Adoption of E-Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Moderating Role of Age and Gender

Adoption of E-Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Moderating Role of Age and Gender

Biswajit Acharjya (Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahemedabad, India) and Simanchala Das (Koneru Lakshmaiah Education Foundation, Vijayawada, India)
DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.20220301.oa4
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Abstract

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has resulted in the complete disruption of the learning ecosystem across the world. The sudden shift from the class room learning to the use of virtual platforms has not only made an unprecedented impact on the learning style of the students, but has also resulted in the problem of adoption of the same. Thus, with the significant surge in the usage of e-learning mechanism, the researchers even tend to predict the continued usage of the digital learning platforms post pandemic due to its accelerated usage and adoption by the learners and teachers as well across the age and gender. Therefore, the present research seeks to study the factors influencing e-learning adoption by the students in the context of the pandemic. Further, it would examine the moderating influence of age and gender for the adoption of e-learning using the UTAUT model with extended constructs like computer anxiety, attitude, and technology anxiety.
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1. Introduction

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease which was first reported in December 2019 in the Wuhan city of the central Hubei provinces of China (Holsueet al., 2020) created unprecendeted health crisis across the globe. The World Health Organization, along with the Chinese authorities worked together to find out the etiological agent and named it as a novel virus (2019 n-Cov). On January 11, China declared its first COVID 19 death of a 61-year-old man who was exposed to the wet seafood market (WHO, 2020a). Subsequently, the deadly infection spread across the globe (WHO, 2020b). WHO declared this deadly virus is a public health emergency on January 30, 2020 (WHO 2020a, 2020b). As a result of the outbreak of the disease, lockdown was imposed across the world which adversely affected the normal life halting all the activities. Education was not an exception to this lockdown. All the educational institutions had come to a standstill due to the closure. According to UNESCO, by April 2020, 186 countries had imposed nationwide shut down, influencing 73.8% of the total learner enrolled (UNESCO, April, 2020). Thus, the pandemic forced educational institutions to adopt digital platforms to reach out to the students. This e-learning, of course, has played crucial role in planning, delivering and tracking the learning process effectively. But at the same time, its effectiveness depends upon digital level efficiency and willingness to adopt and accept the system. However, the e-learning mode varies from typical classroom situations when it comes to learner satisfaction, motivation, and interaction (Bignoux and Sund, 2018).

In a developing country like India, the paradigm shift towards e-learning posed serieous challenges in terms of learning quality and the way content is designed and implemented efficiently. In other words, e-learning effectiveness depends upon how well contents are curated to an online platform. The students particularly under-graduates tend to face a lot of problems in adopting e-learning in such an unprecedented pandemic. The challenges are mostly related to technology, pedagogy, changed learning styles, constraints of time and cost apart from the other factors. Despite all the challenges, the learners tend to prefer the online form due to its flexibility and other benefits. Thus, based on these premises, the present study seeks to explore the factors affecting the adoption of e-learning during this difficult times. The study also tries to analyze the moderating role of age and gender towards the adoption of e-learning by the young undergraduates.

The findings of the study are expected to overcome the pertinent challenges in the adoption of e-learning and would suggest for an alternative model of the same at the university level. As the universities do not have sufficient time to design the course content and pedagogy to meet the academic requirements of the students, the learning experience can be improved by making it more productive, user-friendly and accessible in the course of adoption of e-learning. Furthermore, it is also expected to continue the e-learning process post pandemic in view of the uncertainties that prevail today. Thus, a new learning ecosystem is set to emerge where there is a possibility of the adoption of blended learning even after the pandemic is over. The findings would also suggest the universities to update their e-learning system to facilitate the adoption of the digital learning platform effectively. The research starts with a theretical base of UTAUT followed by the review of related works, the research methodology, empirical analysis, limitations and scope for further research and above all the conclusions and recommendations.

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