This bold step was not sustained, and as such,  further  development  of  e-learning  technology  has attracted a not-so-good attention. This is mainly obtainable in universities. The situation at other levels of higher education  is  near  blurred.  Bugaje  [12]  lamented  that  e-learning is very minimal in our curriculum; Internet connectivity  in  our  institutions  still  relies  on  small  cafes owned by private individuals, libraries depict the picture of  museums  with  old  and  out-dated  books,  some  of which existed since the colonial era, and there is no connection  to  virtual  libraries  or  journal  websites.  Shettima [21]  pointed  out  that  the  University  of  the  21st  century must embrace e-learning as a strategy for delivering quality  teaching  and  offer  services  for  its  students.  Pushing further  he  maintained  that  e-learning  includes  digital  library,  computerization  of  administrative  services,  smart classrooms  and  e-journals.  Universities  could  take  advantage of new technological developments to address some of the problems of resource constraints, which is currently plaguing  the  university  system  in  particular  and  higher education  in  general.  For  e-learning  to  succeed  in  developing  counties  (such  as  Nigeria)  it  needs  to  build  on another  important  pillar,  which  is  the  existence  of  infra-structure, along with some degree of connectivity. NetTom [22] opined that cognitive gains from e-learning include hypertext learning which is non-linear and can be structured  to  engage  learners  into  making  greater  use  of critical  thinking  skills.  Educational  gains  of  e-learning include  being  forced  to  consider  the  requirements  of learners  and  becoming  more  flexible  with  curriculum. Also,  it  enables  learners  to  look  towards  teachers  for perspective interpretation, analysis, motivation and guidance  and  teachers  will  expect  learners  to  become  more critical  users  of  information  and  to  generate  their  own contributions  to  knowledge.  E-learning  delivers  content through   electronic   information   and   communications technologies  (ICTs).  Use  of  these  ICT,  involves  various methods  which  includes  systematized  feedback  system computer-based  operation  network,  video  conferencing and audio conferencing, internet worldwide websites and computer assisted instruction [23].

  

Challenges Of E-Learning

 

Folorunso  et  al.  [24]  found  that  mass  unawareness,  low computer literacy level and cost were identified as critical factors  affecting  the  acceptability  of  e-learning  by  students and lecturers of Nigerian universities. Schmidt [25] points out that e-learning places high demand on learners who  have  to  be  more  proactive  and  disciplined  than  in traditional face-to-face education. Schulmeister [26] states that  experience  proved  that  the  benefits  of  e-learning could not be fully taken advantage of, expectations could not be met and that technology often was used to simply reinforce outmoded  approaches  to  learning.  Resnick  [27] criticizes  that  even  though  ICT  is  applied  in  education, the  approaches  to  teaching  and  learning  remain  largely unchanged. In order to entirely profit from new technologies,  educational  approaches  and  concepts  of  how  technology  can  support  them  should  be  fundamentally  re-thought.

  

Challenges of Nigerian University Education

 

Nigeria’s higher education system currently has a total of 95 universities; 27 Federal universities, 34 State universities  and  34  Private  owned  universities  [28]  -  and  about 160  other  tertiary  institutions  -  Colleges  of  Education, Polytechnics, and Monotechnics [29]. Every year, about a million  students  apply  to  enroll  into  these  universities and barely 10% of them are enrolled [30]. In other words, the demand for university education in Nigeria is higher than what the university capacity can accommodate. Over the  years,  universities’  admission  rates  have  been  on  the rise;  however,  it  has  not  kept  up  with  the  increasing  demand [31].

Across these years, the highest point of admission into the  universities  has  only  been  11.8%,  while  the  average rate of admission is only 10.3% of the total number of applicant.  Figure  2  summarizes  the  constraint  faced  by  the Nigerian HE related to the implementation of E-learning.   The  development  of  human  resource  capacity  for  the delivery of an effective education is of grave importance [32].  UNESCO  [33]  however  reported  the  shortage  of teachers in all the key disciplines in Nigerian universities, with the exception of arts. The only areas where the staff-student ratios are approximately as expected are in veterinary  medicine  and  social  sciences.  Ogunsola  and  Ab-oyade [34] emphasized that developing countries must be active   in   developing   infrastructural,   institutional   and human  capital  capacities  to  effectively  tackle  the  challenge of limited capacity. In the context of ICT utilization in schools, [35] stressed that limited or non availability of ICT trained teaching staffs militate against capacity building in Nigerian universities. Ndulu  [36]  reported  that  over  21,000  Nigerian  PhD and  Medical  doctors  are  working  in  the  United  States. The consequence of such migration is that it reduces the capacity of  institutions  to  admit  more  students  as  the staff-student ratio keeps dwindling continuously.  The budget allocation to the education sector in Nigeria has  been  in  decline  over  the  years.  Less  than  10%  of the  national  budget  is  usually  allocated  to  education  in Nigeria as against 26% recommended by UNESCO [37]. Lack of some basic resources was reported such as limited number  of  textbooks  and  desks  or  writing  spaces, libraries   without   journals,   and   laboratories   without equipments [38]. Ekundayo [39], suggest the strategic use of  ICT  in  Nigerian  Higher  institutions  to  increase  its  capacity of admission. There  are  many  examples  of  online  collaboration  to develop  and  share  culturally  relevant  content  and  learning resources. Effective Internet resources must be identified and strategic matches made with the prescribed curricula.

    

Holistic E-Learning

 

According to our holistic conception, it is a move from separate e-learning research to holistic e-learning research as see in Figure 4. The need to move to multidisciplinary e-learning  research  is  described  when  information  systems,  organizations,  and  education  deals  with  e-learning from  design  theory  perspective  [40].  It  is  important  to consider the e-learning as a larger learning organizational and societal phenomenon than only as an individual level phenomenon, because as a new society with ICT innovation,  the  adoption  of  the  e-learning  needs  larger  view than only the view of the e-learning course development and use. This paper is proposing holistic e-learning in Nigerian Higher Education institutions.  The  problem  underpinning  e-learning  is  the  disparity  observed  between  the successful adoption of technology for administrative purpose and less successful adoption of technology with regards  to  teaching  and  learning.  We  assume,  however,  a semblance of e-learning exit, at the departmental levels of the  HE  institutions,  rather  than  the  whole  institutions, and these departments are more in the medical, engineering,  environmental  science  and  computer  science  or  informatics where the synergy

 

 

between research and teaching  were  strongest.  No  wonder  [41]  in  his  paper  titled “Nigerian   Graduating   Students’   Access   to   e-learning Technology”;  the  result  of  the  analysis  shows  that  graduating  students  in  Nigerian  higher  institutions  who have access to e-learning technology were negligible. This call for more concerted effort on the part of the managers of higher institutions to make e-learning technology more accessible to students at all levels.

 

E-learning Technologies

 

ICT  suitable  for  enabling  or  supporting  e-learning  is called  e-learning  technology.  E-learning  refers  to  the  use of  ICTs  to  enhance  and  support  teaching  and  learning process.  E-learning  is  the  earning  that  involves  acquisition,  integration,  generation  and  transfer  of  knowledge using ICT. Functionally, e-learning includes a wide variety of learning strategies and ICT application for exchanging information and gaining knowledge. E-Learning has the potential to improve teaching and learning through increased flexibility (the student decides on speed of learning, the time and place independence, and the versatility of different types of media), reduced time consumption (locating relevant information in online databases, and reduced time spent traveling), increased motivation (interactivity, multiple communication channels, and choice of media depending on learner preferences), better knowledge transfer (structured organization of content, improved search mechanisms for information, access and archiving of knowledge, shared knowledge resources, self-assessment tools), and increased media competence that is a valuable core competence in the knowledge society. The usefulness of ICT can be differentiated in things that cannot be done without ICT, such as learning anytime anywhere, Internet access to an increasing number of  educational resources, services with fast search and retrieval possibilities, and things that can be done better with ICT, like supporting different learning styles, customized and personalized learning materials and services, individualized tracking of learning progress and performance, and interactive communication between the participants (OECD, 2001b). According to the European Commission (2002), ICT-based learning innovations are justified by the relative advantages they have to offer as compared to traditional practices; they go along with the challenges of changing the roles of educators as well as changing educational practices, including course design, economic, legal, and management aspects.

ICT suitable for enabling or supporting e-learning is called e-learning technology. E-learning refers to the use of ICTs to enhance and support teaching and learning process. E-learning is the learning that involves acquisition, integration, generation and transfer of knowledge using ICT. Functionally, e-learning includes a wide variety of learning strategies and ICT application for exchanging information and gaining knowledge. The application of ICTs is already changing many higher learning institutions in most developing counties due to many socio-economic and technological circumstances. However in the case of FUTY, the ICT infrastructure is more tilted to the management and schools (faculties) than to the departments, lecture halls and the student hostels. This is the partial e-learning that exist in most Nigerian HE institutions. Hence this paper is proposing a move from separate e-learning (partial e-learning) research focus to holistic research focus. Holistic e-learning focus on the whole institution, in terms of ICT infrastructure installations that is (Management, Educators and education). Using this approach HE institutions in Nigeria will have a situation where there will be networking of information and knowledge transfer.

 

Future of E-Learning

 

The concept of E-Learning is still in its starting days and is being accepted by students, teachers, academicians, researchers and professionals. More and more E-Learning companies are getting born by each passing day, major institutions and universities are offering their academic programs through E-Learning. One of the major drawbacks of ILT in schools is the weight of school bags that children have to carry on their shoulders and face the problem of backache. Also, as the number of trees is becoming less and less by each passing day due to cutting of trees for manufacturing paper, though prohibited by most governments in their respective countries, is making way for E-Learning very fast. E-Learning will overcome these drawbacks, if instead of a heavy school bag, students are given a tablet with the course content fed into it, which would be much more interesting, entertaining, hi-tech and thoughtful decision to take in the 21st century instead of the old fashioned ILT way. This would also reduce the cutting of trees for the sake of paper and also give relief to students from backache. The cost associated with feeding the course content into a tablet is much less than buying several books of different subjects. The tablet will provide multimedia effects to teaching, for example when learning science students can see animation videos of protons and electrons, similarly when learning history students can see animation movies of Ashoka, Lord Buddha, and Vasco-De-Gama. E-Learning, a totally different experience, would soon take over from the old fashioned way of instruction led training. Presently, a tablet costs round $200, and is equipped with the latest gadgets like Wi-Fi, 4G, internet, phone and all other features of a laptop. In coming time, tablets are expected to replace the school bags that would provide a complete new experience of E-Learning or Edutainment Learning to the learners.

 

 

References

 

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24. Ndulu, B. J. (2004). Human Captial Flight: Stratification, Globalization, and the Challenges to Tertiary Education in Africa. Journal of Higher Education in Africa, 2(1), 57-91.

25. NetTom (2007). Why is e-learning important? Retrieved from file

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27. Ng,ambi, D. (2006, November 19-21). ICT and economic development in Africa: The role of higher education institutions. Cape Town: Centre for Educational Technology, University of Cape Town.

28. Ning, N. and Hong, B.(2010).Reaseach on Computer Technology for e-learning in Higher Education: 2010 International conference on e-Education, e-Business and e-Learning. 978-0-7695-3947-5/10. IEEE.

29. Nwaka, G. I. (2005). Higher education, the social sciences and material development in Nigeria. Paper presented at 11th General Assembly of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) Maputa Mozambique. Retrieved from file http:www.codesria.org/Links/conferences/general_assembly11/papers /nwaka.pdf.on 13/5/2007.

30. NUC (2009). List of Nigerian Universities and Years Founded Retrieved April 30, 2009, from http://www.nuc.edu.ng/pages/universities.asp

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INTRODUCTION

 

While issues of access and the adoption of new ICTs have tended to revolve around utopian themes of empowerment and the development potential of ICT, it has also raised the accompanying issue of digital divide and the challenges for developing countries to participate in the global information society. ICT, when adopted as one of many complementary strategies in development projects such as health, education and rural development, has the potential to empower communities with improved access to knowledge networks and services. On the other hand, any meaningful participation in this ICT ‘revolution’ is also challenged by very apparent discrepancies, imbalances and inequalities that currently characterize issues of ICT access and adoption. ICT has become a fashionable acronym borne largely out of the Internet and telecommunications ‘revolution’ to describe an electronic means of capturing, processing, storing and disseminating information. Little attention, however, is placed on the fact that ICT is not a recent phenomenon since its broader definition also includes print-media, radio, telephone and television. The pervasiveness of ICT has brought about rapid teleological, social, political and economic transformation, which have eventuated in a network society organized around ICT(Yusuf, 2005).  Currently e-learning is becoming one of the most common means of using ICT to provide education to students both on and off campus by means of teaching online offered via web-based systems. Considering the role of education in nation building and the population explosion in the secondary schools these days, the use of ICT in the teaching-learning process becomes imperative. This is true because its adoption by the teachers will enhance effective teaching. Such issues like good course organization, effective class management, content creation, self-assessment, self-study collaborative learning, task oriented activities, and effective communication between the actors of teaching learning process and research activities will be enhanced by the use of ICT based technology. Awareness campaign and sensitization of personnel is a necessary step in developing ICT infrastructure in education. Organization of seminars, conferences and workshops for top management and other critical staff within the Ministry of Education, National University Commission (NUC), and in the universities and with other stakeholders are necessary in ICT infrastructure development. These workshops, seminars and conferences aimed at raising the level of awareness of the infrastructure challenges, to discuss the users need and various infrastructure options, to promote and encourage multi-stakeholder approaches, to solicit feedback from management and staff (Gesci, 2007).  The effective deployment of ICTs in education will therefore require that Ministries of Education collaborate with other ministries and government bodies responsible for infrastructure and ICT and associated policy development and planning. Ministries and NUC also need to establish close working relationships with the private sector and civil society involved in developing and promoting ICT policies, plans and infrastructure. Ministry of Education should hold meetings with other important ministries and stakeholders. The meetings are important and used as avenues to share the infrastructure needs and requirement, to request for consideration of educational institutions in the National ICT planning process and to keep abreast of national ICT developments.

 

The Impact of ICT

 

Recent studies have considered the impact of ICT in higher education in terms of the benefits for tertiary learners; for example, (Oliver & Goerke, 2007) investigated the use of mobile learning (m-learning) at Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia. “They suggested that emerging technologies owned and used by students, and incorporated wisely into university curricula, can go some way towards enhancing high quality, face to face learning experiences, where articulated knowledge is constructed and student achievement of intellectually challenging outcomes is effected” (p. 12). Another study conducted at the University of Melbourne (Kennedy, Krause, Churchward, Judd, & Gray, 2006) found evidence of a significant positive association between effective use of ICT and success in tertiary studies. The researchers reported that many students endorsed the use of a number of technologies and technology-based tools in their university studies. For example, mobile phones were identified as one of the widely accessed technologies; therefore, in higher education, an important aspect of the shift in technological processes has been to the adoption of ICT for learning and teaching. (Aniebonam, 2007) offered ten major interventions which, he believed, would assist in integrating ICTs in driving educational reforms in Nigeria. These are(:) provision of infrastructure (cyber centres, classrooms building, offices, etc.), institutional network (LAN, WAN, WiFi), systems and applications (Internet, e-learning, education portals, etc.), capacity building, digital library, technical support in institutions, computer ownership scheme (for students, teaching and non-teaching staff), ICT content career development scheme, International Examination Digital Centre (IDEC) and continuous power supply.

