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Education & HR Ministry Declares 2005 the First Year of e-Learning Knowledge and information are the most important productive factor in the knowledge-based society of the 21st century. Because of this, e-learning, which enables us to learn through Internet anywhere and anytime, is coming to the fore. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MOE) has declared this year the first year of elearning, while introducing a suite of elearning policies. Let's take a look at the government elearning policies, implementation plan, expectations, and real-life cases of e-learning in action. As a way of fostering human resources in the 21st century, e-learning is rapidly coming into the spotlight. Realizing that creative and self-directed education development is directly related to the core competence of a nation, many countries are adopting e-learning as a key strategy to change their education paradigms. "EBS Educational Program Launches the Era of e- Learning in Korea" Since 1990s, the Korean government has systematically implemented information- intensive projects for education and in 2004 the MOE decided to sponsor a series of lectures produced by educational broadcaster, EBS, on the Internet in a drive to reduce the national outlay on private educational expenses. The programs are designed to help schoolchildren pass the national learning ability test. Accordingly, e-learning has caught public's attention. Following the EBS educational program in April last year, the MOE has sponsored a similar program in September. To this end, an online home schooling system has been introduced, so that schoolchildren may be able to have the benefit of extracurricular lessons through the Internet free of charge after school. Furthermore, in November 2004, under the banner of "Building a Lifetime e-Learning Nation" the MOE has launched an e-learning implementation strategy, expanding it from the primary and middle schools to the high schools, and to adult and vocational education. There is a reason why the MOE is promoting e-learning so earnestly. In addition to the reduction of extra-classroom lecture expenses, it is expected to have a positive effect in many fields: it provides a learner-centered education, bridging the gap between the information rich and information poor, fostering social integration, and helping realize lifelong education. In particular, it will also provide equal opportunity of learning to the pupils of low-income bracket families living in the rural and coastal areas. "Public-Private Sector Cooperation the Key to Making e-learning Viable" Following efforts to expand e-learning last year, this year the MOE plans to expand the concept to a national level. In April and May this year, the MOE held large-scale e-learning exhibitions in five cities including Seoul and Busan. From June 1 to 14, it also held an "Education and Human Resources Innovation Exposition" at the KINTEX, thus introducing e-learning and running what was an e-learning festival. Again in April, it signed MOUs with KT, Microsoft Korea, and Intel Korea to jointly launch "ulearning schools." Now 18 model schools including primary, middle and high schools are participating in this project to discover ways of incorporating u-learning (ubiquitous learning) into the school curriculum. It is also noteworthy that the educational authorities put emphasis on publicprivate sector cooperation. For the successful implementation of e-learning, along with the educational demand, the efforts on the supply side -- the development of good contents, the use and support of state-of-the- art technologies of the IT industry, and e-learning industry support -- should also be made. It is because those factors are closely related with each other. To this end, the MOE held an e-learning policy explanatory meeting last April for domestic companies in the IT industry. Of particular note, last month Kim Young-Shik, vice minister of MOE, paid a formal visit to the Silicon Valley in the U.S.A. and signed agreements with global companies such as Intel, Apple, and Sun Microsystems on the subject of educational cooperation. These efforts have been made to support e-learning for teachers at primary and middle schools as well as establishing a support system for business school educational programming. -- Interview
"We Seek to Join Hands with Global Companies in the IT Industry"
Q: Could you explain your joint business projects with global IT companies to promote e-learning
A: In an effort to promote e-learning, the MOE has joined forces with many global companies in the IT industry including Microsoft and Intel.
First of all, in April 2004 the MOE signed an MOU worth 15 billion won with Microsoft in order to bridge the information gap. Also, we have succeeded in attracting and hosting an international conference on teachertraining in the field of e-learning, which is scheduled to be held in November this year. Meanwhile, we have begun devising a u-learning business model in association with KT, Microsoft and Intel, and also formed an agreement with Sun Microsystems to establish information-intensive laboratories in our 21 business-oriented high schools. In particular, last May I myself visited Silicon Valley and signed an MOU with Sun Microsystems to participate in the GELC (Global Education and Learning Community), and made agreements with both Apple and Intel for joint educational projects.
Q: What are your major policies for this year to strengthen e-learning
A: Following the EBS education program to help schoolchildren pass the national learning ability test and online home schooling, we have begun working on a ubiquitous education business model this year. Furthermore, we are stepping up e-learning for high-level education and lifetime and vocational education.
Q: E-learning seems to bringing sweeping changes to Korean education. What are your expectations of e-learning
A: Surely e-learning is transforming the existing paradigm of education. It removes the limits of both time and space, making it possible to learn anywhere and anytime, and consequently heralding the advent of lifetime learning society. Another significant change is the transformation from "teacher-centered education" to "learner-oriented education." In addition, it also makes it possible to introduce self-directed learning and distance education, which are impossible in the off-line educational system.