The Role Of Learners' Academic Background On E-Learning: An Empirical Study On The Use Of Discussion Forum

The Role Of Learners' Academic Background On E-Learning: An Empirical Study On The Use Of Discussion Forum

Kevin K.W. Ho (University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam)
DOI: 10.4018/ijssoe.2014100104

Abstract

Nowadays, instructional technologies are the enabler for educators to have more choices in course planning, course design, and lecturing. These technologies not only strengthen the communication between instructors and learners, but also let the learners get an easily access their course materials at anytime and from anywhere. As a result, many educational institutes, including formal universities and online educational service providers, are now using E-learning technologies to deliver their courses as pure online courses or hybrid courses. In this research, the effectiveness of using online discussion forum in teaching is evaluated based on five teaching criteria related to knowledge construction process: learner's motivation, learner's independence, learner-learner interaction, learner-instructor interaction, and learner's satisfaction. The author's findings indicated that IT majors are more positive towards the use of online discussion forum in E-learning.
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Introduction

When personal computers were launched in the 1970s, the use of information technology (IT) equipment was limited to the handling of business transaction and data storage. Nowadays, with the help of the Internet and coupled with the affordable price of personal computers, tablet computers and other handheld devices, people can perform Web surfing and information searching using a broadband Internet connection through wireless services provided by Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) and the third (3G) and the fourth generations (4G) cell phone networks. Now, the Internet becomes a technology enabler for “anytime-anywhere business”, as well as for “anytime-anywhere learning” (Boisvert, 2000). At the same time, educational institutions are shifting their ways of delivering services from merely factual and procedural knowledge dissemination in the classrooms to online teaching through electronic learning (E-learning) systems such as Moodle (https://www.coursera.org/), have entered into the education service market for delivering free online courses for learners all over the world. Obviously, the success of these teaching Web sites and services rely on the blending of the use of Web technology, multimedia tools, and communication applications and tools, such as online forums, for facilitating communications between their stakeholders, i.e., learners and instructors.

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