Elearning Libraries For Online Learners

The library is the heart of every learning institution; From elementary school to university, libraries provide a haven for students who need references for projects and homework. They are an extension of the school providing knowledge and a quiet space for learners to bridge the gaps in their education.

Traditional libraries usually contain volumes of encyclopedias, books, and periodicals meticulously organized under the Dewey Decimal System. Only a few years ago, libraries had the physical card catalog where borrowers have to sort through alphabetically organized series of index cards containing the title of the book, author and subject. Stern, obsessive compulsive librarians would shush boisterous students and severely reprimand anyone for showing the least sign of disrespect towards a book. Libraries like books, music and almost everything else are now making a radical change of moving into the virtual world.

Virtual libraries are websites and web portals containing catalogues of ebooks and archived media. They are resources that can be used as elearning tools for learners. Most of the virtual libraries on the web are websites of physical libraries. The contents however are limited and most of the time, the library only indicates the availability of the book you searched for and you are required to physically checkout the book. However, there are library portals where the contents are free and open.

The World Digital Library (WDL) is an online portal that consolidates library contents from the 6 continents. The project was headed by the US Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, with the participation of partner institutions in other countries. WDL is also supported by United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with financial contributions from private foundations and businesses.

The service is free and open to the public. This virtual library aims to provide primary information on cultures and histories of different countries. The interface is available in multiple languages so it is accessible, even to non-English speaking online learners.

Just like any normal library, the World Digital Library can be an extension of the online schools. This is an extremely useful resource for online as well as traditional students with homework and projects. Unlike Wikipedia, the sources in the virtual library are credible; the materials came from previously published books, and various archived media.

Another free virtual library portal is the WWW Virtual Library or VL, for short. The library continuously grows in content and is now reportedly containing 300 sub-libraries. The main categories at this time are: Agriculture, Arts, Business and Economics, Communications and Media, Computing and Computer Science, Education, Engineering, Humanities, International Affairs, Law, Natural Science, Mathematics, Recreation, Regional Studies, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Society and Information and Libraries.

Virtual and online libraries are essential e-learning tools for online learners because the contents are checked by the organizations and institutions that created them. Relying on sites like Wikipedia can sometimes lead to erroneous information that may mislead students. Many people believe that if the information came from the internet, then it is automatically true. In actuality, a lot of information on the internet have been created without factual basis. Students have to be careful in choosing their sources and the virtual libraries are references they can rely on.

The world, indeed, is shrinking. Individual learning institutions from different countries contribute knowledge, virtual libraries are this generation’s answer to the great Alexandrian Library of the ancient world.



Online College Experience A Success

Every day there is an increasing number of schools providing distance learning programs. This kind of learning makes educational institutions favored by a large number of students. You can earn anything, including a degree from an accredited online college. But this kind of learning takes dedication and commitment to be successful and the choices you make and the approach you use will determine how successful the online learning experience will be for you.

Decide that online learning is best – Online learning unfortunately is not for everyone. Considering that there is no face to face interaction with classmates and teachers, you must be a self-motivated and driven person to be a success in the end. Physical classrooms fit some people better, but if you are comfortable with independent learning then an online college might be just good for you.

Keep in mind online does not mean faster – One common misconception is that online learning offers a faster learning experience. Just because you can learn at your own pace does not mean that you will manage to finish the course faster. The course scheduling must be done reasonably so you have enough study time that success calls for. Think more about achieving your learning goals rather than completing the course in the shortest time possible.

Sign up with an accredited school – The last thing you want is to waste your time and money on a college that is not accredited because then it means that your certificates will not be valid. A college that is not registered and accredited will get you nowhere so there is a need to do your homework when choosing the best online college so that your efforts will amount to something in the end. You can use local education departments to get a list of accredited colleges you can join.

Meet all system requirements – Your computer must meet with the requirements for a pleasant e-learning experience. It must be up to date and reliable in performance. The requirements vary from one college to the other, especially in terms of windows. Browser requirements can also be different and you must adhere to the requirements. If there are software requirements, then you should also make sure that you meet them all before beginning the course. The readier you are, the easier it will be to enjoy a smooth learning experience. Reliable internet connection is also a must.

Manage your time – Online learning offers you lots of independence and if you are not careful with time you could end up lagging behind. Plan your hours so that you have enough time to listen to lectures, watch helpful videos, schedule study blocks and also create reading time. Make sure your study environment is suitable and that you remain very comfortable when sitting for the studies. You must also know what your distractions are and come up with ways to work around them so you do not waste too much time.

Educational Technology and Science

Today’s students, and even many of the parents, having grown up with technology as a part of their daily lives, retain certain expectations and assumptions regarding the way technology is used for learning. No longer can the classroom computer be set off in the corner to be used sporadically for special activities nor can video be used as a babysitter. Technology must become an integral part of classroom life.

What Students Need

If our job, as educators, is to prepare students to become successful members of our society, then in addition to the traditional knowledge and skills, students must now be prepared to access, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize immeasurable quantities of information. They need to have exceptional listening skills, be able to use email, understand basic operating systems, use word processing and other software, and use the internet for research.

This need poses new challenges for teachers, especially those who may not feel as prepared to use technology as their students might be. It is time for educators to overcome the outdated idea that they must be experts in educational technology before the students are allowed to use it.

Some Benefits of Educational Technology

o increases interest (even in rote tasks)
o provides a purpose for learning
o promotes the perception that all knowledge is related (not isolated bits)
o allows for student individuality in learning styles

Educational Technology in the Science Classroom

The decision to apply technology in the learning environment is often not driven by the technology but by the task at hand.

Take, for example, the case of the physics teacher who needed to set up some labs for thermodynamics but had no money left for supplies or equipment. Because he was lucky enough to have 8 computers in his classroom, he was able to use them to create the labs. The students were sent to science software the school uses and a website. The site has some great simulations that this teacher feels are more interactive and that do a better job of demonstrating the physics behind the topic than traditional labs.

Because science learning requires a great deal of critical analysis, using educational technology in the science classroom is especially warranted. Learning to solve complex problems requires a different instructional approach than learning isolated skills and information required for standardized testing purposes. For example, while doing internet research, a student needs to be able to evaluate an internet source for reliability, accuracy, and bias; the same type of information required in science exploration activities.

In order to fully prepare our students for “real” life, as educators we need to not only provide them with the content knowledge they need, but also the ability to:

accurately acquire information from visual and auditory sources (watching and listening)
develop solutions to problems and then present these solutions to others using various forms of media
display originality and employ problem solving skills during the creative process
o be team players and good collaborators
demonstrate cross-cultural awareness
communicate complex ideas effectively

I contend, as do many educational experts, that the use of technology in the classroom is, by far, the best way to accomplish these lofty goals. Educators must prepare for a future that involves much technology and they need to keep abreast of change by adopting effective strategies that use appropriate technologies.