ADVANCES IN COMPUTER SCIENCES

ISSN 2517-5718

Implementing E-Learning in Far Western Region of Nepal

Gajendra Sharma1*, Mahesh Prashad Bhatta2

1 Department of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Engineering, Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel, Kavre, Nepal
2 Kantipur City College, Department of Computer Application, School of Science and Technology, Putalisadak, Kathmandu, Nepal

CitationCitation COPIED

Sharma G, Bhatta MP. Implementing E-Learning in Far Western Region of Nepal. Adv Comput Sci. 2018;1(3):111.

Abstract

The rapid developments of internet and communication technologies have materially altered many characteristics and concepts of the learning environment. E-learning has crucial importance in developing countries to have high potential for every government to meet a growing need for education while facing deficiency of expert teachers, shortage of update textbooks and limited teaching materials. The objective of this study is to determine the major challenges of implementing e-learning systems in far western region of Nepal. The results of this study will serve as a basic for improving higher education in developing countries. There are many commercial or free e-learning systems available on the market. Most of these e-learning systems provide lot of functionality and modules. Some courses are completely based on e-learning resources instead of traditional learning model. E-learning system also offers graphs and charts of student’s results. This system is based on linear workflow. That means students can see new learning resources and tests only after previous was done. Students can also create their own learning plan by defining dates. System is able to export this plan into general calendar format or remind students via e-mail.

Keywords

Developing countries; higher education; e-learning; html; comparing; structure

Introduction

The exceptional development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is showing its roaring effects in every aspects of human civilization and hence, education section can’t exist in isolation. The sophistication in Internet and web technology is entirely driving teaching and learning methodology in more productive, result oriented and flexible way. It has enriched distance learning and learning into one of the essential manifestation of education especially in developing countries like Nepal where states infrastructure such as road and transportation are not accessible to the hill and the Himalayas. Even in the today’s developed countries using email and the world wide web for teaching and learning, without being restricted by time and space, e-learning program is also feasible via CD-ROMs, digital DVDs, Intranet including audio and video tapes, satellite broadcast and interactive TV(television).

The concept of e-learning was initiated during the 1980s, within the identical term of other delivery mode of online learning, while some author explicitly defines e-learning ,others imply a specific definition or view of e-learning in their article. E-learning is the term for all kind of (ICT) technology -enhanced learning, where technology is use to support learning that is different from our traditional way of printed material form. It includes computing and communication facilities and features that variously support teaching, learning and a range of activities in education which constitutes hardware (CPU, monitor, projectors) and software(text editor, database and browsers). ICT is presenting a new model of education with a view of preparing students for “long life learning”. There are different ways of categoiszing of e-learning. As per Algahtani (2011), there have been some classifications based on the extent of their involvement in education. Zhang et al (2006) states that e-learning provides the exploration of flexible learning methods with reduced need of travel to go to classrooms [1, 2].

World is changing towards the digital. Nepal is developing country; there are many remote areas in Nepal where the learning in school is not possible because of the problem in education material, content delivery system, student evaluation and teaching learning technology. To solve all of these problems the research is made how the concept of e-learning can be implemented and how all the students of those regions can get education by sitting at their own home [3-6].

The major objectives of this research are to develop effective tools and techniques for education, to enrich the students for better study and to provide better student evaluation system. Other objectives include assisting all the students in getting necessary learning material and outlining several critical aspects which hinder the successful implementationof e-learning in Nepal. The findings of this study have several fruitful outcomes which can be referenced by different academic institutions as well as government educational official to design a new framework of teaching and learning pedagogy in the context of Nepal.

Literature Review

Online Learning (OL) is considered one of the several approaches to electronic learning (e-learning). E learning is a broader concept of learning that includes the use of all electronic means for learning. However, OL is specific to the Internet or Intranet mediated learning opportunities [3, 7]. Define e-learning as the “use of ICT, online media and web technologies for learning”. E-learning may have different terms such as web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. The delivery of information include Internet (including intranet/extranet), audio- and video tape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, CD-ROM etc [8]. Therefore online learning refers to the mediated learning connected with Web 2.0 integrated platforms which is accessible through the Internet. Mtebe and Raisamo (2014) Investigated that instructors should develop quality course contents that meet educational benefits, suitable to learners’ knowledge, skills and capabilities to enhance Learning Management System (LMS) use, and increase learners’ happiness. Course quality has positive influence on learners’ satisfaction towards the system and having positive effect on LMS use [9-12]. 

