Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Assessing the Acceptance of a Blended Learning University Course

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Assessing the Acceptance of a Blended Learning University Course

Article excerpt

Introduction

During the recent years, a significant volume of research on the effective use and integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education practices is observed. The main feature that differentiates the e- learning systems from the 'traditional' learning environments is the degree of technology usage and the gradual shift of control and responsibility of the learning process to the learners, giving them the opportunity to learn anytime, anywhere. This shift of control seems to positively influence the learning effectiveness of learners (Chou & Liu, 2005). In this context, sociocultural theories influence considerably the learning procedure and have strengthened the perceptions of the educational community towards adoption and effective integration of open and distance learning (ODL) systems in the educational process (Duffy & Kirkley, 2004).

In the latter, a series of important questions emerge, mainly related to the study of the appropriate teaching methods, the effective design of the technological infrastructure and the appropriate design of the interaction of students with the e-learning platform (Duffy & Kirkley, 2004; Soloway, Guzdial, & Hay, 1994; Tselios, Avouris, Dimitracopoulou, & Daskalaki, 2001; Tselios, Avouris, & Komis, 2008b; Tselios, Katsanos, Kahrimanis, & Avouris, 2008a). The last dimension depends largely on the earlier representations, attitudes and perceptions of the learning community's members. In particular, students' personal beliefs and attitudes towards web-based education constitute a critical factor to the successful incorporation and adoption of such systems in the learning practices of an institution. Not surprisingly, an increasing number of studies have examined various factors that influence users' attitudes towards using an e-learning system (Liaw, 2008; Liaw, Huang, & Chen, 2007; Lin, 2007; Ong & Lai, 2006; van Raaij & Schepers, 2007; Selim, 2003). The technology acceptance model (TAM, Davis 1989), adapted from the theory of reasoned action (TRA, Fishbein, 1980), has been used as the theoretical basis for many empirical studies of users' technology acceptance (Behrens, Jamieson, Jones, & Cranston, 2005; Loukis, Georgiou, & Pazalos, 2007; Ngai, Poon, & Chan, 2007). According to TAM the acceptance of an e-learning system could be assessed by examining the perceived usefuleness and ease of use. Davis (1989, p. 320) defined perceived usefulness as 'the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance his/her job performance'. Perceived ease of use is defined as 'the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free of physical and mental effort' ( Davis, 1989, p. 320).

Venkatesh and Davis (1996) observed that computer self-efficacy acts as a strong predictor of perceived ease of use both before and after actual system use. However, measured systems' usability was found to be a predictor of perceived ease of use only after direct experience with a system. As a result, they concluded that users based their perceptions regarding ease of use on computer self-efficacy before hands-on system use. Usability was also found to be a fundamental factor towards success and adoption of an e-learning system (Liaw, 2008). However, e-learning is relatively new and electronic learners constitute a stakeholder group with specific characteristics. In addition, e-learning has fundamental differences compared to typical productivity software (Soloway et al., 1994). Thus, existing variables of TAM cannot fully reflect learners' motives, requiring an investigation for additional intrinsic motivation factors. The learners are not domain experts, therefore cannot assess precisely the utility of an e-learning system. Furthermore, even the learners' motivation to learn should not be taken for granted (Soloway et al., 1994). The latter was investigated by Roca and Gagne' (2008) which examined the relationships between Self Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000) and TAM factors. …

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