Academic journal article Research in Learning Technology

Predictors of Perceived Importance and Acceptance of Digital Delivery Modes in Higher Education

Academic journal article Research in Learning Technology

Predictors of Perceived Importance and Acceptance of Digital Delivery Modes in Higher Education

Article excerpt


Predictors of perceived importance and acceptance of digital delivery modes in higher education

Anne Mertens*, Joachim Stöter and Olaf Zawacki-Richter

Department of Continuing Education and Educational Management, School of Education and Social Sciences, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany

(Received 13 November 2013;final version received 17 March 2014;Published: 15 April 2014 )


Teaching and assessment in higher education institutions are increasingly supported by digital tools and services. Students, however, perceive and value the importance of such e-learning offerings in very diverse ways. The goal of this article is to examine which predictors significantly influence students' perceptions of the value of digital learning formats. Based on Küpper's acceptance model, we generate hypotheses that are subsequently tested using data from a German student survey. The results show that individual-related characteristics, especially motivation and orientation patterns of students, have a high impact on the perceived importance of digital learning formats. Our analyses indicate that besides individual performance and motivation, the practical orientation of a student is also a key predictor for a high rating of the importance of digital learning formats. An analysis of characteristics regarding the field of study shows that students who major in economic sciences, especially those who frequently work with digital learning formats in their classes, find them significantly more important than students who major in social science. Regarding innovation-based characteristics, students who express a need for flexible course offerings rate the use of digital learning formats as particularly important. The discussion provides an evaluation of the results of the student study based on the hypotheses and presents further implications.

Keywords: digital learning formats; online learning; online learner characteristics; motivation; perceived benefit

*Corresponding author. Email:

Research in Learning Technology 2014. © 2014 A. Mertens et al. Research in Learning Technology is the journal of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), a UK-based professional and scholarly society and membership organisation. ALT is registered charity number 1063519. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.

Citation: Research in Learning Technology 2014, 22 : 23342 -


Online learning as a learning format has become increasingly important at universities (Allen and Seaman 2013). Various reasons prompt the implementation of online-learning platforms or tools in higher education institutions, for example, pedagogical and strategic considerations, as well as public funding programmes, which serve as an extrinsic motivation or promoting the reputation of the institution (Kreidl 2011). Flexibility regarding location and time are specific strengths of digital learning formats (Gerlach 2005); furthermore, some studies refer to positive effects concerning the participation, motivation and learning success of students (Beschorner 2008; Landfried 2008). Today's students are seen as being particularly media savvy and open to dealing with information technologies, compared to their non-student contemporaries (Kleimann, Özkilic, and Göcks 2008). Furthermore, a connection has been established between a high level of education and high internet usage (TNS EMNID 2012). However, learning using a selection of new media and tools also presents challenges for students: they are expected to have the skills for self-directed learning and self-organisation, a high level of autonomy, and an active association with new media, like digital learning formats or online-learning platforms (Zawacki-Richter 2004). …

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