CHALLENGES FACED BY E-LEARNERS - A CASE STUDY IN JORHAT DISTRIST OF ASSAM


Rini Sonowal1, Runu Borah Saikia2and Torun Saikia2
1Research Scholar (M.Phil), Dibrugarh University, Dibrugarh, Assam, India,
2Assistant Professor, Deptt. of Education, Cinamara College, Jorhat, Assam, India

Abstract
E-learning has become a part and parcel of the 21st century learners. E-learning is learning conducted via electronic media to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. E-learning can be said as a formalized teaching- learning system specifically framed to be carried out remotely by using electronic communication .Distance education in the form of e-learning  aims to eradicate the problems of equity, equality and access of education for the members of the society. The computer related modern technology such as internet, video-conferencing, web-conferencing etc. along with advanced Information Communication Technology  has been playing a crucial role in academic  and professional  advancement of the  e-learners and open distance learners as well as learners of conventional mode of teaching learning process. E-learning is supposed to fulfill and satisfy the needs of these learners .But e-learners face various problems at the time of acquiring knowledge through e- learning. Thus, this paper is an attempt to study the challenges faced by e- learners and to suggest some remedial measures. The present paper is based on both primary and secondery data.
Keywords: E-learning, Access of education, Modern technology

1.Introduction
E- learning is a boon to the 21st century learners. E- learning or Electronic learning is a type of education where instruction is provided through computer technology. It is the use of technology to enable people to learn anytime and anywhere. E- learning is a specific mode to attend a course or program of study where students study online and they never attend face to face or on campus access to educational facilities. Since its introduction in 1980’s it has been increasingly becoming popular among students. E- learning allows users to fruitfully gather knowledge and education both by synchronous and asynchronous methodologies to effectively face the need to rapidly acquire upto - date knowledge know how within productive environments.

Weggen and Urdan (2000) describes e – learning as “the delivery of content via all electronic media , including the internet ,intranets, extranets, satellite broadcast, audio/video tape , interactive TV and CD- ROM.”

Electronic learning is based on modern methods of communication that includes the computer and its networks various audio- visual materials, search engine, electronic libraries and websites, etc. E-learning is included in the periphery of distance learning. E-learning is very well suited to distance learning.

Weggen and Urdan (2000) describes e – learning as a subset of distance learning and containing online learning and computer based learning as shown in the diagram below:
                                               

E- learning pioneer Bernard Luskin argues that if E–learning is to be effective, the “E” must be understood in a broader meaning. Luskin says that the “E” should be interpreted to mean exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, emotional, extended, excellent and educational in addition to “Electronic” that is traditional national interpretation. By e-learning enables people to have strong academic skills, better reasoning, thinking, team work skills, proficiency in using technology, meeting challenges and enhance learning.

With the spread of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution, the open and distance learning institutions are using audio/video broadcasting, audio/video teleconferencing, computer aided instruction, e-learning, computer broadcasting/web-casting etc. This in turn helps in achieving education as a life- long process in reality by breaking the traditional barriers of time and place associated with the delivery of education and helps the institutions to implement distance education in an easier way. E-learning specially benefits the learners in every respect. It includes training, the delivery of just-in-time information and guidance from experts. It enables training facilities at off hours or from home, less academic stress, makes availability of quick referenc.

Inspite of all its advantages and increasing popularity of e -learning among the learners, still some noteworthy problems are found. Some problems are associated in implementing e-learning in distance education like inadequate ICT infrastructure and planning, lack of awareness of government officials, lack of proper training programs, inadequate human resource capacity, low reliability of internet access etc. Carr (1999) mentioned the lack of ICT skills is one of the barriers in e- learning training .Schott et al, (2003) asserted that e-learning success rate was very dependent on students’ abilities to be self directed and internally motivated. Students need necessary hardware for e-learning such as desktop or notebook, computers and printers. Therefore, limitations of e-learning are particularly related with technological and hardware limitations, personal issues, design issues etc. But ultimately it is the learners who face the problems. Through this paper, an attempt is made to highlight the major challenges faced by the e-learners with special reference to Jorhat district of Assam.

