Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Using an LMS in Teaching English: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Medical Sciences Students' Evaluations and Suggestions

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Using an LMS in Teaching English: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Medical Sciences Students' Evaluations and Suggestions

Article excerpt

Introduction

Electronic learning in the Iranian context was initiated at Shiraz University many years ago by the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (Safavi, 2007). Masoumi (2010) reports that many universities in the Iranian context have already launched electronic learning programs or are in the process of establishing such programs, describing the establishment of virtual learning as a "groundbreaking initiative in Iranian traditional higher education" (p. 240). Electronic learning provides students and academics with many applications and systems which support teaching and learning processes in virtual learning contexts at universities and other educational institutions. One of the web-based systems, which is widely used to make electronic learning happen, is Learning Management Systems (LMS). According to Motteram (2013), an LMS is an online system developed with the aim of enhancing educational processes. Counting the advantages of such a web-based system, Sayfouri (2016) notes that it helps both teachers and students by removing time and space limitations, and facilitating teamwork and exchange of information. Motteram (2013) also highlights considerable advantages teachers can gain from the web-based systems, saying that LMSs enable them to host a range of online resources and tools such as message boards.

Statement of the Problem and Purpose of the Study

LMSs are used in many Iranian medical universities to contribute to the enhancement and expansion of education. Zare, Sadrinia, and Rajabpoursanati (2015) report that compared to universities in the developed countries, universities in the Iranian context make limited use of LMSs, stressing that educational and information technology administrators in Iran should expand the uses of LMSs at the universities. Guilan University of Medical Sciences (GUMS), which is affiliated with Iran's Ministry of Heath, Treatment and Medical Education, has recently started using LMSs; developments in this area, however, are still at embryonic stages and the electronic systems have been used for few courses at the university. There is also a scarcity of research on discovering Iranian medical students' evaluations of using such webbased systems for educational purposes in general and for teaching and learning English in particular. Moreover, the literature is lacking in studies discovering students' suggestions for improving the educational usability of LMSs. Still another gap in this area is that despite the abundance of quantitative studies (Feizabadi, Aliabadi, & Nili-Ahmadabadi 2016; Hemati & Mojarrad, 2016; Yaghoubi, Mohammadi, Iravani, Attaran, & Gheidi, 2008) investigating different aspects of employing electronic learning at universities, there is a paucity of qualitative research delving into college students' lived experiences of using LMSs. Conducting such qualitative research will contribute to the discovery of students' views, problems, expectations, and needs in this area. A qualitative study enables us to collect firsthand data from students through gathering their descriptions and explanations of their unique experiences and analyzing and interpreting their experiences. Researching the suitability of the systems for educational purposes, finding out their drawbacks, and collecting students' suggestions for improving the usability of LMSs can pave the way for broad adoption of the web-based systems at universities. With regard to the usability and suitability of the webbased systems, Green, Inan, and Denton (2012) underscore the necessity of evaluating the potential of LMSs so that the effectiveness and structure of the systems can be improved. Shayan and Iscioglu (2017), for instance, investigated the use of LMSs at two Iranian universities of Payamnoor and Farhangian, noting, "It is crucial to have a better understanding of Iranian students' needs, requirements, and expectations to optimize the LMS" (p. 1877). Students are one of the stakeholders in educational and academic institutions; therefore, discovering their views about the usability of electronic technologies, including LMSs, used in the educational processes gains the utmost significance. …

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