The Antecedents of E-Learning Outcome: An Examination of System Quality, Technology Readiness, and Learning Behavior

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INTRODUCTION

The development of the Internet and computer technology has generated a breakthrough in time and geographical limitations of learning. Many developed countries such as England, Germany, and the United States have gradually integrated information technology into educational settings to support teaching and learning since the 1980s (Starr & Milheim, 1996). In developing countries such as Taiwan, e-learning has gained public awareness since 2000 through the popularity of educational resources websites, such as EduCities (www.educities.edu.tw) and Etoe (etoe.edu.tw). According to Lee, Tseng, Liu, and Liu (2007), e-learning can be used as a supplemental learning tool in support of conventional teaching (e.g., face-to-face instruction), or as a stand-alone means of facilitating individualized learning (e.g., distance education). Both methods aim to improve students' learning efficiency and effectiveness.

Due to the increasing pressure on the formal educational system at all levels in keeping with the 21st century and the global trends of educational reform, Taiwan's government has recognized the urgency for educational change in order to sustain the overall quality of education and national competitiveness. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has therefore initiated curricular and instructional reforms in elementary and junior high school education. According to MOE (1997), the reformed curriculum aims to equip students with knowledge and skills for developing lifelong learning capabilities. Thus, one of the ten core objectives is to help students utilize current technology. Furthermore, since 2006 MOE has dictated that information technology (IT) and related courses be incorporated into grades 1 to 9 curricula. However, many shortcomings have surfaced in the process, such as the short life cycles of information and communication technology, extensive investment in IT infrastructures, lack of teaching and learning support, lack of computer literacy of teachers and students, and slow or little learning outcome (National Science & Technology Program Office for e-Learning, 2006).

Past research indicates that the factors that influence the outcome of e-learning include student characteristics, such as proactive personality and learning goal orientation (Kickul & Kickul, 2006), learning strategy (Santhanam, Sasidharan, & Webster, 2008), learning motivation (Meissonier, Houze, Benbya, & Belbaly, 2006), effective or appropriate e-learning environment (Gregg, 2007; Wangpipatwong & Papasratorn, 2007), technology acceptance, and system quality (Chang & Tung, 2008). With regard to learning behavior, there is much research on students' attitudes (Sun & Willson, 2008), instructional technology (Wang, 2008), learning resources (Ouyang & Zhu, 2008), learning resources (Ouyang & Zhu, 2008), learning environment (Leung & Fung, 2005), learning methods (Wen & Stefanou, 2007), group collaboration (Webb, Nemer, & Ing, 2006). In addition, a number of studies have found a correlation between learning behavior and learning outcome (e.g., Koopmans, Doornbos, & van Eekelen, 2006; KSnings, Brand-Gruwel, & van Merrienboer, 2005; Leung & Fung, 2005). However, beyond general assertations that the quality of the e-learning system and students' technology readiness and online behavior will lead to positive learning outcome, existing literature offers no testable theoretical model to explain this connection. As "noted, this study attempts to determine which factors result in positive learning outcome through the proposal and empirical validation of a theoretical model. The model incorporates four major dimensions, namely (1) e-learning system quality (eLSQ), (2) students' technology readiness (TR), (3) leadership behavior (LB), and (4) learning outcome (LO). A structural equation modeling approach was employed to test this model.

LITERATURE REVIEW

E-learning System Quality and Learning Behavior

Over the past decade, innovation in educational technology has provided for more online cooperative learning behavior (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). …