Student Perceptions and Opinions toward E-Learning in the College Environment

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Distance or electronic learning (E-learning) has become very popular on university and other academic campuses. Various distance learning technologies are being utilized for the delivery of courses and entire degree programs. With the advancement of instructional technology in education, both the courses and the duties of instructors are changing. Researchers have called for more attention to end-users' perceptions and satisfaction with online courses and the effectiveness of such offerings. This research surveys 113 business students in regards to perceptions concerning and satisfaction with distance education. The survey showed 88% reporting a positive E-learning experience and 79%) would recommend E-learning courses to others. Eighty-eight percent would participate in E-learning courses in the future. Concerns were expressed over lack of communication with the instructor and other students. Younger students desired more contact with other students. Females desired better communication with instructors and clearer instructions.

INTRODUCTION

During the last few decades, the world has undergone significant changes in terms of technological advancements and the exchange of information. Advancements in information and communication technology led to distance learning becoming a focus of global attention (Pye, 1999). As a result of an increasingly competitive environment due to tightening budgets and lower enrollments, universities must continually review their curriculum and the methods by which instruction is delivered to students. Universities have tried to increase enrollment numbers, decrease the number of extra-hire teachers and offer a more flexible schedule to people seeking education and training (Zapalska, Shao, & Shao, 2003). This trend has resulted in educational institutions reaching students in remote locations and allocating the costs and expertise across multiple locations. The growth of part-time, non-residential, non-traditional students has fueled the demand for distance options. Due to these developments being fairly recent phenomena, little research exists investigating the effectiveness of, and student reaction to, distance education.

With changes in the economy, many college students have been forced to complete their degrees by non-traditional methods. One method of obtaining the required courses for a college degree is by participating in a distance learning environment. Many non-traditional students work full-time in addition to having to juggle the demands of family, find time to attend class, and prepare assignments. Distance learning is education that is accessible at a time, place, location, and pace that is convenient to the user. The most commonly used distance education tool would be e-learning (online) courses. "E-learning", in simple terms, is Electronic Learning or any learning facilitated by electronic means which would include computer-based training (CBT) with modules, CD-ROM training, web-enabled, and Internet learning (Thomas & Cunningham, 2002). E-learning courses provide the student with an opportunity to continue their education or pursue personal and career development without a rigid schedule of assignments and class meetings. The online format offers the student a great deal of flexibility in terms of when they study, how they study, and how quickly they cover and master the material.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Because e-learning can be cost effective when compared to the traditional learning methods, more businesses and universities are using e-learning courses to teach their employees and students anything from company policies to new skills necessary for professional development. They are reducing expenditures by not having to distribute the course by paper or CD-ROM to all of the employees and by not having to send their employees to training centers, which automatically reduces or eliminates food, lodging, and travel expenses (Pallatto, 2002). …