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iPixSoft Flash Gallery Factory will help you to make professional flash gallery of photos, video clips and music. It provides various transition effects, funny cliparts and a rich set of flash gallery templates. You can easily present photos in gallery mode and save output as SWF flash, Exe file, HTML 5 video or common video format file.

Import photos and video clips.
Add your background music.
9 pre-designed Gallery Templates.
70+ transition effects include swift and push effects.
Decorate with 150+ high quality animated clipart.
Add hyperlink for the slides.
Multiple Output Formats.

Virus Total: The Best Way to Scan Files Before Distribution

VirusTotal is a free virus, malware and URL online scanning service. File checking is done with more than 40 antivirus solutions. Files and URLs can be sent via web interface upload, email, API or making use of VirusTotal's browser extensions and desktop applications.

PresentationTube: Record, Upload & Share Video Presentations

PresentationTube provides a free video presentation recorder and video sharing network to help teachers, students, and business professionals record, upload and share video presentations in a new way. The recorder synchronizes a variety of visual aids, including presenter's audio and video footage, PowerPoint slides, drawings, handwritten words, and web content. PresentationTube helps presenters to involve the audience via scrollable slide thumbnails, comments, and quizzes with unlimited video storage and delivery.

Create Slideshows Using PhotoPeach

PhotoPeach helps you tell better stories online using photos. With PhotoPeach you can create a rich slideshow in seconds to engage your friends or family. We also support background music, captions, and comments so you can elaborate on your story further.

Photopeach is used by educators and students in hundreds of schools world wide, including schools in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, England, Pakistan, Argentina,Thailand, and more.

The combination of images, music, and text helps students learn about presentation, expression, writing, communication skills, art appreciation, and media literacy. The quality of the finished work is great and students will remember it forever.

Start creating fun slideshows with captions, soundtracks, quizzes, and easy editing controls!

PowerPoint and Video Presentations in Education

Presentation applications are increasing in popularity and providing powerful tools for creation of instructional materials and accessible information in audio-visual formats. When used appropriately, these tools can support and extend traditional presentations in valuable ways. In classroom settings, MS PowerPoint, for example, has become the dominant presentation tool because it is both readily available and easy-to-use by instructors (Grabe & Grabe 2007). 
It allows instructors to create and manipulate presentations in a wide variety of contexts that can enhance student’s interest and engagement (Mills & Roblyer 2006). In addition, it helps instructors clearly identify the main points of a topic or activity while still providing the details through presentation (Loisel & Galer, 2004). Instructors can incorporate multiple types of media formats (e.g., diagram, photo, drawing, sound and video) that cannot be easily integrated together into one single medium. Learners are also attracted to PowerPoint because of graphical, transactional, aesthetic and interactive features it provides.
However, in order to be successful, a presenter needs to guide the audience through the presentation, keep their interest, and attract their attention (Chiasson & Gutwin, 2005). Although there is interest in the utility of PowerPoint, it is used only by the teacher inside classrooms and needs to be paired with use of an LCD projector and large screen. In other words, PowerPoint slide content and visual features are not substitute for guidance a teacher should deliver. If the students are not seeing and listening to the teacher, then learning from the slides in isolation will be less valuable or impossible. 
Parette, Blum, Boeckmann & Watts (2009) suggested that regardless of such concerns and problems related to the use of PowerPoint, it is no longer an issue of whether to use PowerPoint or not. Instead, presenters must focus on how they can best use it inside and outside classrooms to support learners (Parette et al., 2009).
The review of the literature and modern online applications and social networks emphasized the importance of considering the potential possibilities that a video presents when deciding how to support the learners (Cunningham & Friedman, 2009). Proponents of videos argue that there is increasing interest in providing learners with recorded materials and video is demonstrated to be an expanding channel for presentation (Sturmey, 2003). 
Providing video on demand to students is used to support facet-to-face, online, or blended learning. Students can choose when and where to use the material and can spend as long or as little time on each learning activity (Whatley & Ahmad, 2007). 
Watching video is considered as a basis for mental activity. It is socially acceptable and widely used and supported by multimedia cell phones and portable media players. According to Schwartz & Hartman (2007), video is a more forgiving and powerful presentation medium, and does not have to be stand-alone, like a television program. 
Learners can play, rewind, forward, and pause the video to address their specific needs. It can be used in many ways to encourage interactions between students and the teachers and create engagement. Watching video is considered as a basis for mental activity. It is socially acceptable and widely used and supported by multimedia cell phones and portable media players. Research suggests that learning with technology requires visual stimulus in order to promote cognitive processing (Mayer, 2001). 
Martin (1990) found that watching video is considered as a basis for mental activity, because learners already have considerable practice with it in non-educational settings. In addition, it is socially acceptable and widely used and supported by multimedia mobile devices and portable media players, and therefore it can be a powerful link between the instructor and students.
Research (Zue & Bergom, 2010; Dey, Burn, & Gerdes, 2009; Fernandez, Simon, & Salan, 2009) described many advantages of using video lectures and presentations in universities. For example, video lectures allow students to review material at their own pace and location, useful for international students, provides an opportunity to re-organize teaching time, and useful for “equation heavy” disciplines. 

