Perception Cultural Impacts: Principles for Trainer s skills for E- Learning

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Perception Cultural Impacts: Principles for Trainer’s skills for

E-Learning

Fathia Lahwal, Mohamed Amaimin, and Ajlan Al-Ajlan

Software Technology Research Laboratory (STRL)

De Montfort University

flahwal,mamaimin,ajlan@dmu.ac.uk

Abstract

E-learning in higher education is a developing area for study in modern institution. As technology and software advance, e-learning is becoming faster, more reliable, more portable and easier to use. It makes the lives of individual’s easier, helping people learn whilst at work or in the home, flexibly and at times that suit them. It also meets corporate objectives for cost effective training and for introducing new procedures quickly. In the generalised e-learning environment, trainers coming from different culture and nations, have different background and need different support for their advance to skill and acquisition of skills. This paper discovers the ways in which cultural background impacts to provide a comparison on different characteristics of trainer’s skills for e-learning between Arab and Eastern world. The support carried out by using questionnaire that has been used as a tool to collect data on e-learning to be examine the level to which trainers felt prepared to develop and use e-learning material, and fill a clear information gap about how it is developing and trainer’s opinions of it in the and the Eastern world. The result of the study guided to set of principles being planned to direct trainers of e-learning environment and plan on the basis of cultural differences.

Keywords: E-learning, Economic, Strategy, Trainer‟s skills of e-learning and Arab and Eastern world.

1. Introduction

With the rapidly increasing popularity of the Internet in recent years, there is an increasing demand for methodologies and technologies, especially, for e-learning. E-learning is an interactive learning in which the learning content is available on-line and provides automatic feedback to the student‟s learning activities [1] Therefore, there is an increasing demand for methodologies and technologies, especially for e-learning. E-learning is defined as interactive learning in which the learning content is

available on-line and provides automatic feedback to the student‟s learning activities. While recognizing that the world at large will continue to use terminology in different and often ambiguous ways, the term of e-learning is used here to refer to on-line interactions of various kinds including on-line learning that takes place between learners and instructors [1, 2, 3].

E-learning is as learning supported by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). It is not limited to digital literacy. It may to include multiple formats and hybrid methodologies as the use of software, Internet, CD-ROM, online learning or any other electronic or interactive media [4]. Although it is the potential this has for improving both the quantity and quality of learning. Improving the both of the quantity and quality of interaction among teacher and student and between students, and accelerating the adoption of new and more information and programs [2, 5, 6].

Motivation to start learning is as an important with e-learning as with other media. The proper will compare on different features of e-learning in the Eastern side, and make recommendations for the introduction of e-learning in Eastern side. In order to compare between the and the Eastern side on several directions in the field of e-learning, a questionnaire was developed based on indicators found in Cedefop online surveys and work done in cooperation with [2]. The indicators (questionnaire items) were modified to directly tap into each of the facets of the field.

This paper is structured as follows. A literature review of e-learning is presented in Section 2, containing the reasons for choosing principles being planned to direct trainers of e-learning environment together with its limitations. The significant section is the comparative study between Arab and Eastern world, which is described in Section 3. A brief discussion on the findings of this paper is described in Section 4. Finally, the conclusion and future work are described in Section 5.

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2. Trainer’s skills for e-learning

Technology supported learning: which provides views of training practitioners on technology usage and information requirements; [9] explain that, the difficult to fight against traditional knowledge delivery system for higher education in the Eastern world shows the certain information technology gap between them. This study shows the problems and possibilities of implementing e-learning in Eastern academic circles through analyzing the positions of university professors in Lebanon, the directions of using general principles of e-learning features [10].

In additional, Dubai is at the head of e-learning, it spends a larger percentage on delivery solutions, compared to the global trend where the market has shifted the focus to content. However, several new developments are set to change the situation and Dubai is on course to join the rest of the world in delivering world-class e-learning programs. The study says that the chance for growth in both the academic and corporate e-learning market in Dubai is high, but it needs to be enhanced with wider use of broadband Internet [11].

