Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Learning Management System Success: Increasing Learning Management System Usage in Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Learning Management System Success: Increasing Learning Management System Usage in Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Learning Management Systems (LMS) are now installed in the majority of higher education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. These web-based LMS are intended to support teaching and learning activities. They consist of various features that enable faculty members to share learning materials as well as providing interaction with their students both synchronously and asynchronously (Vovides et al. 2007). The most widely adopted LMS in the region are Blackboard, Sakai, KEWL, and Moodle (Unwin et al. 2010).

Institutions use the LMS to supplement traditional face-to-face delivery where faculty members develop and share digital learning materials via the Internet. In this case, the LMS are used as an electronic repositories of learning materials (Vovides et al. 2007). Other institutions especially those offering distance education, have been combining LMS with traditional face-to-face delivery in order to reach more learners across various geographical boundaries (Andersson & Grönlund 2009).

In light of these benefits, the adoption of LMS by higher education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa has continued to increase in recent years. Adkins (2013) predicted that LMS adoption will grow at the rate of 15% per annum between 2011 and 2016 in Africa. The increased adoption is further facilitated by the support of several international agencies such as the World Bank (WB), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), African Development Bank Group (AfDB), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (Farrell & Isaacs 2007). These agencies have been committing various resources to support institutions in adopting and implementing various LMS.

For example, AfDB provided a grant of $15.6 million to African Virtual University (AVU) to support various eLearning initiatives in the region (Adkins 2013). The grant was planned to help 31 partner institutions to build eLearning centers, train content developers, and deploy LMS. Similarly, the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) supported seven institutions in sub-Saharan Africa to implement various eLearning projects including the LMS.

LMS have been successfully implemented in many institutions of developed countries. They have managed to improve students' learning performance, reduce students' dropout rates, and they have increased students' satisfaction with offered courses (Naveh et al. 2012). Institutions in subSaharan Africa have been adopting them in a bid to gain similar benefits as their counterparts elsewhere. However, the context of sub-Saharan Africa is different and institutions face different challenges from those faced by institutions in the developed countries. As a result, the adoption and implementation of these systems do not guarantee that institutions will enjoy similar benefits as those institutions in the developed countries.

Therefore, this study aims to investigate whether the adoption of LMS are fulfilling their potential through analyzing the literature published on LMS usage from across the region. The article concludes by proposing strategies that can help institutions make more effective use of their LMS. It is important to ensure that LMS implemented in sub-Saharan Africa are successful given the fact that any failures of LMS implementations are likely to be high on account of the limited availability of resources (Heeks 2002).

MEASURING LMS SUCCESS

Studies of LMS adoption tend to use similar metrics to those used to measure information systems success. Since LMS are a special type of information systems focusing on teaching and learning (Wang et al. 2007), it is not surprising that such metrics are used. In this regard, the success of an LMS adoption at a given institution can be measured in different ways. Some studies have measured the success of LMS through measuring learners' satisfaction with the system (Wang 2003; Shee & Wang 2008; Tella 2012). …

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