The Societal Acceptance of Online Degrees in the Arab World

Historically and culturally, the Arab countries have many features in common, in particular from the linguistic and tradition standpoints; however, it is in many respects highly inconsistent in terms of population, national income, prosperity, stability, infrastructure, literacy rate, and information resources. The estimated overall population of the Arab countries in 2010-2011 was just over 360 million with over half under 25 years of age. Almost a quarter of the Arab world live in the most populated country of the region, Egypt. The number of Internet users in 2011 was estimated to be 86 million users (United Nations, 2011). Although distance education has a short history in the Arab world, for many, within the last ten years, the interest in distance education in the Arab world was enhanced dramatically as a result of the changes in society, culture, economy, employment, and information technology (Al-Harthi, 2005). This interest resulted in a remarkable increase in the distance education programs and degrees offered by many traditional and distance education universities in many Arab countries (Mohamed, 2005).
Many efforts have been made in Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon to provide off-campus programs by traditional universities providing conventional and distance education simultaneously. Many universities have established open education units (e.g., the Open Learning Center at Cairo University in Egypt), awarding bachelor and master degrees through distance education mode in a variety of disciplines. However, with the increased public interest in distance education, new distance education universities have been established to deliver fully distance education programs using different types of media and technologies (e.g., printed materials, video tapes, and interactive multimedia CDs).
The unique example in this regard is the Arab Open University (AOU), which was established in 1999, in cooperation with the British Open University (OU), with the main campus in Kuwait and 6 branches in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Oman. Making use of modern information and communication technologies, AOU aimed to make higher education and continuing education accessible to every willing and capable Arab citizen (Arab Gulf Program For United Nations Development Organizations, 1999). In response to this development, distance education has become one of the important alternatives for those who could not attend or enrol in conventional universities. This rapid development in online applications and Internet access, in particular, has begun to create a new paradigm of distribution of distance education programs from all around the world to the Arab world learners in new, flexible and accessible ways. The interactive nature of the Internet has attracted distance students in the Arab world more than any other medium ever, and moved distance education away from correspondence mode to interactive and networking modes (Sadik, 2003). This strong demand was supported by research that compared educational outcomes of online and conventional programs. Many studies indicated that online distance education programs are equal to or better than conventional programs in terms of students’ satisfaction, flexibility and learning outcomes (Bernard  et al., 2004; Machtmes & Asher, 2000; Phipps & Merisotis, 1999).
However, Raj and Al-Alawneh (2010) indicated that there is a common belief in the society that on-campus degrees are better than off-campus degrees for many reasons, such as residency in the university, real face-to-face experience, interaction among students, interactions between students and instructors, in addition to the accessible resources that could be in the learners’ hands any time. Therefore, Arab employers, families and students may feel reluctant to accept distance education as a formal alternative to conventional face-to-face education. Therefore, many students may enrol in, and often withdraw from, distance education universities. Al-Harthi (2005) believes that students’ cultural backgrounds and perceptions toward distance education degrees have a high effect on their willingness and ability to participate in distance education programs and their concerns can be traced back to the issue of acceptability of online degree as an employment credential. Research by Carnevale (2002) and Sikora (2003) has raised the question of whether the society regards online distance education degrees as valuable as degrees earned in a conventional way. Sikora indicated that those who hold online degrees are not judged as having qualifications that are equal to those of graduates who earn their degrees in a face-to-face program when seeking employment.
The concept of acceptability has been studied in very few online learning and distance education research studies. In those studies, respondents were asked to choose between candidates whose qualifications differed only in terms of learning mode , that is,  whether they earned their credits online or in a traditional residential program. DeFleur and Adams (2004), for example, indicated that despite the rapid growth in online education, some educators and employers cast doubt on the quality of online courses and whether the learning experience and outcomes that take place over the Internet are equal to those occurring in traditional academic settings. Adams and DeFleur (2010), Adams and DeFleur (2006), and DeFleur and Adams (2004) found that there are some problems associated with the acceptability of online degrees when students apply to traditional postgraduate programs or faculty position in a traditional university. Adams, DeFleur and Heald (2007) also found that degrees earned online are “by no means as acceptable as traditional degrees, and that they can be regarded as suspect when used as a credential in a hiring situation” (p.43). They suggested that students should select their online universities with great care to increase their chances of being hired. In addition, Carnevale (2005, 2007) reviewed many empirical studies in the perceptions of employers toward online degrees and found that potential employers gave many reasons for not accepting online degree credentials. These reasons are: lack of rigor, lack of face-to-face interactions, academic dishonesty, reputation of the degree-granting institution, and appropriate level and type of accreditation. 


While there are tens of photo-hosting applications on the Web, one of the most innovative is Flickr. Flickr is a photo management and sharing online application that provides a place to share photos and meet people with similar interests, even if photography is not their focus. Using Flickr, users can upload, download, tag, rate, and comment on photos. Users can manage and organize images, and create private or public groups to cultivate a sense of community. 
Flickr offers a vast collection of images that are not available elsewhere, and its collaborative tools have made it popular in higher education. Flickr contains imagery that can be used in teaching to help develop visual literacy skills. University instructors have begun using Flickr images in their courses to share, critique, and analyze visual information. In addition, the design of Flickr intentionally promotes the development of community. The ability to engage users in a conversation about a photo, and to update that photo based on comments received, builds a sense of community.
Another key feature of Flickr is its integration with most of the major blogging services (like Blogger), which easily allows students and instructors to upload photographs into their blogs with a click of the “Blog this” button. Flickr also provides RSS feeds for everyone's photos, group and forum discussions, and specific tags so that students and teachers alike can syndicate their photos into their course Web pages. RSS feeds also allow teachers to have their students’ projects delivered directly to their browsers, saving the teacher the time-consuming task of having to enter each student’s URL in order to view his/her portfolios.

