Tag Archives: Remote Learning

The pros and cons of remote learning

This is an excerpt from one of my latest articles that was accepted for publication by the 6th International Conference on E-Education, E-Business & E-Technology (ICEBT2022).

Suggested Citation: Camilleri, M.A. & Camilleri, A.C. (2022). A cost-benefit analysis on remote learning: A systematic review and implications for the future. 6th International Conference on e-Education, e-Business and e-Technology (Beijing, China: 26th June 2022). https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4104629

(image source: CrushPixel)

After the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions were expected to adapt to an unexpected crisis situation. In many cases, they had to follow their policy makers’ preventative measures to mitigate the contagion of the pandemic [1, 2]. As a result, they introduced contingency plans, and disseminated information on the virus, among students and employees. In many cases, educators were coerced to shift from the provision of traditional, face-to-face teaching and blended learning approaches, to a fully virtual remote course delivery [3, 4]. This transition resulted in a number of challenges to students and instructors [5]. Educators were pressurized to utilize digital technologies including learning management systems (LMS) as well as video conferencing programs [6]. Very often, they relied on their institutions’ Moodle or virtual learning environment (VLE) software to share digital resources including videos, power point presentations and links to online notes [7]. During the pandemic educators also acquainted themselves with video-conferencing platforms [8].

Subsequently, when COVID-19 restrictions were eased, a number of educational institutions reopened their doors to students and employees [9]. They introduced social distancing policies and hygienic procedures in their premises [4, 10]. At the time of writing, a number of academic members of staff, in various contexts, are still utilizing learning technologies including LMS and video conferencing programs [6]. Currently, student-centered educators are adopting hybrid/blended learning approaches, as they deliver face-to-face lectures in addition to online learning methodologies. Very often, they do so to support students who are not in a position to attend their lectures on campus.

A synthesis of the literature on the costs and benefits of remote learning

The costs

Many researchers noted that Covid-19 disrupted the provision of education. In the main, they reported that there were various challenges for the successful implementation of remote learning [17, 23-25]. For example, one of the contributions implied that the prolonged use of virtual platforms might negatively impact the efficacy of synchronous learning [27].

Various studies indicated that the research participants were not always pleased with the quality of education that was provided by their educators, during the pandemic [28]. Academic commentators indicated that faculty members were not experts in the delivery of remote/online instruction. They implied that instructors could require periodic developmental training to improve the service quality of their courses [4, 10].

While a few researchers noted that students appreciated the availability of recorded lectures [29], others reported that educators were not always recording their lectures and/or did not share learning resources with them [21]. This issue could have affected the students’ learning outcomes [30, 31]. In fact, some students were worried about their academic progress during COVID-19 [32]. In many cases, they encountered a number of difficulties during remote course delivery. For instance, online group work involved additional planning as well as institutional support [33]. Previous literature suggests that students necessitate counseling, tutoring and mentoring as well as ongoing assurances to succeed [34, 35].

In many cases, the researchers discovered that course participants required adequate training and support to complete their assessments [23, 24, 36]. A few of them also hinted that was a digital divide among students could have been evidenced among those who experienced connectivity and equipment problems, among other issues [5, 37]. Other authors argued about the individuals’ challenges to focus on their screens for long periods of time [6]. Notwithstanding, educators and students may develop bad postures and other physical problems due to staying hunched in front of a screen. Therefore, students ought to be given regular breaks from the screen to refresh their minds and their bodies.

The benefits

Generally, a number of contributions shed light on the benefits of using remote learning technologies, including learning management systems [1, 21, 29, 32] and interactive conferencing programs (1, 6, 17, 33]. Such educational technologies can help in creating rich social interactions [38-40] as well as positive learning environments – that foster learning and retention [41, 42]. Previous research indicated that digital learning resources can enhance the students’ knowledge and skills [43]. Remote instruction approaches can also provide supportive environments to students [39] and could even increase their chances of learning [30, 31]. Virtual lectures may be recorded or archived for future reference [29]. Hence, students or educators could access their learning materials at their convenience [44-46].

