The Internet has significantly changed how we communicate with one another as well as how we access,share and facilitate information. Many of us are already familiar with Internet-based communication technologies and have comfortably integrated it into our daily life. Understanding the place of online learning in digitally facilitated social interaction, professional practice and education is becoming increasingly important.
While online education generally started with the use of technology as a support tool to conventional teaching methods – such as whiteboards, overhead projectors and word processors – it has since developed into a process or pedagogy. The issue is no longer one of how to use technology to teach, but one where teachers acknowledge the way the world is already developing, and understand the significance of online literacy and the role that collaboration and online engagement plays in student learning and their future workplace environment.
Software and technology changes very rapidly, and it can be difficult to keep up with these developments.It is important therefore to focus on understanding effective pedagogical strategies for online teaching rather than the technology itself - which can be applied, adapted and transferred between various software platforms and disciplines.
In many higher education programs the face-to-face campus environment is now accompanied by an online component. This raises new challenges and opportunities for both students and teachers, and achieving the right balance between the face-to-face and online delivery can be difficult. It is essential that these are not regarded as separate entities, but rather an all-encompassing learning environment that is carefully integrated and aligned with the learning outcomes for each class, course or program.