Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Personal Learning Environments Acceptance Model: The Role of Need for Cognition, E-Learning Satisfaction and Students' Perceptions

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Personal Learning Environments Acceptance Model: The Role of Need for Cognition, E-Learning Satisfaction and Students' Perceptions

Article excerpt


Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), particularly Internet and mobile technologies, have been widely adopted by young generations for social purposes in Western countries, for instance, the USA (Pew Research Center, 2010) and Spain (AIMC, 2013). The so-called Web 2.0 or Social Web services play a paramount role in this adoption since they have surpassed the technical and economic barriers to create, share and distribute digital contents through a broad variety of devices (from smartphones to tablets and video-consoles).

The educational sector has reacted to these socio-technical changes by experimenting in the application of ICTs in education (Lee, 2010), resulting in an increased adoption of e-Learning platforms and, less frequently, Web 2.0 services. These services are claimed to be effective in connecting people and resources, facilitating interaction, fostering collaboration and active participation and aiding opportunities for critical thinking, among others (Romero-Frias & Arquero, 2013; Ajjan & Hartshorne, 2008; Mason, 2006; Selwyn, 2007). The open and distributed nature of most of these services expedites environments for informal and emergent learning. Nevertheless, the complex scenario created requires the teachers' creativity and flexibility to incorporate these novelties into formal settings.

Platforms specifically designed for e-Learning, such as Moodle or Blackboard, are more focused on institutional course design or instructor needs; whereas Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is an approach to integrate a consciously different sort of practices and resources (i.e., commonly used Web 2.0 services) to solve personal learning needs. It represents a more flexible approach focused on students' needs (Attwell, 2007). From this idea, an educational experiment was designed to help students to develop their PLEs by using a set of tools and services that cover basic functions in their learning process. However, in order to evaluate the potential success of any educational design based on novel technologies, it is necessary to understand the users' attitudes and their level of acceptance of this kind of technology for learning (Teo, 2010).

The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM, Davis, Bagozzi & Warshaw, 1989) has been widely used in education to evaluate Learning Management Systems (LMS)--technological systems that are generally based on closed environments specifically designed for learning. However, our PLE approach established on general use 2.0 tools represents a significant difference since it is designed to help students to develop autonomous and sustainable learning resources based on open interactions and personal needs. To our knowledge, there is no analysis about technology acceptance in this sort of open environments.

Therefore, this study aims to develop an extended TAM model for a PLE experience, integrating variables that could improve the predictive power of the model in this kind of experiences--learning satisfaction (Del Barrio, Romero-Frias & Arquero, 2013) and the perceived impact of the experience on key dimensions of the students' learning process- and take intrinsic human factors into account (Sanchez-Franco, 2010), such as the students' need for cognition (NFC; Cacioppo & Petty, 1982). We refer to this theoretical model design to open digital environments as Learning 2.0 system acceptance. By doing so, we intend to understand the factors that determine PLE acceptance in order to improve the design of this sort of proposals.

Theoretical background

According to the previous introduction, our theoretical background is focused on: (1) Personal Learning Environments and the Web 2.0 technologies, (2) the TAM model in education and (3) our extension of the model.

Educational literature: Personal learning environments and the Web 2.0 technologies

The pedagogical approach adopted in this educational experience is based on social constructivism (Brown & Adler, 2008; Sturm et al. …

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