Improving Students' Visual Literacy

Today's culture has become so visual that teachers and students get considerable information from visual elements. These visual elements are increasingly appearing in teaching and learning resources, delivered across a range of media in a variety of formats: textbooks, multimedia presentations, computer tutorials, television programs, and Web resources (Sims et al., 2002). Visual information usually comes in the form of line drawings, photographs, maps, diagrams, flowcharts, graphs, time lines, geometrical figures, and Venn diagrams.
Educators believe that using visual treatments helps learners to explore meanings clearly, directly, and easily, and yields positive results (Chanlin, 1998). For example, students can learn the word "spoon," but to look at a spoon communicates so much more. By looking at the spoon, students can read the history of eating, utensils, materials, civilization, culture, and habits (Bleed, 2005).
Visual literacy, learning, and technology
Wileman (1993) defines visual literacy as “the ability to read, interpret, and understand information presented in pictorial or graphic images” (p.114). He describes the ability to turn information into pictures as “visual thinking” (p.114). However, if literacy is reading and writing, Brill, Kim, and Branch (2000) believe that visual literacy is the ability to interpret, and generate or select images for communicating ideas and concepts. They indicated that a visually literate learner should be able to make sense of visible objects, and create static or dynamic visible objects. More specifically, Roblyer and Bennett (2001) explained that a visually literate learner should be able to:
  • Interpret, understand, and appreciate the meaning of visual messages.
  • Communicate more effectively through applying the basic principles and concepts of visual design.
  • Produce visual messages using the computer and other technology.
  • Use visual thinking to conceptualize solutions to problems (p. 9).
Roblyer and Bennett emphasized the need to develop appropriate selection, production, and evaluation strategies, and provide learners with the principles of visual communication, which can then be put into practice in a variety of settings, activities, and subject areas to improve the above visual literacy skills. Stokes (2002) agreed that students need to learn how to communicate using visual language, and know terms such as composition, foreground, and background in order to talk about images. Students need to be able to describe everything that they see and apply critical thinking to images in the same way they apply critical thinking to text.
Two major approaches have been suggested for developing visual literacy skills (Heinich et al., 1999). The first is to help learners decode (read) visuals through practicing analysis techniques. Decoding involves interpreting and creating meaning from visual stimuli. The second is to help them encode (compose) visuals as a tool for communication.
Decoding of visual messages can be improved by asking questions, such as: What does this image mean to me? What is the relationship between the image and the displayed text message? How is this message effective? Similar questions are asked during visual message creation as well: How can I visually depict this message? How can I make this message effective? What are some visual/verbal relationships I can use? (Riesland, 2005). Riesland believes that once students internalize these questions, they will not only be able to encode and decode visual messages, but will also be prepared to communicate with a level of visual sophistication that will carry them through multimedia-dependent and modern work environments.
Research has explored the relationship between learning and technology, and indicated that recent technologies like computers and the Internet have changed teaching and learning practices, and provided learners with more responsibilities and opportunities for their learning to innovatively locate and use resources to construct meaning (Sims et al., 2002). The World Wide Web, for example, as a graphical user interface application requires skills for recognizing navigation elements, controlling menus, and reading images in order to derive meaning from what is being communicated. In addition, photo-editing tools have made it easy for anyone to create or manipulate images, and to disseminate those images more widely than at any point in history.
In addition, the growth of image-rich resources is due in part to the wide availability of graphics software, and digital image management and sharing Web applications that facilitate the creation, storage, dissemination, and exchange of images (Sims et al., 2002). Inexpensive storage and widely available dissemination methods have made digital images a convenient and easily available information format (Chen, 1999). During the past three years, a new generation of Web-based applications for collaboration and community building has emerged, providing Web users with a tremendous capability to connect with and share a variety of resources. Among these social applications are photo-sharing applications.

The Readiness of Faculty Members to Develop and Implement e-learning

Globalisation is predicted to encourage universities in developing countries to invest heavily in the use of media and technology within open and flexible learning systems. Many universities around the world have not yet realised the potential of e-learning or experimented with how it might effectively be employed in teaching. Lack of technical and pedagogical readiness to support e-learning and low levels of readiness to experiment with new methods often perpetuate this situation (Fergusson et al., 2005).
In Egypt, there is growing interest in using modern technologies to deliver instruction and facilitate the process of teaching and learning. E-learning is being more rapidly adopted by many universities and is destined to become a larger part of the educational experience of students in years to come. South Valley University, for example, has made significant investments in its IT infrastructure over the last three years and is undergoing change to introduce and develop e-learning and using programmes of faculty development to support this process.
However, research has shown that adopting e-learning represents one of the major problems in faculty development plans at many universities (Shephard et al, 2004). The lack of knowledge and skills and the negative attitudes toward the use of technology are the main reasons faculty resist using e-learning materials in university teaching (Haynes et al., 2004). The proper use of technology in university teaching depends on such variables such as years of teaching experience, level of computer literacy, degree held, academic profession and training received (Kotrlik et al., 2000)