 

Adoption of ICT in Higher Education Institutions

 

In developing countries Nigeria precisely, preliminary investigations show that only a few organizations in the economy have adopted the IT, but there has not been formal study to determine the level of diffusion and the factors affecting IT diffusion as well as impact on the efficiency of the organizations. (Achimugu, Oluwagbemi, Oluwaranti, & Afolabi, 2009)opined that the adoption of Information Technology (IT) successfully in Developing Countries is one of the most pressing current developmental issues. Since IT became commercial in the early 1990s, it has diffused rapidly in developed countries but generally slowly in developing ones. Nigerian universities are focusing on curricula that might contribute more directly to economic growth and network as in the case of Nigeria today, individuals may not use  ICT service for different reasons ranging from lack of interest, illiteracy, lack of awareness, exorbitant rate of services, poor quality of service and low per capita income. (Said, Lin, & Jim, 2009), investigated the perceived barriers to adopting ICT in Omani higher education. The findings show that the faculty members perceived moderate degrees of barriers in applying ICT to their teaching practices. The United Nations have identified four major sets of indicators for complete information technology diffusion in a country (Chiemeke & Longe, 2007): (a) ICT infrastructure and access. (b) Access to and use of ICT by households and individuals. (c) Use of ICT by businesses and (d) ICT sector and trade in ICT goods. The use of internet as a communication channel in Nigeria has led to increased productivity in sectors such as the educational, banking, communication and security, while Nigeria is gradually joining the league of globalizes nations.(Modupe & Binuomote, 2007), examined the awareness and adoption of Information Communication Technology (ICT) among secretarial staffs of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso. It was discovered that the level of adoption of Information Communication Technology (ICT) among the staffs in still low, information will have to be processed in a daily bases. However, recognizing the key roles that secretarial staffs play in University administration, it was recommended based on the findings of the study that more computer facilities are provided for these staffs, coupled with a good access to internet facilities.

             (Bridget, 2008) opined that pedagogical adoption of ICT is complex and requires an integration of vision, system-wide experimentation and new roles and relationships for teachers and students. Let us not forget that classrooms have never been ideal learning environments and teachers in public education systems have always been somewhat burdened by working with students who are there under compulsion. ICTs can help to make schools less-stressful workplaces for both teachers and students. The rapid diffusion of the Internet has not only generated a renewed interest in the role of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) in higher education and learning (Dutton & Loader, 2002), but it has also affected the ways people teach and learn(DeLacey & Leonard, 2002)and(Radcliffe, 2002). At the same time, there has been growing concern over the possible decline of traditional practices and institutions, as e-learning, virtual universities, and distance education become feasible alternative platforms for higher education. Students, teachers, and administrators have continued to employ the Internet and Web for their practices, and e-learning have remained a key item on educational agendas. The adoption of these systems in campus settings has many implications for ICT innovations in education.(Yi 2006)), said that relative advantage, complexity, observability, and image are the most important factor in predicting users’ intentions to make use of technology. (Martins, Steil, & Todesco, 2004) found that two most significant predictors are trialability and observability. There are numerous conditions to be met before ICT innovations can be introduced, adopted and diffused through higher education institutions. By investigating a range of theories devised to describe and understand attitudes towards, and uptake of, ICT innovations, a number of key factors in a framework for early adoption have been identified. Institutional factors include cultural values (management and personnel), communication and social networks, provision of suitable support, a safe environment for the exploration of new technologies and for creativity, as well as recognition and reward. Influences from outside the institution also have an impact on adoption of an innovation. External influences, such as the political climate and the aims of funding bodies, are broader in scope.

 

ICT in Education

 

Information and communication technologies (ICT) have become commonplace entities in all aspect of life. Across the pass twenty years the use of ICTs has fundamentally change the practice and procedures of nearly all forms of endeavor within business and governance. But with the world moving rapidly into digital media and information, the role of ICTs in education is becoming more and more important and this importance will continue to grow and develop in the 21st century. In our society information and communication technology (ICT) places an important role. It is impossible to imagine life today without computers. Government of most country has understood this development and has realized the influence of ICTs on the economy. Various departments have drawn up policy document with regard to ICTs.

Research into information and communication technologies (ICT) in organizations is well into its  third decade but there is still a pressing need to better understanding of  how computer-based technology are influencing in learning opportunities, and how the local conditions of schooling impact on teachers’ attempts to integrate this technologies in their classrooms. It seems that organizations are very much aware of the relevance of these issues. The implementation of the use of ICTs in education was and is essential to address the issues of how ICTs is used as object of learning (to acquire ICTs related skills) and as a tool for realizing particular educational objectives, especially the ones that are believed to be associated with the learning society, efficiency, competitiveness, effective learning, print content delivery, and distance education. The basic aim is to provide concrete results about the use of ICTs in education.

The term, information and communication technologies (ICT), refers to forms of technology that are used to transmit, store, create, share or exchange information. This broad definition of ICT includes such technologies as: radio, television, video, DVD, telephone (both fixed line and mobile phones), satellite systems, computer and network hardware and software; as well as the equipment and services associated with these technologies, such as videoconferencing and electronic mail. ICT in education means teaching and learning with ICT. Researches globally have proved that ICT can lead to improve students’ learning and better teaching methods. A report made by the National Institute of Multimedia Education in Japan, proved that an  increase in student exposure to educational ICT through curriculum integration has a significant and positive impact on student achievement, especially in terms of "Knowledge Comprehension" · "Practical skilland "Presentation skill" in subject areas such as mathematics, science, and social study. While we recognize that the use of instructional technology in the higher education teaching and learning processes is still in its infancy in Nigeria, ICT instructional use is vital to the progress and development of faculty and students alike. Higher education institutions, especially those in the West, have adopted ICT as a means to impart upon students the knowledge and skills demanded by 21st century educational advancement (UNESCO, 2009). ICT also adds value to the processes of learning and to the organization and management of learning institutions.

Although some HEIs have the zeal to establish effective ICT education programmes, they are faced with the great problems of proper implementation of the programme. The most important of these is poor ICT penetration and usage among Nigerian higher education practitioners. Almost all African countries’ basic ICT infrastructures are inadequate; a result of a lack of electricity to power the ICT materials and poor telecommunication facilities. Above all, this lack of access to infrastructure is the result of insufficient funds(Ololube & Egbezor, 2009).

Many cities and rural areas in Nigeria still have fluctuation in their supply of electricity which makes the implementation of ICT in education most difficult. Furthermore most Nigerian universities do not have access to basic instructional technology facilities, which also make the integration of instructional technology in the delivery of quality education difficult. Therefore, computer related telecommunication facilities might not be very useful for most Nigerian students and faculty members, as computers are still very much a luxury in institutions, offices and homes. This has made the integration of essential on-line resources (e-mail, world-wide-web, etc.) into higher education most difficult (Ifinedo & Ololube, 2007). According to the Commonwealth of Learning International (2001),” another serious challenge facing higher education in Nigeria is the need for integration of new ICT literacy knowledge into academic courses and programs. In this regard, professionals in Nigeria have not been able to benefit from international assistance, international networking and cooperation, or from courses, conferences and seminars abroad, because of lack of funding.” ICT proficiency is the ability to use digital technology, communication tools, and networks appropriately to solve information problems in order to function in an information society. This includes the ability to use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate, and communicate information. ICTs have the potential for increasing access to and improving the relevance and quality of education. The benefits of ICT tools for education are that, through ICT, images can be used in teaching and improving the retentive memory of students. Through ICT, teachers can easily explain complex instructions and ensure students’ comprehension. And through ICT, teachers are able to create interactive classes and make the lessons more enjoyable. Although ICT in education also have some disadvantages such as complications in setting up the device, too expensive to afford and hard for an inexperience teachers to use, this cannot be compared to its great advantages it has, for teaching and learning.

 

 

CONCLUSION 

 

The implementation of the use of ICTs in education was and is essential to address the issues of how ICTs is used  as  object  of  learning  (to  acquire  ICTs  related  skills)  and  as  a  tool  for  realizing  particular  educational objectives,  especially  the  ones  that  are  believed  to  be  associated  with  the  learning  society,  efficiency, competitiveness, effective learning, print content delivery, and distance education. The basic aim is to provide concrete  results  about  the  use  of  ICTs  in  education.  The finding of this study shows that Nigerian HEIs are lagging behind in the application of ICT to teaching and learning. The inadequacy of the ICT facilities and the lack of opportunities for training staff on how to use ICT for teaching and learning are major problems that must be looked into with an eagle eye. Despite the perceived benefits in the use of ICT in HEIs, many factors are inhibiting  its  successful  application  in  Nigerian  HEIs.  Recommendations  made  were  that  all  employed teachers in Federal, State and Private institutions should undertake mandatory training and retraining on ICT programmes.  This  is  to  provide  them  with  practical  and  functional  knowledge  of  computer,  internet  and associated  areas  of  ICT  for  improved  effectiveness  and  efficiency.  The  government  should  develop  ICT policies and practices that would support lecturers in their academic work and students in their learning. ICT tools should be made more accessible to both academic staff and students.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Achimugu, Oluwagbemi, Oluwaranti, & Afolabi. (2009). Adoption of Information and Communication Technologies in Developing Countries: An Impact Analysis. JITI, 9, 37-46.

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Archibong, I. A., & Effiom, D. O. (2009). ICT in University Education: Usage and Challenges among Academic Staff. . Africa Research Review, 3(2), 404-414.

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INTRODUCTION

 

Knowledge and its efficient management constitute the key to success and survival for organizations in the highly dynamic and competitive world of today. Efficient acquisition, storage, transfer, retrieval, application, and visualization of knowledge often distinguish successful organizations from the unsuccessful ones, and are essential for management of knowledge. Knowledge management (KM) is not about technology, it is about people. People as individuals, people as teams, people as communities, and people as organizations. If technology is handled properly it can make an important contribution. Technology can connect people with each other, it can connect people to information they find useful and it can also protect them from irrelevant content. There are numerous discourses associated with KM but it is only in recent times that e-learning has been identified as a strategic resource that can be utilized in an increasing diversity of venues (home, workplace, cultural and entertainment venues, as well as traditional institutions of learning, education, and training).

Learning and knowledge have a symbiotic relationship, they depend upon each other. From a slightly more complex perspective the creation, acquisition, transfer, and exchange of knowledge are all activities that are helping define the character of information - and knowledge-based economies – in which the primary assets of data, information, and knowledge all manifest digitally. The technological tools facilitating much of these interactions are information and communication technologies (ICT). And it is through engaging with ICT that learning defines itself as e-learning. During the last century, we have moved from the Industrial Age through the Information Age and now, to the Knowledge Age. The ability to obtain, assimilate, and apply the right knowledge effectively will become a key skill in the next century. Learning is the key to achieving our full potential. In fact, our survival in the 21st century as individuals, organizations, and nations will depend upon our capacity to learn and the application of what we have learned to our daily lives. In this paper present Section 2 discusses the definition of e-learning and also the history of e-learning. Section 3 discusses knowledge management as a concept and a scientific discipline. Section 4 discusses knowledge transfer, here KT is promoted as a social and interpersonal activity. Section 5 focus on knowledge transfer barriers and section 6 examines solutions to barriers of knowledge transfer. Section 7 concludes that the flow of knowledge depends on people and the social environment they operate in.

 

History of E-learning

 

The history of e-learning occurs in a more recent time frame. The development of telecommunications technology and personal computers provides what is considered to be the general timeline of e-learning. The time frame of greatest development in this area is thus within the last forty years .An early example of what we might define as e-learning occurred in 1909, when Robert E. Peary, arctic explorer, radio-telegraphed: "I found the Pole". Combining the characteristics of communication technology with an explicit educational objective, the knowledge that he has found the North Pole. Peary inadvertently produced an e-learning occurrence for his listeners. But, as electronic equipment has been developed, specifically the micro processor and personal computer, it too has been implicated in learning, culminating in current e-learning. Therefore, the history of e-learning runs parallel with the development of electronic equipment and the use of information and communication technologies.

Globalization is focused on e-learning because e-learning technology has the potential to bring improved learning opportunities to a larger audience than has ever previously been possible. (Sharma, Ekundayo, & Ng, 2009) suggested that a nation’s route to becoming a successful knowledge economy is its ability to also become a learning society. Students’ learning in tertiary institutions all over the world has undergone tremendous transformation, especially since the advent of information and communication technology (ICT). (Czerniewicz & Brown, 2009) argued that globally, higher education has been required  to become responsive to many more social interests than was previously the case and to engage with the imperatives being voiced by many different groups ranging from unions and associations to industry, business and regional authorities. (Erah, 2006) stated that the term e-learning refers to computer-enhanced training as opposed to the computer-based training of the 1980s. It is usually delivered in a personal computer and includes learning delivered by other communications technologies. According to him, e-learning is an approach to facilitate and enhance learning through both computer and communication technologies. The devices often used for this purpose include personal computers, CD ROMs, television, personal digital assistants (PDAs – handheld devices that were originally designed as personal organizers, but became much more versatile over the years), MP3 players and mobile phones. Communication technology enables the use of internet, e-mail, discussion forums, collaborative software, classroom management software, team learning systems, intranet, extranet, Local Area Network (LAN), Wide Area Network (WAN), audio and videotape, satellite and interactive television lectures, satellite-delivered learning, virtual educational networks, satellite downlinks, computerized diagnostic assessment, competency certification and electronic portfolios(Kaplan-Leierson, 2006; Oye , Salleh, & Iahad, 2010).

NetTOM (2007) held that e-learning should be seen as offering solutions to several challenges currently facing higher education. These include the move towards lifelong learning, with its ongoing demand for continuous professional development, and the drive to wider participation. These challenges come out at a time of increasing pressure on resources and the increasing diversity in the student population and their modes of attendance, including learning that is part-time, at a distance open or flexible, and work based e-learning can improve the flexibility and quality of learning by:

 

 

(a)  Providing access to a range of resources and materials which may not otherwise be available or accessible for example graphics, sound, animation, multi-media.

(b)  Giving control to students over when and where they study.

(c)  Allowing students to study at their own pace.

(d)  Providing a student with centered learning environment which can be tailored to meet the learning needs of individual students.

(e)  Creating an environment that promotes an active approach to learning.

(f)  Supporting increased communications between staff and students and amongst students.

(g)  Providing frequent and timely individual feedback, for example through computer assisted assessment and positive reinforcement.

(h)  Motivating students through appropriate use of interactive courseware.

(i)   Supporting and encouraging collaborative learning.

(j)   Supporting economic reuse of high quality, expensive resources.

(k)  Encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning.

 

 

Knowledge Management (KM)

 

KM comprises a range of strategies and practices used in an organization to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organizational processes or practice.  Many large companies and non-profit organizations have resources dedicated to internal KM efforts, often as a part of their 'business strategy', 'information technology', or 'human resource management' departments (Addicott, McGiven, & Ferlie, 2006). Several consulting companies also exist that provide strategy and advice regarding KM to these organizations. Knowledge management efforts typically focus on organizational objectives such as improved performance, competitive advantage, innovation, the sharing of lessons learned, integration and continuous improvement of the organization. KM efforts overlap with organizational learning, and may be distinguished from that by a greater focus on the management of knowledge as a strategic asset and a focus on encouraging the sharing of knowledge. KM efforts can help individuals and groups to share valuable organizational insights, to reduce redundant work, to avoid reinventing the wheel per se, to reduce training time for new employees, to retain intellectual capital as employees turnover in an organization, and to adapt to changing environments and markets(Thompson & Walsham, 2004).

Early KM technologies included online corporate yellow pages as expertise locators and document management systems. Combined with the early development of collaborative technologies (in particular Lotus Notes), KM technologies expanded in the mid-1990s. Subsequent KM efforts leveraged semantic technologies for search and retrieval and the development of e-learning tools for communities of practice.

Knowledge in modern economies is increasingly playing a key role in achieving organizational success. Knowledge management as a concept and a scientific discipline emerged to acknowledge this fact. Three main reasons can be identified for these developments are:

 

i.          Need: Today’s information technology enabled organizations to process and make use of more information in ever decreasing time cycles.

ii.         Recognition of need: Organizations increasingly recognize the need for and the importance of conscious management of knowledge.

iii.        Availability of KM-Instruments.

 

Practicing knowledge management in organizations can be achieved through the development and implementation of knowledge infrastructures as shown in Figure 1. Here knowledge infrastructures are defined as the set of all successfully implemented interventions, measures, institutions and facilities that represent a supportive knowledge environment for knowledge workers who execute knowledge intensive tasks.

 

 

Figure 1: Strategic Perspective on Knowledge Infrastructures.