The Eastern Human Development Report discovered serious digital divide between the and Eastern countries. In addition, it indicated that Internet investigate in the Eastern is as low as 2.2 percent, is less than half the world rate of percent. These figures underline the wide disconnect between Eastern organization as a complete and ICT. Because of the high use of public access services, it is difficult to measure the total numbers of internet users. The UNDO report figures for other developing countries in 2000 were: 1 in 30 for Latin America and Caribbean and 1 in 166 for the Eastern States [11].

Access to e-learning technologies in education is no exception in this context. Social barriers to the use of technology in education are part of that disconnect. According to the Eastern Human Development Report indicated that illiteracy in the Eastern states is still a persistent problem, where the number of illiterate people at the age of ICT is a field of interest from both the Libyan Authorities and the population at large, especially for the youth: a proposal for a project aimed at developing a comprehensive ICT strategy for the country, as well as for targeting issues such as e-government and e-learning has therefore been presented to the Government by UNDP-LIBYA. A side effect of this approach – distance-learning -could be of great use in the country where distances are an important factor. This proposal is also linked to a regional ICT initiative from UNDP, involving several Eastern States whose object is to promote the use of ICTs for Human

Development in the Eastern States region [12].

As a conclusion of the extensive literature reviews in this section, it can be understands that the e-learning technologies has creditability to give educational and training institutions opportunities to improve their pedagogical standards and also provides high quality educational opportunities for all those wishing to receive education, breaking all the traditional barriers that usually stood on their way. However, employing the web of e-learning into higher education environment also needs the comprehensive analysis to make sure the user requirements is complete and the system running as it intended.

3. Comparative Study Based on Aspect of

Trainer’s skills for e-learning

A survey method and questionnaire paper used to collect information about the cultural trainers skills and background, how important to rate these skills, the mode of acquisition of skills, Time needs to acquisition and the majority of trainers professional needed to acquire e-learning skills preferences of a group of an Coventry university‟s students.

This comparison aims to choose suitable principles of trainers skills of e-learning for consideration in this study. The comparison focuses on two kinds of principles. The first is level of e-learning skills, technical specification, pedagogical specification, working in a cooperative virtual environment, and how important do trainers rate each of these skills. The second is acquisition of these skills, including Formal education and training programme, learned through participation in e-learning activities with others who have formal training in e-learning, learned through trial and error without formal expertise being ,or Have not acquired any of these skills to date. The comparison has two sides to compare between the UK and Arabic world. The term “Arabic” is used to indicate Arabic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and the countries impacted by Arabic culture .The term “UK” is used to indicate the countries influenced by European culture.

The aim of user needs analysis is to recover the needs of learners or/trainers, for project providing training to their own students or trainers, in many projects with heavy investments in technology and learning materials, the user needs analysis is a well identified phase in project lifecycle and the results of the analysis strongly influence the subsequent development of the process. Finally, the study outlines number of respondents and identifies them

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by each side. The questionnaires have received over 50% responses of overall questionnaires have been sent and together build up a picture of development in some key areas of trainer‟s skills for e-learning on each phase separately as follows:

Professional Occupation:

This section shows the number of respondents who have completed this section in the questionnaire as a responds from UK, so the largest percentage of respondents (50 per cent) they were working in future and higher education. Some (42.9 per cent) work in private training organization. A small amount of the other who work in education and training or managing training as part of a wider set of professional activities. While Arab world responded, working in further and higher education comes in highest as well at (58.3 per cent). Working in private training organization comes in second with (25 per cent). Among those listed as other (25 per cent), some gave job titles that suggest direct involvement as trainers in non training organizations.

3.1 Levels of e-learning Skills

This section shows the respondents rate of their pedagogical expertise, ability to work in cooperation and project management skills for e-learning quite highly. Pedagogical and technical skills get fewer rating.

Technical Skills: The results relating to ability to write a technical specification for e-learning has appeared from the analysis of respondents as shown in Figure 1, the rat of expertise and skills significantly difference between the UK side and Arabic. One of the most interesting between skills rate of respondents is that has the lowest percentages at very good and excellent in both sides. However, there were lower respondents consider their technical skills poor in the UK than the Arabic side. The reason could be that the application of specification is limited in Arabic side, so can not apply it or could be

that the teacher‟ lack of technical expertise and competences and insufficient or erroneous documentation of some parts of the development environment also had an effect [13, 14].

