Evolution of personal computers

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1. Literature Review

1.1. E-Learning

1.1.1. Overview

The last 20 years, the evolution of personal computers has been rapid. Respectively, the advancements in software and hardware have been huge and inevitably, the e-learning sector was influenced as well, with several tools being developed with ever growing capabilities, from plain delivering of text, to audio/photo/video management. [1]

But what really e-learning is and why such importance is given to it? Electronic learning (or e-Learning) can be defined as the process of educating or offering knowledge via electronic means. Many researchers go a little bit further, like Nichols (2008) for example, who perceives e-learning as “pedagogy empowered by digital technology”. This aspect assigns to e-learning an even greater importance, which is probably valid when considering the different ways that e-learning is applied. In most cases there is no face to face interaction between the trainer and the learner and the communication is based solely on electronic means like computers, videos, web sites, virtual reality environments, etc. In other cases e-learning is used as an addition to conventional learning, in order the latter to be enriched (blended learning); in these cases the aforementioned means are combined with or are added to, traditional techniques (classroom interaction) in order the desired results to be achieved. Finally there is an intermediate application as well, where, although there is no face to face interaction in a daily basis, certain meetings are organised from time to time between the learners and the trainer in order the learning process to be improved. [2]

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Despite the fact there has been an explosion of computer-based multimedia applications in education in recent years (Gerlic and JauÅ¡ovec 1999), the success of e-learning applications has always been debatable. Plenty of researchers have studied the subject, with many of them (e.g. Kazmerski and Blasko – 1999, Kulik and Kulik – 1991, Steyn, du Toit and Lachmann – 1999) stressing out the advantages of e-learning against conventional learning methods. Others though, tend to think differently, believing that e-learning systems can prove to be deficient or simply not superior that the conventional ones (Merchant, Kreie, Cronan 2001) [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8].

Despite this debate however, there is a growing trend towards e-learning processes and implementations, with a basic reason being the continuously growing technology possibilities available. Moreover, e-learning presents certain benefits which have raised its popularity these past years:

  1. Education is made possible for people who may not have the time -like parents or professionals- or the money to attend a classroom. Time and distance are no longer an issue and learning can be offered globally even to people with disabilities.
  2. Higher quality of education can be offered to anyone, since highly skilled professors can offer their services electronically,

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