Education is the basic need of every human being and today’s technology has a big part in every sphere of life. In fact, Education is the most important investment by countries, societies, families and individuals for the future. A communication network has become an essential tool in today’s educational environment than ever before. Today’s society is said to have entered into the age of a new social revolution, i.e. ‘information revolution’. 21st century has witnessed the explosion of information technologies. By digital revolution, technologies in computers, audio-visual devices, and communications are integrated into a powerful technology-information technology.
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The global era is characterized by rapid advances in technology and expansion of knowledge. Basically technology is nothing but a tool used in implementing our ideas and methodology in education. The application of new technologies in the distance education context provides an appropriate starting point for delineating the knowledge base required of expert teachers in today’s global society. Teaching the distance learners requires different skills to prepare relevant learning materials to facilitate the construction of knowledge and learning. The effective integration of ICT into the educational system is a complex, multifaceted process that involves not just technology- indeed given enough initial capital, getting the technology is the easiest part- but also curriculum and pedagogy, institutional readiness, teacher competencies and long term financing, among others.
Information Communication Technology (ICT) will mean all electronic system that has to do with information gathering, processing and disseminations. These include all forms of computer system (mainframe, mini, micropalm pilot etc.). Information technology is a technique and the equipment that facilitates the acquisition, recording, processing, storing, retrieval, transmitting and receiving information that has been processed using some electronic equipment and appropriate methods. Information Communication can be seen as the scientific, technological engineering and management techniques used in information handling and processing.
The term Information Communication Technology originated from the coming together of three (3) technologies (micro electronics, computer and communications). Microelectronics are made from the reduction of electronic circuits on sting silicon chips so as to receive a small raw data and organize it into meaningful information. Computers are the major platform upon which Information Communication Technology stands on communication. The processes of telecommunication using telephone and telegraphic lines to send messages from one place to another, is the third aspect of Information Communication Technology. Computer is an electronic machine or a set of machines which accepts raw data presented to it in a specific format carries out some operations on the data and produces results in a specific format as information for:
A computer is any machine or device, under the control of a stored program, can accept data in a prescribed form, process the data and supply the results as information in a specific form. Computer comes from the word compute meaning calculate. It could be seen as a machine that performs arithmetic and logical operation quickly. They can store and process information and data and then made available to the users efficiently. With the general purpose of software, computer is no longer the domain of mathematicians, engineers and scientist. The name computer was later changed from computer to Information Technology (IT). Information technology is concerned with the handling and processing of information using electronic devices. It creates opportunity to handle, text and images, numbers and graphs, instruction, sound and music and to process information by organizing, storing and retrieving, sorting and analyzing, presenting and communicating. Computer can also be seen as an electronic machine operating under the control of instructions stored in its own memory that can accept data (input) manipulate the data according to specified rules (process) produce results (output), and store the results future use.
Distance learning is a field of education that focuses on teaching methods and technology with the aim of delivering teaching, often on an individual basis, to students who are not physically present in a traditional educational setting such as a classroom. It has been described as "a process to create and provide access to learning when the source of information and the learners are separated by time and distance, or both”.
The term distance learning represents approaches that focus on opening access to education and training, freeing learners from the constraints of time and place. It offers flexible learning opportunities to individual and group learners. This is the most rapidly growing segment of education. The potential impact of distance learning on all education has been emphasised by the development of Internet-based technologies, particularly the World Wide Web. It can be described as learning involving implementation of information, computing and communications technology applications in more than one location.