Pedagogical Specification Skills: The respondents rate pedagogical expertise as shown in Figure 2, the same as either fair or very good in the UK. While in the Arabic side their skills as either poor or fair more higher than either very good or excellent. These percentages have appeared significantly difference between the Arab side and the UK. Interesting, the lowest percentages at very good and excellent have been appeared in the Arab side. The reason could be no definitive answers to what instructional principles or processes should be adopted for e-learning design. the pedagogical approach largely depends on what the project is trying to achieve. In one case, pedagogical approach could be helped to match the technology with pedagogy, which had the disadvantages of making student interact with a range of different software platforms which, in some cases, caused confusion, especially for those with lower levels of ICT skills [13]. As some suggests indicated, that project managers recognise the need for the use of pedagogic principles in instructional design.

Figure 1: Ability to Write a Technical Specification for

an e-learning Environment.

Figure 3: Working in a Cooperative Virtual environment.

Figure 2: Ability to Write a Pedagogical Specification for an e-learning Environment.

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Working in a Cooperative Virtual Environment Skills: As results of analysis respondent‟s rate have appeared significantly different with expertise in working in cooperative virtual environment and project management skills. The respondents were decreased their rate at either poor or fair and slightly increase in excellent rate in the UK as shown in Figure 3, in combination with the previous question; this suggests that trainers intend to working in cooperative environment of their learning in the future. While in Arab side, slightly decreased at rate poor and fair, but still a quite low at excellent rate. The reason could be in some cases, learners were hindered from accessing an e-learning programmer because of their own inexperience in using media or could be the same as have been indicated early about the lack of technical skills and the impact of e-learning .also about being left behind, and the difficulty of coping with changing technology and training requirements at the same time.

Project Management Skills: The results relating to project management skills has appeared from the analysis of respondents as shown in Figure 4, their rat of expertise and skills significantly higher at very good and quite low at poor and fair in UK .while more higher at fair and quite low at poor and excellent, while slightly higher at fair and very good in Arab side. In this case the study opinion, points out just one answer is that no project is ever executed according to the original plan. Budgets are often higher than for conventional training programs and large projects often imply large project teams. So it is clear from some responses that project management recognises the need for the use of pedagogic principles in instructional design and building and maintaining the technology platform. From these results there are indications that project management approach will be more effective in future.

3.2 Importance of Rate e-learning Ability

In this case as results has been appeared from analyses of respondents came from both sides, that indicated to the most of respondents intend to have skills for writing a technical specification in e-learning as shown in Figure 5, and also skills for writing a pedagogical specification for e-learning as shown in Figure 6, which were more higher percentages in Arab side than UK.

Ability to Write a Technical Specification: The essential rate has appeared a quite higher in the respondents from the Arab side than the UK as shown in Figure 5. Feature here is that should actually be access to expertise, whether external in terms of consultancy, or internal, by bringing an expert into the development team. So, some projects used an external consultancy bureau for answers to technical issues, while other used an internal team of technical experts [13].

Ability to Write Pedagogical Specification: Reflecting a strong concern and interest in improve their skills in write pedagogical specification as shown in Figure 6. One of the main pedagogical axes

Figure 5: The important to rate the ability to write a technical specification for e-learning environment

Figure 4: Project management skills

Figure 6: The important to rate the ability to write a pedagogical specification for an e-learning environment

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on which some projects were formerly designed and implemented is constructivism. In completely sure cases to provide more steady support to the learners by going back to more simplest and traditional approaches which are far from self-learning, it has sometimes been needed to limit the openness of the system. Some factors worthy of thinking about include the entry skills of learners.

Not only are some learners unfamiliar with e-learning, some are beginner when it comes to the use of computers. This group should not be disadvantaged, and may need training in how to use computers. In addition building a culture of openness, believe and tolerance so that learning culture to become known, and maintaining students‟ motivation is another important pedagogical consideration. This emphases the fact of „the main problems and challenges encountered resulted from the fact that technicians and pedagogues speak two different languages [13, 15].

