CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED BY E-LEARNING PLATFORM IN THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS AT THE UNIVERSITY LEVEL

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1 CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED BY E-LEARNING PLATFORM IN THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS AT THE UNIVERSITY LEVEL BĂLĂCESCU ANIELA LECTURER PH.D., CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI UNIVERSITY OF TÂRGU JIU, FACULTY OF ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, ROMANIA GHIMIŞI ŞTEFAN SORINEL. PROFESSOR PH.D., CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI UNIVERSITY OF TÂRGU-JIU, FACULTY OF ENGINEERING, ROMANIA Abstract The adaptation of education to the development of technology is a necessary imperative. The appearance, in a relatively short period, of various information technologies and continue their development offers many opportunities and challenges both for students and for their teachers and educational institutions. The education is an essential activity in the development of a society, and in a computerized society is urgently required the existence of a virtual education. Through this article we want to highlight the role and impact of ICT on access institutional functioning and the teaching-learning process. Web space offers research facilities for students and open resource for teachers. The educational materials, interactive simulations and demonstrations videos captures students ' attention and arouse the interest and desire to know. Though there are weaknesses of virtual education such as: restricted or no access to the necessary infrastructure for e-learning, anxiety to communicate in a group, to share information, etc. The case study of the paper is done on the basis of the e-learning platform Moodle, implemented in the University Constantin Brancusi of Targu Jiu, and illustrates the interaction between students and teachers on the basis of this platform. Easy and comfortable handling of e-learning system Moodle, friendly interface and easy-to-understand lead us to affirm that this system is a very efficient tool, which can develop and provide training staff new possibilities for professional development. But, at the same time, requires a concerted effort on the part of all stakeholders: teachers need to be trained and supported, university management shall develop special procedures for the training of personnel involved in IT technology, define and implement changes in the educational programs, methodologies and evaluation practices to be adapted to the e-learning System, students should be trained and encouraged to take part in the development of the portal. Keywords: education technologies, distance learning, e-learning platform, university level Classification JEL : A290, O Introduction Development of ICT in all spheres of education required to adapt the education system to new requirements. E-learning is a modern way of education, using ICT (Information Technology and Communications) and which is based on the WWW (World Wide Web). E-learning is defined as a network or online learning that takes place in a formal context, and using multimedia technologies. It is a learning system supported by hardware and software, online (synchronous) or offline (asynchronous). Learning is achieved either individually or in a group and can be used as a hybrid of face-to-face format or exclusively in distance education. 210

2 Web space offers research facilities for students and an immense resource for teachers. The interactive teaching materials, the simulations and the video demonstrations captures the attention of students and awaken their interest and desire to know. The defining characteristics of virtual education are: ü the use of ICT for educational purposes; ü asynchronous study, customization of learning so that the student has the opportunity to study at its own pace to where and when you want it; ü separation of teacher and the one who teaches most of the duration of the training process; ü dynamic learning environment, providing a communication in two-way between teacher/tutor or/and student; ü flexibility; ü access to information is available to the global scale; ü continuing education: multimedia resources can make learning more attractive. Among the weaknesses of virtual education can be listed: absence of direct contact, online courses may not achieve the desired standards, students and teachers may not have access to the necessary infrastructure for e-learning, there is anxiety to communicate in a group, to share information. At a university level, the virtual training process factors involved are: a) Human resources: students, teachers, technical personnel which acting as a bridge between teacher and student, support staff (Secretariat), virtual network administrators. b) Technological support: selected technologies on the basis of a convenient report between needs and cost c) Program management that address the needs of students and provide the necessary resources, adequate equipment and support services for students. d) Management services that charges of the integration of distance education into the curriculum (syllabus), faculty development, providing conditions solving tasks given by instructor, staff remuneration, evaluation instructional program development, new facilities and improving the quality of education. The role of teachers is essential to "open education" in an innovative new technologies and open educational resources (OER) in an environment of learning and teaching that is aimed at all.[1] Basic requirements in choosing an e-learning platform In the last years, on the current market of Learning Management System (LMS) have made their presence felt numerous e-learning platform, with their advantages and disadvantages. In the purchase of such platforms, the ducational institutions have the following requirements: - technical requirements: it follows that e-learning platform has a low complexity for students, teachers and administrators and be a web-based solution. For a technical change easier preferred platform requirements are PHP, MySQL database and Apache web server. - financial requirements: cost and reliability are two major criteria in choosing the platform, that's why an open source software that can be hosted on the web should be ideal choice. Also, in the event that the desired software improvement, access to source code is an advantage. - cerinţe funcţionale: se urmăreşte ca platforma e-learning să dispună de o interfaţă prietenoasă care să încurajeze participarea utilizatorilor şi care se potriveşte nevoilor unui mediu academic. Un editor HTML ar trebui să faciliteze introducerea conţinutului. - functional requirements: ensure that e-learning platform to have a user-friendly interface that encourage user participation and that matches the needs of the academic environment. An HTML editor should facilitate the introduction of the content. Flexible learning contents should include multiple choice questions to be corrected automatically by the system and that, therefore, ensures successful deployment of learning of students. Considering that field of study and learning content is very technical, the system must have the ability to display complex mathematical formulas. In addition, the incorporation of interactive and multimedia content (video, Java applets, Flash files) should be possible. Some project management tools such as a policy area, a secure area to upload documents for export and import data are important features and should also be covered.[2] Moodle e-learning platform - the choice of Constantin Brancusi University of Târgu Jiu, in support of the educational process in the form of distance learning According to the basic criteria in choosing a platform of this type, "Constantin Brancusi" University of Târgu Jiu opted for Moodle e-learning platform, which is used in the context of distance education being provided in the form of a web page ( Access to the platform is based on a user account and password received from the Secretariat of the Department of distance learning and continuing education of every teacher and student. 211