Web 2.0 technology describes the integrated web platforms that allow different kinds of online interaction and sharing of information or electronic materials (e-materials). “Web 2.0 is a technology with profound potential for inducing change in the higher education sector” [13]. Applications used in the platform for the purpose of creating, sharing, communicating and collaborating make it easy for people to create confidential documents and open interactions even if they are at a far distance. Students and teachers who do not have skills of web designing or web publishing can also create and share their academic works to the world or to their own group of learning community [14]. Therefore, use of Web 2.0 technology has been getting popularity in academia. In addition, Web 2.0 integrated learning platforms foster interactivity, collaboration, creation and sharing among learners for quality learning. However, e-learning goes beyond OL because in e-learning, “the mode of course delivery can be entirely electronic (with or without an instructor) or take a more blended approach integrating electronic and classroom delivery to varying extents” [15]. OL enhanced with Web 2.0 tools is articulated as “the evolution of more user-friendly applications and interactive content encapsulated in learning objects, one need not be a coding expert to take advantage of the learning opportunities that are becoming available on the Web” [16]. McGreal and Elliott (2015) further highlighted that the developing countries also have a bright future towards accessing wealth of knowledge available in the Internet.

Higher education institutions (HEIs) in Nepal have initiated implementing online learning as e-learning to provide the traditional on-campus leaning and teaching. It is believed that e-learning provides new opportunities to both the students and the HEIs by creating new and exciting opportunities [15]. Researchers in the field have explored that e-learning tools have brought significant changes in the higher education institutions by reforming their student support system and the process of educational delivery. “The development and introduction of a variety of e-Learning tools (from using email to a digital portfolio and a virtual learning environment) has been causing numerous changes in higher education institutions” [8]. Here, technological teaching refers to an integrated teaching with technologies where audio, video, graphic, simulation, animation, multimedia are considered supporting tools of teaching in both online and offline context [17].

A. Different modes of learning in Nepali cultural traditions

Nepal is culturally rich as “it is a multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious and multicultural country. There are 123 different languages currently spoken in Nepal and 125 castes as well as ethnic groups are living in Nepalese society” [18]. Such a diversity demands multicultural education system and different modes of learning fitting to the existing cultural practices.

College of Education started adult education program through radio in 1958. It is considered to have been the first initiative towards distance education in Nepal. Another important initiative was the launching of radio education teacher training project in 2015 by the Ministry of Education (MOE) with the technical and financial support from USAID. The project started radio broadcasting since 1980 that was focused on enhancing the professional capabilities of inservice primary teachers having qualification under School Leaving Certificate (SLC) [19]. Likewise, as provisioned in National Education Commission 2015, Distance Education Centre (DEC) was established under MOE in 2016. The centre conducted teacher training and education awareness programs through radio broadcasting. After unification of DEC with National Centre for Education Development (NCED) in 2005, professional development training courses for teachers of primary to secondary level, SLC support, and radio program on education information are being conducted [20].

There are 84 centers of open school throughout the country covering all 75 districts of the nation [21]. Open schools focus on secondary level students who are out of the mainstream formal education due to various reasons. In doing so, self-learning is a major strategy through different means: radio/TV programs, printed materials, and e-learning contents on the Internet. Open schools and distance education programs in Nepal are also focused to job holders, residents of remote areas, household workers and people seeking of learning and earning together.

B. Flexible learning options for Nepali students

Flexible learning provides valuable advantages to students in competitive higher education to meet the need of diverse range of students. The central focus of flexible learning is to offer choices about when, where and how they learn [22]. While offering choices, place and mode of delivery are taken care of that empower learners in a number of ways. For example, students get autonomy to choose any suitable option for studies. In addition, students can handle work, study and social life together which enables them to adapt change with the complexities of the 21st century lifestyle. Moreover, “flexible learning is flexible in terms of start and end times, teaching modes, study materials, place, time, assessment” [23].

Nepali students having Internet can access global educational opportunities connecting Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), online education and e-learning offered by various universities. As of April first week 2016, country report of ALISON, one of MOOCs providers states that 29,841 learners have been educated from Nepal participating one or more courses. There are 296,031 sessions in total and 750 courses are studied from Nepal. Nepal is ranked in 31 positions out of 250 countries participating in different courses offered by ALISON [24]. This data indicates that Nepali learners are used to take the opportunities of learning options facilitate by Internet technology. This is the evidence of learning culture being developed among Nepali learners. This new culture is also known as the Internet culture of learning where students can create online community for learning [25]. Low completion rate of 6% -18% in MOOCs offered by University of London shows flexible learning in the form of MOOCs may not be suitable in Nepal because traditional culture of education is dominated by on-campus teaching and learning [26].

The flexibility in MOOCs can attract massive number of students at a single learning platform. For example, the first free online version of MOOCs attracted 2,200 students at the University of Manitoba, Canada but the number of on-campus enrolment was only 27 [27]. Likewise, Graninger (2015) reports Coursera catered its service to 5 million students offering over 400 courses from 90 partner universities around the globe by September 2016. Flexibility in learning has been the mission of the MOOCs where students get a number of benefits including choices of University and course(s) of their needs.

