DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AN E-LEARNING PLATFORM
1.0 CHAPTER ONE
1.1 Background of the Study
Learning is one of the very vital human activities that require concentration blended with interactivity, clear and distinct understanding of the facts been stated or discussed, high communication skills and techniques, attractive learning qualities such as colourful pictorial presentations of information among others. Nevertheless not all learning process is considered to be effective.
In recent years, various sectors such as entertainment, education, health and businesses are being dominated by mobile applications. The reason for this is that mobile computing is able to provide a tool for the user when and where it is needed irrespective of user movement, hence supporting location independence (Niroshinie, Seng and Wenny, 2013).
Exploring the powerful capabilities of multimedia and implementing it on teaching and learning processes via the production of learning material and products such as e-book, computer assisted learning (CAL), computer aided instruction (CAI), computer based training (CBT), internet based training among others would go a long way towards improving the advancement of the practical and theoretical knowledge of the students. With high quality content value of the e-learning products and the captivating multimedia features embedded in them, a student can easily, assimilate such knowledge (even in the absence of a teacher and the required physical environment) through repetitive accessing of the e-learning materials and following the animated instructions contained therein.
The advancement of computer technology has promoted the quality of mobile learning. The trend of recent communication technology is how to make good use of wireless equipment’s to construct a ubiquitous communication environment which can improve performance of traditional learning and create new learning activities or model for active learning. A wireless technology makes it possible to create an environment for a learner to obtain knowledge anytime and anywhere. Through wireless access, a student can access rich contents from the internet, search the knowledge by keyboard, interactively communicate with classmates or teacher, and participate in a mobile classroom anytime and anywhere.
With the increasing use of network computers, the Internet and advances in telecommunication technology, e-Learning has been widely recognized as a valuable tool for learning and training (Firouz, 2010). The traditional means of higher education has remained dominant in schools in some developing countries. With the significant growth of e-learning, teachers and students normally explore new ways of constructing knowledge (Dilani, 2014). The current technology being heavily researched as an educational platform is the World Wide Web (WWW). The WWW which represents a platform for information storage and dissemination can be accessed in minimum time, and this is very important to the educational community. The fact is that the transition from digital divide society to a global village information society causes the traditional instructional model to be unable to cover the instructional needs of modern societies. The globe is faced with a transition from a static economy to a new knowledge driven economy.
Population explosion and increasing admission request into schools in every region of the world brought greater constraints on the resources of several schools. For instance, there is problem of inadequate number of human and material resources to cater for the education of the large population. The population of school age citizen in most places has grown tremendously to the extent that only a small percentage can be offered admission (Akinyokun and Iwasokun, 2014). A new learning environment needs to be created which will provide autonomy and flexibility, establish contacts and easy communication between centres of culture and knowledge, and facilitate easy access for all citizens of a knowledge based society (Jain, 2016).
Conventional classroom based teaching involves the delivery of course lectures by the lecturer in a particular place at a specific time. Hence it imposes a constraint of time and place on both the instructor and the student. Due to the human factor, the lecturer may not always be able to put the optimum effort towards preparing and delivering course models. Direct interaction with the student is not easy because of the large number of students needing attention.
The remedy to this situation seems to be the learning techniques that are based on modern technologies such as the Internet and WWW combined with traditional classroom teaching. One of the ways this can be achieved is through the use of virtual classrooms. A virtual classroom is an environment conducive for learning, which takes place in the cyberspace. It provides the tools that learners need and brings together educators and learners to share information and ideas. The virtual classroom is a special form of e-learning that finds relevant applications in enriching the conventional learning methods. Nagarajan and Wiselin (2010) opined that e-learning can be deployed using a wide range of technologies and media.
The virtual classroom has its roots in the study of computers in education such as computer-mediated instruction and multimedia as an instructional tool. These broad fields covered not only hypermedia, such as web-based hypertext, but also non-internet instructional software design ranging from media school surgery tutorials to interactive CD-ROM geography atlases. Many of the issues facing these virtual classrooms, such as evaluation of interface design, integration of computers into course design, and social issues of computing are highly relevant to the design and use of internet-based virtual classrooms.
