FEASIBILITY OF USING ELEARNING IN CAPACITY BUILDING OF ICT TRAINERS AND DELIVERY OF TECHNICAL, VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING (TVET) COURSES IN SRI LANKA

Janaka Jayalath

Director / Information Systems,

Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission, Sri Lanka. jayalath@tvec.gov.lk

 

 

 

Abstract

 

Capacity building of instructing staff in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector in Sri  Lanka is  a  prevailing difficulty. Trainer competencies on technology are to be continuously upgraded to match with the industry developments. Geographical distribution of the trainers throughout the country adds more complications for fulfilling this need of on-going, real time training of the trainers. Therefore this research has been focused on analyzing whether eLearning is a better alternative to deliver trainer training programs for ICT trainers in the TVET sector. Further the feasibility of converting some selected training courses in to eLearning based material is evaluated.

 

The existing literature was reviewed to identify the major requirements of conducting trainer training programmes and delivering such programmes in eLearning environment. Based on the identified requirements, a questionnaire survey was conducted for main stakeholders namely trainees, trainers and TVET administrators. The survey was conducted according to a sample selected from the population using simple random sampling method. An extensive analysis of the collected data was the basis for final recommendations.

 

From the survey, several favorable indications were revealed in the areas of English language ability, effectiveness of training delivery and trainers with good educational background which are plus points for implementation of eLearning. The need for trainer training is specially elaborated in the areas of eLearning strategy, technology and the technical support on learning management systems. The need for awareness in eLearning is identified in many instances of the research outcome. When considering the outcomes from all three categories, there is a very high potential to change the traditional course delivery methodology to eLearning.

 

Several recommendations in the broad areas of infrastructure, training and institutional requirements were made for the development and implementation of eLearning in TVET sector in Sri Lanka. Infrastructure development was a key recommendation with setting up of centralized server facility including internet connection to every ICT training center. Trainer capacity building and thereby converting traditional training course modules to eLearning based materials were some important recommended activities.

 

  1. 1. INTRODUCTION

 

 

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is the study of technologies and related sciences, and the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of the economic and social life.   Vocational training and education includes training on-the-job and in training centres. The comprehensive term TVET is used to describe Technical Education and Vocational Training as a whole [1].

 

In this study, according to the research background and motivation, it was expected to understand the influencing factors for implementation of eLearning in TVET sector in Sri Lanka, and  to  try   to  explore  the  needs  and  expectations  of  trainees,  trainers  and  training administrators of TVET sector.

 

The research objectives of this study are:

 

  1. 1. To identify feasibility of developing eLearning for Capacity Building of TVET Sector ICT

 

trainers in Sri Lanka.

 

  1. 2. To explore and identify ways and means of how eLearning technologies could be adopted to train the ICT trainers in TVET sector and convert selected training programs in to eLearning mode.

 

The outcome of this research could be used to prepare comprehensive capacity building of internal ICT staff using best suited eLearning model.

 

The research objectives were identified after investigations made in the background study and the literature review followed by several meetings with internal supervisor and personnel from the industry. In the study it has been decided to select demographic variables, perceptions towards eLearning and capacity building aspects of trainers etc.

 

Questionnaire survey method was selected for the study and survey divided in to three main categories namely Administrators, Trainers and the Trainees. The population was identified using available information and Simple Random Sampling method was selected to carry out the survey.

 

  1. 2. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

 

This section describes the research methodology including population selection, sample selection and collection performance in the survey. In this survey following high level Data categories were selected.

 

  1. 1. Formal or informal assessment data provide baseline information on eLearnin

 

  1. 2. Performance/Attitudinal data to measure abilities and attitudes towards eLearning

 

  1. 3. Solution specific data support proposed eLearning courses

 

When  the  population  of  the  survey  is  concerned,  there  were  following  number  in  each category.

 

Number of ICT instructors/trainers in public institutes – 200 Nos. Number of ICT Trainees in public institutes – 1500 Nos.

Number of Training administrators in public institutes – 75 Nos.

 

Therefore it was decided to take 5 percent from the trainees, 12.5 percent from trainers and 20 percent from the Administrators from the total population as the survey sample. Then simple random sampling method was applied to each category and allocated samples as in the table in the next section.

 

Table 2.1: Sample Allocation and Reception Table

 

 

Category

 

Population

Sample

Allocation

Sample

%

No.

Received

Received

%

Trainees 1500 75 5 68 90.6
ICT Trainers 200 25 12.5 23 92
Training  Centre

Administrators

 

75

 

15

 

20

 

11

 

73.3

Total   115   102 88.6

 

 

 

The population was taken from the statistics of the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) and sample percentages were selected according to importance of the category towards the study. Questionnaire reply in each category and the percentages were displayed in the above table.

 

According to the sample allocation, the research was targeted to collect 115 responses from the persons from specified categories, which has been identified as major stakeholders of the study.

