Athens 2004 Team Leaders' Attitudes toward the Educational Multimedia Application "Leonidas"

Article excerpt

Introduction

Technology offers a promising resource (via computer networks, distance learning systems, multimedia software, and video materials) for training staff and volunteers, sharing information about promising practices, and reducing the isolation of many programs. The new technologies offer ways of individualizing instruction to meet the needs of types of learners and potentially to reach all types of learners in ways they learn best.

So, is there any value added by using technology in adult education? As with so many other innovations, the value is not intrinsic, but rather depends on how and for what purposes one uses the innovation. Simply adding technology without challenging ourselves to do things we could not do before, or to do them differently, is meaningless at best, and very expensive at worst. On the other hand, technology applications and activities that lead to expanded opportunities for learning can only help adult learners acquire the skills and mastery of tools to support independent, lifelong learning.

Multimedia computer-assisted instruction (MCAI) is increasingly being used as a means of delivering educational content in organizations training. Efficiency, portability, consistency, and effectiveness have all been cited as reasons for employing this technology in the company's educational environment. These visual learning symbols, pictures, and other representative techniques allow students to go deeper into ideas and concepts (Chandler, 2003).

However, the rapid growth of multimedia implementation in learning settings does not guarantee participation and acceptance on the part of employees. Negative attitudes towards multimedia-based instruction could be a deterrent to using multimedia technology as a learning tool. Therefore, the thoughts, tendencies and attitudes of the learners' towards these tools are needed to be determined (Becker and Maunsaiyat, 2002; Christensen and Knezek, 2000; Isman and Dabaj, 2004; Selwyn, 1997).

Awareness of employees' attitudes toward MCAI is a critical criterion in the evaluation of multimedia courses and in the development of multimedia computer-assisted curricula. Attitudes toward multimedia-enhanced instruction are considered to influence not only the acceptance of this medium of instruction, but also future behaviors in the learning process. For this reason, the promotion and maintenance of positive attitudes toward MCAI is of paramount importance. Negative attitudes must not be allowed to limit the knowledge and creativity of learners, nor anxiety to interfere with the learning process. If the utilization of multimedia teaching/learning environments is to be maximized, attitudes toward these learning settings must be continuously monitored. Fast, effective instruments to assess attitudes toward multimedia instruction are crucial to this process.

There is a wealth of computer attitude scales available in the literature. Many instruments have been developed with the purpose of measuring computer anxiety, computer usage, computer appreciation, and other computer-related attitudes (Jones and Clarke, 1994; Kay, 1993; Selwyn, 1997). There are a number of studies which provide useful empirical comparisons of available computer attitude scales (Gardner, Discenza & Dukes, 1993; Woodrow, 1991). All the previous references to existing surveys focus on general attitudinal parameters rather than on in-depth attitude- related dimensions. Besides, all the surveys reviewed explore learners' attitudes towards computers, and none of them elicit students' perceptions toward multimedia instruction as such.

Garcia (2001) reported a practical, multi-dimensional, easy-to-administer research tool specifically intended to assess the attitude of learners towards multimedia-enhanced instruction. The specificity of this 25-item instrument constituted a powerful tool for the assessment of student attitudes towards multimedia technology when this was used for educational purposes. …