E-Learning Factors and E-learning Outcomes
The suggestion made by the study is that in the past, there have been several studies done assessing factors influencing e-learning outcome. Therefore, the purpose of this study was assessing intervening role played by readiness factors within e-learning outcomes. The purpose was determining readiness factors functions in link between e-learning factors and e-learning outcomes. In the effort to achieve this objective, the readiness factors were divided into 3 major categories, which include technical, social and organizational.
The motivation of this research was the fact e-learning apparently plays a crucial role in modern teaching and learning. E-learning is an emerging technique used to train people while also complementing traditional techniques. According to trends, this mode of leaning focuses on creation og a developed society while supporting creativity and innovation. Moreover, the new paradigm shifts education from one that is teacher based to learner based. Therefore, study of the subject matter is inevitable when one takes into consideration the varying contributions made for purposes of instituting a society. In the educational sector, it emerges as a serious phenomenon that has gained intense popularity in society. Factors that make his concept very important and popular in modern society relate to diverse benefits which include reduction of costs, support of traditional teaching as well as elimination of space and limitations on time advanced by traditional teaching methods. What is more, the quality of education in distance learning systems relies greatly on level/quality of electronic knowledge sources and other didactic materials instead of depending on quality of teachers and ability of sharing knowledge. The rate of e-learning growth is on the rise with the current number being 35.6 percent and studies demonstrate America incurs $ 40 billion each year in order to facilitate trainings that are technology based. Considering these factors, it is impossible therefore to ignore the section of learning based on powerful changes and influences it causes to the processes of learning in modern society.
Previous Literature and Studies Details
The study is a demonstration of various literatures evaluated in the past in the field of e-learning. This form of information is of great importance as it aids in helping determine research gaps related to limited areas or those not yet studied. According to the study, majority of researchers have studied a couple of e-learning aspects through use of different approaches. A large number of researchers have disclosed e-learning suitability in facilitation of education. Some studies make it easier to accept novel strategies in improvement of e-learning outcomes. Some researchers on the other hand have carried out studies that demonstrate in spite of benefits generated from the mode of learning, the processes of e-learning still have weaknesses. A large percentage of e-learning courses for instance show high drop-out rates. As such, taking into consideration majority of institutions of high learning are likely to adopt the learning system, it is of great importance for practitioners and researchers to have a better understanding how such weakness is handled plus readiness of organizations to apply new systems of learning.
In addition, the literature details studies carried out regarding various e-readiness aspects that enable companies to efficiently apply e-learning. According to the study, e-readiness defines the ability to not only efficiently, but also effectively employ electronic media in organizations. The study also indicates suitable ways of understanding how weaknesses of this kind can get tackled in model development of learning. A couple of researchers as such provide a couple of models that can address how different features affect outcomes of e-learning. Such studies, for example illustrate design dimension inclusive of technology, learner control, human dimension and interaction including students and teachers influence on e-learning effectiveness.
Provision of a Theory as Basis for Research
The authors provide a conceptual framework that would be basis for this research. The model has 3 variables that comprise of e-learning factors, readiness factors and outcomes of e-learning. The model was facilitation of achievement of the study’s objective of the examination of readiness factors’ on moderation effect of correlation existing between outcomes of e-learning and factors of e-learning. Key success factors for e-learning were divided into instructor, IT, student as well as University support. These factors were relevant for the study as they establish influences on e-learning outcomes. In the model, the teacher’s role is critical as it facilitates effectiveness and success of all education forms especially in the area of distance learning. On the other hand, students are supposed to have computer skills to be successful within the learning system. Absence of the factor results to failure. Top management support, knowledge and commitment regarding e-learning benefits are measures of great importance in supporting variables of the research. Role
Role played by factors of readiness in e-learning outcomes comprise technical readiness. It is of great importance to match appropriate technology with proper objectives for learning. The model also includes outcomes among variables to be asses. Evaluation of the outcomes is of great importance since people will get less satisfaction from the system of learning hence it is less likely they will enroll for the course in the future.
Definition of Variables
Authors in the study took onto consideration factors of readiness as the only moderating variable. The consideration was the result of two main reasons. First, the moderating variable defines variable influencing strength and direction of correlation among other variables. The study as such reflects on readiness factors such as organizational rules that do not have any direct influence on the outcomes of e-learning like motivation of students. Such factors however can affect link between factors of e-learning and e-learning outcomes. Also considered were readiness factors like moderating variables as a result of intervening role that is played by readiness of organizations notably in connection between IT (Information Technology and the performance of a company. What is more, as the study indicates, derivation of better levels of performance needs substantial investments on intervention of variables and IT. Consequently, it is of great importance to have an idea of what readiness and IT aspects that influence performance greatly. With this knowledge, organizations are able to make decisions that are better regarding IT investments.
Research Questions and Hypothesis
A large percentage of studies carried out in the past assess correlation between factors of e-learning and outcomes. However, reviews on literature demonstrate these do not necessarily predict learning transfer effectively. Therefore, this research evaluates role played by readiness factors within e-learning outcomes on the hypothesis basis that:
- Readiness factors have a role of moderating the relationship/link between outcomes and factors of e-learning.
Additionally, the study pursued to respond to two main research questions that include the following:
- Do readiness factors have any moderating effect over the varying relation between outcomes and factors of e-learning?
- To what extent does moderating effect influence the varying readiness factors aspects? Which are some of the aspects with a greater value?
The Methodologies and Appropriateness
In the research methodologies section, researchers have highlighted the techniques employed in gathering data for study. The section indicated as well the instruments employed in both collection and analysis of the study’s data. Empirical researches were employed in the study and approaches of case studies in data gathering which was quite an ideal approach in collection of IT data.