إعداد عروض الفيديو التفاعلية للأطفال المعاقين سمعياً

يؤكد التربويون علي أهمية الإتصال البصري الفعال في مخاطبة الأطفال الصم و كذلك استخدام قنوات و تكنولوجيا الاتصال المرئية في تعليمهم، و ذلك لكونهم يعتمدون علي ما يرون في ادراك المعنى و التغلب علي مشكلات استقبال اللغة المنطوقة. وبالرغم من أهمية أفلام الفيديو، بصفة خاصة، كأحد أهم الوسائط البصرية المفضلة للأطفال الصم، فإن هناك عدداً محدوداً من البرامج المبسطة التي تساعد معلمي الأطفال الصم علي انتاج عروض فيديو تعليمية تستهدف هذه الفئة و تستفيد من لغة الإشارة التي يستخدمها المعلم، و كذلك الإمكانات و الخصائص البصرية التي توفرها برامج العروض البصرية، و برامج معالجة الكلمات، وبرامج تحرير الرسوم. تهدف الورشة إلي تعريف معلمي الأطفال المعاقين سمعياً بأهمية إثراء خبرات هذه الفئة باستخدام عروض الفيديو و تطبيقاتها في مجال تنمية مهاراتهم اللغوية و الأكاديمية و الحياتية، و كذلك تدريب المعلمين علي إنتاج عروض الفيديو التفاعلية للأطفال الصم باستخدام برنامج (RealShow) و الذي صممه مقدم هذه الورشة و الحائز علي الجائزة العربية للمحتوى الإلكتروني – فئة دمج المعاقين (البحرين 2011)، وذلك عن طريق دمج عروض برنامج بوربوينت، الملفات النصية، و الرسوم التوضيحية و التعليق عليها مباشرة باستخدام لغة الإشارة. كما تتناول الورشة الطرق المختلفة لتشجيع الأطفال الصم علي انتاج هذه النوع من أفلام الفيديو للتواصل مع المجتمع الخارجي و نشر أفكارهم و مشاريعهم و ابحاثهم، و كذلك تبادل ملفات الفيديو مع المتعلمين الصم عبر مشغلات الوسائط المتعددة المنزلية أو الأجهزة المحمولة أو شبكات التواصل الاجتماعي عبر الإنترنت.
و بالرغم من أن إعداد عروض الفيديو للأطفال المعاقين سمعياً ليس أمراً جديداً، فإن هناك عدداً محدوداً جداً من التطبيقات التي تساعد معلميهم علي إعداد عروض فيديو تعليمية فعالة و بسهولة. تهدف الورشة إلي توجيه معلمي الأطفال المعاقين سمعياً إلي أهمية إثراء خبرات هؤلاء الأطفال باستخدام عروض الفيديو و تطبيقاتها في تنمية مهاراتهم اللغوية و الدراسية و الحياتية، و كذلك تدريبهم علي إعداد و إنتاج عروض الفيديو التفاعلية باستخدام برنامج RealShow عن طريق دمج محتوى شرائح البوربوينت المعدة مسبقاً، مع ما يؤدونه من رسوم و أشكال توضيحية، و كتابة نصية مباشرة علي الشاشة، و كذلك صورة المعلم و هو يستخدم لغة الإشارة اثناء العرض. يساعد الفيديو الذي ينتجه البرنامج المتعلمين علي مشاهدة المعلم مباشرة اثناء العرض و هو يرسم أو يكتب أمامهم علي الشاشة، أو ينتقل من شريحة إلي أخرى و يستخدم الرسوم المتحركة و التعبيرات المرئية المعتمدة علي حركات الشفاه و الوجه و الإشارة. يمكن للمعلم بعد ذلك يتبادل ملف الفيديو مع المتعلمين عبر مشغلات الوسائط المتعددة أو أجهزتهم المحمولة أو عبر الإنترنت.