C. ODL as a pedagogical tool for teacher education

In order to understand ODL as a pedagogical tool for teacher education, this section begins with a convincing definition of Moore and Tait (2014):

“it is the fact that all or most of the teaching is conducted by someone removed in space and time from the learner, and that the mission aims to include greater dimensions of openness and flexibility, whether in terms of access, curriculum or other elements of structure.” [28]

This definition clearly separates ODL from the traditional approach of attending institutions for knowledge in rigid and structured space, time, and curriculum. However, ODL requires more guided self-learning approach because teachers and students are physically separated.

This definition clearly separates ODL from the traditional approach of attending institutions for knowledge in rigid and structured space, time, and curriculum. However, ODL requires more guided self-learning approach because teachers and students are physically separated.

Pedagogy is “the function or work of teaching; the art or science of teaching, education instructional methods” [29]. In this sense, ODL would be an ideal and practical tool for teacher education in Nepal. Historically, ODL had been used as a tool for teacher training in Nepal. ODL was used as the best tool to bridge the need of training services and geographical barrier aiming to train 5000 teachers per year [30]. Distance education is feasible to interconnect knowledge and ODL has the capacity to serve a large number of target groups at a time [31]. Through distance education, there is an access to educational opportunities that can be increased inspite of geographically challenged groups of learners; flexibility of time and speed as well as place of study is guaranteed; teaching learning is individualized; students are free to choose their own learning environment; and learners take responsibility for the pace of learning [32].

D. ODL as a pedagogical tool for teacher education

ODL is time demanding and Internet technology has a strong support to expand the ODL programs in the form of MOOCs. For example “the University of London International Programs’ initial offering of four MOOCs attracted over 210,000 initial registrations, over 90,000 active students in their first week, from over 160 countries and lead to 8,843 Statements of Accomplishment being attained” [26]. With the help of Internet facility and MOOCs a number of students from Nepal are have been participating in ODL programs offered by different universities in the world. The increasing number of students participating in ALISON MOOCs and position of Nepal in ranking shows attraction of Nepali students towards MOOCs

Likewise, a partner institution of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), International Centre for Academics (ICA), College of Distance Education and Online Studies has been offering various degree programs through ODL mode in Nepal since 2002 [33- 35]. Out of 3527 students enrolled in 21 different programs at ICA, 1401 students have graduated to the date. The average completion rate is 37.72%. It has been handling 1200 students at present (ICA, 2016). This data shows that the ODL is highly significant. Moreover, this could also be the proof that the culture of ODL has been rapidly developing in Nepal [36].

Two of the top-ranking universities in Nepal TU and KU have started online learning following the web-based educational technology for ODL. At KU, KUSOED has recently revised the modality of the ODL program that was provided since 2011. The revision differentiates online classes from on-campus classes primarily in the ways of students-teacher communication, interaction and instructional delivery. Convenience and flexibility are the most common reasons for online classes (KUSOED, 2015). Similarly, TU has Open and Distance Education Centre (ODEC) that aims to be a lead centre for e-learning in Nepal by offering resourceful e-library, conducting virtual classes, ensuring access and equity in higher education, providing professional and non-academic courses, training education professionals in e-learning, e-pedagogy, e-education and e-management, generating research based new knowledge, developing and using economically viable open and distance LMS, and developing national and international relation with ODL providers to promote higher education [37]. Thus, both the universities have similar modality of ODL pedagogy. Classroom instruction can use valuable learning methods but e-learning can fail to exploit the most effective learning methods, which happens too often [7, 38, 39].

Implementation of ODL would be the best way to expand access to higher education in Nepal considering country’s geographical and cultural diversities. Lessons can be learnt from the practice of Open University of Sri Lanka which covers 30% of the tertiary enrolment in national universities providing education to students from diverse profile, distributed and representing all ethnic communities through its 28 learning centers across the country [40]. The University provides computer facilities, audio-visual aids, practical sessions, day school/ discussion classes, tutorials/workshops/tutor clinics for student support at the centers. Other example from the South Asia is Virtual University of Pakistan (VUP) which is providing quality higher education establishing 180 outreach campuses across the 95 cities just in nine years of its establishment. VUP also uses modern technology: the Internet, television and e-learning for both instructional delivery and system management. Hizer et al. (2017) compared a traditional face-to-face instruction program to an online instruction program which used an online collaborative system enabling whiteboard activities, text and audio chats, posting of classroom lectures, sharing of files, and collaborative work on documents [8].

