“Developing industry, setting down deep value roots,” special interview with Professor Chen Guo-dong, director of the TELDAP, Industrial Development and Promotion of Digital Archives and e-Learning Project返回電子報
“Developing industry, setting down deep value roots,” special interview with Professor Chen Guo-dong, director of the TELDAP, Industrial Development and Promotion of Digital Archives and e-Learning Project
TELDAP has a large archive and substantial R&D results. How can industrial development thinking be used to encourage more e-learning & cultural, and creative industries to utilize digital archives and e-learning results so business opportunities are created and knowledge value increased? The TELDAP newsletter editorial team is very proud to have an opportunity to interview the director of TELDAP’s Division Project 5, Industrial Development and Promotion of Digital Archives and e-Learning Project, Professor Chen Guo-dong of National Central University who will share his thoughts on and observations about e-learning and digital archives industrial development. Prof. Chen pointed out by supporting the e-learning and digital archives industry the value contained within will set down firm roots in society and then grow strong.
TELDAP newsletter(T below): Director Chen, you have been working to promote e-learning and the industry since the days of the Taiwan E-learning National Project. Would you like to share any of your experiences during the implementation of the project with us? Director Chen：The director of stage 1 Taiwan E-learning National Project Vice President (of Academia Sinica) Liu Chao-han said at the start that he hoped the e-learning industry could be established so that e-learning could set down firm roots in Taiwan. When the results of our IT and teaching integration research are only exchanged between academics, the influence of research on society and industry will be limited. If the research results of academia and the talent trained can be utilized by industry then we will have a positive influence on industry and society. If the overseas e-learning industry is directly introduced into Taiwan, on the one hand the opinions in Taiwan and overseas of e-learning differ and this will create a cultural barrier and, on the other, the price will not meet out costs requirements, therefore in the early stages of the implementation of the program we hoped to establish an e-learning industry and market in Taiwan. We carried out a survey of the output value of the e-learning industry in Taiwan at the time, and it was only NT$700 million. We realized that actually e-learning is a new kind of service needs to combine three kinds of talent - IT, teaching, and specialized knowledge talent. If we implement e-learning for the Department of Health (DOH) the undertaking company needs to have health knowledge to meet the particular needs of the DOH. This means that e-learning requires a grasp of various kinds of know how. Any organization wanting to implement e-learning, whether it is the Commission for Hakka Affairs, the Council for Cultural Affairs or a university, has its own requirements. For a vibrant industry to develop an initial market is very important. No purpose is served by suppliers failing to survive. The financial support we provided in the early days of the project was not given directly to companies, it was used to stimulate demand. We encouraged the government to introduce the e-learning concept and, through this, provided suppliers with a chance to win business. Through the implementation of various government department e-learning cases, suppliers were able to accumulate basic cultural, financial and public administration knowledge. After the second financial reform quite a few financial institution merged and institutions that previously only provided loans had to know about shares and funds, requiring operators to quickly learn about areas of work they were unfamiliar with. We encouraged the financial and other industries to establish an e-learning platform to serve as an internal training course to enlarge the e-learning market. This also allowed e-learning suppliers to acquire different types of know how. In the process of completing these e-learning cases, suppliers received the revenue they needed for early-stage development and also acquired the knowledge that would help them grow in the future. In the e-learning development process we also found that many courses, resources and platforms could actually be shared, so it was necessary to build a domestic operating standard. ADL SCORM from the US was chosen. Of course we couldn’t insist that suppliers follow this standard, however, if they wanted to win government contracts or receive subsidies we hoped that they would design e-learning services in accordance with ADL SCORM, in this way increasing the standard’s market share. Institute for Information Industry (III) also developed a suite of programs to assist suppliers adopt this standard. Then, when we were promoting the value of e-learning contents to government departments and society more widely we became aware of the importance of service quality. If you sell a poor quality product you lose trust so we pushed an e-learning quality certification to the projects cooperating with the Taiwan E-learning National Project and, while controlling the quality of teaching material contents