 

 

KM deals with the conscious management of organizational knowledge through knowledge management interventions. Organizational knowledge is defined as information that is relevant for executing certain (business) actions. KM interventions are the set of all potential organizational initiatives that aim to improve an organization’s knowledge infrastructure. They can become, if successfully deployed, an integral part of knowledge infrastructures

 

 

Knowledge Transfer (KT)

 

The concept of KT is one aspect of the larger KM discipline. The movement of knowledge – including knowledge based on expertise or judgment, from one person to another. This definition emphasizes the exchange of tacit knowledge through personal connections and that knowledge is embedded in work practices and bound by individually based experiences, judgments, and skills. As a result, it is impossible to fully capture it in a report or PowerPoint slide. While it is important to be able to discover and access explicit information, it is the actual transfer of tacit knowledge that is vital to increased learning and knowledge within an organization as shown in Figure 2.

KT is enabled through social interactions among people within formal and informal networks. It is beneficial to facilitate the establishment of personal connections to increase knowledge flow within an organization. This is based on the understanding that it is not only what you know but also who you know.

 

 

Figure 2. Transfer of tacit knowledge.

 

 

KT is studied from multiple perspectives including the fields of e-learning and knowledge management. More recently, many papers specifically target the integration of findings from the two fields (Maier & Thalmann, 2007) in order to foster knowledge transfer between persons, organizational units or entire organizations or institutions respectively. These learning processes can be supported by information and communication technologies (ICT), typically called e-learning. E-learning resources, that are resources documenting knowledge refined with the help of didactical methods, can be prime instruments for knowledge transfer. Documented knowledge exists in differed forms, atomic as smallest unit of explicit documented knowledge, called knowledge chunks or as composed grouping of formatted information objects which cannot be separated without substantial loss of meaning, called documents (Maier, 2007).

 

Knowledge Transfer Principles

 

Knowledge is always tacit to begin with, that is, it exists only in workers’ mind and cannot be articulated easily. The struggle is to articulate this knowledge and transfer it into a physical medium so that it can be distributed, reuse and perhaps serve as the foundation of new knowledge.

Information captured in digital form, on paper, and in pictures generally tells what and why, but not how. Tacit knowledge explains the "how" and resides in individuals. It includes experience and expertise gained from operations and training, learned nuances and subtleties, and work- rounds. Mental agility, effective responses to crises, and the ability to adapt to change are also forms of tacit knowledge. This knowledge form is the domain of individuals, not technology. The process of KT can be enhanced through participation in interpersonal activities that are designed to expand shared experiences. Relationship building activities further the goals of creating a knowledge sharing environment. Improved organizational effectiveness, operational processes, and decision-making are results of a knowledge sharing culture. This requires a culture in which people seek out others who have the knowledge and actively build their personal social network to improve knowledge sharing.

             KT occurs when individuals are able to connect with others who have the desired expertise and experiences. Being able to leverage one's personal network through awareness and information technology can aid individuals who seek out, and desire to connect with the appropriate experts. People learn from both their personal experiences and through the experiences shared by others. Organizational learning strategies should encourage interactions and collaboration that promote knowledge transfer among individuals in organization. Fostering learning produces organizations and personnel who are able to learn faster than enemies and adversaries do.

Successful knowledge transfer depends on willingness to share knowledge so that others can benefit. This requires trust and understanding on both personal and professional level. Organizational initiatives should seek to increase trust and understanding among people in the organization to build stronger relationships. In the scope of e-learning, documented knowledge that can be used for learning purposes is typically called a learning resource (LR) or learning object (LO). A large number of initiatives have been deployed that specifically target knowledge transfer from developed to developing countries. Case studies have encountered significant barriers that have to be overcome, e.g., due to heterogeneous target groups for learning. Main differences are learning styles, motivation, age, previous knowledge, religion, cultural background and sex. A number of techniques have been developed for creating adaptable and adaptive e-learning systems (Brusilovski, 2001) which could provide partial solutions to this challenge.

 

Knowledge Transfer Barriers

 

KT problems with the delivery of LRs from developed to developing countries can be the result of barriers between designers of LRs and receivers. Such barriers can be related to, e.g., the infrastructural context, the cultural context, and the transferred knowledge (Maier, 2007). ICTs used in education are generally seen as a factor for national development and, therefore, a fundamental dimension. Regarding the case studies, barriers for knowledge transfer with LRs to developing countries can be distinguished in infrastructure, technology access, Internet access, maintenance of technology, and usability barrier  (Giannini-Gachago & Seleka, 2005; Hodgins-Williams & Mostert, 2005; Hodgins-Williams, Sieborger, & Terzoli, 2007; Lee, Thurab-Nkhosi, & Giannini-Gachago, 2005; Lumande, Ojedokun, & Fidzani, 2006; Muwanga-Zake, 2007; Naqvi, 2006; Wells & Wells, 2007).

The infrastructure barrier comprises aged infrastructure such as old landlines and lack of electricity. For example, privatization of the power sector often led to a lack of power in 6 of 7 observed schools in Uganda (Wells & Wells, 2007). Even if infrastructure is existent, services can be problematic, such as in South Africa where bills were not paid by schools and as a consequence they were disconnected from the Internet (Muwanga-Zake, 2007). The technology access barrier results from limited, absent or insufficient access to hard- and software. The access to technology in developing countries is low, in schools as well as at home (Giannini-Gachago & Seleka, 2005). Computer laboratories are not always open to students.  The maintenance barrier covers installation and maintenance of equipment, such as hard- and software. Maintenance is difficult due to the fact that the specialists who implemented the system had returned to their home countries and were not available anymore (Wells & Wells, 2007).

             Culture can be defined “as the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another. Therefore, people treat LRs and internalize content differently based on their backgrounds. The language barrier is an important aspect of transforming LRs to developing countries. “Language is the most clearly recognizable part of culture. Besides LRs, software, and most Web contents are in English and that is a low level of language skills in developing countries which can lead to misunderstandings. For example, the term ‘mouse’ which in ordinary English denotes an animal had to be translated to reflect a computer device.

             The social context barrier involves typical local opinions and traditions of a society Knowledge or group. Ubuntu, an African culture, has a specific value system and social conducts (Muwanga-Zake, 2007) which have to be considered. For many Africans, the Internet is an entertainment and communication tool and e-learning is for those who failed in traditional schools or those who have sufficient money to pay for international education. The didactical barrier can be seen as a consequence of procedures defined in a curriculum conflicting with procedures that students and teachers were used to before the e-learning initiative and a lack of openness to new learning approaches. For example, students and teachers had no more or rare face to face contact which was new to Thai students.

The computer literacy barrier covers the level of computer and information skills in developing countries, which is generally low. Special training is necessary to acquire these skills. Students and teachers had little or even no experiences using a computer. Even basic computer skills, such as using a mouse were absent among most teachers (Muwanga-Zake, 2007). The competence barrier results from little or no previous knowledge for handling and understanding LRs. Most teachers never had experiences in using computers to teach. Sometimes, instructors and assistants were not understood well by students and searching for materials on their own was new for some Thai students.

 

Solutions to Barriers of Knowledge Transfer

 

E-learning courses mostly are containers comprising resources, like text fragments, pictures, animations or videos, called media objects (MOs). Compositions of MOs enriched by the application of didactical methods or techniques are called learning objects (LOs). Wiley defines a LO openly as any digital resource that can be reused to support learning. In addition to the link to learning, this definition focuses on reuse as a key characteristic of LOs. In the scope of e-learning, a broad variety of metadata standards and specifications exist. Thereby, three main application domains can be distinguished: (i) metadata for LOs, (ii) metadata for learner descriptions and (iii) metadata for content aggregation. Metadata for LOs primarily describe content and usage of LOs. The dominant standard in this field is IEEE Learning Object Metadata (http://ltsc.ieee.org/wg12/files/LOM_1484_12_1_v1_Final_Draft.pdf)(Duval, 2004). Metadata for learner descriptions describe the learner itself and are primarily used for adaptation and evaluation.

             Alternatives for adaptation cannot provide sufficient solutions for every technology transfer barrier. In many cases, it is primarily investments in technical equipment that is needed(Giannini-Gachago & Seleka, 2005). In order to successfully apply e-learning in general and consequently alternatives for adaptation, a minimal level of technical infrastructure must be available. In the case of infrastructure and technology access barrier we can consider that the technical infrastructure is aged and cannot process LRs.  MOs have to be modified so that the existing infrastructure can cope with it. For instance, resolutions of graphics and videos must be reduced or content has to be reformatted. Furthermore, MOs inside an LO that cannot be processed must be removed and if possible replaced by processible MOs.

             In the case of an Internet access barrier, provisions similar to the ones mentioned in the case of infrastructure barrier can be used. If no Internet connection is available, LRs should be provided on data carriers, like CD or DVD, as CBT or static WBT consisting of static HTML code. Therefore, SCORM containers including LRs and sequencing descriptions, e.g., simple sequencing information can be used. In case of very low bandwidth, hybrid methods can also be applied. Transfer problems resulting from insufficient interfaces, called usability barrier, can be overcome by redesigning the interfaces. Normally, the interface is provided by the Learning Management System rather than by the LR itself. The interaction barrier is not primarily focused on the content itself. Instead, the way of how learners interact and discover the LR is critical. For problems not directly related to the LR, like interaction problems with online communication, reported in a South African case study, adaptation does not offer appropriate support. But organizational provisions, like role concepts or incentives to participate can help to overcome this barrier. Barriers concerning previous knowledge can be coped with by providing the learners with additional information enabling them to absorb LRs. Concerning the computer literacy barrier,(Giannini-Gachago & Seleka, 2005; Hodgins-Williams & Mostert, 2005; Lee et al., 2005) recommend training learners in computer usage, such as frequenting orientation sessions or passing a prerequisite level of computer literacy.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

E-learning barriers are heterogeneous encompassing personal, organizational, content, situation, instructional, and technological barriers. Knowledge management application is aimed to furnished organizations with tools to manage their business knowledge, while the focus of e-learning has always been on managing the delivery of academic knowledge. This paper enumerated barriers to knowledge management and transfer as infrastructure context, cultural context, social context, didactical barrier, language barrier, computer literacy barrier and computer competence barrier. Certainly, there is no precise solution for every barrier in the technology dimension, where minimal technological infrastructure has to be there in order to develop a functioning e-learning solution on top. The flow of knowledge depends on people and the social environment they operate in. As leaders and managers, it is important to understand the potential for improved performance by promoting a transfer culture within the organization. Communication technologies such as email, electronic discussion forums, instant messaging, chat rooms, and video conferencing primarily support knowledge transfer. E-Learning environments support knowledge transfer not only by helping learners to make sense of content, but also by enabling communication, both among learners and between learners and tutors. Knowledge transfer problems with the delivery of LRs from developed to developing countries can be the result of barriers between designers of LRs and receivers.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

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Brusilovski, P. (2001). Adaptive hypermedia. User modeling and user adapted interaction. 11(1/2), 87-110.

Czerniewicz, L.  & Brown, C.  (2009).  A  virtual  wheel  of  fortune?  Enablers  and  constraints  of  ICTs in  Higher Education in South Africa. In M. W. K. a. W. T. E. S (Ed.),  Bridging the knowledge Divide (pp57-76). Charlote: NC: Information Age. 

Duval,   E.  (2004).  Learning   technology   standadization:   making   sense   of  it  all.   Computer   Science   and Information Systems, 1(1), 33-43.

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Giannini-Gachago,  D.  &  Seleka,  G.  (2005).  Experiences  with  international  online  discussions:  Participation patterns  of  Botswana  and  American  students  in  an  adult  education  and  development  course at  the University  of  Botswana.  International  journal  of  education  and  development  using  information  and communication technology, 1(2), 163-184.

Hodgins-Williams,  C.  &  Mostert,  M.  (2005).  Online  debating  to  encourage  student  participation  in  online environments:  a  qualitative  case  study  at  a  South  African  university.  International  Journal  of   Education and Development using ICT. 1(2), 94-104.

Hodgins-Williams, C., Sieborger, I. & Terzoli, A. (2007). Enabling and constraining ICT practice in secondary schools: case study in South africa. International Journal of   Knowledge and learning, 3 ((2/3)), 171-190.

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Lee, M., Thurab-Nkhosi, D. & Giannini-Gachago, D. (2005). Using information collaboration to develop quality assurance  processes  for  e-learning  in  developing  countries:  the  case  of  the  university  of  Botswana and the university of West Indies Distance Education Centre.  International journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, 2(1), 66-78.

Lumande, E., Ojedokun, A., & Fidzani, B. (2006). Information literacy skills course delivery  through WebCT: the university of Botswana Library experience. International Journal of   Education and Development using ICT. 2(1), 66-78.

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Maier,  R.  &  Thalmann,  S.  (2007).  Describing  learning  objects  for  situation  oriented  knowledge  manament applications.  Gronau,  N.  4th  (ed)  (pp343-351)  Paper  presented  at  the  Professional  Knowledge management experiences and Visions, GITO, Berlin.

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INTRODUCTION

 

In the last century, we have moved from the Industrial Age through the Information Age and now to the Knowledge Age. Knowledge and its efficient management constitute the key to success and survival for organizations in the highly dynamic and competitive world of today. Efficient acquisition, storage, transfer, retrieval, application, and visualization of knowledge often distinguish successful organizations from the unsuccessful ones. The ability to obtain, assimilate, and apply the right knowledge effectively will become a key skill in the next century. Learning is the key to achieving our full potential. Our survival in the 21first century as individuals, organizations, and nations will depend upon our capacity to learn and the application of what we learn to our daily lives.

E-learning has the potential to transform how and when employees learn.  Learning will become more integrated with work and will use shorter, more modular, just-in-time delivery systems. E-learning delivers content through electronic information and communications technologies (ICTs). According to (Ajayi, 2008), the use of these facilities, involves various method which includes systematized feedback system, computer-based operation network, video conferencing and audio conferencing, internet worldwide websites and computer assisted instruction. This delivery method increases the possibilities for how, where and when employees can engage in lifelong learning. Employers are especially excited about the potential of e-learning for just-in-time learning delivery. By leveraging workplace technologies, e-learning is bridging the gap between learning and work. Workers can integrate learning into work more effectively because they use the same tools and technology for learning as they use for work. Both employers and employees recognize that e-learning will diminish the narrowing gap between work and home, and between work and learning. E-learning is an option to any organization looking to improve the skills and capacity of its employees. With the rapid change in all types of working environments, especially medical and healthcare environments, there is a constant need to rapidly train and retrain people in new technologies, products, and services found within the environment. There is also a constant and unrelenting need for appropriate management and leveraging of the knowledge base so that it is readily available and accessible to all stakeholders within the workplace environment.

 

Categories of E-learning

 

Most discussion of e-learning centers on courses. Organizations typically take existing educational materials, add various media, sequence the material and consider it “transferred” to the online environment. The popularity of learning management systems (LMS) like WebCT and Blackboard, (and the perception that they are needed as a starting point) testifies to the prominence of courses as a view of e-learning. Some designers are beginning to employ simulations, storytelling, and the unique traits of online media in an effort to transform the material for representation in a digital environment. The predominance of “courses as e-learning” view stems from their similarities to the classroom environment. Both learners and instructors are able to relate to the general structure and flow on a course.

 

Informal Learning

 

Informal learning is perhaps the most dynamic and versatile aspect of learning. Unfortunately, it is also the least recognized. Informal learning is a by-product of information foraging. Our need for information (and how we intend to use it) drives our search. Search engines (like Google) coupled with information storage tools (like Furl) and personal knowledge management tools like wikis and blogs present a powerful toolset in the knowledge workers portfolio. ( Bates, 2005)[4]: states that: “At work we learn more in the break room than in the classroom. We discover how to do our jobs through informal learning — observing others, asking the person in the next cubicle, calling the help desk, trial-and-error, and simply working with people in the know. Formal learning – classes and workshops and online events – is the source of only 10% to 20% of what we learn at work.”

 

Blended Learning

 

Blended learning provides the best opportunities for learning transition from classroom to e-learning. Blended learning involves classroom (or face-to-face) and online learning. This method is very effective for adding efficiency to classroom instruction and permitting increased discussion or information review outside of classrooms. For example, a new product release may be communicated to sales staff through a three-hour workshop, followed by online resources and discussions for continued learning (without significantly impacting the work activities of the sales force). Blended learning combines several different delivery methods, such as collaboration software, web-base courses and computer communication practices with face to face instruction (Kaplan-Leierson, 2006). Blended learning utilizes the best of classrooms with the best of online learning.

