A Brief History of E-learning and Distance Education

E-learning is a very broad term. It is used to describe any type of learning environment that is computer enhanced. There are multiple technologies that can be employed in E-learning. It has become one of those types of words that are so general as to have lost some of its meaning. Distance learning is something that has evolved from Elearning. It is used to describe a learning environment that takes place away from the actual traditional classroom and campus.

E-learning began at just about the same time that a computer was developed that was practical for personal use. In fact, the concept and practice of distance learning predates the computer area by almost 100 years. In England, in 1840, shorthand classes were being offered by correspondence courses through the mail. The improvements to the postal service made this method of distance learning popular in the early part of the last century. This led to a large number of “through the mail” type of educational programs. The computer only made distance learning easy and better. Television, video recorders, and even radio have all made a contribution to distance learning.

E-learning and distance learning are not quite the same thing. The basic thing that distinguishes distance education is the physical separation of the student from the instructor and the class room. E-learning, however, became part of the classroom environment from the beginning. The early use of computers was geared to help the classroom instructor. Gradually, as more and more personal computers became available, the idea of online classes was explored by some pioneering Colleges and Universities. The early attempts at distance education were hampered by resistance from traditionalist within the education field.

Some invoked what they called the philosophy of education to demonstrate that the teacher was essential to the educational process. This resistance led to the early online degrees being considered inferior to traditionally obtained degrees. This prejudice extended to the personal departments of major employers. When choosing between two otherwise equally qualified applicants, preference was shown to the person holding the traditional degree. In recent years this has changed drastically. The improvements in E-learning technology and the ability to create virtual classrooms and a virtual learning environment (VLE) has gradually broken down the resistance. This process has been helped by the emergence of a new generation that was weaned on the computer. It would not be surprising if within another generation, the pendulum shifts completely and the online degree is the one that is respected and coveted.

Identity Fraud Protection and Education – The Shocking Facts and Figures

CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service have published some rather worrying statistics when it comes to identity fraud and general theft of personal data for illicit purposes. Their data shows that there are two types of ID theft:

Identity Fraud – where personal/confidential information which has been stolen is used to obtain goods or services. Or alternatively, the stolen information is often used to forged identity documents including passports, driving licences and more. These false documents can then be used to apply for credit cards, loans or other financial services.

Account Takeover – is another sort of identity theft where an individual’s bank accounts are taken over and drained dry.

Neither of these types of identity fraud is pleasant for the victim and in this time of recession within the UK (and worldwide) ID fraud is on the rise. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, there were over 65,000 incidents of identity fraud annually and a sharp rise in the number of account takeovers from 6,272 in 2007 to well over 16,000 in 2009. The steep rise in 2009 onwards, shows that not only that identity theft is becoming more prevalent but also that the knowledge about how to prevent it is not sufficiently widespread. It’s not only the individual that suffers from ID theft, but society as a whole. Banking institutions, loan companies, insurance firms and the providers of goods and services all suffer as a result of identity fraud and generally the cost is passed on to the consumer. The result is – everyone suffers. It is estimated that identity fraud costs the UK economy over £1 billion per annum.

Identity Fraud Facts and Figures

The facts and figures of identity fraud are pretty shocking:

The average amount stolen from a victim through identity fraud is over £1,000, yet only 7% of people have been a victim. Despite this, 95% of Britons believe ID fraud is a direct threat to them.

25% of people in the UK do not shred confidential documents at home.

96% of people believe that organisations do not handle their data correctly and as a result they might be at risk of ID fraud through the actions of others.

In the UK, there are around 4.3 million victims of identity fraud to date and the number of victims continues to grow.

Statistics show that around 18 million households in the UK are failing to properly protect themselves from the risk of ID theft.

Yet identity theft protection is simply a matter of education in prevention methods. In many instances, this simply involves encouraging home owners and individuals to shred important and confidential documents before disposing of them in their weekly rubbish – because this is where the biggest threat lies – criminals rifling through your rubbish. Obviously shredding all your paperwork is a hassle and takes time, but there is an alternative. The Japanese have invented an ID protection stamp, which is a simple stamp that when used quickly and easily covers and obscures personal data and cuts out the need for shredding. Confidential waste can then be put to better use and recycled rather than thrown in the landfill – while you can remain confident that your data is safe and secure.

What Makes a Good Training and Education Franchise?

A franchise is a business relationship through which the parent company or the franchisor authorizes a franchisee to sell their goods and services in a particular area. The franchisee has the right to use the technique, trademark but is bound by the business standards of the franchisor.

The concept of franchising has caught up in the career training and education field. A number of parent institutions have handed over training centers to franchisees today. This is an opportunity for students who are not able to relocate to the parent institution itself due to various constraints.

The Franchising Advantage

Reasons why a franchise relationship is established are many. From the franchisor point of view it is easier to extend their services to a wider base of individuals with less operational hassles. The franchising model is also cost effective for the franchisor as it does not have to waste its resources on manpower management and other administrative costs.  

It is possible to expand the geographic presence while making use of the franchisee resources and local expertise. The challenge for the parent company is to make the authorized entity maintain the same quality of business standards and ethics and ensure that the customer satisfaction levels are not compromised.