 

Initially 115 persons from above categories have been identified and contacted through different methods to distribute the questionnaire. From the identified sample, 102 responses were collected in this survey and structured survey analyzed the results quantitatively using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software and carried out the statistical analysis.

 

 

 

  1. 3. LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

 

  1. 1. North and Eastern provinces were excluded from the data collection due to coordination issue

 

  1. 2. Lack of basic awareness on eLearning, and this might lead to partial understanding about questions when they being answere

 

  1. 3. Computer literacy is higher in Colombo and suburb districts over the other districts and this created uneven distribution of quality of samples in the survey.

 

  1. 4. Survey was only limited to ICT sector and this could have extended to other areas with additional survey effort

 

  1. 5. The sample was captured only from public sector training institutions and this is a limiting factor which might be affected to the final resul

 

 

 

  1. 4. SUMMARY OF DATA ANALYSIS

 

This section describes overview of data analysis part of the survey and provides brief summary of highlights of the analysis outcomes. Following three chapters describe outcome in each category namely trainees, trainers and administrators respectively.

 

In the trainees section, it is noticed that male percentage is 4 times higher than the females in participating  ICT  related  courses  showing  gender  imbalance  thus  creating  need  of  social

 

awareness and career guidance programmes in TVET sector. About 90 percent of trainees possessed  GCE  (A/L) qualification. Also they perceived  that  they are comfortable with  the English language. When we consider the duration of courses, it is noted that most courses are more than six months duration. And they perceived that resources for short term courses are sufficient. Lack of proper awareness of eLearning could be seen as one of the barriers for fast implementation of eLearning. There about 63 percent trainees identified internet as prime media for delivery of eLearning and this creates positive impact towards the objective. Delivery inefficiencies and funding issues were identified as the barriers while low cost, time saving and future demand were identified as benefits for the implementation of eLearning in TVET sector. From selected group, about 80 percent perceived that eLearning has more value than the traditional learning. In the open ended question about converting traditional courses to eLearning, many positive responses were mentioned about new technology, less cost, future demand  and  benefits  to  student  as  well  as  institutions  while  negative  comments  were resources unavailability, low facilitator skills and limited access to industry environment.

 

When summarizing the trainers survey outcomes, male trainers are more than twice the female trainers. In the selected group about 75 percent had previous experience in using some kind of eLearning material. The education level is equal or higher than GCE(A/L) of about 95 percent of the TVET sector ICT trainers.  And about 90 percent perceived that they are comfortable with English language, which probably help to implementation of eLearning courses in ICT area. About 96 percent of trainers possessed Diploma or higher level professional IT qualification. This is a favorable indication for implementation of eLearning in TVET sector ICT programs. About 91 percent of trainers have admitted eLearning is an effective method of delivering TVET courses and this implies some awareness about the eLearning and its applications. Lack of resources, delivery inefficiencies and funding issues were the main barriers to implement eLearning courses according to the trainers’ survey. Internet and email were identified as most preferred methods of connectivity in eLearning. Trainers perceived that the student motivation factors as ‘can learn in own phase’ and ‘use of modern equipment and facility’ which is quite hopeful. Future demand, less time and less cost have been selected by about 40 percent of trainers as in the trainees’ survey outcomes regarding the benefits of eLearning. Regarding the

 

conversion of traditional training programs to eLearning methodology, about 60 percent perceived that more than 25 percent of their courses can be converted to eLearning, which is quite  encouraging.  When  the  eLearning  delivery  method  is  concerned,  about  80  percent trainers  perceived  that  blended  learning  method  will  be  the  most  preferred  and  suitable method to deliver TVET courses in eLearning in the local context. Online tests and class room tests/examinations were  preferred by more than  50 percent of trainers as the method  of assessment  in  eLearning.  Also  the  trainer  training  programs  were  requested  by  about  80 percent of the trainers, which perceived as utmost important aspect in eLearning implementation  in  TVET  sector  in  Sri  Lanka.  In  the  open  ended  question  regarding  the converting and implementing eLearning courses, some are mentioned about future demand, easy course delivery and effectiveness as positive comments while resources scarcity, lack of lab practical and trainer capacity building issues were mentioned as negative comments.

 

In summarizing the survey outcomes of the TVET administrators, about 80 percent perceived that  eLearning will  be  an  effective method  of delivering TVET courses. As in trainees and trainers categories, effectiveness of the eLearning implementations in TVET sector depends on delivery inefficiency, funding issues and poor response as perceived by the administrators. Converting traditional courses in to eLearning has been endorsed by about 64 percent of TVET administrators, which is quite hopeful. When inquired about the barriers to implement eLearning, trainer’s knowledge has been selected by 33 percent. This is a clear indication of requirement of capacity building of trainers in the TVET sector on eLearning. When comparing benefits of eLearning with the trainees and trainers categories, less cost and less time are common  factors while administrators selected less paperwork as a perceived  benefit. This implies that TVET administrators are loaded with heavy paperwork in administrative activities of the TVET courses. In the open ended question for administrators, some have highlighted about skill upgrading of facilitators of eLearning and some mentioned about need to respond to technological changes.