PresentationTube ماذا تعرف عن موقع

تم إنشاء موقع PresentationTube في بدايته كجزء من مشروع بحثي لمساعدة المعلمين و الطلاب في الدول العربية علي تسجيل ومشاركة عروضهم التقديمية في صيغة فيديو بطريقة مبسطة و فعالة، و ذلك لإثراء المحتوى الرقمي باللغة العربية، وبحيث يمكن استخدام هذه العروض لدعم تعلم الطلاب داخل وخارج قاعات التدريس التقليدية، أو في برامج التعلم الإلكتروني و التعليم عن بعد في الكليات العليا و الجامعات.
وقد أعتمدت فكرة تصميم الموقع علي حقيقة علمية في مجال عروض الوسائط المتعددة مفادها أن الاستخدام الفعال لعروض البوربوينت أو غيرها من أنواع العروض التقديمية يتوقف بدرجة كبيرة علي مهارة مقدم العرض في مساعدة المتعلمين علي فهم محتوى العرض و ارشادهم عبر الشرائح، مما أدى إلي ظهور الحاجة إلي توفير الأداة التي تساعد المعلمين و مقدمي العروض علي انتاج عروض الفيديو التقديمية التي تجمع بين قدرة مقدم العرض علي التوضيح بشكل واقعي، كما تمكنه من استخدام الأدوات اللازمة لتوضيح محتوى العرض بشكل ملائم. و في غضون أشهر قليلة منذ إنطلاق الموقع رسمياً في بداية يناير 2012، لاقى الموقع قبول و استحسان المعلمين و الطلاب و مقدمي العروض من المؤسسات التعليمية المختلفة، حيث بدأ العديد من المعلمين و أساتذة الجامعات في تسجيل و نشر و تبادل عروضهم علي الموقع.
يقدم الموقع برنامج كمبيوتر مجاني و شبكة تفاعلية لتسجيل و تبادل عروض الفيديو التقديمية، و ذلك لمساعدة المعلمين و الطلاب و أصحاب المهن من المتخصصين في كافة المجالات علي تسجيل و رفع و تبادل عروضهم بطريقةمبتكرة. يقوم برنامج تسجيل العروض بدمج عدة وسائط صوتية و مرئية بطريقة متزامنة، من بينها عروض البوربوينت المعدة مسبقاً، صورة و صوت مقدم العرض، لوحة الكتابة، و لوحة الرسومات التوضيحية، و كذلك محتوى متصفح الإنترنت. يساعد الموقع المعلمين و مقدمي العروض علي دمج المشاهد عن طريق متصفح الشرائح، و التعليقات، و المناقشات، مع إمكانية غير محدودة لرفع و مشاهدة عروض الفيديو.
كيف يمكنك البدأ في تسجيل و مشاركة عروض الفيديو؟
تنزيل برنامج التسجبل: نزل و نصب برنامج التسجيل، حيث يمكنك فتح عرض البوربوينت المعد مسبقاً و الضغط علي زر التسجيل و البدأ و التعليق الصوتي و المرئي علي العرض، بمساعدة سبورة الكتابة، لوح الرسم، و كذلك متصفح الإنترنت.
تحميل عرض الفيديو: أضغط علي "رفع الفيديو" لتحميل ملف العرض بعد تسجيله في صيغة wmv أو avi، و اكمل نموذج بيانات الفيديو، مع رفع ملف "بيانات العرض" في صيغة ملف مضغوط "zip". هذا الملف المضغوط تم حفظه بواسطة برنامج التسجيل في نفس المجلد الذي تم حفظ عرض الفيديو به.
مشاركة عرض الفيديو: شاهد و شارك عرض الفيديو الذي قمت بتحميله عن طريق البريد الإلكتروني، أو شبكات التواصل الإجتماعي، أو إدمج عرض الفيديو في صفحتك الخاصة، أو صفحة المقرر في نظام التعلم الإلكتروني الذي تستخدمه.

The Third International Conference of e-Learning and Distance Education - Riyadh - 4-7 February 2013

As e-learning is increasingly being embraced and implemented  in Higher Education, it is important to explore and measure whether it is empowering, engaging and performance driven. Over the last decade, many e-learning projects have been initiated and many impactful research papers have been published. The next step is to make sense of the past, the present and the future e-learning research initiatives to strategize and implement e-learning that is engaging and performance driven. The Ministry of Higher Education Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the National Centre for e-Learning and Distance Education are taking leadership roles in transforming e-learning into engaging performance driven learning experiences, by organizing the Third International Conference of e-Learning and Distance Education(eLi3) This conference will bring together educators, trainers, researchers, practitioners, futurists, policy makers, and users to discuss and propose how this transformation can be empowered.

المؤتمر الدولي الثالث للتعلم الإلكتروني في الرياض - 4-7 فبراير 2013

 نظرا للتوسع الكبير الذي يشهده تطبيق برامج التعلم الإلكتروني، ولتبنيه كأحد الأساليب المعتمدة في مؤسسات التعليم 
العالي، فمن المهم استكشاف ما تم في هذا المجال، وقياس درجة فاعليته في دعم الأداء التعليمي. فقد تم خلال الفترة الماضية إطلاق العديد من مبادرات التعلم الإلكتروني وتم نشر الكثير من الدراسات العلمية في هذا الشأن. ولعل الخطوة التالية هي إعادة النظر في الدروس و التجارب من المبادرات السابقة في مجال التعلم الإلكتروني، والسعي بجدية لفهم المبادرات الحالية لوضع تصور واضح لتوجه جديد للتعلم الإلكتروني الذي يعتمد على الأداء والمشاركة، تنير لنا الطريق، ونستشرف بها المستقبل بتوظيف الدروس المستفادة، وفهم معطيات المرحلة الحالية. وتقوم وزارة التعليم العالي بالمملكة العربية السعودية، ممثلة بالمركز والوطني للتعلم الإلكتروني والتعليم عن بعد، بدور ريادي من أجل إحداث نقلة تجعل من التعلم الإلكتروني أسلوباً يتبني المشاركة ويعتمد على تحسين الأداء من خلال تنظيم المؤتمر الدولي الثالث للتعلم الإلكتروني والتعليم عن بعد (eLi3) ويسعى هذا المؤتمر إلى جمع التربويين والباحثين والممارسين والمستفيدين وصناع القرار والمستخدمين على صعيد واحد لمناقشة هذه النقلة، وتصور الكيفية التي يمكن أن تتم بها. 

