When Technology Does Not Support Learning: Conflicts Between Epistemological Beliefs and Technology Support in Virtual Learning Environments

When Technology Does Not Support Learning: Conflicts Between Epistemological Beliefs and Technology Support in Virtual Learning Environments

Steven Hornik (University of Central Florida, USA), Richard D. Johnson (University of South Florida, USA) and Yu Wu (University of Central Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-136-0.ch013
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Central to the design of successful virtual learning initiatives is the matching of technology to the needs of the training environment. The difficulty is that while the technology may be designed to complement and support the learning process, not all users of these systems find the technology supportive. Instead, some users’ conceptions of learning, or epistemological beliefs may be in conflict with their perceptions of what the technology supports. Using data from 307 individuals, this research study investigated the process and outcome losses that occur when friction exists between individuals’ epistemological beliefs and their perceptions of how the technology supports learning. Specifically, the results indicated that when there was friction between the technology support of learning and an individual’s epistemological beliefs, course communication, course satisfaction, and course performance were reduced. Implications for design of virtual learning environments and future research are discussed.
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Advances in information technology have enabled organizations and educational institutions to deliver training and learning initiatives free from time and/or place constraints, creating virtual learning environments (VLEs).1 These environments are becoming central to the design and development of both corporate training programs and university curricula. While there are multiple ways to design these environments, common characteristics of virtual learning environments include the mediation of course interactions and materials through information and communication technologies (Alavi & Leidner, 2001) and greater control over the learning environment (Piccoli, Ahmad, & Ives, 2001).

The market for this type of training is substantial, with recent estimates suggesting that the industry will generate nearly $25 billion by 2006 (IDC, 2003) and grow annually at approximately 37% (Mayor, 2001). Universities are also undertaking distance initiatives, with estimates suggesting that nearly 90% of public universities offer distance education courses, over three million students participate in these courses, and these numbers are projected to grow (Wirt & Livingston, 2004). The major push behind these initiatives has been both convenience and cost. These initiatives have both potential and pitfalls as can be seen through the findings of two recent studies. Although the potential for cost savings is large, with some large companies finding cost savings of between $30-$400 million dollars per year and reductions in training costs of nearly 50% (Salas, DeRouin & Littrell, 2005), another study has suggested that as many as 80% of employees drop out of these programs before they are complete (Flood, 2000).

Thus, it is important to understand the factors that affect the successful implementation of VLE initiatives. Previous research has suggested that instructor characteristics, pedagogical approach or learning models, learner/user characteristics, and the technology each play a key role in creating successful outcomes (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Piccoli et al., 2001; Webster & Hackley, 1997). Recently it has also been argued that a key to the successful implementation of these environments is the convergence between the technology used in the learning environment and the implemented learning model (cf. Benbunan-Fich, 2002; Leidner & Jarvenpaa, 1995; Robson, 2000).

However, when the technology used to support learning is designed to support a specific learning model, this can often lead to a compulsory learning process that users must follow to reach the course objectives (Vermunt, 1998). For some users, the learning approach supported by the technology can be in direct conflict with their beliefs about how learning should occur (i.e., their epistemological beliefs) (Bakx, Vermetten, & Van der Sanden, 2003; Schommer-Aikins, 2004). Relatively little is known regarding the implications of the conflict between an individual’s epistemological beliefs (EBs) and the learning environment supported by the technology, but given the centrality of technology to the learning process in VLEs and the central role of EBs in how individuals approach learning and how they learn (Marton, Dall’Alba, & Beaty, 1993; Marton & Säljö, 1976; Perry, 1968; Vermunt, 1996), the relationship between the two is likely to be important. Thus this research represents the beginning of a systematic examination of the role of EBs in VLEs.