While in the early days of e-learning the sole application of technology-oriented concepts was propagated, current approaches cover hybrid forms of educational methods. The idea of the popular concept Blended Learning is to effectively join traditional face-to face education with technological elements to offer a variety of methods and channels for learning. In blended learning face-to-face education and e-learning complement and supplement each other. Schmidt (2005) states that blended learning join the effectiveness and flexibility of e-learning with the social aspects of collaborative learning. Kleimann and Wannemacher (2004) understand the combination of face-to-face with virtual sessions as simplifying communication and the establishment of groups which enhances the motivation of learners. Blended learning aims at the improvement of learning processes to reach individual learning targets using all appropriate educational methods. This approach tries to address the shortcomings of the exclusive implementation of e-learning without face-to-face exchange. Ehlers (2004) sees blended learning to offer learners those links corresponding to the respective individual learning preconditions. Phases of systematic knowledge transfer and self-paced exploration are integrated whereas the adjustment of the components to the situation and requirements of the learners are important. Blended learning integrates virtual components with traditional classroom education. Combining face-to-face learning with synchronous and asynchronous forms of e-learning as well as collaborative and self-paced elements aims to compensate drawbacks of the single approaches (compare Figure 2.1).

 

 

 

Figure 2.1: Different aspects of blended learning

 

 

 

 

As the didactical framework and the nature of courses vary, the choice and composition of the elements and methods of a blended learning scenario have to be chosen individually. While different scenarios of blended learning can be realized, a common implementation is traditional face-to-face education with integrated e-learning elements to enrich teaching. The introduction of technical elements like the presentation of interactive contents, application sharing or online collaboration provides additional methods to supplement traditional education.

 

Communities

 

Learning is social (Ally,2004). Most problems within our business environments today are complex and dynamic. Yesterday’s solutions don’t always work today. Problem solving requires different perspectives to create an accurate understanding of potential solutions and environment of implementation. Online communities allow people to stay current in their field through dialogue with other members of the same organization, or the larger global field. Communities strongly contribute to the flow of tacit knowledge. Knowledge management (KM) is the significant challenge for businesses in a knowledge economy. KM involves the process of identifying, indexing, and making available (in various formats) knowledge generated within the daily activities of an organization. Some companies have found value in managing content, mining emails, and creating communities of practice (Capozzi, 2007; Kasowitz, 1998 and Lorrain, 2007)]. Tafe Frontiers presents eight categories of knowledge management: learning and development, information management, client feedback, knowledge capture, knowledge generation, virtual teams, communities of practice, and content management systems[1]. The duplication of KM and e-learning concepts highlights the strong connections (and blurring) between these fields.

 

Learning Networks

 

Communities typically form around a particular goal, concept or theme. A learning network is the loose, personal coupling of communities, resources, and people. It is the cornerstone of personal knowledge management. [13] states that: “The permanent white water in today’s systems is creating a situation in which institutional learning patterns are simply inadequate to the challenge. Subject matter is changing too rapidly” (p. 41). The utilization of personal learning networks allows knowledge workers to remain current in their field. Several trends are spurring the momentum behind e-learning.  There is the need for firms to keep up with the ever-changing businesses environment and shorter product lifecycles. Another trend is the growing importance of information sharing. E-learning can be taken outside of company firewalls and can be used to educate firm partners, customers, and suppliers, in addition to the firm’s employees. In return, the firm can generate new knowledge through the use of chat rooms, surveys, etc. Knowledge partner’s benefit from the information gained through e-learning, while the firm in turn benefits from the capture of new information from knowledge partners. Once information is captured and categorized as useful knowledge, its sources become irrelevant in terms of value. Cisco Systems, one of the many companies that promotes e-learning as part of its knowledge management strategy, defines the benefits of e-learning as follows (Cisco Systems, 2001): “E-learning provides a new set of tools that can add value to all the traditional learning modes – classroom experiences, textbook study, CD-ROM, and traditional computer-based training.” Old-world learning models do not scale to meet the new world learning challenges. E-learning can provide the tools to meet that challenge.

 

 

E-LEARNING METHODOLOGIES

 

E-learning exploits Web technology as its basic technical infrastructure to deliver knowledge. As the current trend of academic and industrial realities is to increase the use of e- learning, in the near future a higher demand of technology support is expected. In particular, software tools supporting the critical task of instruction design should provide automated support for the analysis, design, documentation, implementation, and deployment of instruction via Web. Learner(s) - Tutors(s) Interaction, and Learner(s) – Learner(s) Interaction: these two types of interactions are among humans, and they are the interaction forms that people are most familiar with. Therefore, most research studies are focusing on these two types of interaction, especially in the research of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL). According to (Hiltz and Turoff, 2002), if collaboration rather than individual learning designs were used in an online class, students should be more motivated to actively participate and should perceive the medium as relatively friendly and personal as a result of the online social interactions. This increased active group interaction and participation in the online course, hence, resulted in higher perceptions of self-reported learning. Whereas individuals working alone online tended to be less motivated, perceive lower levels of learning, and score lower on the test of mastery.

In CSCL, researchers usually distinguish two types of interactions between learner- tutor and learner- learner. The first one, synchronous interaction, requires that all participants of interaction are online at the same time. Examples include Internet voice telephone, video teleconferencing, text-based chat systems, instant messaging systems, text-based virtual learning environments, graphical virtual reality environments, and net based virtual auditorium or lecture room systems. Synchronous interaction promotes faster problem solving, scheduling and decision making, and provides increased opportunities for developing.  In 2000, Hron et al. studied the interaction in virtual learning groups supported by synchronous communication. They found that learning in virtual environments can be greatly enhanced by content-related dialogues with minor off-task talk, coherent subject matter discussion with explanation, and equal participation of students supported by synchronous interaction ( Hron et’al., 2000).. However, the cost of synchronous interaction is usually very high, and synchronous interaction is more constricted due to time differences. The second one is asynchronous interaction, in which learners or tutors have freedom of time and location to participate in the interaction, examples including interaction using e-mail, discussion forums, and bulletin board systems. It has been reported that by extending interactions to times outside of classes, more persistent interaction and closer interpersonal bonds among students can occur (Haythornthwaite, 1999). Thus, while one cannot totally simulate a real classroom with synchronous interaction, one can offer asynchronous interaction that provides time for better reflection, and allows global communication un-bounded by time zone constraints. Asynchronous interaction thus is more commonly provided in CSCL systems than the costly synchronous interaction.

 

Hypermedia and Web-based Instruction

 

The most common technology that has been used to implement the Learner-Content type of interaction is hypermedia. Hypermedia, which is a combination of multimedia and hypertext, has a node-and-link structure inherent to the organization of information and is based on integrated media (Thomson and Cooke, 2000). Students interact with hypermedia systems by exploring the links to multimedia learning materials. Hypermedia can be easily implemented in a Web-based Instruction (WBI) system and be delivered to students through the Internet. In such WBI systems, students have great flexibility in choosing the time, pace, frequency and form of learning activities. Hypermedia technology allows learners to explore a topic in multiple ways through different node and link structures. Such exploratory interaction between the learner and the learning content can help the learner create associational links within and across text, images, video, and other media, and finally build an integrated conceptual model. Students are not passive but proactive in interpreting and constructing new knowledge from the hypermedia information by processing and filtering it through their existing cognitive structures. In addition, research has shown that multimedia can both improve students’ higher-level of comprehension of knowledge, capture students’ interest, and generate subjective feelings of better learning (Demetriadis et’al., 2003). Particularly as reported, highly animated media such as video or audio can make students feel as if they were in the classroom listening to the teacher, which creates a more vivid social context of learning and interaction. In this sense, hypermedia systems can make students’ interaction with contents more vivid and thus can make students learn more efficiently.

 

Multimedia-based Virtual Classroom

 

Recently, more and more online course providers are claiming that they provide “Virtual Classrooms” for more effective learning. But what is a “Virtual Classroom”? There has not been a consensus on this issue yet. The most recent use of the name “Virtual Classroom,” however, is from a different perspective. As stated in ( Deshpande and Hwang, 2001), a virtual classroom environment aims at simulating a real classroom for remote participants, who can receive a live class feed and are also able to interact and participate in the class by asking questions. This concept is fashioned after a lecture-style classroom environment. The emphasis of this type of Virtual Classroom system, in our understanding, is the multimedia simulation of lecture presentations. In this paper, we interpret the Virtual Classroom concept from this perspective.

Considering Virtual Classroom (VC) as the multimedia simulation of lecture presentations, there are many examples available from both commercial applications and academic experimentations, such as the IBM Lotus® Virtual Classroom and the real-time interactive virtual classroom multimedia distance learning system developed at the University of Washington ( Deshpande and Hwang, 2001; Czerniewicz and Brown, 2009. The key technology feature of this type of VC is the integration of multiple media channels for simulating a real classroom presentation. Currently, the most applied method is to use streaming video and audio to capture the class or lecture talk, and use images and texts to represent the presentation materials including electronic slides, written text on a white board, or lecture notes. Some VC applications also have the function for synchronizing these media channels.

The communication technologies, particularly videoconferencing technologies enable real-time interactive in two-way or multi-way, communications among students and the instructor. Other synchronous communication technologies such as telephone or on-line chat facilities and key response pads have also been used in similar VC environment. We note that, such synchronous interaction provides the instructor with useful feedback to gauge students’ comprehension, and thus allows the instructor to adjust the presentation of material accordingly in real time. However, learning in synchronous VC is seriously constricted to time differences. Vaishnavi and Kuechler (2004) use synchronous answering in the E-Classroom, the lecture is segmented into small pieces according to topic transition, and hyperlinks are added to help students navigate through different segments. Therefore, students can interact with the learning content as interacting in a hypermedia system. However, different from the other commonly available VC systems, the LBA( Learning by Asking) system attempts to add in a new type of interaction by allowing students to type in a natural language question and receiving answers extracted from the recorded lectures. Although the impact of such interaction on the effectiveness of the learning system was not studied in the LBA study, we believe this new type of interaction is a good bridge between the Learner-Content type of interaction and the Learner- Instructor type of interaction, because we believe the questioning and process with the help of video and audio of the instructor can well simulate the live communication between people.

 

E-Learning tools

 

Maier and Thalmann (2007)  opined that e-learning tools and facilities should be available for both management and academic staff so as to have holistic e-learning. Here we discuss three types of e-learning tools: (i) curriculum tools,(ii) digital library tools and (iii) knowledge representation tools. We can generally say that each type of tool emphasizes different parts of the process. Curriculum tools provide a systematic and standard environment to support classroom learning; their functions are particularly helpful in the initiation and selection stages. Digital library tools facilitate effective and efficient access to resources to support exploration and collection while knowledge representation tools focus on formulation and representation. Curriculum tools are widely used in high school and college of education. Materials are selected and organized to facilitate class activities. Additional tools, such as discussion forums and online quizzes, are integrated to support collaboration and evaluation. A typical commercial curriculum tool includes three integrated parts: instructional tools, administration tools, and student tools. Instructional tools include curriculum design and online quizzes with automated grading. Administration tools include file management authentication, and authorization. Student tool functions include:

 

i.          Browsing class material: readings, assignments, projects, other resources

ii.         Collaboration and sharing: asynchronous and synchronous bulletin boards and discussion forums.

iii.        Learning progress scheduling and tracking: assignment reminders and submission, personal calendars, and activity logs.

iv.        Self-testing and evaluation: tests designed by instructors to evaluate student performance

v.         WebCT and Blackboard are the most popular commercial curriculum tools. A review comparing these two tools suggests that Blackboard’s flexible content management and group work support (Bayne and Cook, 2006) make it more suitable for independent and collaborative learning. WebCT’s tighter structure and fully embedded support tools make it more appropriate for guided, less independent learning. In general, these tools are tailored more to support class activities than independent research or self-study.

 

While curriculum tools support class functions, digital library tools focus on locating resources. These functions support the exploration and collection phases of information search. Digital library tools help users find the right information amidst a huge amount of digital material. Digital library features usually include search, browsing, and discovering special collections or exhibits. Search and browsing are used to locate resources and explore related topics. Special collections or exhibits contain organized materials representing a unique treasure for interested users.

Knowledge representation tool help learners to visually review, capture, or develop knowledge. Curriculum tools rely primarily on a text-based, syllabus approach to describing course content. This approach often fails to delineate the relationship of concepts and skills covered in one course to those covered in another. It also fails to show the knowledge base that a learner will have acquired at the end of his/her course of study. A visualization tool can engage both learners and instructors in an active learning process when they construct spatial semantic displays of the knowledge, concepts, and skills that the learner possesses and acquires ( Vaishnavi and Kuechler, 2004).

The e-Learning evolution proposes a good number of tools assisting the instructional designer during the analysis, design, implementation, and delivery of instruction via the Web [5]. If on one side an automated support should be provided by authoring tools (Campbell and Mahling, 1998; Kasowitz, 1998 and Oye et’al., 2011), on the other side these tools should implement suitable e-learning process design methodologies ( Douglas, 2001; Thomson and Cook, 2000).

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

E-learning is among the most important booms triggered by the internet revolution. This allows users to fruitfully gather knowledge and education both by synchronous and asynchronous methodology to effectively face the need to rapidly acquire up to date know-how within productive environments. E-learning delivers content through electronic information and communications technologies (ICTs). According to Ajayi, 2008), the use of these facilities, involves various methods which includes systematized feedback system, computer-based operation network, video conferencing and audio conferencing, internet worldwide websites and computer assisted instruction. This delivery method increases the possibilities for how, where and when employees can engage in lifelong learning. Finally we conclude that synchronous tools should be integrated into asynchronous environments to allow for “Any-time” learning model. This environment would be primarily asynchronous with background discussion, assignments and assessment taking place and managed through synchronous tools that integrate into the asynchronous environment, schedule and resources.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

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Deshpande,  S.G.,  and  Hwang,  J.-N.  (2001)."A  Real-Time  Interactive Virtual   Classroom   Multimedia   Distance   Learning   System,"   IEEE TRANSACTIONS  ON  MULTIMEDIA  (3:4),  DECEMBER  2001,  pp 432-444.

 

 

 

 

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  N.D.  Oye  ,  M.  Salleh,  and  N.A.  Iahad,  “Challenges  of  E-learning  in Nigerian  University  Education  Based  on  the  Experience  of  Developed Countries,”   International      Journal   of         Managing   Information Technology,  vol. 3, no. 2, 2011, pp. 39-48.

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INTRODUCTION

 

The recent rapid development in Information and Communication Technology (I.C.T) evolving learner behaviors require learning institutions to assess and evaluate their approaches to pedagogy, both in physical and virtual classroom spaces. The current increasing availability of relatively cheap mobile cost (both in devices and services) has brought hitherto another opportunities and challenges for Nigeria educational institution, systems and their teachers and learners. The questions of what I want to learn, where I want to learn, how I want to learn, when I want to learn, from which source do I want to learn, and other questions are current opportunities that are being explored with new requirement not only to the technological and educational perspectives alone, but also to the social interaction that is involved. Therefore, it is true to say that technology creates new conditions for learning for all and Sundry (Ibara 2008).

             The term mobile learning (m- learning) refers to the use of mobile and handheld IT devices, such as Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), mobile telephone, laptops and tablet PC technologies, in teaching and learning. The evolution from 3G to 4G will be driven by services that offer better quality (video and sound) thanks to greater bandwidth more sophistication in the association of a large quantity of information and improved personalization. This will lead to mobile learning achieving nearly all that e-learning can do today, without the need of carrying around a desktop or laptop computer (Nix,2008).

             We define mobile learning (commonly referred to as m-learning) as all “knowledge in the hand”. It includes the use of mobile/handheld devices to perform any of the following:

 

           Deliver education/ learning

           Foster communications/collaboration

           Conduct assessments/evaluations

           Provide access to performance support/knowledge

 

By the term M-Learning, it is the common abbreviation for the term Mobile Learning. Quite a number of specialists and academics in the field of M-Learning have through their respective perspectives given meaning to this term. Quinn (2003, 3-5) defined M-Learning as learning that takes place with the help of mobile devices. M-Learning wikipedia (2008, 1) opined that it is the learning that happens across locations, or that takes advantages of learning opportunities offered by portable technologies. It also refer to any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies. Mobile learning applications are best viewed as mediating tools in learning.