Present technologies enable the creation of virtual classrooms using the Internet and its resources. For the educators and trainees, a benefit of the Internet as platform for virtual classroom is that the information that can be stored is almost limitless. One of the contributions of Virtual Classroom (VCR) is the access to high quality and flexible learning technologies (Jain, 2016). The information being electronically stored can be accessed or downloaded by learners at their own pace, thereby overriding the constraint of time and place experienced in classroom based learning. The involvement of the distance learning includes teaching using telecommunication tools, which transmit and receive numerous materials through data, voice, and video (Ssekakubo, Suleman, and Marsden, 2011). There is also an increased use of virtual classrooms (online presentations delivered live) as an online learning platform and classroom for a diverse set of education providers. In addition to virtual classroom environments, social networks have become an important part of e-learning (Nagarajan and Wiselin, 2010).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Conventional learning (classroom learning) is normally fairly structured. It requires learners meeting on a regular basis, at scheduled times on the same days each week. This limits flexibility with work and other activities. Learners generally must be in class to get the learning experience and to keep up with requirements. Unless your instructors record lectures, in-class instruction is not available after the class session is over. Students who struggle to focus may also find classrooms and cohorts distracting to their learning experience.
Furthermore, it is very obvious that students tend to concentrate basically on the departmental compendium, as a result, this gives them little knowledge of what is expected of them, thereby impedes their performance when tested through mid-term assessments or examination.
Hence, the problem centres on effective teaching and learning processes for the impacting and the advancement of the students’ theoretical and practical knowledge.
The aim of this study is to design and implement an e-learning platform in which the course materials are presented using the advantages of multimedia and hypermedia.
The objective of this study is:
To enable instructors to upload learning materials for the students to access.
To provide the students with more learning materials (reference materials of the compendium).
To facilitate the interaction between instructor and students, and students to students (group study).
To enable learners to gain access to learning materials at their convenient time.
To enable learners to learn anywhere and at any time.
The design of an e-learning platform is a very broad field, but this research work focuses on the development of a platform where students of this great faculty; School of Computer Science, Mathematics and Information Technology (SOCSMAIT), can easily access reference materials of the departmental compendium, can read, copy or print these materials. Also students can download or watch videos of lectures uploaded by the instructor. It also makes a provision for the students to assess themselves after each studied course (objective-based).
Significance of the Study
Mobile learning provides the following significance:
The provision of course content to off-campus students.
The provision of feedback to off-campus students.
The provision of student support services to off-campus students.
Links to the World Wide Web (www) and other resources.
Student to tutor and Institution interactivity.
To be candid, many problems were encountered while carrying out this research work. It wasn’t easy to get information relevant for this research. The most important thing needed was reference materials of the compendium of all the levels and departments of this faculty, this required internet subscription which is very costly here in Benin, but we were able to bypass it due to our hard work. Finally, due to the programming requirement of the software, we lacked the programming skills to get the work done, it cost us more time learning how to program the software.However, efforts were made, towards retaining the e-learning products quality, accomplishing of the projects objectives and completion of the project within the specified period of time.
Mobile: With respect to technologies, ‘mobile’ generally means portable and personal, like a mobile phone.
Learning: This is the act of acquiring new or modifying and reinforcing existing knowledge, behaviour,skills, values, or references and may involve synthesizing different types of information.
E-Learning: This can be defined as any dissemination of educational knowledge over the internet. It can be defined as the delivery of a learning, training or education program by electronic means.
Conventional Learning: This means having education in the four walls of a school.
Mobile Learning: The definition of mobile learning is still evolving and so there are many definitions I existence. Techno-centric defines mobile learning as learning that takes place with the aid of mobile devices.
MYSQL: A relational database management (RDSMS) that runs as server providing multi-user access to a database.
PHP: (Hypertext pre-processor) is a general purpose server side scripting languages originally designed for web development to produce dynamic web page. It is one of the first developed server-side scripting language to be embedded into an HTML source document rather than calling an external file to process data.
CAL: This stands for computer Assisted learning. It is an application package that is designed to enable the user to learn a particular subject through the provision of tutorial that may or may not be accompanied by questions. CAL is popularly called tutorial software.
CAI: This is an abbreviation of computer aided instruction. It is an application package that is designed to enable the user to learn and/or get acquainted with a specific subject or an aspect of life.
WWW (World Wide Web): This is a format that we use to design website.
Website: It is information of a particular people, individual, state, country etc, made available to be seen or can download on the net.
Login: To connect to the scale and make use of available information provided by the designer within some range of specification.