Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Faculty Experiences, Perceptions, and the Factors that Influence the Use of E-learning Technologies in the Classroom

Rosalina Burgos-Gil, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

The rapid growth of e-learning technologies in higher education challenges university faculty to make their teaching relevant in these new contexts. As e-learning technologies are widely available, faculty members integrated them to their teaching repertoire. Several researchers discussed the impact of e-learning technologies on teaching and learning from the students’ perspective, but few studies addressed the faculty point of view. This qualitative study fills this gap by sharing the experiences of faculty members who use an open-sourced learning management system in their face-to-face courses, their perceptions of its impact on teaching and learning, and the factors that support or hinder its integration. The study took place in a small campus from the public university system in Puerto Rico, with a group of 13 faculty members. The research methodology consisted of semi-structured interviews that helped gather information regarding the participants’ experiences and perceptions integrating Moodle in the classroom. The interviews were digitally recorded and a research assistant was hired to transcribe them. After reviewing each transcript multiple times, I coded and analyzed those using descriptive codes to link text passages with ideas and developed a codebook to ensure consistency applying the codes. The analysis process confirmed some of the ideas explored in the literature review, and new themes emerged, with questions for future research. The study findings demonstrate that (a) the majority of the participants use Moodle for the distribution of documents and resources, some use it for evaluation and others for teaching, but only three participants use it also for community building beyond the classroom; (b) the participants find Moodle useful in the teaching process and to enhance learning, but they need additional knowledge and skills to foster interactive, collaborative learning; (c) the participants’ personal and professional dispositions are the internal factors that promote engagement with Moodle; and (d) the most important external factors that influence the use of Moodle in the classroom are related to the students’ lack of technological literacy in the academic context and the limited institutional support that is available. In conclusion, the participants do not use Moodle to its full potential, most of them use it from a teaching-centered perspective, and they need further institutional support structures and resources to encourage the kind of teaching and learning expected in the 21st century. The limitations of the study are included, along with implications for practice and further research.

Key Words: e-learning technologies, blended learning, faculty perspective, technology in the classroom, higher education, internal factors, external factors

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