 

  1. 5. RECOMMENDATIONS

 

According to the survey outcomes of the data analysis and comments in conclusion chapter, recommendations were categorized in to a, b and c and proposed in order to achieve objectives of the research survey.

 

  1. a. Infrastructure / Facilities Requirements

 

The following recommendations were proposed in the infrastructure / facilities requirement category.

 

  1. 01. Internet connectivity for every ICT training centre shall be provided to find relevant internet resources for eLearning implementation.( Q9 of f trainee’s category)

 

  1. 02. Infrastructure facilities are  to  be  improved  in  ICT  training  centres,  and  thereby improve access to learning resources.( Q 15 of trainee’s category).

 

  1. 03. Infrastructure of the training centres and central eLearning centre with contents shall be developed for proper delivery of eLearning courses (Q 15 of trainer’s category).

 

  1. 04. Resources in training centres have to be shared and rationalized to be used by required students and train (Q 16 of trainer’s category).

 

  1. b. Training / Awareness Requirements

 

The following recommendations were proposed in the training / awareness requirements category.

 

  1. 01. The awareness in different eLearning training programmes shall be raised among all stakeholde (Q13 of trainee’s category).

 

  1. 02. Short term courses on eLearning should be implemented. This also endorsed by question 23 b in trainer’s category. (Q 8 of trainee’s category).

 

  1. 03. eLearning courses could be introduced to youths, which uses internet, email and the chat.( Q 10 of trainee’s category).

 

  1. 04. Software, hardware and database courses could be first converted to eLearning as most of existing trainers are specialized in these areas.(Q 13 of trainer’s category).

 

  1. 05. Trainers shall be first trained in eLearning strategy, technology and in the technical support areas when implementing eLearning course (Q 26b of the trainers’ category).

 

  1. 06. TVET administrators shall  be  provided  with  awareness  on  eLearning  to  enable changes to be taken place in implementing eLearning in the sector (Q 5 of the administrator category)

 

  1. Institutional and Other Requirements

 

The following recommendations were proposed in the institutional and other requirements category.

 

  1. 01. eLearning development and implementation committee has to be setup for the TVET sector to analyse the requirements and monitor developments centrally. (Q 23 of the trainer’s category and Q 6 of the administrator’s category)

 

  1. 02. Blended learning    method    shall    be    fully    adopted    for    future    eLearning implementation (Q 24 of the trainer’s category).

 

  1. 03. Online tests and class room/lab assessments shall be used in performing eLearning assessments in future. (Q 25 of the trainers’ category).

 

  1. 04. Develop TVET policies  to  accommodate  eLearning  as  formal  delivery  method  in Technical  Vocational  Education  and  Training  (TVET)  courses  and  market  these courses more within the potential female trainees (Q 3 of trainees’ and Q 5 of trainers’ categories)

 

  1. 05. Barriers like institutional policies and procedures shall be removed and upgrade trainer’s knowledge in eLearnin (Q 7 of the administrator category).

 

  1. 06. To cater the increasing demand for TVET courses, one solution is to start eLearning as an alternative  method  of  delivering  theory  parts  of  traditional  courses  by

 

promoting blended learning, so that number of student intake could be increased up to few times of existing capacity. ( Q 24 of trainers’ category)

 

 

 

  1. 6. Future Work

 

There are many potential areas for future work in eLearning which will be benefited to the TVET sector in Sri Lanka. eLearning content development and maintenance in par with the technological changes over the time will be a challenge within the sector. This will create a considerable burden to the implementation of eLearning in TVET sector. Collaborative content updating mechanism which could be implemented to update online content like “Wikipedia” may be an area for future research. Development of interactive media to support technical and vocational education programs is also an important activity that could be identified for future work.

 

Personalization of eLearning and improving adaptability to different contexts is another area of interest. Since many researchers are interested in the personalized adaptive learning, it is worthwhile to lookup the similar works that have been carried out in the area of personalized adaptive learning.

 

Quality assurance of eLearning courses in TVET sector in Sri Lanka is a responsibility of TVEC and eLearning standards are required for accreditation of implemented eLearning courses. Development of eLearning standards has been initiated by the TVEC with the stakeholder participation. Therefore future work in accreditation of eLearning courses need attention with regard to standardization and quality assurance activities.

 

It is required to identify suitable strategies for the implementation of eLearning in TVET sector in Sri Lanka with the changing technology and training demands. The technical and vocational courses cannot be fully delivered through electronic media and it needs practical exposure and industrial training as and when necessary. Therefore most of the institutional training could be converted to eLearning, which paves the way to multiple the enrollments in TVET sector and thereby contributing future mega development plans of Sri Lanka.

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