| || || Raturi, Shikha|
| || || An evaluation of the elearning continuum in higher education : a study at the University of the South Pacific |
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Subject: Computer-assisted instruction -- Oceania, Internet in higher education -- Oceania , Education, Higher -- Effect of technological innovations on -- Oceania
Call No.: pac LB 1028 .5 .R38 2015
Copyright:10-20% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission
Abstract: Elearning is a way of life. The learners and their learning environment (LE) are at the centre of this exploratory journey. The study, therefore, focused on the learners’ and instructors’ perceptions and satisfaction levels towards one of the four instructional delivery modes (IDM)/LE offered in the University of the South Pacific (USP). The classification for IDM/LE is based on the extent to which technology is used in the four different modes/environments that constitute the elearning continuum at USP. The first LE along the elearning continuum is ‘Print-based DE’ (P, 0-29% technology dependent), followed by ‘face-to-face’ (F2F/F, 0-29% technology dependent), then ‘blended’ (B, 30-79% technology dependent) and at the end is ‘online’ (O, 80+% technology dependent). The research was carried out in two Phases with Phase I being quantitative mainly and Phase II qualitative. A total of 945 learners (873 Undergraduate (UG) & 72 Postgraduate (PG)) and 116 instructors/teaching staff participated in a survey in Phase I. Out of the Phase I participants, 94 learners (73 UG & 21 PG) and 46 instructors participated in an interview in Phase II. The instrument used in Phase I was a questionnaire (Learning Environment Survey) adapted from three sources while a set of 15 questions guided the interview in Phase II. The study utilized a mixed method approach incorporating both quantitative and qualitative aspects allowing triangulation to provide a complete picture of the elearning continuum. The findings indicate a clear preference for F2F LE/IDM by all UG learners regardless of discipline, and PG learners from the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) PG learners, whereas blended is preferred by the PG learners from the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) and the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE). The majority of instructors prefer F2F LE and blended as the second most preferred. The study also indicates a clear need for print LE for the learners in the region especially the remote and outer islands. The highest satisfaction is recorded in F2F LE for the majority of learners and instructors, informing us of the emphasis placed on real-time interaction in same physical proximity by learners and instructors. The ICT skills are not much of an issue vii as compared to ICT access. The poor ICT infrastructure in the region appears as the major cause of the digital divide amongst the learners. Despite ICT challenges, the integration of technology is appreciated by all learners and instructors regardless of their preferred LE such as ‘discussion forum’ on Moodle. The asynchronous virtual forums are seen to neutralise language barriers and gender effect and also provide ‘space’ and ‘wait(ing) time’ for shy learners with strong cultural values. The need for affective support is reflective of cultural ties and values learners give to their culture.