موقع المؤتمر

بالمر يعتبر خدمة أوفيس365 علامة بارزة في تاريخ مايكروسوفت

أشار “ستيف بالمر” المدير التنفيذي لشركة مايكروسوفت أن الحزمة البرمجية المكتبية Office 365 ستمثل علامة بارزة في تاريخ شركته، وذلك بعد طرح النسخة “Home Premium” المخصصة للمستخدمين العاديين.
وأطلقت “مايكروسوفت” اليوم الحزمة البرمجية Office 365 Home Premium والتي تتوافر سحابياً بحيث تعمل على الإنترنت ويمكن الوصول إليها عن طريق مختلف المنصات سواء الحواسب المكتبية والمحمولة واللوحية أو عبر الهواتف.
وقال “بالمر” اليوم على مدونة “مايكروسوفت” الرسمية تعليقاً على إطلاق الحزمة المكتبية السحابية بأنه لأول مرة سيستطيع المستخدمون الاشتراك في برنامج أوفيس بدلاً من شراءه وتثبيته على أجهزتهم بالطريقة التقليدية، وهو الأمر الذي سيغير طريقة تعامل المستخدمون للبرنامج والاستفادة من مميزاته خاصة أنه ليس عليهم القلق بعد ذلك من تعقيدات عمليات التحديث والترقية للخدمة.
وأضاف بأنه يمكن للمستخدمين باشتراك واحد في خدمة أوفيس 365 أن يستفيدوا من كافة المزايا الخاصة بالخدمة على خمسة أجهزة مختلفة والتمتع بخصائص الوصول إلى البيانات من أي تلك الأجهزة الخمسة.
وتتيح شركة “مايكروسوفت” استخدام النسخة السحابية على أكثر من حاسب شخصي مقابل 99.99 دولار أمريكي سنوياً بحيث يمكن الوصول إليها من عدة حاسبات مختلفة مع عرض بـ 20 جيجابايت مساحة مجانية على خدمة التخزين السحابي “سكاي درايف” و 60 دقيقة اتصال عبر خدمة “سكايب”.
وتتوافر نسخة أخرى من Office 365 مخصصة للطلاب والكادر التدريسي في الجامعات، وتبلغ تكلفة الاشتراك بتلك النسخة 79.99 دولار لمدة 4 سنوات، مع إمكانية توفير الاشتراك الشهري بـ 1.67 دولار.
وتوقع المدير التنفيذي لشركة “مايكروسوفت” أن يتحول غالبية مستخدمي برنامج أوفيس -الذين يبلغون المليار مستخدم- إلى خدمات Office 365 السحابية بمرور الوقت.
يذكر أن “مايكروسوفت” طرحت خدمة Office 365 السحابية قبل 18 شهر تقريباً ولكن للشركات فقط، ومنذ ذلك الحين قامت شركة واحدة من أصل خمس شركات عملاء لدى الشركة الأمريكية في الاشتراك بالخدمة المكتبية السحابية حسب ما صرح به “بالمر”.
وكشف “بالمر” أن الخدمة المخصصة للشركات والأعمال لاقت قبولاً بين الشركات الصغيرة والمتوسطة حيث وصلت نسبة الزيادة في أعداد تلك الفئة من الشركات المشتركة في الخدمة المكتبية السحابية خلال 12 شهر إلى 150%.
هذا وتعتزم “مايكروسوفت” إطلاق نسخة خاصة بالأعمال من Office 365 لنظام التشغيل “ويندوز 8″ لتدعم واجهة اللمس في 27 فبراير المقبل.
المصدر: البوابة العربية للأخبار التقنية

The Educational Relationship in Distance Education

Conventional education is characterised by a direct relationship or face-to-face interaction between the teacher and students. Teachers prepare lessons, discuss with students, manage the class, select the needed technology, suggest activities, assess students and provide reinforcement. In other words, the teacher can play an essential role in facilitating learning and supporting students. Although distance education is recognised by the separation between the tutor and learners, this does not mean, however that learners have complete control over learning. With the development in media and distance education theory, an important role can be played by distance tutors to enhance learning and support learners.
Sherry (1996) indicated that the distance tutor needs to suggest learning resources, deliver the instruction, determine the degree of interaction and select the appropriate form of assessment. Moreover, Trentin and Scimeca (1999) argued that the role of the distance tutor may be as important as that of the course designer. They suggested that although experts assume a leading role in course design, they have to be supported by distance tutors. For example, the tutor can decide the type of material and communication to be used, suggest the human resources to be involved and translate the course objectives into activities.
Ferguson (1996) emphasises the role of the distance tutor by distinguishing between two components of distance education environments: the subject matter and the dialogue. He argued that the dialogue during learning is the tutor’s responsibility. According to Ferguson, the importance of the dialogue between the tutor and students lies in its importance for activating the use of new knowledge and facilitating assessment of students’ progress. Sherry (1996) indicated to two main approaches to be used by distance tutors to interacting with students over a distance:
1.      The distance tutor may visit the distant site, or students may take a trip to a central site.
2.      The distance tutor may use technology (e.g., telephone, e-mail or discussion boards) to interact and support students.
To conduct a non-contiguous dialogue and effective relationship between the tutor and students and encourage them to exchange information and ideas ‘we must have a broader application of the communicative process and of the technology needed to support the interaction between the teacher and student appropriately’ (Garrison and Shale, 1990, p. 33). To recognise the relationship between the distance tutor and students, Shale and Garrison suggested a model of the educational relationship in distance education expressed in terms of communication.

