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Different faculty member’s attitudes towards e-learning
E-learning is increasingly becoming popular in higher education with universities expanding provision as more students sign up for this type of learning module. It is against this reason that there is growing interest among scholars to offer in-depth study on e-learning.
E-learning may be defined as learning process that entails use of various technological tools that are web-enabled for purposes of acquiring desired knowledge (Paravantis, 2010). Although the adoption of e-learning has been expanding rapidly, its key success factor is highly dependant on users’ attitudes who are primarily comprised of students and faculty members.
In literature, attitudes have been strongly linked with behavior hence many scholars have undertaken independent studies via various methodological approaches to investigate e-learning attitudes among students and faculty members.
Attitude can be defined as either positive or negative evaluation of people, object or situations that are likely to affect behavior (Narme, 2008). Various literary studies in psychology have identified three major components, namely affective (beliefs or opinions), cognitive (emotional) and behavioral (intention to behave in specific manner) that affects a person’s attitude towards a particular entity (Narme, 2008).
Similarly, specific studies on e-learning taking into consideration the above attitudes components have positively indicated that faculty attitudes towards e-learning can either promote or hinder their willingness to teach and embrace online learning (Liaw, Huang, & Chen, 2007).
In addition, the latter assert that effective implementation of e-learning technology is dependent on the faculty attitudes and that positive attitude is the greatest incentive when adopting e-learning.
The role of attitude in the adoption of e-learning has become critical issue and as such, instructors have been overly concerned about several factors that influence faculty attitudes towards e-learning. This is because as Liaw, Huang, & Chen (2007) point out, unless considerable effort is made to cultivate positive attitudes among faculty members, the adoption of e-learning in universities is doomed to fail.
Empirical studies have identified several variables that are directly linked to user’s attitudes towards the use of computers. Significant relationship between self efficacies, perceived enjoyment, behavioral intention, perceived usefulness, perceived system satisfaction and multimedia instruction tools and faculty members have been established as expounded below.
Prior researches along the same line of thinking by had employed the technology acceptance model (TAM) to predict and explain the impact of dependent variables cited above on faculty member’s attitudes towards e-learning in Saudi Arabia as well as in other parts of the world.
Liaw, Huang and Chen (2007) in their study, unanimously agreed with the recent empirical researches that technological self efficacy, perceived usefulness and behavioral intention among the user was the main determinant of the concurrent attitudes.
Behavior intention has been viewed as the predictor of the actual behavior and (Cheon, Song &Jones, 2010) defines it as person’s conscious plan to carry out or not to carry out a specified behavior in the future, and the degree of the formulated plans varies from individual to another.
Additionally, the concept of self efficacy was proposed by Albert Bandura (1997), and in the e-learning arena the term has been defined as a person’s belief on his capability to effectively use technology to improve learning or teaching (Elham, 2009). Depending on the level of self efficacy, the attitudes towards e-learning varied from one individual to another (Abouchedid & Eid, 2004).
The pattern of their results indicated that ability to use the computer equated to mean computer self efficacy elicited positive attitudes among faculty member’s and vice versa (Liaw, Huang and Chen, 2007).
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To expound on the meaning of perceived usefulness of learning Abouchedid & Eid (2004) define the term as the type of perceptions on the essentiality of a particular technology in the performance of a particular job, which in turn determines that person’s attitudes.
In their study Abouchedid and Eid (2004) had concluded that e-learning attitudes among faculty members varied significantly depending on the level of perceived usefulness of e-learning technology in promoting job performance, and similar conclusions were highlighted in Liaw, Huang and Chen (2007) study.
The above notion implies that lectures who perceived e-learning as useful were likely to change their intention and subsequent attitude to adopt the system positively (Abouchedid & Eid, 2004).
Closely related is the impact of perceived enjoyment on learners and faculty member’s attitude towards e-leaning. Shirley (2002) explains that perceived enjoyment is the intrinsic motivation that is dependent on the user’s perception of the pleasure derived from using the computer in e-learning.
Shirley (2002) tested the above variable based on assumption that it impacted on faculty members attitudes towards e-learning adoption. The earlier as well as the latter study by Liaw, Huang and Chen (2007) concluded that attitudes varied significantly depending on the level of perceived enjoyment.
Additionally, Cheon, Song and Jones (2010) extended their variables to include perceived system satisfaction variable to test its impact on teacher’s attitudes towards e-learning. The study aimed to test the effect of the general perception about the capability of e-learning to satisfy a learners needs, and how it impacted on the faculty member’s attitude towards the adoption e-learning.
This prior study showed that user’s gauged the ability of a system to satisfy the required need based on its flexibility, integration, reliability, accessibility, stability, ease of use and so on. Similarly, Liaw, Huang and Chen (2007) used similar parameters to measure perceived e-learning system satisfaction, and extended their study by measuring how the perceptions impacted on faculty member’s attitudes.
Further analysis of their study results showed significant disparities among faculty member’s attitudes depending on the perceived system satisfaction in meeting e-learner’s needs (Liaw, Huang and Chen, 2007).