Research Methodology

The study which took approximately 6 months was conducted through the following phases: concept formulation, proposal writing, proposal review and approval; data collection, analysis and interpretation and presentation of findings. The questionnaire was designed to cover all the construct of the e-learning theory. Prior to administering the questionnaire validity and reliability test has been conducted as seen in to ensure it was valid and reliable .The questions was self administered by the researcher. Where the respondent did not understand the question, a clarification was made to them before they answered such questions. A sample of 150 respondents (students and administration) was selected from the sodsha devi school of Sanfe ,Achham of determining sample sizes.

A. Rationale of the site selection/area of study

Some secondary school of remote area of far-western region has been selected such as school of Patan, Sodha devi school of Ascham, as a site of study considering the feasibility due to limited time and resources. This site is of even more significance for the selected research topic of e-learning because the students of those schools are not aware or implemented such type of pedagogy yet.

B. Population and sampling

Though we had a target to visit and analyze data of more school but we could only take around only 150 respondent of two school considering the time and limitation. For this research, according to data collection plan, most of the data collected are primary data. Various interviews, focus group method, observation including non participatory observation, email questionnaire, website polling, various formal and informal field visits were done to collect primary information. The researcher has put its best effort to collect the reliable data as possible. Therefore the data collected and analyzed are reliable, integrated and consistent.

C. Research output

According to the questionnaires that were asked to the student, we get following output: (Table 1)L This study is carried out with the help of data and information collected and based on that collected data and information, conclusion is drawn. Here, no hypothesis in conducted prior to the research work and then tested. In other words this research is conducted from specific to general. With the help of many instances, the conclusion of research is induced.

Technological skill
Beginners (24%)
Competent (35%)
Proficient (29%)
Expert (12%) 
Internet access at home
Yes (30%)
No (43%)
Near future (27%)

Time spent on internet for educational purpose
Less than 20 minutes (20%)
20-40 minutes (31%)
Upto 120 minute (28%)
120 minutes or more (21%)
Preferences on blended courses over face to face courses
Strongly agree (25%)
Agree (28%)
Disagree (37%)
Strongly disagree (10%)
Preferences of student towards offline rather than online courses
Strongly agree (25%)
Agree (28%)
Disagree (37%)
Strongly disagree(10%)
Preference of student over e-learning pedagogy in future
Strongly agree (10%)
Agree (37%)
Disagree (28%)
Strongly disagree (25%)
Which study medium do you find most helpful in learning
Lectures (10%)
Practical class (37%)
E-learning (25%)
Blended learning (28%)
Factors students like most in e-learning
Multimedia enhanced content (25%)
Pictures and animations (28%)
Explanation (26%)
Do not like at all (21%)
Reasons for preferring e-learning over traditional one 
Cognitive based learning (28%)
Self paced learning(26%)
Increase learner convenience (25%)
Flexible and clear (21%)

Table 1: Research output

Questionnaire Survey Data Analysis

As per the research plan, two sets of questionnaire were prepared, one for the students and other for the school management of Sodsha devi school of Accham. There are 7 question for school management team and 10 questions for students who have some computer skills and are indirectly engaged in e-learning in some form in their respective school. The questionnaire were designed to cover all the construct of the e-learning theory .Prior to administering the questionnaire , validity and reliability test were conducted as seem to ensure it was reliable and valid .The questionnaire was self administered by the researcher. Where the respondent did not understand the question, a clarification was made to them before they answered such questions. Self administration of the questionnaire was done deliberately in order to attain a good response rate. A sample of 150 respondents (students and administration) was selected from different school of Achham.

A. Questionnaire for school management

This part of questionnaire is mainly focused on some management prospects which are intended to reveal some interesting facts about current situation of e-learning pedagogy in different schools of Achham. The main purpose of this questionnaire is to find out the interest level of management of different schools towards emerging e-learning concept and also to explore their readiness to implement the e-learning in their respective institutions.

The perception of student’s performance on online courses versus class room courses 

According to the survey responses, most of the school authorities believe that the launching of online courses have good impact on their students as illustrated by overwhelmingly 35% of positive responses. Still 25% of the school management felt that their student prefers learning better on class room courses. Out of 150 responded 15% felt that their students learn equally well on online and class room courses and 25% of school management can’t tell the answer of which method of learning is better for their student (Figure 1, Table2).

 Figure 1: The perception of student’s performance on online versus class room courses

Perception of students’ performance on online versus class room courses
Learn equally well on online and class room courses
15%
Learn better on online courses
35%
Learn better on class room courses
25%
Can’t tell the answer
25%
Table 2: The perception of student’s performance on online versus class room courses

Proportion of e-learning material used by teacher

As per the primary data collected from 150 population sample, the school management responded that 50% of their teacher minimally used e-learning materials in class room to deliver their lessons , 27% moderately used while 23% used some form of e-learning materials and contents in their class room. It shows that very less proportion of have their technical skills and compatibility towards e-learning concept (Figure 2, Table 3).