First-Year Students' Experience With Virtual Learning Environment

First-Year Students' Experience With Virtual Learning Environment

Abdulbaqi Badru (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) and Nurudeen Ajayi (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2983-6.ch014
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Abstract

The integration of ICT in the education system has led to the continuous development and adoption of technology-enhanced learning (TEL) platforms such as the virtual learning environment (VLE) to facilitate and activate TEL practices in higher education institutions. The use of VLE such as MOODLE and Blackboard is proliferating; however, the experience of users in determining the relevance of VLE in enhancing teaching and learning has been identified to be an important factor in the successful use of VLEs. This chapter employed a quantitative method to examine students' experience in using VLE at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The chapter also presents the result of the investigation into the influence of students' computer self-efficacy on their perceived ease of use, usefulness, and attitudes towards the use of VLE. The results of this study show that students believe that VLE enhances their learning. Furthermore, the results show that self-efficacy has a weak influence on students' perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, and attitudes towards the use of VLE.
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Introduction

The continuous evolution of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is necessitating organisations to adopt the use of technology and to come up with innovative technology-related ideas. The adoption of ICT by educational institutions has necessitated the restructuring and evolution of teaching and learning approaches (Sumak, Polancic & Heric, 2010; Keller, 2005). According to Ngom, Guillermet & Niang (2012), some of the changes observed in the current teaching and learning approaches, is as a result of the integration of ICT into teaching and learning. Examples of such changes can be seen in modern student assessment methods, which are moving from paper-based to computer-based methods (Piaw, 2012; Jamil, Tariq, Shami & Zakariys, 2012).

The increasing use of ICT in institutions has resulted in many educational activities (such as student registration, student assessment, teacher-student communication, etc.) being facilitated by technological tools (Goyal & Purohit, 2011). The use of technological tools to facilitate teaching and learning has also led to new teaching and learning approaches (Kumar, Gankotiya & Dutta, 2011), such as distance and open learning (Simpson, 2018) and mobile learning (Crompton & Burke 2018).

There are two major types of knowledge sharing systems: the traditional classroom system and the technology-enhanced learning (TEL) system (Kumar et al., 2011). The traditional classroom system is a learning system where the teacher imparts knowledge to students through physical interaction, while with the TEL knowledge sharing system, there may be no physical interaction, and knowledge is mostly communicated to students with the aid of technology (Kumar et al., 2011). The TEL knowledge sharing system has brought about an electronic learning paradigm known as E-learning. According to Pusnik, Sumak & Heric (2010, p. 1), “E-learning is a term for all types of technology-enhanced learning services and processes, including computer-based learning, web-based learning, virtual classroom, etc.”

E-learning is used interchangeably with TEL. In this chapter, TEL will be used instead of E-learning, which is a form of learning that makes it possible to communicate knowledge to students irrespective of their location and the time of the day. TEL tools, such as audiovisual systems, instant messengers, and forums are now being integrated to form a learning space known as a virtual learning environment (VLE). A VLE, which is also referred to as a Course Management System (CMS) or Learning Management Systems (LMS) (Chan & Robbins, 2006), can be described as an information system, that could take the form of a web application designed to facilitate teaching and learning (Dillenbourg, Schneider & Synteta, 2002). A VLE is a virtual space where activities such as creation, dissemination, and acquisition of knowledge are accomplished through the use of technological tools.

Today, institutions are continuously adopting VLE to enhance their teaching and learning practices. The literature, however, shows that the effectiveness of a VLE can be determined by its frequency of use. This is mostly influenced by the users’ (students and teachers) perceptions (Šumak, Heričko, Pušnik & Polančič, 2011). As suggested by Wei Wei, Jer Lang & Gunawan (2013), whenever technology is used or adopted, the user’s experience or perceptions need to be investigated in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the technology. This chapter investigates students’ experience with the use of a VLE (MOODLE) for their learning at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It also investigates the influence of students’ computer self-efficacy on their perceived ease of use and usefulness and attitudes towards the use of VLE. The Technology Adoption Model was adapted in achieving the research objectives. A quantitative method was adopted and questionnaires were used as the data collection instrument. The results show that students believe that VLE enhances their learning and computer self-efficacy has no significant influence on students’ perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, and attitude towards the use of VLE.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Distance Learning: This is a planned teaching/learning experience that uses a wide spectrum of technologies to reach learners at a distance.

Perceived usefulness: This is the level at which a person conceives the usage of a particular system to have enhanced their job performance.

Virtual Learning Environment: This is a web-based learning community where learners in different geographical locations achieve their learning goals.

Information and Communication Technology: This is the use of networking and communication technologies for effective and efficient management of information.

Perceived ease of use: This is the level at which a person conceives the usage of a particular system to be effortless.

Computer Self-Efficacy: This as the confidence and assurance a user has in their ability to use a computer system.

Technology Adoption Model: This is a theoretical framework used to investigate the acceptance or experience of using a technology.

Blackboard: Is a web-based online VLE platform that is commercially available to higher education institutions. It offers instructional tools such as self-test, glossary, quiz module, content management etc.

E-Learning: This is a term for all types of technology-enhanced learning services and processes, including computer-based learning, web-based learning, virtual classroom, etc.

Moodle: This can be described as a VLE that uses the web to provide a constructivist, collaborative and interactive approach to teaching and learning.

Technology-Enhanced Learning: This is the use of technology to support teaching and learning, as referred to as e-learning.

Sakai: Is a popular open-source VLE that comprises of a range of tools (that allows for user collaboration, content creation, assessment, etc.), which are integrated to provide a holistic teaching and learning platform.

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