Several researchers underlined the importance of maintaining ongoing, two-way communications with students, and of providing them with appropriate facilitating conditions, to continue improving their learning journeys [6, 47-48]. Video conferencing technologies allow educators to follow up on their students’ progress. They facilitate online interactions, in real time, and enable them to obtain immediate feedback from their students [1, 49]. Notwithstanding, there are fewer chances of students’ absenteeism and on missing out on their lessons, as they can join online meetings from home or from other locations of their choice.

Conclusions

This review implies that online technologies have opened a window of opportunity for educators. Indeed, learning management systems as well as conferencing programs are useful tools for educators to continue delivering education in a post covid-19 context. However, it is imperative that educational institutions invest in online learning infrastructures, resources and facilitating conditions, for the benefit of their students and faculty employees. They should determine whether their instructors are (or are not) delivering high levels of service quality through the utilization of remote learning technologies to continue delivering student-centered education.

This paper can be downloaded from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/360474225_A_cost-benefit_analysis_on_the_use_of_remote_learning_technologies_A_systematic_review_and_a_synthesis_of_the_literature

References (these are all the references that were featured in the full paper)

  1. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2021. The acceptance of learning management systems and video conferencing technologies: Lessons learned from COVID-19. Tech, Know and Learning, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10758-021-09561-y
  2. OECD 2020. OECD Policy Response to CoronaVirus: Education responses to COVID-19: Embracing digital learning and online collaboration”, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris, France.  http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/education-responses-to-covid-19-embracing-digital-learning-and-online-collaboration-d75eb0e8/
  3. Sir John Daniel. 2020. Education and the COVID-19 pandemic. Prospects, 49(1), 91-96. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-020-09464-3
  4. Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2021. Evaluating service quality and performance of higher education institutions: A systematic review and a post COVID-19 outlook. Int J. of Qual & Serv Sciences 13, 2, 268-281. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJQSS-03-2020-0034
  5. Tewathia, Nidhi, Anant Kamath, and P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan. 2020. Social inequalities, fundamental inequities, and recurring of the digital divide: Insights from India. Tech in Soc, 61, 101251.
  6. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Camilleri. 2022. Remote learning via video conferencing technologies: Implications for research and practice. Tech in Society, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techsoc.2022.101881
  7. Fathema, Nafsaniath, David Shannon, and Margaret Ross. 2015. Expanding the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to examine faculty use of Learning Management Systems (LMSs) in higher education institutions. J of Online Learning & Teach, 11(2), 210-232.
  8. Worldbank 2020 The COVID-19 Crisis Response: Supporting tertiary education for continuity, adaptation, and innovation. Worldbank Group Education, Washington, USA. http://pubdocs.worldbank.org/en/621991586463915490/WB-Tertiary-Ed-and-Covid-19-Crisis-for-public-use-April-9.pdf
  9. Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2021. Shifting from traditional and blended learning approaches to a fully virtual and remote course delivery: Implications from COVID-19. Acad Letters, Article, 481.
  10. Ronald W. Welch, Robert J. Rabb, and Alyson Grace Eggleston. 2021. Using the SWIVL for Effective HyFlex Instruction: Best Practices, Challenges, and Opportunities. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
  11. Rabab Ali Abumalloh, Shahla Asadi, Mehrbakhsh Nilashi, Behrouz Minaei-Bidgoli, Fatima Khan Nayer, Sarminah Samad, Saidatulakmal Mohd, and Othman Ibrahim. 2021. The impact of coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) on education: The role of virtual and remote laboratories in education. Tech in Soc, 67, 101728.
  12. Stephen J. Aguilar, 2020. Guidelines and tools for promoting digital equity. Inf and Lear Sci, 121(5/6), 285-299.