Distance learning is a contributing force to social and economic development. It is fast becoming an essential part of the mainstream of educational systems in both developed and developing countries. The globalization of distance learning provides many opportunities for countries for the realization of their education system-wide goals. The growing needs for continual skills upgrading and retraining and the technological advances have led to an explosion of interest in distance learning. Distance learning offers a myriad of advantages which can be evaluated by technical, social and economic criteria. Also, distance learning methods have their own pedagogical merit, leading to different ways of conceiving knowledge generation and acquisition. Distance learning increases access to learning and training opportunity, provides increased opportunities for updating, retraining and personal enrichment, improves cost effectiveness of educational resources, supports the quality and variety of existing educational structures, enhances and consolidates capacity. Another advantage of distance learning is its convenience because many of the technologies are easily accessible from home. Many forms of distance learning provide students the opportunity to participate whenever they wish, on an individual basis, because of distance learning flexibility. This kind of education is quite affordable, as many forms of distance learning involve little or no cost. Distance learning is also multi-sensory. There is a wide variety of materials that can meet everyone’s learning preference. In fact some students learn from visual stimuli and others learn best by listening or interacting with a computer program. Also, distance learning can offer increased interactions with students. In particular, introverted students who are too shy to ask questions in class will often “open up” when provided an opportunity to interact via e-mail or other individualized means.
Distance learning requires advance planning. Both the instructors and students involved in distance learning will need to make sacrifices, at times, in order to get things done on time. Distance learning, although affordable, may come with hidden costs (for example extra shipping and handling costs). Distance learning does not offer immediate feedback. In a traditional classroom setting, a student's performance can be immediately assessed through questions and informal testing. With distance learning, a student has to wait for feedback until the instructor has reviewed his or her work and responded to it. Compared with traditional course delivery method, distance learning demands a disproportionate amount of effort on the part of instructors. Namely, teaching distance courses includes not only the time required for actual delivery of course materials, but it must also involve a great deal of time dedicated to student support and preparation. Also, time spent on e-mail correspondence is very significant. Distance learning does not always offer all the required coursework online for every degree program. In fact, physical classroom attendance is mandatory for the completion of some degree programs. Distance learning degrees may not be acknowledged by all employers although most employers do. Students who want to work for a specific employer upon graduation should be sure of that employer's perspective about online education. Distance learning does not give students the opportunity to work on oral communication skills. Students in distance learning courses do not get the experience of practicing verbal interaction with professors and other students. Another disadvantage of distance learning is social isolation. Distance learners may feel isolated or miss the social-physical interaction that comes with attending a traditional classroom. However, many distance learning participants have reported that this sense of isolation has been decreasing with the use of communication technologies such as bulletin boards, threaded discussions, chats, email, and video conferencing.
ICT, BROADCAST AND DISTANCE LEARNING
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is made up of three terms; Information which deals with data that are processed, analysed, interpreted and made meaningful to the sender and receiver of a message; communication which is a process of transferring, transporting information from an encoder, source, and origin from one person or value sharing through some artefacts, language laboratory, media and technology that relates to techniques, systems, channels or forum that are often employed to ease control over nature, to survive challenges and changes in the environment, so that a civilized life of higher standard of living could be achieved. In the light of these definitions, ICT can be explained as the collection, storage, processing, dissemination and use of information. It is related to the sourcing of information, the encoding, the processing of it, and distribution of vocal, pictorial textual and numerical information by microelectronics based-combination of computing and telecommunication. In recent years, there has been an increasing convergence of digital and information technologies. Thus, there are arrays of communication and technological tools available within the broadcasting media for the delivery of Open and Distance Learning programmes. A number of new technological tools and expanding bandwidth exists – all changing the facet of learning. Technological advancement is becoming multimedia. Radio sets also as multimedia, interactive tools – web blogs, mob logs, and video blogs, podcasts, etc. feeds with uploaded images on cell phones. All these according to them, bring diverse elements into a course of study to assist in meeting a variety of training styles in Open and Distance Learning. In essence the exponential expansion in ICT has brought convergence of telecommunications, computer and audio-visual technologies telecommunications, computer, and audio-visual previously separated by techniques, legislations and modes of distribution.
Education is the elementary right of human being for the development of a person both professionally and personally. With the emergence of technology especially in the field of open and distance education have open a new horizon for distance learners. Application of technology in education is not the ultimate goal; instead, we should use it to pursue quality. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are potentially powerful enabling tools for educational change and reform.