It also applies to learning with portable technologies where the focus is on the technology, learning across contexts, which brings focus on the mobility of the learners, interacting with portable or fixed technology, and learning in a mobile society, with a focus on how society and its institutions can accommodate and support the learning of an increasingly mobile population. According to Traxler (2005, 3), he commented that mobile learning can be defined as educational provision where the sole or dominant technologies are handheld or palmtop devices. Also, those flexible tools as that can be adapted to suit the needs of a variety of teaching and learning styles (curtis et al 2002, 30).

Emphasis should also be drawn on two prominent importance of mobile technologies. They are personal and portable.

 

(a) personal – this affords individuals respective opportunity to have their own equipment, such as a mobile phone.

(b) Portable – this feature brings the opportunity to the owner/carrier of such technology access to static resources (M-Learning in Education - 2006).

 

M-Learning will achieve great feat in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Nigeria because of the daily increasing access to mobile technologies with improving mobile functionality. Typical examples of Mobile Internet  Connectivity, Multimedia Messaging System (M.M.S) – the successor to SMS, this enables subscribers to compose and send photo, audio, video.

Short Message service (S.M.S) – available on most digital mobile phones, is a service that permits the sending of short messages or simply text between mobile phones and other hand held devices.

Instant Messaging (IM): It connects a client that hooks up a user to an instant messaging service. General Packet Radio Service (G.P.R.S) – a mobile data services available to users of G.S.M (Global System for mobile – telephone). It also provides internet access to phones. Personal Area Network (PAN) a network for communication among computer devices and telephones like intercom.

Third generation (3a) mobile: designed to offer a consistent set of services to mobile computer and phone users. Public access WLAN and mobile telecommunication Convergence this access technology allowing users and devices to move between telecommunications technology and public access. (Wager, 2006 (2005). Open and Distance Learning and Usability of M-Learning Devices in Nigeria Bruns (2006, 1) presented that the use of mobile learning potentially brings the rewards of placing institution at the pedagogical practice that addresses student needs for flexibility and ubiquity, that is, anywhere, anytime and any device learner engage on. He further stressed that this trend makes learning highly situated personal, collaborative and ideal learner-centered.

As this generally in Nigeria bias gradually affecting the populace to be digitally literate, through the use of mobile phones and other handheld devices which has affected their orientation entirely. More importantly, mobile devices could significantly improve literacy and numeracy skills, encourage independent and collaborative learning opportunities, identify learner areas of need and assistance. This, therefore, promotes self confidence in open and distance learners.

The use of mobile technology will provide the tools to help learners construct knowledge throughout their daily learning. When learning occurs in contexts outside the classroom, who’s learning importance of community becomes important. Ibara (2008, 1) categorically stated that the demand on the conventual’s higher education delivery system in Nigeria is high and persistently on the increase that the system itself cannot guarantee. Sadly, the level of infrastructural decay in the convention education system is remarkable. Hence, we have the need for open and distance learning with the use of common tools like mobile phone to achieve this feat. M- learning is out to solve the problems of admission and accessibility in education. A prominent example of ODL in Nigeria is National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).

This institution has not started using M-learning devices, but this is an opportunity to explore the benefits endowed in this method of learning. There are more wireless network services and devices in Nigeria now than ever. Network like Zain, MTN, Glo mobile, starcom, and other can serve such purpose in order to bring to fulfillment the goal of distance education as entrenched in the revised National Policy on Education (Federal Republic of Nigeria) (FRN) 2004 that:

 

- To provide access to quality education and equity in educational opportunity for those who otherwise would have been denied.

- To meet special needs of employers by mounting special certificate courses for their employees at their work place.

- To encourage internationalization especially of tertiary education curricula

- To ameliorate the effect of internal and external brain drain in tertiary institutions by utilizing Nigeria experts as teachers regardless of their locations or places of work.

 

Problems of M-Learning in Nigeria

 

The following potential benefits are inherent in the use of mobile devices in teaching and learning, not only as good tools in administration, organization and teaching aids for practitioners and learning support tools for learners, other include.

 

- Learners can interact with each other and with the practitioner instead of hiding behind large monitors.

- It is much easier to accommodate several mobile devices in a classroom than several desktop computers.

- PDAs or tablets holding notes and e-books are higher and less bulky than bags full of files, paper and textbooks, or even laptops,.

- Handwriting with the styles pen is more intensive than using keyboard and mouse.

- Its is possible to share assignments and work collaboratively; learners and practitioners can email, cut, copy and paste text, pass the device around a group, or beam the work to each other using the infrared function of a PDA or a wireless network such as Bluetooth.

- Mobile devices can be used anywhere anytime, including at home, on the train in hotels this is invaluable for work-based training.

- These devices engage learners, young people who may have lost interest in education like mobile phones gadgets and games devices such as game boys.

- This technology may contribute to combating the digital divide as this equipment is generally cheaper than desktop computer. (Mobilelearn project 2006).

 

Review of M-Learning

 

Mobile learning as developed by distance teaching institutions has been concerned with three main types by the research carried out on mobile learning generally in Europe (Carvalho, et al. 2008). Firstly, mobile learning has been introduced on a large scale with a general aim of increasing quality and access by supplying courseware/learning materials to be accessed by handheld devices and also develop the learning management system to include handheld devices for communication between students and between students and tutors/administrators. Secondly, mobile learning solutions have been introduced to increase quality by supplying some teaching materials on handheld devices, so that students may use their mobile phones or PDAs for test, quizzes, revision before exams or studying specific materials in spare time when PC or internet connection is not available. Thirdly, mobile learning solutions have been used by some institutions for mainly administrative purposes. E.g. Dirksen Opleidinden in Netherlands used SMS messages for quick information to their students and also used SMS questions with answers for exams preparations for their students.

The prospects of M-learning in Nigeria are doubt out for real. The percentage of Nigerians carrying various categories of mobile phones both in conventional institutions and outside is enormous.

Succinctly put, mobile devices are still underutilized in Nigeria because all inherent potentials have not been fully utilized. The quest to use these devices for learning will unfold other benefits embedded in the mobile devices. Also the available network suppliers have not been resting on their hoarse, but have been striving to render a world class standard service like moving to the 3G era. The use of Nigeria satellite communication 2 can also be a useful platform to champion this course. Even with the recent level of development over 70% of Nigeria has been covered with different network services. Since this idea has succeeded in other countries like Japan, Britain, USA, Denmark among others. It is unlikely to fail in Nigeria. Nevertheless, the likely problems that can arise can be viewed through these two perspectives. Namely problems with the technologies and operation of the entire system.

The following are the disadvantages of the technologies in use:

 

- Reduced screen size - Limited audiovisual quality

- Virtual Keyboarding - One way of data entry

- Limited Power - Limited Message Length

- Cultural Context - Limited Social Interaction With the system problems as:

 - Quality of Instruction

- Hidden Costs - Misuse of Technology

- Role of Instructor - Network/Equipment problem (Dong, 2002).

 

Mobile computing, "mobile technologies", and "mobile learning" are common terms used to describe a growing number of college and university pilots and trails using portable, Handheld, wireless devices as tools and resources (Guy and Okunbor, 2007). Traxler (2006) describes current research projects affiliated with wireless and mobile learning as first penetration. He further claims that these prospects serve as enhancements to e-learning rather than a new form of pedagogy. In any case, educators and practitioners must investigate to understand student attitudes, new learners, and the different study patterns of all learners if we are to achieve successful outcomes with mobile learning (Kukulska-Hulme. 2006).

As the mobile learning era evolves, the vast deployment of pilots and trials seek to examine and evaluate the usability of mobile technologies to enhance learning. Traxler and Kukulska-Hulme (2005) argue that the quality of the pilots and trials will determine the deployment and sustainability of mobile learning. The Netsize Guide (2008) revealed that mobile device have penetrated over 85% of the U.S. population. Infact, the latest study by Pew internet and American Life project of 2054 adults found that the cell phones is the technological tool Americans would have the most difficult time given up. The Pew (2008) research also indicated that 62% of all Americans have some experience with mobile access to digital data and tools away from home or work using a wire-less laptop connection or with a handheld device.

Wake Forest University piloted a program called MobileU in the fall of 2005 (Walker, 2005).Pocket PC phones were distributed to 100 students to explore educational usage for mobile technologies. Jay Dominick, chief information officer at Wake Forest suggests that student communication patterns are diverging and as a result they are less likely to engage in traditional messaging such as e-mail and more apt to embrace new technologies such as instant messaging and text messaging. The Pocket PC, a combination of a cell phone and a mobile computer with wireless access, was used for mobile messaging (i.e. instant and text messaging), mobile access to academic information, and voice-enabled software application which has the capabilities to allow students use voice commands to solve life occurrences or situations. Imminent feedback from pilot participants will be used to determine whether to provide similar mobile technologies to all students in the near future.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville conducted a pilot study that included the Clicker, a personal response device. The pilot was introduced in the summer of 2005 and included approximately 1,940 participants who were enrolled in 16 classes ranging in size from 35-660. The OIT describes clickers as portable, hand-held devices that allow students to send their responses to multiple choice, true- false, and quantitative questions wirelessly, via infrared or radio frequency technology, to a receiver connected to the instructor's laptop computer. Software installed on the computer analyzes the data and displays the results graphically (bar graphs, pie charts. etc.), giving both students and faculty a quick idea of what concepts might need further review, additional explanation, or increased preparation."

A survey was administered to evaluate clicker technology and found an overall satisfaction with 47% (537) of students responding. Approximately 70% of the study participants agreed that the use of clickers: (a) contributed to their learning: (b) helped them to understand key lecture points, and (c) helped them to identify areas they needed to spend more time on. Based on study results, UT has continued its use of clicker technology to increase student engagement and support active participation in classes.

Park (2008) examined the impact of- information visualization on academic content using PDAs. The study compared 3 different representations of content--traditional text, structured test without visuals, and structured text with visuals. The findings indicate a significant difference in achievement levels for learners who received the structured text with visuals compared to those who received non-visualized, text only content on PDAs.

 

 

 

 

The integration of new technologies in education is in essence a culturally driven process with the need to bring about change not only in people, but in the entire learning environment thereby researchers must provide relevant research outcomes in the field of innovative use of mobile environments to meet the needs of learners (Da Bormida, Bo, Lefrere. & Taylor, 2003 ).

 

Motivation

 

There is evidence from across the mLearn community to suggest that mobile learning has a significant impact on motivation. According to Butler (2002). ‘site-wide wireless coverage has transformed” the teaching and learning at Djanogly City Technology College in Nottingham UK. Students who previously found paper-based assessment to be tedious and nerve-wracking are now requesting extra time over breaks and lunchtimes to complete their assessment on line. When mobile computing device were introduced into classroom in Ohio, both students and teachers observed an increase in motivation, learning to increase in both the quality and quality of student work (Swan. van‘t Hooft, Kratkoski and Unger, 2005). Mobile learning also enhances motivation outside the classroom. At the Tshwane Universityin Pretoria, de crom and de Jager (2005) used PDAs during ecotourism field trips as an alternative to paper based worksheets. They found that the use of the PDAs enhanced motivation by stimulating fun, curiosity, challenge, satisfaction and interest among their learners. In Oulu, Finland, Mattila and Fordell, (2005) developed MOOP, an interactive mobile learning environment for primary school pupils. Learners use a variety of mobile phone features (camera, text messaging, GPS location tracking) to support them in cooperative, inquiry-led learning situation. Over 1000 pupils have used the system and have enjoyed both the opportunity to learn by being immersed in their environment and the opportunity to learn how to use the various features of the mobile phones. In the student’s own word, mobile learning is ‘cool’.

 

Engagement

 

Closely related to motivation, mobile learning seems to promote high engagement in various learning activities. In Ohio, Swan et al, (2005) notes that student were particularly engaged when using mobile devices to record data from a variety of experiments. They proposed that the portability and data storage capacity of the devices may have helped to alleviate the drudgery of working with data. A more exciting prospect noted by one of the students is that “mobile computing makes such activities seem more like what ‘real scientists do’. The Engage Me project from TAFE New South Wales, a member of the Australian Mobile Learning Network, engages young people in e-learning by providing opportunities for them to generate content and responses (Ragus et al, 2005). Camera and text features of the mobile phone are used as these are technologies that the learner group readily embraces in their daily lives.

             The portable nature of mobile devices also allows learners to engage with their environment. Naismith, Sharples and Ting (2005) evaluated the use of CAERUS system to deliver location-based multimedia content to visitors in a botanic garden in Birmingham, UK. The participants in their trial showed increased engagement with their physical surroundings, as evidenced by being able to cite specific examples of things they had seen or heard, increased knowledge of the layout and organization of the garden and a strong desire to explore further and receive more information. Bradley, Haynes and Boyle, (2005) also use multimedia to engage user and “bring history alive” on a mobile local history tour in London, UK. All 10 of their trial participants found the tour to be memorable and 9 of them reported it to be both stimulating and enjoyable.

 

Personalization

 

Personalization is about giving learners control over what, where and how they will learn. The effectiveness of mobile devices as learning tools stems from the personal nature of the devices themselves (Cereijo, Roibas , Arnedilo and Sanchez, 2002). By presenting information that is also perceived as personal, high levels of user attention can be captured.

There are several examples of mobile device applications designed around learners needs. The PDA based Student Learning Organiser (Holme & Sharples, 2002, Sharples, Chan, Rudman & Bull, 2004) is designed around the need of university students at the University of Birmingham, UK. It provides specialized support for time management and accessing course materials through the wireless network. Importantly, students on their trials were given full control over how they chose to use (or not use) the devices. Also from the University of Birmingham, the Interactive Logbook (Bull et al, 2005: Corlett, Chan, Ting, Sharples & Westmaneott, 2005) is a personal learning environment (PLE) which helps uses to plan, tract, manage and review their learning activities. In contrast to institutionally provide learning environments, the Interactive Logbook allows users to select a ‘personal suite of tools or resources according to individual learning styles and work habits” (Corlett et al, 2005 : 32).

The design of learner-centered interfaces is not restricted to traditional educationally setting. Wood, Price, Laird and Robertshaw (2002) from Liverpool, Uk developed a PDA-based breast cancer support tool that places the ‘patient as a central pivot to the content’ (p. 31). Based on a timeline metaphor, users can navigate backwards and forwards through time in relation to their current treatment and select to receive further information where appropriate.

 

Collaboration

 

Colley and Stead (2005) have learned that while ‘users enjoy the content, they love the collaboration’ (p. 57). They developed a tool called media Board, which allows young adult learners from the mLearning project to contribute to shared websites using text and picture messaging. Learners use this technology as a facilitator for their creative ideas, thus supporting a community of practice approach.

             O’Mally and Stanton (2002) evaluated the use of a variety of digital and physical technologies to support storytelling in small groups of 7 years-old children in Nottingham, UK. The tangible set-up included a ‘magic carpet’ to navigate through the story as well as barcodes and scanners for uploading pictures that the children draw onto a large screen. The children could also draw and input pictures using a PDA. The children were able to collaborate effectively and create physical and digital versions of stories with both pictures and sounds. The large screen was particularly effective at making everyone’s actions visible to the group and the PDAs enabled the children to switch smoothly between individual, paired and whole group activities.

The success of collaborative mobile learning in practice has led to the development of a number of theoretical models. Barker, Krull and Mallinson (2005) proposed a theoretical model for the adoption of mobile learning in developing countries. They state that handheld devices can facilitate successful collaboration by allowing ‘learners groups to distribute, aggregate and share information with ease’ (p. 18) and include collaboration as a critical success factor in their model. In Chile Zurita and Nussbaum (2002) have developed a mobile computer supported collaborative learning (MCSCL) model to address problems with coordination, communication, management and lack of mobility inherent in traditional collaborative learning activities. Learners can interact both socially and through their wirelessly-networked handheld devices. Applying this model to collaborative learning achieves ‘positive interdependence, individual responsibility, and mobility, group processing and face-to-face communication”

 

Interactivity

 

SMS or text messaging is widely reported as an effective tool for promoting interactivity. Stone and Briggs (2002) invited a group of 1000 university students in the UK to take place in a prize draw, which was announced to them by either email or by SMS. Only 1.6% of the email group responded, while SMS response rates ranged from 17% to 25% (with most responses received within 30 minutes of the initial request), indicating a willingness amongst students to respond to an SMS request for interactivity. Stone and Briggs suggest that this indicates that ‘timely, relevant support services’ (p. 12) would be welcomed by University students. At the University of Cape Town in Ng’ambi (2005) used SMS to address educational challenges of under-prepared students, large class sizes and diversity and add value to student learning. Students can submit an anonymous question (dynamic frequently asked question or DFAQ) by SMS, which is received by the tutor through a web interface. The response is sent back to the question author via SMS, but is also available as a resource for the whole class to view. The student can thus learn from exposure to other students’ question and the tutor receives important feedback on where students’ difficulties lie.