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Table of Contents
Steve Clarke
Chapter 1
Jeremy Fowler
Although the discipline of information systems (IS) development is well established, IS failure and abandonment remains widespread. As a result, a... Sample PDF
Information Systems Success and Failure—Two Sides of One Coin, or Different in Nature? An Exploratory Study
Chapter 2
Jeanette Eriksson, Yvonne Dittrich
This chapter reports on a case study performed in cooperation with a telecommunication provider. The telecom business changes rapidly as new... Sample PDF
Achieving Sustainable Tailorable Software Systems by Collaboration Between End-Users and Developers
Chapter 3
Marvin D. Troutt, Douglas A. Druckenmiller, William Acar
This chapter uses some special usability and ethical issues that arise from experience with what can be called captive end-user systems (CEUS).... Sample PDF
Usability, Testing, and Ethical Issues in Captive End-User Systems
Chapter 4
Jonathan P. Caulkins, Erica Layne Morrison, Timothy Weidemann
Spreadsheets are commonly used and commonly flawed, but it is not clear how often spreadsheet errors lead to bad decisions. We interviewed 45... Sample PDF
Do Spreadsheet Errors Lead to Bad Decisions? Perspectives of Executives and Senior Managers
Chapter 5
Lixuan Zhang, Randall Young, Victor Prybutok
The means by which the U.S. justice system attempts to control illegal hacking are practiced under the assumption that hacking is like any other... Sample PDF
A Comparison of the Inhibitors of Hacking vs. Shoplifting
Chapter 6
Dewi Rooslani Tojib
he last decade has seen the proliferation of business-to-employee (B2E) portals as integrated, efficient, and user-friendly technology platform to... Sample PDF
Developing Success Measure for Staff Portal Implementation
Chapter 7
Peter Baloh
Improving how knowledge is leveraged in organizations for improved business performance is currently considered as a major organizational change.... Sample PDF
Contingencies in the KMS Design: A Tentative Design Model
Chapter 8
Beryl Burns
We report the findings of a field study of the enactment of ICT supported knowledge work in a Human Resources contact centre, illustrating the... Sample PDF
Users as Developers: A Field Study of Call Centre Knowledge Work
Chapter 9
Raymond R. Panko
This chapter describes two experiments that examined overconfidence in spreadsheet development. Overconfidence has been seen widely in spreadsheet... Sample PDF
Two Experiments in Reducing Overconfidence in Spreadsheet Development
Chapter 10
Steven John Simon, David Paper
Voice recognition technology-enabled devices possess extraordinary growth potential, yet some research indicates that organizations and consumers... Sample PDF
User Acceptance of Voice Recognition Technology: An Empirical Extension of the Technology Acceptance Model
Chapter 11
Peter P. Mykytyn
Colleges of business have dealt with teaching computer literacy and advanced computer application concepts for many years, often with much... Sample PDF
Educating Our Students in Computer Application Concepts: A Case for Problem-Based Learning
Chapter 12
Elaine H. Ferneley
End user development (EUD) of system applications is typically undertaken by end users for their own, or closely aligned colleagues, business needs.... Sample PDF
Covert End User Development: A Study of Success
Chapter 13
Steven Hornik, Richard D. Johnson, Yu Wu
Central to the design of successful virtual learning initiatives is the matching of technology to the needs of the training environment. The... Sample PDF
When Technology Does Not Support Learning: Conflicts Between Epistemological Beliefs and Technology Support in Virtual Learning Environments
Chapter 14
Tom Butler
The study’s objective is to arrive at a theoretical model and framework to guide research into the implementation of KMS, while also seeking to... Sample PDF
A Theoretical Model and Framework for Understanding Knowledge Management System Implementation
Chapter 15
Jun Xu, Mohammed Quaddus
This chapter develops a model of adoption and continued use of knowledge management systems (KMSs), which is primarily built on Rogers’ (1995)... Sample PDF
Exploring the Factors Influencing End Users' Acceptance of Knowledge Management Systems: Development of a Research Model of Adoption and Continued Use
Chapter 16
Wei-Na Lee
In today’s global environment, a myriad of communication mechanisms enable cultures around the world to interact with one another and form complex... Sample PDF
Classifying Web Users: A Cultural Value-Based Approach
Chapter 17
Annette Hallin, Kristina Lundevall
This chapter presents the mCity Project, a project owned by the City of Stockholm, aiming at creating user-friendly mobile services in collaboration... Sample PDF
mCity: User Focused Development of Mobile Services Within the City of Stockholm
Chapter 18
Cristina Hava Muntean, Gabriel-Miro Muntean
Lately, user quality of experience (QoE) during their interaction with a system is a significant factor in the assessment of most systems. However... Sample PDF
End-User Quality of Experience-Aware Personalized E-Learning
Chapter 19
High-Tech Meets End-User  (pages 302-320)
Marc Steen
One challenge within the high-tech sector is to develop products that end users will actually need and will be able to use. One way of trying to... Sample PDF
High-Tech Meets End-User
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