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Addressing student perception of E-learning challenges in Higher Education holistic quality approach

Uppal, M. A. (2017) Addressing student perception of E-learning challenges in Higher Education holistic quality approach. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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E-learning is a significant model of learning, but questions are being raised about the trade-offs in switching from traditional classroom-based learning to e-learning; for example, e-learning is cost-effective, provides round the clock accessible and convenience, but there are questions raised about its quality and effectiveness. E-learning facilitates the delivery of education and training to anyone, anytime and anywhere. The development and delivery of e-learning materials, by several organisations, and higher education institutions is under-pinned by a desire to solve authentic teaching, learning, and problems. The success of e-learning, however, depends, in part, on how learning takes place, that is, the underlying pedagogy; and the real value of e-Learning lies in the ability to deploy its elements to train the right people to gain the right knowledge and skills at the right time. Many recent efforts have been made to use e-learning system in developing countries across the world, as e-learning can play a vital role in helping governments reach their ambitious educational targets; but despite strong benefits, the overall adoption of e-learning has remained low as there remains a low perceived effectiveness of e-learning approaches. This research argues that low adoption is due to e-learning being wrongly pushed as a technology solution in order to increase low-cost access to education. We propose that, in order to be successful, in addition to technology, e-learning has to deliver the high perception of quality pedagogical teaching and learning material. A well-designed e-learning system should have customised learning content, which is developed in the appropriate language with the right amount of interactivity, and delivered in the right format to be able to support the quality perception of learners. If learners perceive the learning experience to be of high quality, then they would be more satisfied with the content and would be more likely to adopt and advocate the system in the future. The aim of this research is to identify and analyse critical issues that are hindering e-learning systems implementation. This research quantitative research investigates the impact of pedagogy on the quality perception of e-learning; with data collected using questionnaire surveys. Using a quantitative method approach, this thesis combines three interconnected objectives: Objective 1 relates to investigating the effect of delivery modes on the quality perception of elearning data from a sample of 475 university students; to understand their preference concerning different delivery modes for different e-learning quality dimensions. The findings reveal that, when considering the perception of e-learning quality, if the e-learning system is provided in full audio/video format, it has a positive correlation with responsiveness, learning content and course website. This means students, associate the e-learning system quality with the media format in which the learning content is provided. When the learning content is provided in full audio/video, students perceive it to be of better quality. This supports the ‘multimedia principle’ proposed by Mayer (1997). Secondly, if the course website components are available in multimedia, student perception of quality also improves. Similarly, one of the dimensions of SERVQUAL, i.e. responsiveness, also improves, if multimedia is provided. This means that within an e-learning system if responses to the learner are provided in a multimedia form, they perceive it to be of significantly higher quality. Therefore, when designing and developing e-learning systems, educators and/or providers must consider these aspects to maximise system quality perception. Objective 2 relates to our investigating the effect that language has on the quality perception of e-learners. From our experiment, it has been found that university students (in Pakistan) would perceive the quality of e-learning experience to be better if the written learning material is provided in English. This is understandable, as these students have consistently studied in the English language from grade 1. Students have not learned English as a second language, but have routinely studied subjects like science, mathematics, history, physics, chemistry, and business in the English language. Throughout their education, the books used in schools are in English and students always have to take their exams in English. Another important aspect is that there are no authentic technical books available in the local language (i.e. Urdu). Universities, therefore, do not use books in Urdu as the learning content has not be developed in the local language. Accordingly, students have become accustomed to reading and writing in English when undertaking education. Interestingly, when students are sometimes expected to read material in Urdu, they find it quite challenging, as the literal translations of English technical terms are often too difficult to understand in the local language. From this experiment, it is evident that, for learners at the university level, it is better to design and provide e-learning content in the English language. However, live lectures and recorded audio/video lectures may also be provided in the local language, as it would suit most students, and help them in their understanding of the ideas. Objective 3 relates to our investigation concerning interactivity level on the quality perception of e-learners. Results, from a sample of 430 university students (in Pakistan), reveal that students perceive e-learning material to be of higher quality if that material is more interactive. This result is in line with the traditional literature which states that interactivity improves student perception of quality of the learning material. Research data suggests that online courses with higher levels of interactivity lead to higher levels of student motivation, improved learning outcomes, and satisfaction over less interactive learning environments (Espasa & Meneses, 2010; Liu et al., 2007; Mahle, 2011; Park & Choi, 2009; Thurmond et al., 2002). In our research, we used the ELQ model (Uppal et. al, 2017), that considers ‘service’, ‘information’, and ‘system’ dimensions to assess holistic qualities of e-learning systems. This ELQ model, which is validated in chapter four, evaluated the moderating effect of different aspects of pedagogy, i.e. delivery modes, language and interactivity on ‘service’, ‘information’, and ‘system’ dimensions. Other studies have done similar work, but not considered moderating impact on all ELQ dimensions. This thesis, as a whole, provides a significant contribution as the combination of the objectives allows us to investigate three significant aspects of pedagogy, i.e. delivery modes, language, and interactivity, which have been shown to impact e-learning implementation success and their relationship with student quality perception of e-learning. The practical contribution, from this thesis, is that universities, e-learning providers, and businesses can fundamentally apply the findings from this thesis when designing/implementing e-learning solutions; as this will help them in providing better holistic e-learning quality, not only from the service perspective, but from information and system perspectives as well, which have been found to be significant in this research. This research finds that all three aspects of pedagogy, i.e., delivery modes, language, and interactivity play a role in improving the quality perception of e-learning - leading to satisfaction and repeat use. All considered aspects of pedagogy were found to be, in some way, significant to improvement and management of e-learning quality

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Gulliver, S. and Tan, Y. L.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting
ID Code:75746


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