             Interactivity is also about providing opportunities for learners to respond to their environment and experiences. In a pilot of a multimedia tour at the Tate Modern in London, UK many of the visitors’ favorite stops on the tour feature a design approach involving interactive messages ‘in which visitors had a chance to respond to artworks or register their opinions’ (Proctor & Burton, 2004 : 129).

 

Sense of Community

 

Mobile learning can be used to inspire the development of a community of practice approach to learning. Brandt, Hillgren and Bjorgvinsson (2004) describe a project at an Intensive Care Unit in Sweden in which self-produced videos are shared peer-peer by staff members and viewed on mobile devices. The staff members are given the responsibility for setting the content and deciding how to produce the videos. A direct impact on the success of the project has been that “the person on the video and the colleague watching it all share the same social and cultural community of practice”. The collaborative nature of the production process helps to make their work practices visible for more colleagues, thus enhancing opportunities for reflection and professional development.

Mobile learning can also help learner to feel a sense of belonging to wider community. Leach, Power,Thomas, Fadani and Mbebe(2005) describe a project in which handheld computers are used to promote professional development amongst teachers in rural African settings. One of the important outcomes of this project is that it has raised the teacher’s perception of their own professionalism and raises the esteem of teaching in the eye of the community. Facer, Faux and Mcfarlane (2005) describe a project called handhelds initiative in the UK that aimed to increase community engagement and motivation for learning. The result of the project is that the handheld devices extended community access to ICT. School children taught their parent how to use the devices, which led to increase engagement with formal education by both the students and their family.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Barker, A. ,Krull, G. and Mallison, B. (2005). A Proposed Theoretical Model for mLearning Adoption in developing countries. Mobile technology: The future of learning in your hands, Cape Town, 17-22

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Brandt, E. ,Hillgreen, P. A. ,Bjorgvinsson, E. B. (2004). Self produced video to augment peer to peer learning. Learning with mobile devices: research and development. London: LSDA, 27-34.

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INTRODUCTION

 

E-governance is more than just a government website on the Internet. But what is it exactly? What are the benefits of e-governance? What can governments do to make it work? Solutions to development issues often require changes to government processes, e.g. by decentralization. Objectives are generally to improve efficiency and effectiveness and to save costs. The driving force can also be public demand for online services and information that increase democratic participation, accountability, transparency, and the quality and speed of services. The implementation and use of ICT solutions can support governance reforms. E-governance will become more and more present around the world in the next few years. Internationally most countries are in the early stages of e-governance. A good start has been made in Europe, USA and in other Westernized countries such as Australia and Singapore. Over the coming years also developing countries and their citizens can also benefit from e-governance.

 

What is E-Governance?

 

Imagine a situation in which all interaction with the government can be done through one counter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without waiting in lines at government offices. In the near future this is possible if governments are willing to decentralize responsibilities and processes and they start to use electronic means such as the internet. Each citizen can then make contact with the government through a website where all forms, legislation, news and other information will be available 24/7. Of course, at first the front office will retain several communication channels, such as physical counters, telephone, (e-) mail and Internet to serve everyone properly, but this will change dramatically in the next few years. In Europe and the USA, commercial banks already work according to this concept. Only in a few very special situations one has to go to a physical counter. Most transactions can be done at either an ATM, by mail or by the Internet, which has saved banks an enormous amount of costs. In other words, they do more work, with less people, in less time and with less and smaller offices: They use the Internet.

Many definitions exist for e-governance. Before presenting an overall definition of egovernance, the relation between governance, e-democracy and e-government is explained.

E-democracy refers to the processes and structures that encompass all forms of electronic interaction between the Government (elected) and the citizen (electorate). E-government is a form of e-business in governance and refers to the processes and structures needed to deliver electronic services to the public (citizens and businesses), collaborate with business partners and to conduct electronic transactions within an organizational entity.

The term interaction stands for the delivery of government products and services, exchange of information, communication, transactions and system integration. Government consists of levels and branches. Government levels include central, national, regional, provincial, departmental and local government institutions. Examples of government branches are Administration, Civil Service, Parliament and Judiciary functions. Government operations are all back-office processes and inter-governmental interactions within the total government body. Examples of electronic means are Internet and other ICT applications.

The strategic objective of e-governance is to support and simplify governance for all parties - government, citizens and businesses. The use of ICTs can connect all three parties and support processes and activities. In other words, e-governance uses electronic means to support and stimulate good governance. Therefore the objectives of e-governance are similar to the objectives of good governance. Good governance can be seen as an exercise of economic, political, and administrative authority to better manage affairs of a country at all levels, national and local. It is useful here to present objectives for e-democracy and e-government. The two main objectives of e-democracy are

 

(I). to provide citizens access to information and knowledge about the political process, about services and about choices available

 

(II). to make possible the transition from passive information access to active citizen participation by:

·  Informing the citizen

·  Representing the citizen

·  Encouraging the citizen to vote

·  Consulting the citizen

·  Involving the citizen

 

Regarding e-government, the distinction is made between the objectives for internally focused processes (operations) and objectives for externally focused services.

 

External strategic objectives: The external objective of e-government is to satisfactorily fulfill the public’s needs and expectations on the front-office side, by simplifying their interaction with various online services. The use of ICTs in government operations facilitates speedy, transparent, accountable, efficient and effective interaction with the public, citizens, business and other agencies.

 

Internal strategic objectives: In the back-office, the objective of e-government in government operations is to facilitate a speedy, transparent, accountable, efficient and effective process for performing government administration activities. Significant cost Savings (per transaction) in government operations can be the result. It can be concluded that e-governance is more than just a Government website on the Internet. Political, social, economic and technological aspects determine e-governance.

 

Paradigm Shifts in the Public Sector

 

The advent of the Internet, digital connectivity, the explosion and use of e-commerce and e-business models in the private sector are pressuring the public sector to rethink hierarchical, bureaucratic organizational models. Customers, citizens and businesses are faced every day with new innovative e-business and e-commerce models implemented by the private sector and made possible by ICT tools and applications, are requiring the same from governmental organizations. Osborne and Gaebler (1992) referred to citizens as customers for governments, since governments need to empower rather than serve, to shift from hierarchy to teamwork and participation, to be mission oriented and customer focused, and to focus on prevention rather than cure. Governments worldwide are faced with the challenge of transformation and the need to modernize administrative practices and management systems (Tapscott, 1996). Recently, the public sector has began to recognize the potential opportunities offered by ICT and e-business models to fit with citizens’ demands, to offer better services to citizens and to increase efficiency by streamlining internal processes. Tapscott and Caston (1993) argue that ICT causes a “paradigm shift” introducing “the age of network intelligence”, reinventing businesses, governments and individuals. Paradigm shifts prevail in the public sector too. The traditional bureaucratic paradigm, characterized by internal productive efficiency, functional rationality, departmentalization, hierarchical control and rule-based management (Kaufman, 1977), is being replaced by competitive, knowledge based economy requirements, such as: flexibility, network organization, vertical/horizontal integration, innovative entrepreneurship, organization learning, speed up in service delivery, and a customer driven strategy. These new paradigms thrust the shift toward e-Government paradigm, which emphasizes coordinated network building, external collaboration and customer services (Ho, 2002).

 

Definitions of e-Government

 

The above definitions encompass three critical transformation areas of e-Government (Hirst and Norton, 1998):

 

Internal - which refers to the use of ICT to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of internal functions and processes of government by interrelating different departments and agencies. Thus, information can flow much faster and more easily among different governmental departments, reducing processing time, paperwork bottlenecks, and eliminating long, bureaucratic and inefficient approval procedures. Internetworking among different governmental departments improves internal efficiency by enabling time reductions for using, storing and collecting data, reduction of labor costs and information handling costs, as well as the speed and accuracy of task processing.

 

External - ICT opens up new possibilities for governments to be more transparent to citizens and businesses, giving access to a greater range of information collected and generated by government. ICT creates also opportunities for partnership and collaboration among different governmental institutions (Allen et al., 2001). Electronic government blurs the lines not only within government agencies, but also between government and those that touch it (Tapscott, 1996).

 

Relational - ICT adoption may enable fundamental changes in the relationships between the citizens and the state, and between nation states, with implications for the democratic process and structures of government. Vertical and horizontal integration of services can be realized, enabling the integration of information and services from various government agencies to help citizens and other stakeholders get seamless services. Fountain (2001) uses the concept of the “virtual state” that is a governmental entity organized with “virtual agencies, cross agencies, public- private networks whose structures and capacity depend on the Internet and web”.

 

E-Government Web of Interrelationships

 

The target of e-Government encompasses four main groups: citizens, businesses, governments (other governments and public agencies) and employees. The electronic transactions and interactions between government and each group constitute the e-Government web of relationships and the respective four main blocks of e-Government, that are:

 

(i). Government to Citizens (G2C)

(ii). Government to Business (G2B)

(iii). Government to Government (G2G)

(iv). Government to Employees (G2E)

 

Most researchers and academics refer only to the first three blocks, without considering the fourth or simply including it as part of ‘government to government’ block. The relationships, interactions and transactions between government and employees in fact constitute another large e-Government block, which requires a separate and very careful handling. Many people today refer to employees as internal customers and as a result, in order for an e-Government initiative to be customer oriented and centric, it has to take into account needs and requirements of this group as well. More specifically, these e-Government blocks can be characterized as follows:

 

(i). Government to Citizen: deals with the relationship between government and citizens. E-Government allows government agencies to talk, listen, relate and continuously communicate with its citizens, supporting, in this way, accountability, democracy and improvements to public services. A broad array of interactions can be developed ranging from the delivery of services and the provision of welfare and health benefits to regulatory and compliance oriented licensing (Riley, 2001). G2C allows customers to access government information and services instantly, conveniently, from everywhere, by use of multiple channels (PC, Web TV, mobile phone or wireless device). It also enables and reinforces their participation in local community life (send an email or contribute to an online discussion forum).

 

(ii). Government to Business: consists of the electronic interactions between government agencies and private businesses. It allows e-transaction initiatives such as e-procurement and the development of an electronic marketplace for government (Fang, 2002). Companies everywhere are conducting business-to-business e-commerce in order to lower their costs and improve inventory control. The opportunity to conduct online transactions with government reduces red tape and simplifies regulatory processes, therefore helping businesses to become more competitive. The delivery of integrated, single-source public services creates opportunities for businesses and government to partner together for establishing a web presence faster and cheaper.

 

(iii). Government to Government: refers to the relationship between governmental organizations, as for example national, regional and local governmental organizations, or with other foreign government organizations. Governments depend on other levels of government within the state to effectively deliver services and allocate responsibilities (Riley, 2001). In order to realize a single access point, collaboration and cooperation among different governmental departments and agencies is compulsory. Online communication and cooperation allows government agencies and departments to share databases, resources, pool skills and capabilities, enhancing the efficiency and effectivity of processes.

 

(iv). Government to Employees: refers to the relationship between government and its employees. G2E is an effective way to provide e-learning, bring employees together and to promote knowledge sharing among them. It gives employees the possibility of accessing relevant information regarding: compensation and benefit policies, training and learning opportunities, civil rights laws, etc. G2E refers also to strategic and tactical mechanisms for encouraging the implementation of government goals and programs as well as human resource management, budgeting and accounting (Riley, 2001). The full exploitation and implementation of these complex webs of inter-relationships requires three main application domains for e-Government (Heeks, 2001):

 

e-Administration for automation and computerization of administrative tasks and for realization of strategic connections among internal processes, departments and functions.

 

e-Citizens and e-Services to realize connections and interrelationships among governments and citizens and to deliver automated services.

 

e-Society to enable relationships and interactions beyond boundaries, among public agencies, private sector and civil community in general.

 

These three application domains should be considered as overlapping and e-Government can be found in the overlapping area of these three application domains, demonstrating the complexities and heterogeneities needed to be handled for assuring its success.

 

E-Government Opportunities

 

Benefits assured by use and application of e-Government in developing countries are the same as those in developed countries. The differences between these two groups could result from the fact that many potential benefits of e-Government are not reaped by developing countries as consequence of their limited use of e-Government.  Researchers (Tapscott, 1996; Amit and Zott, 2001; Malhotra, 2001) agree that ICT has considerable potential to contribute to efficiency gains and cost reductions for private organizations. Furthermore, these benefits constitute a major aspect of e-Government initiatives. Putting services on-line substantially decreases the processing costs of many activities compared with the manual way of handling operations. For example, it costs the US Inland Revenue Service $1.60 to process a paper tax form, but only $0.40 to process an electronic form (Al-Kibsi et al., 2001). The appropriate application of ICT may possibly reduce the number of inefficiencies in processes by allowing file and data sharing across government departments, thereby contributing to the elimination of mistakes from manual procedures, reducing the required time for transactions. Efficiency is also attained by streamlining internal processes, by enabling faster and more informed decision making, and by speeding up transaction processing.

 

Example: In Beijing’s Business e-Park, there is a new system (www.zhongguancun.com.cn) that applies the latest computer and Internet technologies to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of government. If businesses choose to use this system, they can reduce the time required for gaining approval for specific applications from 2-3 months to few days. Moreover, data can now be submitted on line, greatly increasing the quality of service for customers (Lin et al., 2001).

 

Quality of Service Delivery

 

In the traditional model of public service delivery, the procedures are long, time consuming and lack transparency. A business that wishes to obtain a license or a permit has to fill out a number of application forms, has to visit a number of different offices and spend a considerable amount of time. If a citizen wishes to be issued with a certificate or any other official document, he or she will have to travel to the central government office, go to different offices and spend a lot of time for a simple service. The consequences are high costs and citizen and business dissatisfaction. An e-Government initiative, on the other hand, which puts government services online, thereby reducing the bureaucracy, offers round the clock accessibility, fast and convenient transactions, and obviously enhances the quality of services, in terms of time, content and accessibility.

 

Example: In Bahia, Brazil, Citizen Assistance Service Centres have been created offering over 500 separate services. These centres are placed in shopping malls or other public places, and people going to shop can simultaneously apply for different public services such as getting an identification card, looking for a new job, getting a passport, and checking on their retirement eligibility. Customer satisfaction studies revealed that over 89% of citizens evaluated the service centers as excellent (Rinne et al., 2001a). Thus, the quality of services is ensured by the reduced time that users spend on getting official documents, waiting and queuing to get documents, traveling, as well as more customized products and services, error free documents, and 24*7*365 accessibility.

 

Transparency and Accountability

 

E-Government helps to increase the transparency of decision-making processes. In many cases e-Government offers opportunities for citizens to directly participate in decision-making, by allowing them to provide their own ideas and suggestions in forums and on- line communities. If web sites are designed carefully and openly, they can be valuable resources for transparency as citizens, businesses and other stakeholders should be able to see political and governmental information, rules and policies. Previously it was often necessary to go directly to governmental offices to obtain information, but now this information should be available on the web. The availability of a diversity of publications regarding the activities of the public administration, as well as economic and legislative aspects, increases the transparency too.


Example
: The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in India started an initiative to create a website with the objective of reducing corruption and increasing transparency by sharing a large amount of information related to corruption with citizens. The CVC website communicates directly with the public through messages and speeches to bolster confidence in the institution, informs the public about its efforts in fighting corruption, and makes public the names of officers from the elite administrative and revenue service’s against whom investigations have been ordered or penalties imposed for corruption. Members of the public are highly encouraged (mainly by rewards) to make their complaints and to provide information against a public servant about taking of bribes in order for the commission to undertake the necessary anticorruption actions to eliminate bribery and to increase the transparency of rules, procedures and service delivery (Bhatnagar, 2001).

