The Electronic Journal of e-Learning provides perspectives on topics relevant to the study, implementation and management of e-Learning initiatives
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Journal Article

When Knowing More Means Knowing Less: Understanding the Impact of Computer Experience on e‑Learning and e‑Learning Outcomes  pp289-300

Lena Paulo Kushnir

© Dec 2009 Volume 7 Issue 3, Special ICEL 2009 Issue, Editor: Florin Salajan and Avi Hyman, pp191 - 316

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Abstract

Students often report feeling more overloaded in courses that use e‑learning environments compared to traditional face‑to‑face courses that do not use such environments. Discussions here consider online design and organizational factors that might contribute to students' reports of information overload. It was predicted that certain online factors might contribute to stimulus overload and possibly students' perceived overload, rather than information overload per se. User characteristics and a range of design and organizational factors that might contribute to perceived overload are discussed and hypotheses of how such factors might affect learning outcomes are also discussed. An experiment was conducted to test predictions that (i) students' past online experience, (ii) the organization and relevance of online information, and (iii) the level of task difficulty affect (i) learning outcomes, (ii) students' perceptions of information overload, and (iii) students' perceptions of having enough time to complete experimental tasks. A total of 187 participants were tested in four experimental conditions that manipulated the organization and relevance of online material that students had to learn (ie, (i) a stimulus‑low environment, where the material to be learned was presented as scrolling text, with no other stimuli present; (ii) a familiar environment, where the material to be learned was set within the borders of a familiar course Web site; (iii) a stimulus‑rich or stimulus‑ noisy environment, where the material to be learned was set within the borders of an Amazon.com Web page (a Web site where you can search for, and buy books, videos and other products online); (iv) a PDF file environment, where the material to be learned was presented as a PDF file that resembled an online duplicate of the same material in the course textbook). Findings suggested that overly busy online environments that contain irrelevant information (ie, stimulus‑rich or stimulus‑noisy online environment) had a negative impact on learning for students ranked "high" on experience with e‑learning technologies, but no impact on learning for other students (as measured by a knowledge test of material studied during experimental sessions). There is no doubt that online environments contain vast amounts of information and stimuli; often some of which are irrelevant and distracting. How one handles irrelevant or distracting information and stimuli can have a significant impact on learning. Surprisingly, results here suggest that overload affected only experienced students. Perceptual load hypotheses are discussed to explain what initially seemed to be counterintuitive results. This paper examines literature that considers factors that can affect learning online, strategies for how teachers can ensure positive outcomes for the technology‑based classroom, and strategies for avoiding online pitfalls that might leave students frustrated or burdened with feelings of overload.

 

Keywords: learning outcomes overload perceptual load design and organizational factors of e-learning interface design instructional design user experience task difficulty

 

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Journal Article

Exploring the Current Theoretical Background About Adoption Until Institutionalization of Online Education in Universities: Needs for Further Research  pp73-84

Ines Casanovas

© Mar 2010 Volume 8 Issue 2, ECEL 2009, Editor: Shirley Williams, Florin Salajan, pp51 - 208

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Abstract

Online education in institutional contexts means new organizational problems. The fact that universities need to change to accommodate the impact of technology on learning is already known and accepted. Coping with changes from adoption until institutionalization of online education represents a formidable management challenge for universities. Online education, under the umbrella of e‑learning was perceived by several early researchers as an innovation per‑se, "established and embedded" in educational institutions. Nevertheless, the Department for Education and Skills of UK insists that e‑learning is not embedded at any stage of education. The focus was strongly set on technological, practical and pedagogical aspects but there are relevant reports about failures in embedding innovations in educational institutions. The institutional lack of strategies to cope with international students and new technologies as well as supporting for future online developments clearly appeared in recent studies. Competition in the market of Higher Education has pushed universities towards the adoption of sophisticated organizational practices to ensure effectiveness. These new institutional models require changing traditional functions and roles, as online education does not usually fit into the existing university structure. The transition from on‑campus to online education evolves in new roles, either in the pedagogical or in the administration domains. Organizational factors, more than teachers and students attitudes or technological features seem to mark the differences in the general perception about technology‑mediated education getting successfully embedded in institutional new programs, roles, procedures, culture and structures. The aim of this paper is to revisit the existing theoretical background about the process from adoption until institutionalization of online education and explore the needs for further research. The overall purpose is to encourage researchers to fill the gaps of knowledge helping university managers to address a more clear understanding of the individual and organizational interactions that influence the development of strategies and institutionalization of emergent online educational initiatives. Exploring the current theoretical background it could be found that IT‑innovation adoption models describe very extensively organizational issues, but they mainly take into account educational innovation take‑up, adoption and implementation as isolated stages. They focus on factors and prescribed practices, but not on the human interactions during the transition from individual adoption until institutionalization. The disconnection between individual and organizational IT adoption research was remarked by the Diffusion Interest Group in Information Technology (DIGIT) in their 2004 conference. Since then, several authors have claimed for a better understanding of this linkage. The lack of clearness about the phenomena and a description of how individual and group‑level processes enable andor hinder the development of organizational routines, were reported as a still under‑developed topic and according to the findings of this review it seems to be still an ongoing theme. Consequently, under the circumstance of the transformation that universities are undergoing, the need for a systematic study analyzing the implementation of emergent IT innovations in education appears as significant. Particularly, the process from its adoption at individual level until its institutionalization and the linkage between individual and organizational purposes need to be addressed.