2. Objectives
  1. To find out the challenges faced by the e- learners of Jorhat district in Assam.
  2. To study personal issues of the e-learners in Jorhat District of Assam.
3.   Methodology
So far methodology of the present study is concerned, survey method is followed.For the present study all the e-learners of IGNOU Study Centre of C.K.B Commerce College and IDOL Study centre of Jorhat district, Assam are selected for present study. Among all the e- learners, fifty (50) of them are selected as sample for collection of relevant data for this study. The samples of this study are selected heterogeneously.A pre-tested questionnaire is prepared to collect data. Further the investigators personally visited to the e- learning study centre and meet the e-learners and handed them the questionnaires. 

4.   Results and Discussion
Table 1 and Table 2 show the challenges faced by the e- learners of IGNOU Study centre and IDOL Study centre, C.K.B Commerce college of Jorhat district. Table 2 is mainly concerned with the personal issues of the e-learners.

The above table is the evidence of the Challenges faced by the e-learners in their study centre of Jorhat District Assam.
 
The above table shows that the e- learner face as many as problems in their e-learning. The main findings of the study are summarized as-

  • 82% of the e-learners revealed that there is unavailability of ICT infrastructure in their study centre of Jorhat District in Assam. So, it is signified that there is lack of ICT infrastructure in the e-learning institution which hinders in e-learning.
  • 88% of the e-learners said that there are inadequate skilled instructors in the study centre. So, lack of skilled instructors poses a great threat to the e-learners.
  •  All the e-learners responded that there are not availability of digital classroom.  So, study shows that the E-learners suffer a lot due to absence of digital classrooms
  • 96% respondent responses that there are not facilities of free internet access
  • 80%   of the e-learners expressed that there is lack of incentives to use e-learning.
  • 84% of the e-learners expressed that they didn’t use digital library. So, it is signified that they have no previous knowledge of e- learning in Jorhat District of Assam.
  • 36% of the e-learners gave positive responses on availability of e- courses and 64% gave negative responses.
  • It is found that only 40% of the e-learners have knowledge of ICT skills and respective 60% have not ICT skill.
  • 44% of the e-learners are computer literate. 52% of the learners have their own computers or laptops.
  • 80% of the respondents responded that they face problem due to high cost of accessing internet.
  • 60% of the learners do not have proficiency in the English language.
  • 50% of the e –learners are self directed and internally motivated to e-learning. 74% of them have faith on or dependent on traditional mode of learning than e-learning.
5.   Policy Implication

  • To appoint trained instructors in the institutions of distance learning.
  • Awareness campaign on e-learning should be carried on.
  • Seminar and Workshops should be conducted from time to time on the advantage of using e-learning so that the students are motivated.
  • Training programs for both students and instructors should be conducted on using ICT effectively.
  • Proper ICT infrastructure should be managed by the Director and other personnel of the study centre .Proper digital classrooms should be well organized, so that students instead of staying at home and only attending the examinations may be motivated to attend virtual classes.
  • Wi-Fi connection should be made available in the study centre.
  • The instructors should properly guide the e-learners to use e-library, e-courses etc.
  • E-learning courses should be well-designed so that it is easy to use and suitable for all learners.
  • Government officials should be concerned about the challenges of e-learners. They should take initiatives in solving their problems.
  • Regular and uninterrupted power supply can help the e-learners of the rural areas.
6.   Conclusion

E-learning is among the most important invention of the technological age. It has become an inevitable part of the students today. Distance learners are more benefitted by e-learning. There are various problems of implementing e-learning and e-learners not only in Jorhat but also in other districts of Assam. By trying to remove the challenges of e- learners we may achieve more success in regard to knowledge gaining. Students will be more motivated towards gaining knowledge through e-learning. If we succeed in overcoming the challenges; we may gain more e-learners in the future years which will contribute towards the development of the society and achieving the international goal of education – “EDUCATION FOR ALL”. 

References
  • D. Mahanta and M. Ahmed (2012). E-learning- Objectives, Methodologies, Tools and its Limitation. International Journal of Innovative Technology and Exploring Engineering, 2(1).
  • N.D. Oye, M. Salleh & N.A. Iahad (2011). Challenges of E-Learning in Nigerian University Education Based on the experience of Developed countries. International Journal of Managing Information Technology, 3(2).
  • P. Holmes. E learning- A literature Review.Version 1.0,  2000, p.10
  • T. Urdan and C. Weggen (2000). Corporate e-Learning: Exploring. A New Frontier, pp.8-9.

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