In addition, studies in the adoption of e-learning system around the world, Saudi Arabia included, have also focused on the role of modern e-learning tools in shaping the learners attitudes towards the adoption of e-learning (Shirley, 2002).
On the other hand, Liaw, Huang and Chen (2007) extended this prior empirical study by testing the impact of multimedia instruction tools on faculty member’s attitudes towards e-learning. However, the impact of multimedia instruction tools used in e-learning cannot be viewed autonomous to self-efficiency as both variables are directly linked;
In that the user’s belief about his/her capability to use multimedia tools promotes self-efficacy, and by extension elicits positive attitudes towards e-learning. Therefore, the level of self efficacy on the usage of multimedia instruction tools significantly impacted on the attitudes outcomes and varied from one individual to another (Liaw, Huang and Chen, 2007).
In a different, but, closely related study carried out by Qudais, Al-Adhaileh and Al-Omari (2010), the attitude of senior members of most faculties towards e-learning was found to be positive. Most of them thought that conducting classes online is not only enjoyable but also stimulating. In the same research, attitude towards the use of modern technology was not influenced by gender, teaching experience or the nature of their institutions.
In yet another empirical study by Al Mothana (2009), faculty members had positive attitude towards e-learning with more interest attached to internet based distance education.
There was a strong positive relationship between the faculty member’s attitude towards e-learning and its perceived value. A similar study conducted by Albalawi (2000) also revealed that most faculty members had a positive attitude towards adopting web based instruction by institutions of higher learning.
Almuqayteeb (2009) study on female attitudes towards use of technology revealed that there was positive attitude in using internet based computer in learning. Paravantis (2010) analyses on elementary female teachers towards e-learning indicated that many were willing to embrace it in spite of myriad perceived or real challenges.
Shea, Pickett and Li (2005) also researched and concluded that most faculty members regardless of gender were satisfied with e-learning and that they were willing to engage more students due to benefits which came with it. Tzy and Jung (2006) study on examining attitudes of faculty towards teaching online courses, the faculty expressed positive attitudes towards participation in online teaching.
A study to reveal the gender differences in attitude towards usage of information and related applications in teaching by McKenzie et al. (2005) there was equal level of positive attitudes displayed by both genders.
Qudais, Mosleh and Al-Omari (2010) study identified the attitude towards e-learning to be positive and most of them were willing to be trained to enable them practice.
The study also revealed that some faculty members needed financial support to motivate them in using the technology. This has also been supported by the study by Newton (2003) which revealed positive attitude of the faculty members which was also supported by Allan and Will (2001).
A study by Agboola (2005) on assessing the awareness and perceptions of academic staff in using E-learning as a tool for instructional delivery in post secondary institutions more than half of the faculty members were willing to embrace it in their teaching methods.
Ruth et al. (2009) study on the motivators and inhibitors for university faculties revealed that incentives in the education sector such as e-learning contributes to their positive attitudes towards the adoption of technology. Motivation leads them to developing positive attitudes towards electronic and distance education courses.
Cardwell-Hampton (2008) study found that lack of experience and skills in the use of technology makes the faculty members to have negative perception about the embracing the technology.
Challenges facing university faculty members towards e-learning
In a research conducted by Alajmi (2010), it identified the differences in the demographic characteristics to the main cause of the challenge. Younger faculty members perceived fewer barriers towards e-learning than older faculty members. Different demographic systems registered differences in their perceived challenges towards e-learning.
A similar study by Elham (2009) on the potential of implementing online professional training development attempted to find factors which could affect implementation of online training. According to the findings, respondents were skilled in using the computers and had the basic knowledge in exploring the internet.
Their attitude towards online learning was positive and they were ready to seek assistance from the administration for support. The most important barrier which was noticed towards potential of implementing online professional training development was lack of time due to the workload they have.
In Elham (2009) study on implementation professional Training Development for the faculty at King Saudi University in Saudi Arabia, the study revealed that many of the faculty members are skilled in the use of computers.
Research conducted by Alajmi (2000) on faculty member’s readiness for learning in the college of basic education in Kuwait revealed significant differences to be caused by age differences and department disciplines.
Research conducted by Al Mothana (2009) on the faculty attitude towards internet based distance education revealed that the underlying challenges were on availability of the internet and computer access, time was also reported as a major challenge towards adopting internet based distance learning Although there were some barriers and challenges the faculty had a positive attitude toward the approach.
Studies with “nationality” demographic variable
From the different studies and research conducted, different nationality variables affect the use of technology. In a research conducted by Al- Sarrani (2010), it revealed that there was no difference between science faculty perceptions on the effects of faculties’ use of Information Technology in teaching.
Similar studies were conducted by Albalawi (2000) on three universities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; there was a positive attitude towards the use of information technology in teaching.
Mital (2006) study found that experience at workplace affects the change process and ability to adapt to new learning styles. This was also affected by individual’s rank position since the young ones needed to gain recognition by embracing the technology.
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