 

Keywords: online education, adoption, organizational factors, institutionalization, universities

 

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Journal Article

Review of Use of Animation as a Supplementary Learning Material of Physiology Content in Four Academic Years  pp368-377

Isabel Hwang, Michael Tam, Shun Leung Lam, Paul Lam

© Oct 2012 Volume 10 Issue 4, ICEL 2012, Editor: Paul Lam, pp360 - 440

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Abstract

Dynamic concepts are difficult to explain in traditional media such as still slides. Animations seem to offer the advantage of delivering better representations of these concepts. Compared with static images and text, animations can present procedural information (e.g. biochemical reaction steps, physiological activities) more explicitly as they show the steps in an orderly manner. Quite a few empirical studies showed promising results animations have on learning (e.g. Trevisan, Oki and Senger, 2009; Hays, 1996). There are, however, also limitations. Designing and developing quality animations for teaching and learning can be challenging sometimes (Morrison, Tversky and Betrancourt, 2000). Kesner and Linzey (2005) even found no improvement on students’ learning in using animations in their study. It thus occurs to the researchers that there are factors that govern successful use of animation in teaching and learning. Our study explored such factors in the context of physiology teaching. 913 students in twelve different classes (collected in two stages, four years in total) in the same physiology course learned complicated microscopic mechanisms with assistance from animations provided as supplementary materials primarily for self‑study. Surveys and group interviews were conducted that provided both qualitative and quantitative feedback. Results were mostly positive ‑ animations surely explain contents more explicitly to students (especially for the explanation of dynamic and complicated biological processes), make students more interested in the subjects taught; and there is a greater demand for similar learning tools from the students. It is strongly believed that animations are good supplementary learning materials for students particularly for learning complicated concepts. Important success factors we found included the detailed explanation of content, a good balance between clear presentation and beautiful interface, the speed of running/ loading of the animations, and the provision of more references, etc.

 

Keywords: dynamic physiology process, supplementary use of animation, advantage of animation in teaching, successful factors of using animation, animation for student revision, learning with animation

 

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Journal Article

Factors Influencing the Adoption of e‑Learning in an Open and Distance Learning Institution of Pakistan  pp148-158

Moiz Uddin Ahmed, Shahid Hussain, Shahid Farid

© Oct 2018 Volume 16 Issue 2, Editor: Rikke Ørngreen and Heinrich Söbke, pp79 - 160

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Abstract

The revolution in technology has led to new approaches toward open and distance learning, particularly in the form of e‑learning. E‑learning governs the system of modern education by using Information and Communication Technology (ICT). There are different design approaches and interpretations of e‑learning, primarily involving variations in instructional strategies and pedagogical models employed with the technology. These innovations offer compelling opportunities to educational institutions, students and faculty alike, yet they have also posed formidable challenges for e‑learning. This is especially the case in the developing countries. This paper engages the concept and aims of e‑learning with regard to the issues in the developing countries. The next part of the paper presents the need of e‑learning in Pakistan and describes the major institutes offering e‑learning and distance education as an alternate mode of education. The paper also elaborates major challenges of e‑learning and explores the influencing factors for the adoption of e‑learning in Pakistan. The important factors are investigated in terms of available ICT infrastructure and other country specific parameters. The paper also presents results of a survey that was conducted to evaluate students’ preferences regarding e‑learning. The survey result demonstrates a strong preference for e‑learning by the students. The paper concludes by presenting a generalized model of e‑learning that can fulfill the needs of leaners under available technology infrastructure.

