The Internet has become one of the vital ways to make available resources for research and learning for both teachers and students to share and acquire information. Technology-based e-learning encompasses the use of the internet and other important technologies to produce materials for learning, teach learners, and also regulate courses in an organization. There has been extensive debate about a common definition of the term e-learning. Existing definitions tend to reveal the specialization and interest of the researchers. E-learning as a concept covers a range of applications, learning methods and processes.
It is therefore difficult to find a commonly accepted definition for the term e-learning, and according to Oblinger and Hawkins (2005) and, there is even no common definition for the term. In trying to find a common meaning of the term e-learning went on to ask the following questions: Is e-learning online coursework for students at a distance? Does it mean using a virtual learning environment to support the provision of campus-based education? Does it refer to an online tool to enrich, extend and enhance collaboration? OR is it totally online learning or part of blended learning? Also the European Commission (2001) describes, e-Learning as the use of new multimedia technologies and the Internet to increase learning quality by easing access to facilities and services as well as distant exchanges and collaboration. The following are also different definitions of e-learning. E-learning refers to the use of information and communication technologies to enable the access to online learning/teaching resources. In its broadest sense, Abbad et al (2009), defined Elearning to mean any learning that is enabled electronically. They however narrowed this definition down to mean learning that is empowered by the use of digital technologies. This definition is further narrowed by some researchers as any learning that is internet-enabled or web-based
Motivation Recent studies indicate that university students who have been enrolled in e-learning courses outperform those being taught on traditional courses. An example of this can be found at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in America where student exam results have shown improvement as a result of e-learning technique. It is therefore imperative that an education system is created which is capable of rapid adaption to its technological, social, cultural and political environment. Incorporating technology in the learning process does not necessarily guarantee motivated students. In fact, online instruction has resulted in the student-teacher relationship becoming less personal. Teachers are required to turn the classroom into an online environment. The question is what exactly is required of teachers to motivate students in an online environment? It is essential for teachers to understand their students’ motivations. Although students take online courses with the intention of successfully completing them, they tend to fail for a number of reasons. The success or failure of online instruction is perhaps related to student motivation. To stimulate students, teachers should:
1. Keep in mind that motivation must be natured in students.
2. explain to their students how the online environment may be used.
3. encourage interaction and collaboration among their students.
4. build study groups so that students will no longer be studying in isolation.
5. help students to make friends by meeting fellow students in the online environment.
6. interact with their students by monitoring the online presence of them and supplying them with continuous feedback.
Furthermore, studies also show that the success of e-learning methods in higher education can only be measured according to the effectiveness of delivery. Therefore, the adoption of e-learning initiatives falls considerably on the training of staff which is really a major challenge. It has been acknowledged that many faculty members are reluctant to accept aspects of technology in the teaching process. Unfortunately, teachers that are not well-trained might face difficulties in application use.
Moreover, in order for success to occur lecturers in higher educational institutions must accept, implement and adopt technological advancements offered by e-learning. Such new educational approaches are imperative in order to maintain the quality of courses. Having said that, training lecturers on how to use e-learning to enhance teaching practices should not focus primarily on how to use the hardware and software, but rather on how to be adaptable to both formal and less formal teaching methods and techniques.