 

Increase the Capacity of Government

 

The use of ICT for the reorganization of internal administration transactions, communications, and interrelationships for easy information flow and transfer, offers considerable opportunity to increase government capacity. Intranets allow different departments to share databases of common customers and to pool skills and capacities of their members for problem solving. These facilities in turn will pledge faster information flow and transfer, quicker and cheaper provision of goods and services, faster and better decision making processes, and unplugged paper bottlenecks. Knowledge based or expert systems help to create a more responsive and guideline based process. This approach assures benefits for businesses, which become both consumers of government services and providers of goods and services to the government. It also assures benefits to the government itself through reduced costs and spending, which could require lower taxes to finance.

Example: The Time Saver Centre in Sao Paulo, Brazil, brings together multiple services in a single location. Its objective is to deliver services more quickly and to increase the satisfaction level of its citizens. A person requiring a service, on reaching the appropriate agency, can register in the computerized tracking system and receive an electronic ticket, which indicates the services desired and the estimated waiting time. They can receive at the same time different services that traditionally were separated such as vehicle registration, driver’s license, identification card, unemployment insurance etc. A customer satisfaction survey conducted in 2000 for five centres reveals that 94% of respondents evaluate services as “excellent” or “good”. This case demonstrates the remarkable improvements that can be realized in service delivery (Rinne et al., 2001b).

 ICT creates both pressures and opportunities for network creation and community building. As argued before, an e-Government initiative requires a complex web of interrelationships among government, customers, businesses, employees and other governmental agencies. Moreover, the very nature and function of e-Government require a network approach to put together skills, technologies, information and knowledge that span the boundaries of different governmental agencies. It is generally impossible to find all of them in one single governmental agency. The need for learning and training, for example, requires a partnership between government agencies/departments and universities or research institutions. The provision of integrated services at one contact point requires the cooperation and collaboration of different departments and agencies, horizontal and vertical integration, and therefore the creation of a large and diversified network of relationships. The successful use and diffusion of ICTs in the public sector involves a collective, multidisciplinary and dynamic learning process (Mansell and Wehn, 1998). Moreover, the realization of electronic transactions triggers network creation among private companies, financial institutions, telecommunication and ISPs. On the other hand, an e-Government initiative enables community creation, giving citizens and businesses the possibility to participate in forums, and in decision making processes, contributing actively to different political and governmental discussions. Example: Columbia’s government portal is the entry point to every government agency website in the country, allowing citizens to search for and consult government information and to e- mail government representatives either to complain about problems or to make suggestions. A specific unit, the Government online Network, composed of eight people trained in the technology of government portals, was created for realizing Columbia’s website and for advising, supporting, training and monitoring the remainder federal government. Financial support was provided by the UNDP, while the technology and experience were provided primarily by a partnership with two private companies: GovWorks Latin America/Taillon and Arthur Andersen (Porrua et al., 2001).

 

Improve the Quality of Decision Making

 

Community creation, forums, continuous interaction and communication between government and its citizens contribute further to the decision making process. By means of active participation in political and government discussions, citizens can contribute their own ideas, and share their knowledge and information. This will in turn lead to building trust in government and improving the relationships between the government and the governed. The OECD argues that the strengthening relationship between government and citizens could improve the quality of services by allowing government to tap wider sources of information, perspectives and solutions to meet the challenges of policy making under conditions of increased complexity (OECD, 2001). Considering citizens as governmental customers, listening and understanding to their needs and requirements, is essential for a better decision making process. The appropriate use of shared data and information by all governmental agencies and departments offers the possibility to make quick decisions thus to serve the community better. However improvements in the speed and quality of decision making depend greatly on the willingness of governments to be empowered with new information, the capability of staff to process the large amount of information, the prevailing cultural values as well as the motivation of governments to shift from a hierarchical public administration model to a flexible, less centralized model.

Example: The CRISTAL initiative of Argentina’s government was launched in order to disseminate information regarding the use of public funds, including information about the amounts of money for different programs, financial and employment data, public debt account including terms, guarantees, interest costs, and the outstanding tax and customs obligations of private companies. Its primary goal is to inform customers/citizens, to disseminate content and information, empowering customers to exercise more control over their political representatives. In their web site they also provided a specific section where users can send their questions, comments and suggestions for further improvements. Their feedback allows the government to adjust the content and information, to customize the information and to reorganize itself around customers’ needs and requirements (Radics, 2001).

Continuous interaction and communication between government and its stakeholders contributes to the creation of awareness about the potential contribution of ICT to local community activities. In this way, e-Government plays a vital role, not only in facilitating market-led initiatives but also in initiating the process of capability building and in coordinating the actions of a large number of interested stakeholders (Mansell and Wehn, 1998). In fact, one of the main benefits of an e-Government initiative consists of the promotion of ICT use in other sectors. In order for e-Government staff to interact, transact and communicate electronically with businesses, citizens and other stakeholders, it is necessary to mandate the use of ICT tools and applications. For a government-to-business electronic transaction to occur, the business itself needs to make use of electronic equipment. On the other hand, financial institutions have to create secure and reliable methods for electronic transactions. The development of new technological and management capacities required for e-Government functionality encourage the development in turn of new training courses and modules in schools and universities trying to supply the required skills and capabilities to the market.

Example: In India, the Gyandoot project is a government-to-citizen intranet project which offers numerous benefits to the region, to citizens and to the community in general. The goal of the project has been to establish community owned technologically innovative and sustainable information kiosks in a poverty-stricken rural area of Madhya Pradesh. The benefits assured by this intranet system have increased the awareness of ICT importance and have spin off other IT initiatives and programs, such as: the creation of new private ICT training institutions; a high level of student enrolment – about 60%; parliament has allocated resources to set up other kiosks in schools and to develop new models for e-education; Indira Gandhi National Open University has opened a study center for undergraduate and postgraduate courses on computer applications; the government has instituted a cash award to motivate ICT projects (Bhatnagar and Vyas, 2001).

 

E-Government Challenges

 

ICT infrastructure is recognized to be one of the main challenges for e-Government. Internetworking is required to enable appropriate sharing of information and open up new channels for communication and delivery of new services (Tapscott, 1996). For a transition to electronic government, architecture, that is, a guiding set of principles, models and standards, is needed. Many developing countries suffer from the digital divide, and they are not able to deploy the appropriate ICT infrastructure for e-Government deployment. The digital divide between richer countries and developing ones is large with high-income economies having 416 personal computers per 1,000 people and low-income economies only 6 per 1,000 (World Bank, 2003). The development of basic infrastructure to capture the advantages of new technologies and communications tools is essential for implementing e-Government. Different access methods, such as remote access by cellular phones, satellite receivers, kiosks, etc. need to be taken into consideration by governments in order that all members of society can be served irrespective of their physical and financial capabilities. However, an ICT infrastructure does not consist simply of telecommunications and computer equipment. E-readiness and ICT literacy are also necessary in order for people to be able to use and benefit from e-Government applications. Having the education, freedom and desire to access information is critical to e-Government efficacy. Presumably, the higher the level of human development, the more likely citizens will be inclined to accept and use e-Government services.

             Example: In the Gyandoot project , the poor infrastructure facilities constituted one of the major problems encountered in developing and implementing the project. Local rural telephones infrastructure did not operate with optical fiber cable, and in consequence there were initially significant reliability problems. This caused a decrease in the motivational level of kiosk managers to participate in the project. Substantial problems were encountered with literacy and skills to use new technological tools and applications. To ensure the success and the sustainability of the project, the Indian telecommunications department undertook actions to upgrade the level and quality of connections, as well as study alternative solutions (such as wireless applications) to cover those zones where telephones were not available. In addition some basic training was provided to people who were directly engaged in management and maintenance of kiosks (Bhatnagar and Vyas, 2001).

Processing of e-Government principles and functions requires a range of new rules, policies, laws and legislative changes to address electronic activities including electronic signatures, electronic archiving, and freedom of information, data protection, computer crime, intellectual property rights and copyright issues. Dealing with e-Government means signing a contract or a digital agreement, which has to be protected and recognized by a formalized law, which protect and secure these kinds of activities or processes. In many developing countries, e-business and e-Government laws are not yet available. Establishing protections and legal reforms will be needed to ensure, among other things, the privacy, security and legal recognition of electronic interactions and electronic signatures. Hence, governments all over the world need to tackle the design and development of a public key infrastructure, which will guarantee secure transactions between organizations and individuals.

Example: In the e-procurement system initiative in the Philippines, which aimed to streamline the purchase of goods and services for a large number of government departments and agencies, a number of actions were undertaken to change the legal framework and to issue new rules and policies that govern and regulate electronic commerce and interactions. An executive order was issued which provided legal guidelines about how to conduct electronic business, and how to advertise and post bids or notices in the new electronic system. In addition, an e-Commerce law was promulgated, in order to give legal protection to electronic documents (Granados and Masilungan, 2001).

A major challenge of an e-Government initiative is the lack of ICT skills in the public sector. This is a particular problem in developing countries, where the chronic lack of qualified staff and inadequate human resources training has been a problem for years (UNPA&ASPA, 2001). The availability of appropriate skills is central for successful e-Government implementation. E-Government requires hybrid human capacities: technological, commercial and management. Technical skills for installation, maintenance, designing and implementation of ICT infrastructure, as well as skills for using and managing online processes, functions and customers, are necessary. To address human capital development issues, knowledge management initiatives are required focusing on staff training, seminars, workshops in order to create the basic skills for e-Government handling. Example: In Beijing’s Business e-Park initiative, a key step in project implementation was the education programme. Firstly government officers learnt to do their jobs more quickly and efficiently. It was also important to educate government leaders, as they were responsible to explain what e-Government is and what its benefits will be for the community. Ultimately, basic computer and Internet training were provided to government staff and public users of the e-Government system (Lin et al., 2001).

In general, in almost all cases the focus on training and education programs was a paramount phase for the assurance of project endurance. However, the human capability development doesn’t end up with the acquisition and achievement of basic initial skills. Instead, lifelong learning is an essential prerequisite as the rate of change increases and new technologies, practices and competitive models emerge. The full economic benefits of IT depend on a process of social experimentation and learning, which is still at an early stage (Freeman and Soete, 1994).

 

Change Management

 

Change management issues must be addressed as new work practices, new ways of processing and performing tasks are introduced. E-Government correctly designed doesn’t simply save costs and improve service quality; instead it revolutionizes and reinvents the government processes and functions. Change management can be divided into two sub concepts: Change Management Approach and Management of Resistance to Change. Change management approach refers to the change management procedures established within organizations. DeLisi (1990) identifies culture as the primary driver of strategic organizational change. Being aware of an organization’s culture is already a big step towards a higher capacity to change (Hassard and Sharifi, 1989). Hierarchy is the most traditional of cultural values of a government bureaucracy, in many ways its defining feature. In particular, intranets and the sharing of information throughout organizations can challenge hierarchies and can only really benefit an organization that develops a more networked approach; ICT is distinguished by its network character (Dutch ICT and Government Advisory Committee, 2001). Employee resistance to change is still the biggest barrier to successful change. Employees fear changes in general and ICT applications in particular as they believe that ICT would replace them and so cause job losses. Moreover, it is very difficult in a short time to turn off traditional methods of working and learn new ones. Addressing resistance successfully means ensuring the existence of incentives for employees to learn and change and the establishment of well-structured plans that embrace employee participation throughout all stages of a change process.

Example: It is relevant to mention here the experience in India of the Vijaywada Online Information Center (VOICE). The main objective of this initiative was to realize an electronic system which enables the delivery of municipal services such as building approvals, status certificates, and handles the collection of different types of taxes. Resistance to change from public staff was one of the major problems encountered in this endeavor. The revenue department staff were those who caused most problems as they stood to lose the income received from bribes. Some staff feared job losses, some others were reluctant to learn and use the new technology and new work practices. Several meetings and performance reviews were organized to persuade staff to become accountable and to motivate them for better performance (Kumar and Bhatnagar, 2001).

 

Partnership and Collaboration

 

Collaboration and cooperation at local, regional and national levels, as well as between public and private organizations, are important elements in the e-Government development process. Nevertheless, collaboration and cooperation are not simple to realize. Governments often exhibit considerable resistance to open and transparent systems as they try to preserve their authority, power and hierarchical status. Citizens distrust their governments, especially where there has been a history of dictatorship, political instability or large-scale corruption. To ensure that the public and stakeholders will be partners in the e-Government effort, it is important to try to build trust in government. Collaboration between the private (assuming that there is a private sector) and public sectors is needed too, in order to provide resources, skills and capabilities that the government lacks. For example, the ICT private sector is able to support government with technical skills and infrastructure; meanwhile, universities will provide the required staff, learning and training courses for government staff and citizens, and other governmental departments and agencies can contribute in data and information flow and knowledge sharing for problem solving of similar tasks or processes and so on. A ‘new’ development model is emerging that focuses on partnership among stakeholders in the knowledge-based development program (Talero & Gaudette, 1996).

             Example: The initiative of the State of Andhra Pradesh in India to computerize the 1,124 administrative units, called mandals, in order to realize online delivery of services, required strong coordination and collaboration between various departments. Different databases were handled and managed by different departments, one from the revenue department, one from the national informatics department, another from the social welfare department. These departments were geographically spread over an area of 275,000 sq. kms, but the timeless delivery of services required the instant collaboration, communication and interaction between them (Bhatnagar, 2001).

One of the main challenge s for an e-Government project is the establishment of an appropriate and context tailored strategy. Every project or initiative needs to be rooted in a very careful, analytical and dynamic strategy. This seems to be a very difficult task, requiring a focus on many aspects and processes, a holistic vision, long-term focus and objectives. Many public institutions limit their activities to a simple transfer of their information and services online without taking into consideration the re-engineering process needed to grasp the full benefits. The government must have a clear strategy to overcome the barriers to change. Part of the strategy is to engage in a rigorous assessment of the current situation, the reality on the ground and the inventory of projects, articulate costs, impacts and benefits of programme as well as continuously monitor and evaluate the project upgrading. Borrowing a lesson from the private sector, e-Government must be customer-driven and service oriented, meeting the needs of citizens and improving the quality of life. This means that a vision of e-Government implies providing greater access to information as well as better, more equal services and procedures for public and businesses. Even when e-Government projects seek to improve internal government processes, the end goal should be making government serve citizens better. This means recognizing the diverse roles that citizens can play as partners, taxpayers, constituents, employers, employees, students, investors and lobbyists.

             Example: A critical point for the initiative of the government of Colombia to realize an e-Government portal was the definition of strategy and actions to be pursued. Initially the government created a specific unit to develop the strategy, objectives, and plan for actions and afterwards to assist and monitor the work progress. A ‘Connectivity Agenda’ was formulated which specifies the key objectives of the initiative, the strategic framework for subsequent actions, and different projects to undertake. The Agenda established an action framework that guided any plan in Colombia related to ICT development and electronic applications, thus allowing a rational and coordinated investment effort (Porrua et al., 2001).

             The public sector presents unique challenges for leadership. Changing and hazy visions confuse expectations for reforms and leaders (OECD, 2001). Leadership is one of the main driving forces of every new and innovative project or initiative. Since e-Government is a complex process, accompanied by high costs, risks and challenges, public organizations are generally resistant to the initiation of change. A leading player (organization, institution), which is able to understand the real costs and benefits of the project, to motivate, influence, include and support other organizations and institutions, is required. Leadership is necessary before, during and after project implementation. Before the project is initiated, leadership is needed in order to explain the concept, the model and create awareness; during the project, leadership is needed to manage change and support the project; and after the project, it is needed to pledge the required flexibility and adaptability of the initiative. Top leadership involvement and clear lines of accountability for making management improvements are critical to overcoming organizations’ natural resistance to change, marshalling the resources needed to improve management, and building and maintaining the organization wide commitment to new ways of doing government (McClure, 2001).

            Example: Chile’s government procurement e-System initiative was seen as a technocratic solution. As a consequence, the pledge of strong political support and top leadership was a critical issue. The political support through exposure in the press outlining the benefits of the initiative in terms of transparency, efficiency and e-commerce capacity was sought as vital by organizing staff. Further leadership and support was provided by lobbying political parties, interest groups, private sector advocates and information technology companies (Orrego et al., 2000).