 

Keywords: E-learning, open and distance learning, Information and Communication Technology, Pedagogy, factors, infrastructure

 

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Journal Article

ICT and Schools: Identification of Factors Influencing the use of new Media in Vocational Training Schools  pp96-103

Alexandra Totter, Daniela Stütz, Gudela Grote

© Feb 2006 Volume 4 Issue 1, Editor: Shirley Williams, pp1 - 111

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Abstract

In this paper, we analysed teachers' characteristics described in the literature on classroom media use to identify those factors, which can explain teachers' use of new media in classrooms with some degree of validity. Using this literature as a basis, in this paper we develop a theoretical model which describes both positive and negative factors, which influence teachers' use of new media in classrooms. These factors include: "constructivist teaching style", "willingness to cooperate", "openness to change", "lack of ICT‑competence", "lack of time" and "lack of ICT confidence". We assessed the validity of the model by testing it using data collected from a survey of fifty‑two Swiss and Austrian teachers, We carried out Pearson correlations to evaluate whether the factors in the model had a positive or a negative influence on teachers' classroom media use. The hypothesized correlations between our variables were all statistically significant. Specifically, all six variables were significantly correlated with the dependent variable "use of new media in classrooms". This result supported our hypothesis concerning positive and negative relationships between variables. In a second, exploratory investigation, we performed OLS regression analysis to investigate, which of the factors in our model are of predictive value with respect to the dependent variable "use of new media in classrooms". Our findings show that the variable "constructivist teaching style" was of particular explanatory value. This suggests that only teachers who adopt a pupil‑oriented, constructivist teaching style are likely to make use of new technology in classrooms. The variable "lack of available time" was identified as a second important factor influencing the "use of new media in classrooms". This suggests that teachers are not able to make full use of new media when they lack the time needed to prepare teaching material using the new media, since time is also needed for teachers to learn new hardware and software computer skills. The results of this study have a series of important, practical implications.

 

Keywords: Media use, Classroom, and teachers' characteristics, Predicting factors

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 6 Issue 3 / Oct 2008  pp161‑254

Editor: Shirley Williams, Laura Czerniewicz

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Editorial

The International e‑Learning Conference was held in the southern hemisphere for the first time, hosted in the beautiful city of sea and mountain, at the University of Cape Town. Several pre‑conference workshops were held, on such topics as mobile learning and open education resources, which meant that by the time the Conference began, discussions were already in full swing. The 68 papers presented were well attended and debates were lively. A Special Issue such as this one cannot capture the tenor of those debates, but it can offer a taste of the conference. We have thus selected excellent articles, which give a flavour of the conference, and of the issues raised.

One might have asked, with delegates from 20 very different countries, all operating in divergent contexts, was there enough commonality of interest and context for a shared conversation to be possible? The answer was clear. Despite widely different technological circumstances, delegates were united by a passion for learning, and the possibilities of technology to enable learning to take place more effectively. The focus was therefore not on hardware nor on infrastructural issues, but on leveraging the affordances of a very wide range of technologies to address the challenges of education, the challenges faced by educators everywhere, and the challenges of helping students learn. These challenges were recognisable across the board. Can technology help students be more engaged with learning? Can technology address the impersonal and alienating environments of large classes in universities? Can technology help students be more reflective and receive more feedback? Can the most basic problems of education, such as primary school literacy be helped by current technologies?

Participants at the conference commented in the final session on how delighted they were by the innovations shared, and by the standard of the discussions in all the sessions. The papers selected for this Special Issue is a selection of such innovations, rigorously accounted and carefully researched.

Most of the papers selected for this journal address specific micro level aspects of learning. Two, for example, confront the basics of reading and writing at the primary level. South Africans Freda van Wyk and Arno Louw report on the use of electronic reading programmes in a context where primary learners perform worse than their peers internationally. They report that while all learners were below expectations for their grades at the outset, after the programme, all had improved. At the other end of the spectrum is a Danish example where researcher Karin Levinsen reports on a primary school context where ICTs have become ubiquitous. Her paper explains how technology which was developed to assist pupils with learning problems proved so successful that they were found valuable for all learners, including those without writing and speaking problems.

Still in the primary school, Philip Balcaen describes a robust process of conceptualising and developing media rich science resources in a Canadian project. The principles and framework he reports on which enable the development of thinking skills in young learners are transferable beyond that specific context and prove useful to educators across the sector.

While the specific teaching strategies change higher up the system, learning challenges do not and students need to be helped to engage with complex learning resources in potentially impersonal environments.

Stefanie Hain and Andrea Back from Switzerland report on the use of blogs to support learning, describing a robust method to design environments which integrate blogs to enforce learning. Fran Greyling from South Africa reports on the potential of technology to assist with the well known difficulties of large impersonal undergraduate classes. This paper shows how assessment and community building can be amplified in quite specific ways.

