Back when I was in primary school, every Friday was “com lab day”, or computer lab day. It being the late 90s to early 2000s, when most of us students did not have a computer or fully-functional internet (dial-up sounds, till this day, remain a source of trauma, not nostalgia for me), this was a real treat for us. Looking back, I think we were too busy having fun that we never realized we were actually engaging in e-learning. Somehow, even though our thought and problem-solving processes were the same, writing just seemed much more of a chore than typing on a keyboard and clicking the buttons on a mouse.
So what exactly is e-learning? According to Wikipedia, our very best friend, “E-Learning includes all forms of electronically supported learning and teaching, including EdTech (Educational Technology).” It refers to both out-of-classroom and in-classroom educational experiences via technology, can be self- or instructor-led, and includes media in the forms of text, image, animation, streaming video and audio.
Back in those computer labs, we were playing educational flash games and answering questions of language, math and science. We were enthusiastically obtaining knowledge, without the prerequisite grumbles and groans. Sensing the potential of e-learning, the administration and faculty quickly developed an online portal for us. Using the portal, we students could email both each other and our teachers, and tests and assignments could be administered even while we were not in the classroom. Eventually, this culminated in a TLTM, or “Teach Less to Teach More” week, during which students would stay home and do all of our work over the e-Portal, a project that would provoke much confusion from parents, who always believed that computer-based learning was more suited towards older students, such as those in college, or at least those of pre-university level.
Now that I’m actually in college, and most work has to be done over the computer, both online and offline, e-learning has lost much of its fun and evolved into a mere method of improving efficiency; I work on the computer because it is faster to type than write my notes, not because it is more enjoyable.
Ultimately, I would say that e-learning, while convenient and effective in its own right, should not become a complete replacement for traditional learning. Rather, it should be a complement to it, helping teachers and students improve on their teaching and learning. After all, call me old-fashioned, but nothing can replace the feeling of flipping the pages of real books, writing with real stationery and getting annoyed at background noise by real people.
According to this article on the website “Quick Online Tips”, there are a few factors that determine one’s success or failure in running an e-Business. One thing, in my opinion, to note, is that e-businesses tend to have needs that vary from traditional businesses, and these differences should be taken into account when working on an online entrepreneurship project.
Tip 1: Be properly informed. Indeed, for anyone to do well in anything, extensive research and detailed information are necessities. As in the words of the article’s author Karo Itoje, “If you want to succeed in e-business, you have to be ready to sacrifice some time and money”.
Tip 2: Ensure that there has been thorough preparation. After all, every endeavor begins with a strong foundation, and building on a shaky one will only result in eventual collapse. To quote the author, “If it will take you 2 years to save some money, buy some products, learn, plan and start right. It’s better (that) you wait till then, than jump into it now with your eyes blindfolded (and) not having any particular purpose you’re serving online.”
Tip 3: Organize topics well. One should decide on whether their focus is horizontal or vertical, and link to related pages accordingly. Potential customers should not have to be subjected to frantic searching when seeking related topics.
Tip 4: Using search engines to your advantage. Pages should be arranged in a manner that will make it easy for search engines to index them, and therefore effortless for readers to find them.
Tip 5: Properly monetizing visitors. One should decide on what monetization model(s) to use way before their site is getting a sizeable number of visitors – the decision should be made during the preparation stage. Another thing to note is that every topic has a model that suits it well, and Ms. Itoje cautions us against “implement(ing) a monetization model because (a) pro-blogger is making good money implementing such (a) model on his site”.
To the average Internet user, “Google” has become such a ubiquitous term, used so often that in the June and July of 2006, it was, as a transitive verb, added respectively to the Oxford English Dictionary, and the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Much to the displeasure of the corporation, the word(s) “Googling” or “to Google” were now used in colloquial language to mean obtaining information from the Web through not only Google.com, but also any other search engine.
The pervasiveness of “Google” simply cannot be ignored; when the word is mentioned, what’s brought to mind is not only the search engine, but also Google Maps and Google Earth, and their controversial technology Google Street View, which provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world; Gmail, its popular email service; Google+, its slightly less popular social networking website; and of course, Google Chrome, its widely-used Internet browser.
Google Chrome has quickly surpassed several other Web browsers available, in terms of global usage share – in May 2012, Chrome held more than 30% of market share. And who could fault users for being attracted to this particular Web browser? Not only is it designed with minimalism and sleekness in mind, a look that appeals to many teenagers, young adults and professionals, Chrome is also free, user-friendly, customizable, and armed with a whole arsenal of themes and Web applications, all available through the Chrome Web Store.
Like that of many others who discovered Chrome for the first time, my eyes instantly lit up. I instinctively hit the download button, enthusiastically setting it as my default browser in place of Internet Explorer by Microsoft, which had been giving me quite a few problems during that period. I then spent the next ten minutes consecutively customizing Chrome to my preference, reading an article on the pros and cons of using the browser, and feeling horrified enough to consider uninstalling it.
As it turns out, Google Chrome has a particular feature that other Web browsers do not, and that is the amalgamation of the search bar and the URL bar into one, where users will type anything – whether a search term, or part of a URL – and instantly receive suggestions and results provided only by the Google search engine, right at Chrome. There is no longer a need to think where you want to go – Google Chrome will tell you that typing the letters “f-a-c” means you want to visit “Facebook”, so just hit “enter” or click on the link that pops up. As in the words of blogger Daniel Tsadok, this essentially means that “Google is setting itself up as a proxy for the rest of the internet”. He continues to caution that “(G)iven a certain critical mass of Chrome usage, Google can simply “disappear” a website it doesn’t like, and Chrome users would have no way to get to it. Even if you entered the site’s URL directly into the box, it would still be going through Google. Your access to information will be completely dependent on what Google wants you to see”, though adding that this potentially frightening phenomenon will not take place for the next few years, as Chrome is yet to have the market share required to exercise such power.
Many have read George Orwell’s famed novel, entitled “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, which tells of the dystopic world of Oceania, where war is perpetual, government surveillance is omnipresent, and individualism is punishable by law. More have dismissed it as merely a work of fiction by a genius mind, believing that something so fantastic could never happen in our democratic society. And while I am inclined to agree that things may not ever reach such massive proportions in our real world, I have to admit that Big Brother is still watching you, even if he keeps in mind to “Don’t Be Evil”.
Ironically enough, all of my research for this blog post was done through Google Chrome, which I never got around to uninstalling for lack of one that works better for me. And I’m glad to say that I was able to access all of the required links without trouble, despite most of them being less than complimentary of the browser, showing that Tsadok was right; we don’t have to worry about a digital 1984.
At least not yet.