In this model, the teacher generates the content to be delivered by the medium to the student. According to Garrison and Shale (1990), the ‘negotiation of meaning’ closes the communication loop and ‘is supported by a different medium from that used to deliver the content’ (p. 36). However, with the development in technologies that deliver the content and facilitate two-way communication at the same time (like the WWW), the same medium can be used to distribute the content and facilitate interaction, allowing the model above to be represented as follows.

In this model, the learner can interact with the teacher directly and transmit or receive information in both directions (e.g., read the content, answer questions, submit an assignment, receive feedback, etc.). For example, in the absence of two-way communication technology that transmits the content and the dialogue, at the Open University instructors use one-to-one telephone calls and audio conferences to monitor students’ progress and solve course-related problems. Wyld and Eklund (1997) advised that a paper-based study guide could be used together with a communication channel (like the telephone) if dialogue is to be conducted.

Interaction at a Distance
Researchers always emphasise the importance of interaction in the learning process (Ritchie and Newby 1989; Harris 1999). Interaction is defined as a process that happens between the learner and the learning environment, in which the learner takes a more positive role (Berge, 1997). This environment includes the tutor, students and the learning content. Interactivity has been described as a key to success in traditional classroom to enhance learning and motivate learners (Fulford and Zhang, 1993; Wagner, 1994; Flottemesch, 2000).
Considering the definitions of distance education above, McIsaac and Gunawardena (1996) argued that that the isolation of distance students is determined not only by distance and time but also by the dialogue between the learner and the teacher, interaction with peers and the design of instruction. Fulford and Zhang (1993) stated that ‘since teachers and learners are not in the same room, subtle interactions through body language are lost and learner perceptions of amount of interaction may be altered’ (p. 8).
In distance education context, studies found that students who enrolled in programmes that support and encourage interaction have highly positive attitudes toward learning and higher levels of achievement than others in one-way systems (Ritchie and Newby, 1989; Comeaux, 1999). In this regard, Garrison and Shale(1990) highlighted the relationship between the dropout rates in a distance education system and its interactive capabilities . They argued that:
‘[…] improving the quality of the educational process through increased two-way communication is likely to have the most significant impact upon the effectiveness of learning and in turn is likely to raise completion rates in distance education’ (p. 128).
Holmberg (1990) believes that the ability of the medium to conduct interaction between the tutor and students is the essential criterion in selection among distance education technologies. He pointed out that any distance education medium should be able to provide the tutor and students with means of bringing about their experience, create rapport between them and offer opportunities for discussion.
McIsaac and Gunawardena (1996) indicated three constructs that affect students’ attitudes and achievement at a distance: transactional distance, learner control and social context. These constructs are mainly affected by the concept of interaction. Moore (1989) provided a framework for studying interaction in distance education by defining three types of interaction:
1.      Learner-content interaction, which occurs between the learner and the learning content to bring about changes in the learner’s understanding, perspective or cognitive structures. Trentin (2000) believes that the quality of learning materials has an enormous effect on achieving this type of interaction.
2.      Learner-instructor interaction, which occurs between the learner and the instructor to motivate and support the learner and allows for clarification of any misunderstanding.
3.      Learner-learner interaction, which occurs between one learner and another learner, with or without the presence of an instructor.
Eaton (1997) agrees with Moore in defining these types of interaction. However, he described them as two general types: individual interaction and social interaction. Individual interaction happens between the learner and the learning material. However, social interaction happens between two or more learners concerning the learning material and may involve the instructor.
Stating another point of view, Hillman et al. (1994) noted that the earlier typologies of interaction failed to take into account the interaction that occurs when a learner uses ‘intervening’ technologies to communicate with the content. Therefore, he suggested a new type of interaction called ‘learner-interface interaction’, for example, sending and receiving messages using a specific e-mail program or dealing with the graphical user interface of operating system. According to Hillman et al., this new type is responsible for facilitating students’ acquisition of skills needed to participate effectively.
Holmberg (1990) defined learner-content interaction (individual interaction) as a ‘one-way traffic’ in distance education systems. This one-way traffic is common in the earlier types of technology (e.g., printed materials and broadcast). However, using two-way technology (e.g., video-conferencing and the WWW), ‘two-way traffic’ can take place between the tutor and students. In this regard, Berge (1996) believes that while in earlier distance education programmes it was possible to conduct interaction only between the instructor and students, it is possible now for distance education students to interact with one another.
Garrison (1990) emphasised the role of interactive media and technology in conducting both types of interaction. He argued that without using these technologies, distance learning ‘degenerates’ into the correspondence generation of independent study in which the student is isolated. To achieve social interaction in education programmes, usually a real-time (synchronous) communication technology (e.g., telephone and video conferencing) were being used. However, with the development in communication technology (like the Internet), these kinds of interaction do not necessarily require real-time communication. Interaction can be independent of time (asynchronous), using communication tools (e.g., e-mail and discussion boards). 
The type of interaction used in any distance education system depends on the nature of the communication system (synchronous or asynchronous), the kind of interaction (individual or social) that is needed, the number of learners (small groups or large groups) and costs. For example, Trentin (2000) highlighted the importance of group size in the success of the learner-learner interaction in distance education programmes. He argued that:
‘the more the communication is directed toward socialization and sharing of ideas and experiences, the larger the discussion group may be, Conversely, the more the communication is directed toward collaborative study, the more limited group numbers need to be (Trentin, 2000, p. 20).
However, implementing interactive technology, like the WWW, and its components is not enough. Since distance education is characterised by the isolation of the learner, it means less involvement and less possibility to ask questions. To solve these problems, Trentin (2000) suggested that:
‘One of the key ingredients for raising the quality of an online course is strong interaction between the players in the process; organized in full-fledged virtual classes, the participants must obviously respect schedules and deadlines if a collaborative working strategy is to be successful’ (p. 20).
Many suggestions have been offered in the literature showing how to conduct successful interaction between the learner and the content, the tutor, peers and the user interface. For example, learner-interface interaction can be stimulated by instructional activities (e.g., computer games and informal chatting sessions) that help the learner become comfortable with the technology (Hillman et al., 1994). In addition, student-to-tutor and student-to-student interaction can be constructed and fostered using various strategies such as group-based collaborative projects, presentation boards and tutor questioning using interactive communication tools such as e-mail and discussion boards (Anderson, 1987; Moore, 1989). 