From the franchisee point of view all that is required is capital and business acumen to flourish in that particular field. The need for building goodwill and credibility of the brand is almost nil as it is taken care of by the parent company. This makes it easier to concentrate on the business and deliver quality service to the customers or clients.

Gauging The Right Training And Education Franchise

Training and education is a part of the service industry. Gauging the quality of the services provided by the franchisee is not always easy. The challenge a prospective candidate will face is to weigh difference between the parent institute and the authorized institute. It could be that the parent institute is a century old and has established its repute for decades. But that cannot be a scale to measure the success of a franchisee as the service provided is intangible.

The success of a training and education franchise largely depends on its manpower resources. Although the course curriculum is from the parent institute, the faculty resource is a major criterion that needs serious evaluation. Before enrolling into any program you should take a few steps to find out about the resources on the program. You can talk to the counselor at the institute, past or present students enrolled in the program or take opinion from others in the same field. Look for the qualification, experience in teaching, hands-on industry experience and their ability to deliver as a teacher.

It is always good to ensure that the franchisee follows the course curriculum provided by the mother institute. Also make sure that you get all the benefits assigned to students by franchisor, if any. For example, the price of the courseware might have been included in the fee structure. You can also avail the infrastructure facilities such the library, computer center or any other additional facilities that has been authorized to the students as per the franchise agreement.

Total Quality Management (TQM) As a Corporate Strategy in Higher Education

The need for continued improvement to the experience of students and staff in higher education institutions (HEis) is now a common clarion call. One way to respond to this strong request for something to happen is for HEis to employ total quality management (TQM) as a Corporate Strategy.

TQM

A critical component of the TQM is its focus on improving the customers’ (students) experience and ensuring that employees (staff) are up to speed with their professional development and training. This is achieved through their involvement and by consulting with them. The other component is to improve the product. In the case of HEis, this includes teaching and other related services. Again this can be done by involving staff and students in the process. These I may address in another article.

Reasons for implementing TQM in HEi

The implementation of TQM as a corporate strategy in HEis is necessary for a number of reasons. Firstly, as outlined above, it has the potential to enable a response to the call for improving the students’ experience by involving students and staff in determining the direction and vision of the institution. It is now an established fact that people are inclined to engage fully in activities created or facilitated by them. Secondly, involving and consulting with students and staff enables activities and developments such as infrastructural changes, re-assignment of personnel and the introduction of new models, to be viewed in a positive light and improved upon incrementally.

How to implement TQM

Firstly, there is the need to define the term ‘quality’ and clearly point out actions and thoughts which indicates quality in the institutions as this relates to staff and students. This has to be done according to departments and functions, students and staff.

Secondly, there is the need to get staff and students’ ‘buy-in’ by creatively stating and reinforcing the fact that TQM is not only relevant to the mission and mandate of the institution but will enable efficiency to be the ‘hallmark’ of the institution and the service offered to staff and students.

Thirdly, to implement TQM in HEis requires the cooperation of senior and other management staff in the process of creating and implementing policies in this regard. This is a challenging task for the leadership and several factors such as financial resources, institutional culture and gaining the commitment of those in management at all level must be considered when making and implementing policies.

Finally, for TQM to be implemented in any HEi require a strong institutional support in the form of leadership, guidance and resource allocation. Also critical to the success of TQM implementing is the ‘political will’ and fortitude of a few key people in leadership who are willing to wrestle, argue for, implement and evaluate the strategy. Any lack of effort or resources will undermine the success of a TQM strategy and may cause overall failure.

What Are the Three Main Components of an Individualized Education Program?

An individualized education plan is commonly referred to as an IEP. This is a legal document for students with special needs. IEPs are often twenty to forty pages or even longer. There is a lot of important information included in an IEP. Knowing what to look for ahead of time will help you better determine the accuracy and potential effectiveness of the document. There are three main sections to an IEP; the assessments and student’s needs, the goals and objectives to meet those needs, and the service delivery and support services to meet the goals and objectives.

Formal and/or informal assessments are completed and the data is compiled for every IEP meeting. This data is used to help the team assess where your child is in comparison to other children his/her age and grade level. This information is used to create a list of educational needs for your child. Your child may have needs in only one area such as speech or in many areas depending on their educational profile and their disability.

After the needs have been determined by the team annual goals with specific, measurable objectives are created that outline what your child will be taught with the expected level of mastery by the ending date of the IEP. IEP goals are based on core content standards that apply to all children in public schools. IEP objectives should state specific skills within the goal that will be met, how progress will be measured and the level of progress that is expected and/or considered acceptable for your child.

The final section of the IEP lays out who will provide what services to your child and how often this will occur. This will include whether the service delivery will take place within the general education setting, a special education setting or a therapists office. This is also, where you will find information concerning a behavior plan or communication plan if either of those documents is necessary. This section includes all of the accommodations and modifications your child needs in order to gain educational benefit both in and out of the general education setting. Additionally there will be information about district, state and federal testing.

As you can see, the IEP is a complex legal document that is a binding agreement between you and the school district. IEPs are formatted based on state and federal laws. It is important for you to understand what should be included in an IEP so that your child receives the assistance he/she needs in order to gain as much educational benefit as possible.