E-learning : students friend or foe?

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Bolger, Samantha
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BA (Hons) in Business Information Management
Dublin Business School
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This dissertation aims to examine the reality of e-learning in Irish secondary schools. It will inspect the numerous aspects of e-learning and will scrutinize what it is perceived to be by both students and those who consider themselves to be e-learning literate. It will also investigate the current hype that surrounds the subject of e-learning and how it has misinformed the general public into believing that e-Iearning is and has been for some time a permanent feature of our education. To do this an analysis of e-learning facilities, or lack thereof, in a variety of secondary schools ranging from 18th century convents to 21st century modem schools both unisex and mixed gender, the results of which expose the fact that while many of the studied schools have the facilities to incorporate e-learning into the general curriculum they are not using them or are not using the facilities to their full potential for a number of reasons. Consequently, it is the students who are being affected by this hesitancy as their European and American peers are leaving them behind in the technological race. Despite, the fact that e-learning has become the buzz word in most education circles it is of little consequence, as few know what it actually means and fewer understand its potential implications for students, despite the facilities they may have access to in order to inform themselves. E-learning is considered by some as the future of e-learning and an a key component to the future prosperity of the economy: 'eEurope is a roadmap to modernise our economy. At the same time, through its learning component, it offers everyone, but particularly your people the skills and tools they need to succeed in the new knowledge based economy.' (http://www. Europa.eu.int). Given the generally accepted importance of this development in education and our evident hesitance as a nation to embrace it the question becomes: Are we as a nation afraid of new ideas and technology and simply content in our static stage of technological development as a first world nation? To best ascertain the truth behind the e-learning phenomenon in Ireland and our unique experience of it this dissertation will also explore the opinions of the students who have been caught in the middle of this technological development and their recommendations regarding the incorporation of e-learning into the curriculum of Irish secondary schools. To balance their opinions we will also determine what the teachers of the students expect from e-learning for the future and how they believe their students will be affected.