Defining Distance Education

The Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century was followed by developments in various fields of technology, which provided educators with various means for a new stage of education. Distance education was one of the main results of this revolution. Broadcasting and communications technology offered educators new and different solutions for adapting and delivering instruction to learners outside the traditional campus. Learners’ and parents’ interests were enhanced dramatically as a result of the great advances in audio-visual media and telecommunication technology, which resulted in an increase in the subject areas offered by distance education institutions.

In response to this interest, distance education became one of the formal means of education for those who could not attend schools or universities for cultural, economic, social or geographical reasons. Since designing instruction for distance education requires understanding the meaning of distance education and its objectives, the stages that distance education passed through, the media and their characteristics, and the main issues in distance education, as reviewed in the distance education literature, are reviewed in this chapter.
The importance of defining the meaning of distance education is that it may provide a good starting point to recognise its elements. First, there is some confusion among distance educators as to the correct definition of this term. A review of the term ‘distance education’ in the literature showed that the two terms ‘distance education’ and ‘distance learning’ have been used almost interchangeably and there is an overlap between them. This reflects the continuing debate among distance educators as to which term should be used. Many distance educators (Moore, 1973; Holmberg, 1977; Rumble, 1989; Moore and Kearsley, 1996) used the term ‘distance education’ to mean a systematic approach involving the learning environment, educators and separated learners. Three important definitions of distance education are offered by Holmberg (1977), Rumble (1989) and Moore and Kearsley (1996). These definitions are supported by many distance educators.
Holmberg (1977) offered one of the common definitions of distance education that is both simple and comprehensive. He defined distance education as follows:
‘a term that covers the various forms of study at all levels which are not under the continuous immediate supervision of tutors present with their students in lecture rooms or the same premises, but which, nevertheless, benefit from the planning, guidance and tuition of a tutorial organisation’ (p. 9).
In a concluding discussion on distance-education-related issues, Rumble (1989) proposed a similar definition of distance education, which can be summarised in two main points:
1.      Distance education is a method of education in which the learner is physically separated from the teacher by space and time.
2.      Distance education materials are often structured in ways that facilitate learning at a distance.
Recently, Moore and Kearsley (1996) stated a definition that reflects the recent developments in distance education technology. They defined distance education as:
‘the family of instructional methods in which the teaching behaviours are executed apart from the learning behaviours, including those that in a contiguous situation would be performed in the learner’s presence, so that communication between the teacher and the learner must be facilitated by print, electronic or other devices’ (p. 197).
According to Rumble’s definition, the learning materials are important elements and should be designed to promote effective learning for the learner at a distance. However, Moore’s definition highlights, for the first time, the need to establish direct  interaction between the learner and the teacher. More specifically, Garrison and Shale (1987) believe that mediated communication between the teacher and students ‘is a necessity’. Therefore, they proposed what they called ‘the essential criteria’ for characterising the distance education process. ‘An assumption underlying these criteria is that an educational experience requires two-way communication between teacher and student’ (Garrison and Shale, 1990, p. 26).
These criteria are:
1.      Distance education implies that the majority of educational communication between (among) teachers and student(s) occurs non-contiguously.
2.      Distance education must involve two-way communication between (among) teacher and student(s) for the purpose of facilitating and supporting the educational process.
3.      Distance education uses technology to mediate the necessary two-way communication (Garrison and Shale 1987, p. 11, in Garrison and Shale 1990, p. 25).
In conclusion, it is noted that many key features characterise distance education as understood from the definitions above:
1.      The separation of teacher and learner;
2.      The separation among learners;
3.      The use of one medium (or more) to deliver the subject matter (e.g., print and post, broadcasting and tapes, etc.); and
4.      The use of a communication channel to facilitate interaction and support learners (e.g., post, telephone, teleconferencing, etc).