Ability to Work in Cooperation Skills for e-learning: The results relating to how important it is to be able to moderate and stimulate groups of learners in virtual workspace, has appeared in Figure 7, significantly quite different between them. So, from Arab respondents has increase the rate of percentage of essential category. However, it has increased in not important category significantly as well, about (33.3 per cent). The reasons could be the lack of professional training for work in cooperation environment is likely to be a factor that could limit the expansion and scalability of e-learning.

Figure 7: The important to rate the ability to moderate and stimulate groups of learners in a virtual workspace.

The data study from both sides indicates that professional development tends to focus on technical specification skills such as building knowledge of a particular virtual learning environment or software application and then simulate groups of learners in a virtual workspace rather than pedagogic. It is also important that learners are provided with flexibility,

being able to learn at a time that is suitable to their busy work schedules as teachers or trainers.

To emphasis the fact of this finding there are several study indicated that the electronic communication is increasingly used to support learning processes. Bolling and Robinson have examined cooperative learning by comparing three learning groups: individual learning with products, group learning with print products, and group learning with multimedia. Considered all together, cooperative learning turned out to be the best method; multimedia was best for students with a high amount of previous knowledge [16, 17]. It also helps if project managers and technical experts are able to work together in close physical proximity, resolving technical issues as they occur.

3.3 Mode of Acquired e-learning skills

One of the most important results of the study is that only (16.7 per cent) of all respondents from the Arab side say they have had some formal education and training programme in e-learning and this percentage has increased significantly about (19 per cent ) compared to percentage of respondents from the UK. While the highest percentage of respondents who have learned through trial and error represented (83.3 per cent) of respondent from the Arab side compared to (71.4 per cent) either as they have learned through trial and error or have had some formal education, these as respondents came from the UK as shown in Figure 8. The reason could be that formal education/training has now started teaching computer and advantage technology in the Arab side and this way most learners have learned by trial and error without formal expertise being provided or learn new skills by following the example of others. While the reason in UK is different could be that e-learning is still at early age that formal education/training have not afford.

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In this case the data from this study shows the result of findings about that traditional skills are essential but are not enough to e-learning. Successfully designing and managing an e-learning project requires new skills to handle the complexity of e-learning projects, to properly exploit the potential of new technology and to manage the special problems arising from the lack of face to face contact with learners. In many cases, these skills cross traditional boundaries between disciplines. A key requirement for participation in e-learning teams is the ability to work effectively in a team whose members may have very different skills backgrounds [4, 13].

3.4 Time Needs to Acquire New e-learning

Skills

The results relating to e-learning expertise will be needed by the large number of respondents have been appeared at the first in advanced technical knowledge in both sides as shown in Figure 9. However, it was quite higher with in next 12 to 24 in UK than other side with immediately learning and expertise. Second majority has been appeared with the needed of cooperative working in both sides as well, although it is a quite higher in UK than Arab side. While all of the remaining skill are needed by the majority of trainers came from Arab side at the second wanted. Project management skill came with the third needed by the majority of e-learning skills in UK. The reason could be that the technical support has to help learners resolve many problems, even when they fall outside the direct responsibility of the project.

Figure 9: Time needs to Acquire New e-learning Skills

In this case, this suggests that the most important skills are likely to be the ability to „read‟ a pre-existing analysis and translate it into practical guidelines for the design of the project. Although specific skills required may different from project to

project. In particular, while user needs analysis may require specific technical skills on their own are not enough. In successful projects awareness of user needs informs every aspect of project design and implementation [13].

3.5 The Majority of Trainers Professional

needed to acquire e-learning Skills

When it came to the results relating to the majority of trainers professional will be needed to acquire by the majority of training professionals, one of almost interesting that percentages of the needed to acquire technical expertise immediately are significantly higher in Arab side respondents than UK. The reasons could be that e-learning too new and do not know enough about it. So, training professional from this side concerned about lack of advanced technical knowledge and intends to improve their skills immediately to enhance their skills .while in UK side they wanted to acquire this skill in next 12-24 months. The reason could be that the technology is still in its infancy and developing at an unprecedented pace. Features that are unusual today would have been unthinkable some five years ago. In this context, it is not possible to predict exactly what technologies of the future might be enabled to do but enhanced level of utilisation and experimentation will inevitably bring about a greater awareness and understanding in this field.

