The use of the Internet at most universities worldwide has introduced a dramatic change in the traditional method of delivering instruction. This was not the case just a few years ago. Through an empirical analysis, this paper examines the attitudes of undergraduate students with regard to their experience in an Internet-based class in the United States. The findings indicated that the students found the Internet-based course very convenient and it encouraged them to use technology both in their academic and professional careers. The findings of the study will also provide academic institutions in other countries with information regarding the effectiveness of this approach.
Internet-based tools have significantly enhanced the ability to impart knowledge not only in the traditional classroom setting but also through the concept of distance education. Distance education is increasingly found across institutions of higher learning worldwide. For instance, the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) was established in January 1987 by the principals of Europe's major distance teaching institutions. The EADTU was created to promote cooperation between European organizations dedicated to higher education through distant teaching methodology. The organization consists of 19 countries collectively providing distance education programs to over 900,000 students (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, 2003).
Researchers have found that learners retain approximately 20 percent of what they hear and approximately 40 percent of what they hear and see, and approximately 75 percent of what they hear, see and do (Petty & Rosen, 1987). With regard to distance education, students hear, see and continually utilize the technologies, rather than simply watching an instructor use the technology in a traditional classroom. In the Internet-based class used in our study, the technology tool was WebCT. WebCT, Inc. is a provider of distance media for higher education (WebCT Inc, 2003). The methods by which the student participated in the class were as follows: Internet-based exams were given; writing assignments were submitted via email attachment and were graded and returned via email attachment to the student. Discussions were conducted through threaded discussion and live chat rooms. While participation in an Internet-based class may appear somewhat static on the surface, our study revealed that virtual classrooms can actually be very dynamic environments that require a somewhat different skill set than the traditional classroom (Dwyer, Barbieri, & Doerr, May 2002).
This paper investigates student perceptions of Internet-based learning in a required Management of Information Systems class. The study examines the observations of undergraduate students with regard to their experiences in an Internet-based class, their attitudes toward functioning as member of this class, their perceptions of learning outcomes, and whether the class was a positive or negative learning experience. As universities worldwide strive to make decisions regarding the appropriateness of Internet-based instruction, the findings of our study provide administrators and instructors with information regarding the effectiveness of a distance learning approach.
An Internet-based Approach
Virtual classrooms exist routinely at most universities. With the addition of Internet-based classes, universities are able to grow their student bodies to virtually limitless boundaries. However, this scenario can lead to other problems such as qualified faculty, technological infrastructure and the financial resources to serve the off-campus student (Ryder & Wilson, 1996).
There are many complicating factors as traditional universities strive to create virtual classrooms and to serve the masses (Serwatka, 2002). In most universities, traditional classroom instructors are encouraged to become instructors of Internet-based classes. …