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Reading, writing, and the internet.

TITLE: Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies: Opportunities and Challenges

EDITOR: Anil Aggarwal

ISBN: 1-878289-60-8

PUBLISHER: Idea Group Publishing

PUBLICATION DATE: 2000

LENGTH: 372 pages

PRICE: $34.98

SOURCE: Idea Group Publishing (www.idea-group.com)

In recent years, technology--especially the Internet--has changed the way many of us receive, use, distribute, and share information. It has also greatly impacted the way we communicate with co-workers, family, and friends. It was only a matter of time before that "revolution" hit the educational arena.

While Web-based education opportunities have been evolving over the past few years, they are just now starting to hit their stride. "Virtual" universities that only exist in cyberspace and our traditional brick-and-mortar institutions' Web-based offerings are having more of an impact on the way we learn--and continue to learn--long after the last school bell has rung. The old standard model of "same time, same place, limited group of people" has now been replaced by "anytime, anyplace, anyone."

While the concept of "distance" education through correspondence courses is not new, the use of the Internet as a delivery tool takes the idea to a new level. Learning at a distance now means that the content can mirror, rather than merely supplement, the in-class experience. Anil Aggarwal's Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies: Opportunities and Challenges takes an interesting approach to providing the reader with many insights, viewpoints, and interpretations of the e-learning environment.

The book is divided into four broad topics over its 359 pages: Web-Based Learning (WBL), WBL-Enhancing Technologies, WBL Environment, and Case Studies. Each of these topic areas is further broken down into several chapters, each of which examines a more narrowly defined area. The chapters are written by different authors (brief biographies of each are provided), from different educational institutions, and from different parts of the world. This gives the reader an interesting range of opinions and perspectives: We have the opportunity, within one book, to gain a much broader understanding and appreciation for this emerging and evolving environment. The chapters can be read out of sequence; however, the flow and order provided by Anil Aggarwal allows each topic area and subordinate chapters to act as building blocks for those that follow.

The book attempts to give the reader a broad understanding of e-learning, its opportunities, drawbacks, strengths, and weaknesses. It is written both for the reader interested in learning more about this educational medium as well as for those who may be considering implementing e-learning at their institution or as a for-profit business.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is the case study area. Here, seven different e-learning opportunities are provided, ranging from Web-based support of a programming class to Web-based support for a traditional learning environment and one-on-one video conferencing over the Internet. Each case study includes a look at the background of the undertaking, the problems encountered, the technology used, the design process involved, and the results achieved. There is an analysis and a detailed reference section for each. This provides the reader with a good idea of the various opportunities for using e-learning and how to make it successful.

Even though this is a technology-reliant subject, the chapters are written in a style such that all readers, regardless of technical savvy, will be able to read, understand, and apply the concepts presented. This book was not written as a technical guide to put educational offerings in cyberspace; rather, it is written for those educators interested in looking into e-learning as another mechanism for offering materials that they are already providing in a face-to-face medium, through distance education or as a supplement to in-class learning. That is not to say that they do not cover some of the technical aspects or pitfalls to avoid when choosing a technology to launch the e-learning endeavour, just that the jargon is kept to a minimum, making it easy to understand and benefit from.

Throughout the book, the editors make effective use of bulleted lists, charts, diagrams, and screen shots. An index outlines where certain terms are used and defined within the text; however, the reader would probably benefit more from using the table of contents to locate an area of interest. With each of the chapters, there is an extensive "references" section, pointing readers to works that were referred to in the chapter or other selections that they might find useful on the topic(s) discussed in that particular chapter.

The ever-widening world of e-learning is like any consumer area: "buyer beware." If you are an e-learning consumer or provider, there are things you need to know, be aware of, and avoid. This book helps the reader to understand, communicate, and ensure a "learning environment," no matter the level of the students: K-12, college, university, or professional development courses. All levels are discussed and suggested teaching methodologies are provided to ensure the best learning experience for the e-learner.

The goal is effective education with solid content. In e-learning, the medium is not the message, just the means to a potentially rewarding end.

Heather Richmond is vice president of marketing and sales at CONDAR Consulting Inc. She may be contacted at hrichmond@condar.ca.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Association of Records Managers & Administrators (ARMA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Richmond, Heather
Publication:Information Management Journal
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2002
Words:857
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