The application of both questionnaires and interviews in the process of gathering this kind of data is of great importance as standardization of questions brought the objectivity of the research out making the findings more viable. On the other, the approach of case study is also appropriate in this study as it provides details on specific cases as such helping with the necessary future studies groundwork.
Normality of data was also tested through use of 2 different approaches: Kolmogorov-Smirnov (K-S) test in which case the E-learning variable was 0.085 while the readiness factors were 0.917 and outcomes were 0.559. Due to the fact non-significant results were an indication of normality, the conclusion was reached that all variables had normal data and this further affirmed appropriateness of the data analysis and collection.
The study, with target population such as Iranian high school students, applied the research approach of empirical in which case questionnaires were distributed to sampled populace. On top of the questionnaires, researchers also used interviews aimed at identifying variables affecting E-learning effectiveness among target population. Some E-learning specialists who were within Information Technology sector expedited the 9 interviews. Both questionnaire and interview questions were notably designed and derived from review of different kinds of literature on E-learning as such, capturing the fundamental variables.
Before the actual questionnaires were distributed, there was a pilot study carried out which was aimed at determining effectiveness of questions in realization of research objectives. Two academic experts took part in the pilot stud in which case they viewed all single items in the questionnaires as well as interviews in order to examine the content, purpose and scope. The contributors filled questionnaires with 36 items out. Five levels likert-scale questions in the questionnaires that ranged from not all (1) and extreme (5) which sought to respond to different study items. Data was also gathered from ninety-six respondents though four of the questionnaires could not in any way be used in the analysis simply due to the fact they were not completed.
Teachers, is the number one element that affects E-learning in Iran with 0.900. This implies readiness of teachers has a great influence on the learning process; if teachers are not fully equipped, this might lead to failure of the learning programs. IT element and student element were ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively in results of factors affecting E-learning in Iran with 0.598 and 0.531 total effects. As much as it is important to have necessary E-learning infrastructures in place, making sure students are prepared for that kind of learning is also of great importance in influencing the outcomes of E-learning. However, it was revealed by the Iranian study that students tend to be more willing to accept the system of E-learning.
Also, the study ranked the element of support as the fourth influencing factor of 0.489. The factor of support includes the management, schools’ administrations and state rules all of which are supposed to be put into consideration before the E-learning system is implemented. In addition, the study ranked readiness factor elements with organizational element as the leading effect with 0.137 which was followed by technical factor with a total effect of 0.101 and lastly, social factor with a total effect of 0.073.
Results Interpretation and Logical Following
The study also involved the exploration of different literatures and researchers on evaluation of readiness factors affecting E-learning outcomes. While some of the studies focus was on human readiness as a variable that is important for E-learning effectiveness, others assessed the technological readiness for implementation of that kind of learning while others explored factors of organizational readiness, which included cultural and budget issues. Karamati, Afshari-Mofrad and Kamrani in their study took into consideration technical infrastructures as the major readiness factors. Factors like having the suitable software and hardware plays critical roles in determining the outcome of E-learning. The study also observed problems of low internet speed that trigger high levels of dissatisfaction as well as student drop out. Internet speed was identified as the major challenge of internet use in Iranian E-learning.
The study also examined organizational readiness factor like organizational culture, rules and experts as the key influencers of E-learning in Iran. The factors laid the groundwork for movement from convectional education system to modern E-learning. This implies educational organizations should adapt their rules and cultures to modern E-learning systems while also training sufficient experts of E-learning to influence learning outcomes. The study also noted E-learning affects the lives of not only students but teachers as well and has significant impact on parents of students as well as the society as a whole. Therefore, one might conclude social rules are influential to the outcomes of E-learning. Some of these social factors include societal conception of new state rules, forms of learning as well as government administrative instructions.
The Iranian participants who were interviewed during the study identified the factor of organizational readiness especially lack of readiness among the teachers as the major barrier to E-learning. Actually, the study results ranked the element of the teacher as the highly critical E-learning factor with an effect of 0.900. This implies success of E-learning is dependent on organizational factors as such, it should be addressed before the implementation.
Through use of hierarchical regression in analysis of the findings, the authors posited readiness factors act as moderators in the relationship. For instance, social readiness factors’ moderate effects mean some social factors cannot affect the outcomes of E-learning directly though the factors can affect the strength of the relationship. However, on the other hand, there are technical factors that can have a direct influence on teachers’ productivity and improving these factors, helps indirectly affect E-learning outcomes.
Results Contribution to Practice and Research
This study reveals there are two main problems that affect E-learning among Iran teachers and these include their attitude towards the learning system and management disbelieve in the system of E-learning, thus the reluctance to support it. These discoveries are of great importance in introduction of E-learning system as they help stakeholders get a better understanding of the reasons they are supposed to put their effort in since without the support of the management, teachers cannot affect the system positively without realizing the objectives.
Study Limitation and Questions for Future Research
This study is a clear demonstration of presence of research limitations that are supposed to be taken into consideration for effectiveness purposes. Primarily, the limitations also demonstrated research limitations that are supposed to be taken into consideration for purposes of effectiveness. Primarily, the limitation related to model used in relation to study of the location of the population. As the study was based on Iranian schools, the model applied in conducting the study can be used to portray different results when used in other countries. This means it can be challenging to generalize results of the study applied in other areas apart from Iran since the model variables applied in the study can differ in other regions. Therefore, future research can do an exploration of these issues by using a larger or wider research sample for validity and effectiveness of results. Additionally, the research uses only four elements or e-learning factors in evaluation of relevant outcomes. However, some researchers maintain that factors of e-learning can be more than just 4 elements which can be accounted for and take into consideration for purposes of research in future.
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