 

 

REFERENCES

 

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http://www.worldbank.org/data/wdi2003/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The Internet is more than just a means of seeking information. People discovered that the Internet could be used to connect with other people, whether for business or commercial purpose, make new friends, reawaken old friends and long lost relatives. The emergence of social networking sites (SNSs) simplify the whole process as they are easier to use and navigate, because it does not require advanced knowledge and experience of the internet and are made up of a wide array of different formats and topics; this means that just about anyone can connect. Most specialized social networking sites restrict the individuals that can take part in their network; thus, making your experience more pleasurable (Rajat, 2009).With such extensive acceptance, it is no surprise that social networks have transformed the way people live and socialize (Megat, 2009). SNSs are also being used by teachers and students especially in the West as a communication tool. It is a bi-directional process as students too are using these mediums to share comment to their teachers (Megat, 2009). Nearly all SNSs are often designed to include certain type of community for instance the college community being emulated by Facebook.com or a music/party community emulated by MySpace.com. This study is aimed to answer these questions; what are the reasons students engage in the use of SNSs? And how does the use of SNSs impact on students’ academic performance?

             The world has been changed rapidly by the evolution of technology; this has resulted into the use of technology as the best medium to explore the wide area of knowledge. The evolution of internet technology has led to its use as the best medium for communication. Whereby, two-third of the world’s internet population visits social networking or blogging sites, thus serving as a communication and connection tool. Social networking sites (SNSs) are online communities of Internet users who want to communicate with other users about areas of mutual interest, whether from a personal, business or academic perspective.” (William et al, 2009).The millions of social networking sites have transformed the thought of global village into a reality whereby billions of people communicate through social networking sites. Numerous benefits have been obtained through distant communication through the use of social networking sites. However the darker side within technological evolution has resulted in dilemmas such as the setback of real values of life especially among students who form the majority of users interacting through the use of social networking sites. Online social networking sites focus on building and reflecting social associations among people who share interests and or activities. The majority of social networking sites allow users to sustain profiles of themselves and lists of their friends. These social networks promote people to share their personal experience with others through videos, music and other media.

             SNSs are also being used by teachers and students especially in the West as a communication tool. Professors and teachers use forums and groups to extend classroom deliberations. Some of them usually use Twitter to communicate announcements and information to their students. It is a bi-directional process as students too are using these mediums to share comment with their teacher.

             Social networking sites although has been recognized as an important resource for education today, studies however shows that students use social networking sites such as  Facebook for fun, to kill time, to meet existing friends or to make new ones (Ellison et al., 2007). Although it has been put forward that students spends much time on participating in social networking activities, with many students blaming the various social networking sites for their steady decrease in grade point averages (Kimberly et al, 2009), it also shows that only few students are aware of the academic and professional networking opportunities the sites offered.

 

Review of Literature

 

Currently, there are hundreds of SNSs that can draw millions of people, with diverse technological affordances. Social network sites are web based services that enable individuals to construct a semi-profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share connection with, views and go through their list of connections and those made by others within the system, although the nature and nomenclature of these connections has variation (Boyd and Ellison, 2007). The ability of making it possible to meet new friends is not the major characteristics of social networking sites, but solely because the social network can be made evident due to the possibility it had been made eloquent. The outcome of these relationships of individuals that would ideally not have met each other is made possible. Although it’s not the real aim, and most times new connections are usually between “latent ties” (Hay, 2006), they already knew each other physically. On larger perspectives, on social network sites, members are not online with the intention of discovering new acquaintances but to interact with old friends which already exist on their list. To put in more words, the social networking as an important coordinating property of these sites is titled “Social Network Sites” (William et al, 2009).

The two most visited and highly talked about social networking websites world over today are Myspace and Facebook.  For students and even the general public, they provide personalized and interactive services based on users interest and activities on the web. Both high school and college students use Facebook and MySpace not only to stay in touch with existing friends and make new ones but also to exchange information about classes, concerts, parties, or whatever else interests them. People who make use of these sites create identities and social networks basically with text—composing identities by selecting and arranging dozens of labels and filling out form fields. A well-crafted Facebook or MySpace page not only gives the facts of a person’s life, such as birthday and hometown, but also a look at how that person wants to be perceived by his or her peers. Clearly, Facebook and MySpace, along with other social networking sites, have much to offer information technologists.

             SNSs have been defined as web based services that enable individuals to construct a semi-profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share connections and views”(Boyd and Ellison, 2009). Another given definition of SNSs is “it is an online community of Internet users who want to communicate with other users about areas of mutual interest” (William, 2009). The term "social network site” is usually used to describe this phenomenon and "social networking sites" also appears in public discourse, and both are often used interchangeably. While the term "networking" emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers (Boyd and Ellison, 2007) which is one of the main activities in the course of SNSs usage. Harnessing properly the opportunities that are bound through this networks tend to help the students a lot in a positive manner and can also be channeled into helping others. Examples of SNSs include; Twitter Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Orkut and many others.

             The majority of users of the SNSs are youngsters who were named ‘Digital Natives’ ( Prensky, 2010)  especially the most common are students in higher education. They often use SNSs to stay in touch with their offline friends or bolster existing connections rather than developing new affairs (Ellison et al, 2007). That exposed a significant message that the SNSs could be a possible medium to gain more recognition of online learning than conventional e-learning platform if the elaborately designed activities can be closely integrated into the features of SNSs.

Academic performance is defined as”…how students deal with their studies and how they cope with or accomplish different tasks given to them by their teachers” (Kimberly et al, 2009). It was indicated that friendship networks often necessitates access to information and knowledge directly and indirectly, and the friendship network effect on student academic performance has been confirmed (Baldwin et al, 1997).  Involvement of a student in these forms of activities such as making friends on social networks should be seen as a way of having access to up to date information that is relevant and can be channeled towards improving his academic performance. It depends on the ability and willingness of the concerned individual to be able to harness that opportunity to cope with academic related stress (Kimberly et al, 2009).   A student who records a high ingenuity on social networks has the tendency to make lots of friends online and also may translate same to his normal daily academic life.

 

Students and Use of Social Networking Sites

 

Social Networking Site is a communication tool for members. This kind of platform was designed as a way for friends, family, or strangers to have discussions and interaction or be in contact with each other. It allows members to explore new opportunities and experiences. Social Networking Sites allow students to express themselves, communicate, and collect profiles that highlight their talents and experience. Also there are so many factors warranting young people and even some adults to be addicted and need to use the social network. Based on this study and after meeting few students, we presumed or assumed that for many reasons as stated below the youths want to use the social networking sites available.

 

           To get technical and vocational skills which are very important for human development?

           Socializing with friends

           Doing a sort of collaborative study, research or academic work.

           Carrying out informal form of learning i.e. online degree

           Discovering and exploration of interests, both academic and future interest.

           Doing some kind of online marketing, business, seminar known as webinar etc.

           having to be inform will make one not to be deformed hence most youth tends to visit this social networking sites daily to get daily news information about what is going on round the country, within his or her vicinity, about friends, relatives ..

           This is also an avenue of a citizen to bring the attention of the government to what is needed in their environment, or by suggesting to the government since it will not be possible for you sometimes to go to the office of whoever is in authority.

 

Perception of using SNSs

 

Positive perceptions obtained from users of social networking sites i.e. effective learning which has resulted in an easy learning climate among students (Mattingly et al., 2010). In another study conducted by (Shirii,2009) they explored how social networking sites encourage friendliness through the use of Facebook, Twitter and LlinkedIn. The study concluded that numerous approaches can be used to encourage amiability among students which leads to a positive effect from SNSs user’s point of view. In a study conducted by (Mazer et al., 2007) concluded that Facebook networking site is used by students more frequently and also faculty members. Recent data obtained from Facebook through there spokesperson, showed that approximately 297,000 users are university faculty members, although   there are pros and cons in each case.

 

Academic Performance

 

Students who obtained quality and good education contribute hugely to building of any country. The important aspect that can impact positively the educational performance is through the use of internet. In was proposed in 2001 by Shah, that the effect of internet use if largely determined by the type of internet usage. Tuckman (1975) defined performance as the apparent demonstration of understanding, concepts, skills, ideas and knowledge of a person and proposed that grades clearly depict the performance of a student. Hence, their academic performance must be managed efficiently keeping in view all the factors that can positively or negatively affect their educational performance. He proposed that internet is advantageous to both students and teachers if used as a tool of knowledge creation and dissemination. In addition, academic performance defined by (Kobal and Musek, 2001)” refers to the numerical scores of a student’s knowledge, representing the degree of a student’s adaptation to schoolwork and the educational system”.

             In the study conducted by (Englander et al., 2010), he observed that students spend more time using SNSs for other purposes apart from educational use, thus affecting their academic performance. In another study (Nalwa and Anand, 2003), shows that students like to use internet for their own responsibilities and this affects their academic performance. This study is further elaborated by (Karpinski , 2009) whereby they stated that SNSs users had lower grade rankings than students who never engage in social interactions. However there are general benefits associated with users of SNSs.  (Roblyer et al., 2010) explained that SNSs are sources of communication among students and lecturers in their respective faculties. Furthermore, (Kolek and Saunders, 2008) resolved that users of SNSs who are students have no effect whatsoever with their academic performance.

 

Student’s perception

 

Student’s perception on the use of social networking sites can be viewed in a variety of perspectives. When viewing it in a more general perspective the social networking sites can be used in two different ways such as in academic usage and for non-academic. However, the use of social networking media among students of FSKSM may also be seen as having both positive and negative consequences on their academic performance. This perception will depend on how the concerned individual defined as positive or negative i.e. according to his personal views in life and the way and manner students are able to manage their time efficiently and appropriately. Result from this study found that the widespread use of the social networking sites among students of FSKSM as a means of seeking information is only natural to the technology transformation going on globally. And those students discovered that the social networking media could be used to connect with other faculty members of like minds and enhance academic achievement of college students.

Furthermore, (Hinchcliffe,2007) pointed out that in social networking media the individual user (or groups of users) can decide what they wish to discuss and who they wish to work together with. This means that social networking media truly have the capability to deliver a platform for learning where the student is potentially at the centre of activities. These social networks help FSKSM students to promote their academic activities by adopting various possibilities to communicate with faculty members and share knowledge and educational resource materials such as videos, files, journals, assignments to mention a few, which eventually lead to a positive performance in their educational attainment. No wonder social networks have been found to influence the way students live and socialize. Study was conducted by (Shiri, 2009) shows that  numerous approaches can be used to encourage amiability among students which leads to a positive effect from SNS user’s point of view.

 

Positive Influences

 

From the literature, the study  reveal several purposes for which social networking sites have been adopted to enhance educational performance of students in institutions of higher learning, a few of the purposes are : for sharing resource information, exchanging messages, chatting, uploading files and sending and receiving  photos, updating and sharing of personal information, booking appointment for meeting , watch movies, review lectures, seminars, books and even political  campaign are carried out with the use of social networking media. There are also some arguments in favors of using SNS that  proposed that greater use of SNS has a positive influence on students’ academic performance .This is also consistent with the current findings among FSKSM students. (Roblyer et al., 2010) explained that SNS are a brilliant source of interaction between students and faculty members. Undoubtedly , a good number of students use these medium for academic purpose. It should be noted that social networking sites can be used as an interactive platform for academic communication and can also be a source of information, knowledge and help. This research carried out among students of the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Systems considers the various academic benefits provided through the use of social networking sites which is evident from the findings of this study; they include letting subscribers to have access to intentional or spontaneous knowledge opportunities by gathering students together around shared interests, exchanging information, sharing ideas, discussing topics, collaborating. This is consistent to previous study by (Matting  et al., 2010) who reported that the educational use of Face book can be grouped into three main categories which include sharing, communication between users and lastly collaboration.

             

Communication

 

Since social networking sites consist of various categorical groups and communities, this is an avenue for students to belong to networks that are useful for academic collaboration. Through this opportunity the researcher found that FSKSM students came together to exchange ideas, share information and work together with which they have common interests, ideas and needs which will eventually help in their academic performance. Social networking sites are used for academic purposes such as  collaboration, activities such as students coming together to form research groups, classroom assignment groups, group discussions teams and all other activities  related to their faculties, departments or classes and carrying on group works by sharing homework, projects, ideas, and etc.

             This study found that three basic activities are common to all FSKSM students involved in using SNS for academic purpose they are: communicating with the faculty and university authority, communicating with lecturers and supervisors, making academic discussions with classmates and chatting with friends in respect to topics of educational interest.

From the result of this research, the researcher found that academic usage of social networking sites for communication comprise of  several educational activities  such as availing FSKSM students the opportunity to  communicate among themselves and their lecturers, enhancing and facilitating classroom discussions, following up announcements about classes and courses, arranging group discussions to jointly solve difficult assignments in  departments or schools, delivery of homework and assignments by teachers, informing students about resources and links related to subject areas.

 

Materials and Resource Sharing

 

This study indicate that academic usage of social networking sites for resource and material sharing comprise of activities such as exchanging multimedia resources, videos, audio materials, animated videos, resources, documents and following the links to external resources or pages. This relationship is shaped by the social, informational, or material resources that they both exchange. These resources exchanges are called “relations” in social network analysis. The level of information disclosed on SNS is another tool, which can be used to facilitate another portal of communication between the student and educator. From the result of this study, the researcher found that the social networks promote students of faculty of computer science and information systems to share information and academic resource materials such as files, assignments, books journals and online articles, videos, interviews can also be carried out and so on.

Growing concern has been highlighted on the need to address the negative effects of the social network and other emerging technologies. For instance the use of social networking sites to chat with friends and relatives by students for social and non academic activities during lecture periods when they should be engaged in their studies. .Moreover, observation from this study find that most of the undergraduate students of FSKSM are engaged in the use of SNS mainly for socializing activities rather than for academic purpose, while the postgraduate students of same faculty use it more for academic purpose.

 

Distraction from Study

 

Growing concern has been highlighted on the need to address the negative effects of the social network and other emerging technologies. Considering the report of (EDUCAUSE, 2006), which indicated that regular use of social networking media may result in a kind of obsession. From observation and result of Tables 1 & 2, many of the FSKSM students were sincere to reveal that most times they unconsciously found themselves getting addicted to the use of these sites immediately they have subscribed to them. It’s a kind of obsession that you plan to spend a few minutes on the site, but before you know it you have spent hours surfing and updating profiles and viewing photo actions promoted by MySpace. Some students of faculty of computer science and information systems perceived the hours spent on this network as main hours lost whereas others see it as a mere distraction from what is supposed to be done.

Those students who say that their performance is not hampered by the use of social networking media agree that they limit the time they spend on the networks. From this statement it can be inferred that invariably time spent on social network media has a correlation to the academic performance of students. This means that, if a student devotes more time to checking the net, it will reduce the time spent on his studies, hence lowers his grades. . The Karpinski study also found that 65 percent of Face book users access their account daily, often checking it several times for new messages. Some people spend just a few minutes on the site; others spend more than an hour (MyFox, 2009).

In this study, many of the participants agreed that spending more time on the social networking media results in them getting low grades in their studies. This is the reason why majority of students of faculty of computer science and information systems say that they normally regulate the periods they access their networks in such a way that their study will not be hampered. (Kolek and Saunder., 2008) concluded that there is no association between SNS usage and GPA of students. The results of the study show that a majority of the students were aware of social networking media and use these sites for friendly communication. From physical observation the researcher find that some FSKSM students are paying more attention towards these social networking activities rather than utilizing this time for their studies and this might affect their academic performance adversely.

Tuckman (1975) defined performance as the apparent demonstration of understanding, concepts, skills, ideas and knowledge of a person and proposed that grades clearly depict the performance of a student. Hence, students’  academic performance must be managed efficiently keeping in view all the factors that can positively or negatively affect educational performance and proposed that internet is advantageous to both students and teachers if used as a tool of knowledge creation and dissemination. Defending on the nature of the SNS usage, if students use it positively like using it for educative collaborations and recourse sharing then, it will enhance his/her performances. And if it is used socially e.g. friendly chatting and sharing pictures it will degrade the student’s performances.. 

 

 

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