3 The e-learning platform on the Web page of the Department of distance learning and continuing education, Constantin Brancusi, University of Târgu Jiu Moodle is Open Source which means that users have access to the source code of the software. Any user can see how software can make changes, to share with others or use pieces of it in their own products. So why is it so important? First, the open source software aligns to academic community values freedom, knowledge sharing and peer discussion. As anyone can download and use Moodle for free, the users can add new features, can fix errors, improve performance or simply can learn about how others solve a programming problem. Secondly, unlike private sites CMS who demand fees for licenses and maintenance contracts, Moodle does not cost anything to download and can be installed on as many servers you want. Moodle is centered learning, while most commercial CMS systems are centered on tools. Social constructionism is based on the idea that people learn best when they are engaged in the social process of knowledge building by constructing an artefact for others. While a CMS focused on tools provides a list of the Toolbox as interface, the Moodle builds the instruments in an interface that puts learning activity in the foreground. You can organize your Moodle's course on weeks, subjects or social arrangements. In addition, while other CMS support a content model that encourages instructors to upload static content, Moodle focuses on tools for discussion and exchange of experience. Do not put emphasis on providing information; should be on the exchange of ideas and engaging in the construction of knowledge. Moodle has a very large and active community of people which using the system and develops new features and enhancements. You can access this community at and you can sign up to use Moodle course. There you will find people who are more than willing to help new users learn, execute, debug and use Moodle effectively. There are more than 300,000 people registered at moodle.org and over Moodle sites in 211 countries. The global community has translated Moodle in over 70 languages. Moodle had established itself by 2007 as a leading and award-winning open source LMS. In 2013 an official HTML5 app was released and the latest version of Moodle includes a customisable theme suitable for all screen sizes. The inauguration of the Moodle Research conference in 2012 served as a reminder that, however advanced the technology, Moodle design and development is guided by social constructionist pedagogy. During September 2013, the official Moodle MOOC, Learn Moodle, introduced over 9000 participants to Moodle's basic features. [3] At the same time, the developers of Moodle and users work together to ensure quality, to add new features and modules and suggest new ideas. Because users are free to experiment, many people use and test the new features, acting as a huge quality control Department. These three advantages - to open source philosophy, educational and community make Moodle to be unique in the CMS space. Moodle is a CMS (Course Management System), also known under the names LMS (Learning Management System) and VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). It is a free Web application that teachers can use to create sites for an effective online learning. Moodle is designed to support a learning style called Social Constructionist Pedagogy. This style of learning is interactive. The philosophy of this style of learning is based on the premise that people learn best when interacting with learning materials, build new materials for others and interact with other students on the material. [4] 212

4 Moodle allows teachers to add static course materials (students can read but not modify them), namely: a page of text, a webpage, a link to any material on the Web, a possibility to see one of the directories, a label that displays any text or image. In addition, Moodle allows teachers to add interactive course materials. It is a course with which the student interacts answering questions by entering text or by uploading files: Also, Moodle offers five types of activities where students interact with each other. These are used to create social course material: Chat (chat online for students) Forum (you can choose the number of panels for each course) Glossary (students and/or teachers can help with terms) Wiki (Wikis can be inserted or a Wiki can be the whole course) Workshop (the workshop supports collaboration and efforts among the students graduated) Some challenges generated by ensuring an adequate quality of educational process The digital environment offers enormous opportunities for all stakeholders, but at the same time have sought answers to the challenges generated by ensuring appropriate quality educational process so that graduates have the skills and aptitudes needed for integration on the labour market and realising professional career. One of the challenges is determined even by teachers, in the sense that many of them were not familiar with the new technology. Therefore, it is essential that before investing in infrastructure, to invest in the training of teachers in digital technology. Another challenge is determined by the diversity of learning styles of students that use different ways of collecting learning. So it's necessary that available to them should be made teaching material under various forms: writing, video, audio and interactive applications which increases the attractiveness and the degree of interest on the part of all. And what is essential there must be feedback from the students, they became collaborators of the teachers. The development of a country is in strong and direct correlation with human capital, improving the quality of performance of research systems, education and training. To encourage those who wish to participate in the educational process, but the financial situation does not allow the purchase of technology, universities grant them strictly necessary period of schooling. In this connection, the universities are European funds through which the necessary infrastructure can be assured of a quality education. 213

5 The correlation education with labor market obliges universities to invite representatives of employers in the virtual classroom so that they have exchanged information to assist students in understanding complex theoretical concepts and practical application of these concepts. Conclusions Education is an essential activity in the development of a society, and in a computerized society is urgently required the existence of a virtual education. Virtual education, which appeared as a result of the development of information and communication technology is an opportunity, offered to those who want to form a continuous and real potential, in that it does not impose constraints of time, space and rhythm of learning. Virtual education emphasizes the relationship of teacher-student-employer using T.I.C., the knowledge are no longer the monopoly of the teacher, the information can be found independently of the professor. The contribution of teacher is fundamental methodological, he needs to guide, coordinate, to know what to ask the designer of educational software, to adjust to the new. References [1] - European Economic and Social Committee (EESC): Opening up Education: Innovative teaching and learning for all through new Technologies and Open Educational Resources /* COM/2013/0654 final */ [2] Runceanu A., Marian Popescu, Mihaela Runceanu (2010), A way to choose the appropriate e-learning platform, Annals of the Constatin Brancusi University from Targu-Jiu, no.3/2010, Engineering Series, ISSN , pg [3] [4] Rice W. H., (2006) Moodle E-Learning Course Development: A complete guide to successful learning using Moodle [4] [5] [6] 214

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