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Distance learning offers home access to education resources for people living on offshore islands and remote areas

Distance learning offers home access to education resources for people living on offshore islands and remote areas
The fast-developing Internet technology offers large amounts of information, changing the way we live. Our lives are becoming more and more connected to the Internet, and so is education. Virtual learning is the future education trend, with science and technology incorporated into learning. The convenience brought by the Internet has solved many educational problems.

Though Taiwan is not big, it is still difficult for those living in offshore islands and remote areas to have access to resources and information, making it relatively difficult for teachers located there to further their studies or obtain information. Taking advantage of the Internet, the Ministry of Education in 2004 began helping these primary and secondary school teachers to further their studies through distance learning. With distance learning course design and through the convenience brought by computers and the Internet, the inconvenience experienced by teachers living in Penghu, Little Liuqiu, Orchid Island, Green Island, Kinmen and Mazu has been eliminated. They now have better access to techniques relating to incorporating information into learning and are able to improve schoolchildren's learning performance.

The Program to Provide Primary and Secondary School Teachers on Offshore Islands and Remote Areas with Training in Distance Learning by the Computer Center of the Ministry of Education strives to make good use of digital learning in an effort to break down the barriers posed by time and space, raise people's ability to make use of information, and emphasize science and technology in learning. In addition, it endeavors to make resources and teaching materials available for people to share and create a professional learning social group. The distance learning courses offered by the Ministry include Trends and Applications of Digital Learning, Management of the Internet and Platform Systems, Theory and Practice of the Running of Online Courses, Internet Life, and etc. The Program aims to raise teachers' ability in using the Internet and applying what they have learned to teaching, in order to bring a larger variety of learning stimuli to students and narrow the divide between urban and rural areas.

Sharing digital resources on the Internet

Digital learning helps to raise a country's competitiveness. To achieve the goal of "education for all" and "lifelong learning", the Ministry will implement the Program for Training Primary and Secondary School Teachers to Use Information and Prepare and Promote Digital Learning Courses. By preparing common course materials for the training of digital learning, teachers in different cities, counties and areas can study the materials at the time of their choosing. In 2008, course materials for nine subjects falling into three categories - information ethics, information incorporated into learning and information skills - shall be prepared. In the future, certified digital learning teaching materials shall be placed on the platform websites designated by the Ministry for use by primary and secondary school teachers nationwide.

Currently, the Ministry is offering a series of digital learning exemplary courses on the topic "Environmental Change and Sustainable Development" and encourages teachers from primary schools to colleges to use the course materials on the website in classroom and designing teaching modules. So far, teachers from 12 colleges are using the digital course on the "Environmental Change and Sustainable Development" webpage to conduct teaching. They share student homework and teacher experience with each other through interactive design, online discussion, role-play and subject research.

In the future, the Ministry will develop and promote a digital learning platform, and establish a network for teaching groups to allow teachers across the country to better themselves through a series of digital courses, and to diversify and enrich the courses so that students will be interested in the courses.

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