and learning service, promoted the e-learning concept to the public, winning their trust. After standing firmly in the domestic market we began to look further afield, however, it was not enough for us to tell people how good Taiwan’s e-learning products were — like every potter praise his own pot. Our strategy was encouraging suppliers to take certified products to compete in international competitions and they performed well and won quite a few awards. Supported by the ADL standard, national certification and international awards, suppliers found it easier to win the trust of customers in the overseas market. Today e-learning suppliers from Taiwan have set down roots in China, Japan and South Korea and India. In terms of e-learning in formal higher education we still have room for progress. We have developed some distance learning courses and in the future aim to establish an e-learning center in northern, central, southern and eastern Taiwan to assist with the promotion of e-learning in higher education. As for formal national compulsory education, e-learning has not yet developed due to a lack of local government education funds. Perhaps the introduction of e-learning to formal education can be a future objective. What benefits can the application of e-learning bring to formal education? One is that it can help nurture national digital literacy and another is that it can reduce the city-countryside knowledge gap, by allowing kids in remote places have the same classes as kids in cities, compensating for the shortage of teachers and resources. When teaching materials and technology are mature we can even, through a distance learning platform, allow students in Taiwan to have classes together with students overseas, nurturing the international view of our young students. I really hope that in future e-learning is extensively applied in formal education. Also, e-learning has a role to play in supplementary “cram school” education. Sometimes students can’t attend cram school classes in person or the teacher can’t get to a remote school on time, so the distance unlimited time learning services that e-learning provide will help cram school education by solving these above problems. We have a hope. The OLPC (One Laptop Each Child) concept is actually closely connected to digital learning. A US$100 PC has still to be developed but a US$300 on is already in the market and is made in Taiwan. Taiwan is a major producer of ICT (Information Communication Technologies). If e-learning and digital education can continue to develop and Taiwan’s ICT design and production advantages are applied, making Taiwan a world model for educational application of ICT, that would be excellent. However, some basic things have to be clarified about the US$100 PC and e-learning. Every child having a PC is not a successful end to the story. After each has a PC close cooperation is required between schools, students and parents so that students are provide with high quality digital content. With regards to the future development of the e-learning industry, we first hope that suppliers can grow and become large because this is the only way they will get a chance to show what they can do in the international market. Another focal point is integration of hardware and software. For example, the Ministry of Education has set aside NT$7 billion for the purchase of white boards, but how are teachers supposed to learn how to use them? Are there enough contents for white boards for teachers to use? Can whiteboards be combined with existing textbooks, making learning more lively and effective? Do regulations of the Procurement Law support e-learning. For example, we can buy whiteboards and PCs but there is no law that allows schools to procure software and e-learning contents. This is a pity. The aforementioned problems need to be considered. Chinese language (Huayu) e-learning also offers opportunities. In recent years China has opened a large number of Confucius Centers all over the world and this has helped create a wave of interest in learning Chinese. Taiwan has an advantage in the Chinese e-learning market because Taiwan’s official language is Chinese and also our ICT industry is renowned throughout the world, which means that Taiwan enjoys a relatively high level of trust in the market. Taiwan has domestic demand but it is not large. I think the overseas Chinese language e-learning market is a very good opportunity for e-learning suppliers. T: How does the e-learning industry alliance interact with TELDAP? What kind of role is TELDAP playing in the development of the e-learning industry? Director Chen: The e-learning industry alliance can be described as an organization was spontaneously formed by industry suppliers. It is a window through which we understand the opinions of the e-learning industry and its directions and needs, and what they would like the government do to help them. TELDAP is an inter-government department program and can carry out some integration work, however, we hope this value promotion is carried out by industry because this is the source of life for their long term operation. Otherwise we will spend a lot of money on research, recruit teachers, teach a large number of students and nurture talent, but where are these students and talent to go? The industry has to grow to be able to employ these people. (To be continued)