4. Discussion

Respondents were offered an opportunity to list their main concerns. There was a surprising opinion across the replies. Many wondered how they were going to learn to use the technology within a pedagogical environment. There is little unlikely from the answers that there is considerable worry among trainers about how to improve their own skills and expertise, worries about being left behind, and the difficulty of coping with changing technology and training requirements at the same time.

Others were looking for a security fraud. Many stated their dislike of concentration on technology in e-learning discussions and descriptions rather than the pedagogy, but there was also quite considerable recognition that technology can provide an opportunity to create new and innovative pedagogical approaches.

Some said all technology needs to be updated on a regular basis in order to provide professional results. E.g. word processing enables to create reports, correspondences. Other concerns about obtain the basic skills like: Managing files; Using Internet and

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search engine; E-mail; Manipulating software. In additional, other comments about the skills that are the most important to support e-learning are:

Confidentiality of learning material being used by others without permission should be paid intellectual rights of lecture note.

Be able to have a assistance in someone setting up the frameworks as per specification and ensure it is up and running, then as teachers could be added to e-learning and keep it updated.

Respondents were offered an opportunity from Arab side to list their main concerns. Large numbers expressed concern about their lack of technical skills and a need for interest in having the expertise to evaluate quality and the impact of e-learning. A number of them said it is too important to use advanced technical knowledge and make cooperative working and learning expertise to develop their process and to be more successfully in this field. Another expressed that by the use of an e-mail as a technology support e-learning, it will activate network and accelerate the communication to cooperation between employees.

Many comment about skills and expertise they feel are the most important to have support e-learning in their organisation as software design; programming; multimedia and networking. A number said they were searching for more information and expertise in e-learning design and especially how to develop content and support system.

E-learning is now widely used all over the world by universities, schools, institutes, companies, independent educators, and home schooling parents. It has great potential for creating a successful e-learning experience by providing an plenty of excellent tools that can be used to enhance conventional classroom instruction in any e-learning system. In this context, it is unclear whether rising costs are expected as a result of improvements or market competition. On other hand is it clear if falling cost expectations for support are due to reasons of increasing expertise between larger numbers of training professionals able to provide online support or more intelligent automated systems.

In this case that means there are lack of training professional who can provide online support or unable of have automated system. This indicates for many respondents felt they lacked the expertise and the models to calculate the costs and returns on e-learning investment. New skills are required by those involved in training and beginning to adopt e-learning, new return on investment models need to be developed and shared to increase effective decision making. A comprehensive cost analysis helps to identify and calculate alternative forms of training,

forms the basis of prognoses and planning processes and is necessary to perform comparative analyses.

5. Conclusion and Future Work

This paper focuses on a comparative study on Trainer‟s skills for e-learning in the UK and the Arabic world. The cooperation carried out by using questionnaire that has been used as a tool to collect data on e-learning to fill a clear information gap about how it is developing and people‟s opinions of it in the UK and the Arabic world to provide some understanding into the state of exact directions of e-learning in both sides.

Overall, most content continues to be outsourced similar in both sides. However, the decrease in homemade learning solution could indicate that the market is responding adequately to the content needs of trainers. If trainers are in a way forced to design their own e-learning solution, this could be a possible reason for attention and great care on switching to technology supported learning solutions. Therefore, the reasons for this trend could be different in each side. In that technology is wide but is an expensive, therefore university cannot or will not buy it. However, that could be supported with cheaper solutions by taking from internet or copies. While in Eastern side could be lack of knowledge and general awareness of technology.

This paper has presented the work that has been done to date. In the future work, more analysis in Arabic countries will be further investigated to assess the impact of pedagogy on design in order to deliver a further improved fused media e-learning environment that can be used by creative media designers and producers for learning technical skills. In addition, we will work hard within e-learning in the Arabic countries, especially Libya and Saudi Arabia countries. Initially, there will be a survey for obtaining information directly from different sources, including participants who are in a position to provide such information. Many variables will be considered at this point and the study will attempt to identify the relationships among such variables.

6. Acknowledgement

The authors wish to acknowledge contributions from many people, including Prof Hessian Zedan, and Dr Gurmail Singh. This work was a part of Fathia‟s Master dissertation.

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