The blurring of formal and informal learning spaces was also acknowledged in the Conference. Sylvia Jones and Mary Lea use an ethnographic‑style approach to show how amongst students in higher education there is an inter‑mingling of institutional and academic requirements with issues of student identity and personal affiliations, shaping students’ digital literacy practices.

It is not however, only the students whose identities are being reshaped and who need collaborative spaces and supportive communities. Educators and learning designers do too, and indeed supporting a community of learning designers itself is a matter of concern as the field grows. Jill Jameson from the UK shows through empirical case studies how to intentionally grow a community of practice, and she highlights in particular the value of the role of a ""critical friend"". Also bearing in mind the complexity of the terrain to be navigated by learning designers, Mandia Mentis offers a valuable navigational tool, e‑Learning alignment guide which offers a way of aligning the three key zones of pedagogy, technology and context.

At a macro level, the proliferation of recorded data made possible by the online learning environment itself is an opportunity for data mining in the service of macro level decision making in higher education. South African Liezl van Dyk shows how indicators can be generated from such data and correlated with student performance and learning style, offering many insights into students’ learning behaviour.

And finally a bird’s eye view is provided by Laura Czerniewicz who uses researcher and professional views to distinguish the field itself, and who suggests ways in which the field may be developing an identity distinct in its own right. The Conference, and these selected papers provide a taste of that rich and zesty field.

 

Keywords: Academic participation, Automatic pre-correction, Blended learning, Classroom and teachers’ characteristics, Collaborative on-line learning, Communities of practice, Computer aided assessmentCourseware, Critical thinking, Cross-cultural education, Discussion forum, e-Learning portal, Emerging practice, Extreme programming, Formative mcqs, Internationalisation, Knowledge construction, Learner-enfranchisement, Learning content, Learning objects, Malaysian grid for learning, Media use, Mediated communication, Multiple choice questions, MyGFL, Omnigator, On-line collaboration, Ontology engineering, Personalisation, Predicting factors, Proaction, Programming exercises, Summative mcqs, Sustainability, Topic maps, Vicarious learning, Virtual learning environment, VLE

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 7 Issue 1 / May 2009  pp1‑85

Editor: Shirley Williams

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Keywords: Academic participation, Automatic pre-correction, Blended learning, Classroom and teachers’ characteristics, Collaborative on-line learning, Communities of practice, Computer aided assessmentCourseware, Critical thinking, Cross-cultural education, Discussion forum, e-Learning portal, Emerging practice, Extreme programming, Formative mcqs, Internationalisation, Knowledge construction, Learner-enfranchisement, Learning content, Learning objects, Malaysian grid for learning, Media use, Mediated communication, Multiple choice questions, MyGFL, Omnigator, On-line collaboration, Ontology engineering, Personalisation, Predicting factors, Proaction, Programming exercises, Summative mcqs, Sustainability, Topic maps, Vicarious learning, Virtual learning environment, VLE

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 7 Issue 2 / Jun 2009  pp85‑190

Editor: Shirley Williams

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Editorial

The 7th European Conference on e‑Learning (ECEL) took place in Cyprus in November 2008. ECEL always attracts a range of exciting and topical papers in the field of e‑Learning. From a wide field the conference committee selected over 150 papers for presentation. This edition of the EJEL was planned to take the best of the papers and invite the authors to update their work with a wider audience, and to a large extent that is what we have achieved. However with such a large conference it is not possible for a selection panel to listen to all papers, so we have taken a pragmatic approach of asking Session Chairs to recommend papers from their own sessions, and from these recommendations the papers here were selected. Inevitably there is some very high quality work that we are not able to include, however the reader will find a good representation of current work from around Europe and beyond, reflecting developments from lone researchers to multi‑national teams.

 

Keywords: Academic participation, Automatic pre-correction, Blended learning, Classroom and teachers’ characteristics, Collaborative on-line learning, Communities of practice, Computer aided assessmentCourseware, Critical thinking, Cross-cultural education, Discussion forum, e-Learning portal, Emerging practice, Extreme programming, Formative mcqs, Internationalisation, Knowledge construction, Learner-enfranchisement, Learning content, Learning objects, Malaysian grid for learning, Media use, Mediated communication, Multiple choice questions, MyGFL, Omnigator, On-line collaboration, Ontology engineering, Personalisation, Predicting factors, Proaction, Programming exercises, Summative mcqs, Sustainability, Topic maps, Vicarious learning, Virtual learning environment, VLE

 

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