Web-Based Course Management Systems (WCMS) Acceptance with College Students in Estonia

Web-Based Course Management Systems (WCMS) Acceptance with College Students in Estonia

Princely Ifinedo (Cape Breton University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-845-1.ch110
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Abstract

The objective of this article is to present the results of a study that investigates the acceptance of WCMS among college students in Estonia. The country is an emerging economy in the Baltic region of Europe. Estonia has made remarkable progress with respect to the use of ICT products in enhancing education at all levels (The Tiger Leap Foundation, 1997). Recently, Estonia joined forces with a pan-European e-learning project called the UNIVe (Estonian eUniversity, 2004; Ifinedo, 2005). Among other goals, the project aims at “increasing the availability of quality education for students and other people willing to learn …and, educating lecturers of universities to compile and practice quality and efficient e-courses” (Ifinedo, 2006).
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Introduction

Increasingly, higher education institutions worldwide are adopting information and communication technologies (ICTs) to enhance pedagogy (Ifinedo, 2006; Lee, Cho, Gay, Davidson, & Ingraffea, 2003; Leidner & Jarvenpaa, 1993). Web-based course management systems (WCMS), such as WebCT and Learning Space, are among the notable ICTs diffusing in higher learning environments globally (Ifinedo, 2006; Tavangarian, Leypold, Nölting, Röser, & Voigt, 2004). WCMS are sometimes referred to as course management systems (CMSs). An instructor using a CMS can place course materials online, communicate with students, track their progress, and conduct online tests, quizzes, and so forth. Sometimes, CMSs are confused with another group of learning technology known as learning management systems (LMSs). Carliner (2005) provides a clear distinction between the two technologies; he notes that CMSs are used in the management of asynchronous educational environments (AEEs) whereas LMSs are basically registrars that perform various enrollment and registration tasks electronically. Examples of LMSs include Saba, NetDimensions EKP, and SumTotal. Both technologies are essential for an effective virtual learning environment (VLE) (Carliner, 2005; Tavangarian et al., 2004). We focus solely on WCMSs in this article in the bid to not generalize the two technologies.

The objective of this article is to present the results of a study that investigates the acceptance of WCMS among college students in Estonia. The country is an emerging economy in the Baltic region of Europe. Estonia has made remarkable progress with respect to the use of ICT products in enhancing education at all levels (The Tiger Leap Foundation, 1997). Recently, Estonia joined forces with a pan-European e-learning project called the UNIVe (Estonian eUniversity, 2004; Ifinedo, 2005). Among other goals, the project aims at “increasing the availability of quality education for students and other people willing to learn …and, educating lecturers of universities to compile and practice quality and efficient e-courses” (Ifinedo, 2006). In brief, the UNIVe project aspires to improve VLEs for the participating countries. WebCT is among the VLE tools being used by college students in Estonia. In this respect, this study will increase our understanding regarding the acceptance of such technologies in the region. The research is important for three reasons: (1) first, to provide empirical information about the acceptance of WCMS among Estonian college students, (2) to complement a recent study in Estonia in which the experiences of college teachers on WCMS was investigated, and (3) to answer calls being made for ICT studies to be extended to the other regions of the world, including Eastern Europe (see Ifinedo, 2006). Furthermore, this study draws from the technology acceptance model (TAM); for a theory to be considered valid, its veracity across a wide range of contexts needs to be established. Importantly, the findings of the study will be beneficial to administrators, instructors, and other entities involved in various e-learning projects in Estonia and comparable countries in the region.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Wireless Technology: The term wireless technology is generally used for mobile IT equipment. It encompasses cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wireless networking.

Tablet PC: A computer shaped in the form of a notebook or a slate with the capabilities of being written on through the use of digitizing tablet technology or a touch screen.

Education Technology: The use of information, communication, and technological devices and processes to enhance, extend, and engage, the teaching and learning process to promote quality teaching and active student learning and engagement.

PDA: (Personal Digital Assistant): A portable computing device for organizing personal data such as telephone numbers, appointments, and notes. It technology device is capable of transmitting and receiving data when equipped with a wireless module.

Wireless Application: Wireless application protocol (WAP) is an application environment and set of communication protocols for wireless devices designed to enable manufacturer-, vendor-, and technology-independent access to the Internet and advanced telephony services.

Handheld: Handheld devices (also known as handhelds) are pocket-sized computing devices that are rapidly gaining popularity as the access to information in every walk of life becomes more and more mission critical.

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