E-learning is a term for all types of technology-enhanced learning (TEL), where technology is used to support the learning process. E-learning can be defined in many ways. According to J. Rosenberg, e-learning refers to the use of Internet technologies to deliver a broad array of solutions that enhance knowledge and performance while according Elliot Masie, The Masie Center, E-Learning is the use of network technology to design, deliver, select, administer, and extend learning.
In Malaysia, discussion, debate, deliberation on E-learning as an option to enhance traditional classroom face-to-face training are being widely encouraged and promoted by the government and by private sector organizations. This system introduced to Malaysian students undergoing open and distance learning (ODL) programmes. For those who are still working and hope to be successful in their career development, they will enrolled for external degrees offered by reputed universities in the 1960's or earlier. In 2007, total of seven programs (bachelor and diploma) are offered by UiTM with an enrolment of 2,000 students. UiTM is in the final stage in implementing e-learning in language studies for more than 100,000 students. Some other universities and higher learning institutions are also implementing e-learning as follow:
- Malaysian Institute of Management
- Institute of Management Studies
- University Putra Malaysia
- Maastricht School of Management
- University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)
- University Tun Abdul Razak (UNITAR)
- Multimedia University (MMU)
- University Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI)
However, the main player of e-learning are private and public institutions of higher education as well as local and multinational corporations. Malaysia's first open university – Open University Malaysia (OUM) is the main academic institutions that leverages on e-learning to deliver its programmes.
Benefits of E-learning from Students Perspective
- Flexibility, Accessibility, Convenience or Ubiquity
Learning materials can be access anytime and anywhere. Student can obtained the materials from their home and even at the midnight.
- Low delivery costs
Once the e-content has been developed and uploaded on the server, it is relatively inexpensive to distribute domestically and worldwide. The contents downloaded can be save in pendrive and portable. Students can save the cost of printing.
- Ease of Update
It enables the content to be easily and regularly updated and instantly available to all students. Thus, student can get the most updated material on time.
Content can be delivered to a small or large number of students with little effort. The students that facing geographically disperse can get the contents and experience may shared between students.
Challenges of E-learning From Students Perspective
- Computer literacy and Digital Divide
Some of the students does not own a computer especially the student in the rural areas might face the problem of computer illiterate. They might find difficult to adopt the e-learning mode.
- Language Barrier
For the students who have difficulties in English speaking especially Malaysian students does not have self-motivation to adopt such mode. They might not be confident with the contents in English.
- Healthy Problem
The student's health being affected as long time facing with computers may assist many side effect such as vision problem, repetitive strain injuries. And ergonomic which means pain in wrists.
- Difficulties in Engaging Students Online
Online learning requires a very high degree of self-motivation which is found to be lacking among our students. Basically, students will be motivate if available of control from lecture or tutor.
As a conclusion, e-learning will play an important role in democratizing education and contributing towards generating knowledge workers in Malaysia. However, government needs to realize the full potentials of e-learning among students and active in promoting and supporting this initiatives.