The main goal of an information technology plan for distance learning is to employ cost effective electronic and computing tools to summarily deliver education contents through distance learning medium. This medium of delivery today, rides on the integrating computing, communications and telecommunication technologies, which is widely employed by both conventional and distance learning institutions around the globe to deliver the pedagogic process. It therefore becomes essential for distance learning institution to evolve an it plan for the implementation of a cost effective and efficient medium of delivering her academic contents.
This medium today which can be termed as distance learning technologies has tools that it employed to deliver education effectively with optimal beneficial results that rival the conventional educational system. The trends in communication and information technology are changing the way people around the world work, play and learn. The educational concept is evolving to a combination of synchronous, interactive learning and asynchronous, online instruction. Prevalent today is just-in-time learning and on-demand teaching which are fast replacing orthodox short-term courses and diplomas.
The 21st century is witnessing a decreasing parochialism in both academic and business, with a trend toward globalization which has the tag of being the information age. Integrating technologies of computing and telecommunication has enhanced the pedagogy process in this age with major educational systems round the world taking the advantage. It is a common infrastructure now for the 21st century school to have a networked multimedia environment to effect the optimum execution of the school curriculum and also prepare both the students and teachers for trends, changes and challenges of this information age.
Practically, from records and researches into it plans of last two decades (the mid 80s to the millennium), evolving rolling plans are consistently observed and reviewed to accommodate changes in the ambit of standardisation, upgradeability, compatibility and operate ability both cost effective synchronous and asynchronous systems of delivering education contents. Hence the ICT department is always faced a dynamic and rolling plan that will consistently and integrated rolled into the overall goal of the distance learning institution which is to provide and deliver quality education contents removing the distance barrier.
The planning process involves a conducted wide systems analysis and consultation with the various units on their operations in order to have a system design for the distance learning institution. Events such as admission and registration exercises that involve collation of forms, processing and the collaborations that evolved from such exercises will give the it department the necessary logic and defined procedures to adopt. This exercise will help in forging the admission and registration system which normally will be designed into a web portal.
Existing university with online operations or what is refer to a dual mode university (face to face and distance learning students – online students) normally has the it plan of the distance learning centre rolled into the overall ict plan of the university. It involves a university-wide consultation and feed back all the university units involved forming the ict support structure for online students clientele. Watch out for the concluding part of this article online education – evolving an information technology plan for distance learning(2)
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