  13. Amy B. Smoyer, Kyle O’Brien, and Elizabeth Rodriguez-Keyes. 2020. Lessons learned from COVID-19: Being known in online social work classrooms. Int Social Work, 63(5), 651-654.
  14. Anthony F. Tasso, Nesrin Hisli Sahin, and Gabrielle J. San Roman.2021. COVID-19 disruption on college students: Academic and socioemotional implications. Psych Trauma: Theory, Res, Practice, and Pol, 13(1), 9-15.
  15. Jingrong Xie, and Mary F. Rice. 2021. Instructional designers’ roles in emergency remote teaching during COVID-19. Dist Ed, 42(1), 70-87.
  16. Lata Kanyal Butola, 2021. E-learning-a new trend of learning in 21st century during COVID-19 pandemic. Indian J of Foren Med and Toxicology, 15(1), 422-426.
  17. William Hurst, Adam Withington, and Hoshang Kolivand. 2022. Virtual conference design: features and obstacles. Multimedia Tools and Applic. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11042-022-12402-4
  18. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2019. The students’ readiness to engage with mobile learning apps. Interactive Tech and Smart Educ 17,1, 28-38. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITSE-06-2019-0027
  19. Andrzej Szymkowiak, Boban Melović, Marina Dabić, Kishokanth Jeganathan, and Gagandeep Singh Kundi. 2021. Information technology and Gen Z: The role of teachers, the internet, and technology in the education of young people. Tech in Soc, 65, 101565.
  20. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2017. Digital learning resources and ubiquitous technologies in education. Tech, Know and Learning 22,1, 65-82. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10758-016-9287-7
  21. Patricia R. Backer, Maria Chierichetti, Laura E. Sullivan-Green, and Liat Rosenfeld. 2021. Learning from the Student Experience: Impact of Shelter-in-Place on the Learning Experiences of Engineering Students at SJSU. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings.
  22. Timothy Boye, and Tania Machet. 2021. Emerging from COVID-19 to future practice. Proceedings – SEFI 49th Annual Conference: Blended Learning in Engineering Education: Challenging, Enlightening – and Lasting, 697-704.
  23. Andrea N. Giordano, and Casey R. Christopher. 2020. Repurposing best teaching practices for remote learning environments: Chemistry in the news and oral examinations during covid-19. J of Chemical Educ, 97(9), 2815-2818.
  24. Mohamed Shaik Honnurvali, Ayman A. El-Saleh, Abdul Manan Sheikh, Keng Goh, Naren Gupta, and Tariq Umar. 2022. Sustainable Engineering higher education in Oman-lessons learned from the pandemic (COVID-19), improvements, and suggestions in the teaching, learning and administrative framework. J of Eng Education Trans, 35(3), 52-69.
  25. Rizwana Wahid, Oveesa Farooq, and Ahtisham Aziz. 2021. The New Normal: Online Classes and Assessments during the COVID-19 Outbreak. J of E-Learning and Know Society, 17(2), 85-96.
  26. Brenda Van Wyk, Gillian Mooney, Martin Duma, and Samuel Faloye, 2020. Emergency remote learning in the times of covid: A higher education innovation strategy. Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL2020, 499-507.
  27. Andrew Darr, Jenna Regan, and Yerko Berrocal. 2021. Effect of Video Conferencing on Student Academic Performance: Evidence from Preclinical Summative Assessment Scores. Medical Science Educator, 31(6), 1747-1750.
  28. Ji-Hee Jung, and Jae-Ik Shin 2021. Assessment of university students on online remote learning during COVID-19 pandemic in Korea: An empirical study, Sustainability (Switzerland), 13(19), 10821.       
  29. John Michael Cotter, and Rasim Guldiken. 2021. Remote Versus In-Class Active Learning Exercises for an Undergraduate Course in Fluid Mechanics, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings                 
  30. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2017. Digital learning resources and ubiquitous technologies in education. Tech, Knowledge and Learning, 22(1), 65-82.
  31. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2017. The students’ perceptions of digital game-based learning. In European Conference on Games Based Learning (pp. 56-62). Academic Conferences International Limited.
  32. Marilyn Barger, and Lakshmi Jayaram. 2021. Students Talk: The Experience of Advanced Technology Students at Two-Year Colleges during COVID-19, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings.  
  33. Kennedy Saldanha, Jennifer Currin-McCulloch, Barbara Muskat, Shirley R. Simon, Ann M. Bergart, Ellen Sue Mesbur, Donna Guy, Namoonga B. Chilwalo, Mamadou M. Seck, Greg Tully, Kristina Lind, Cheryl D. Lee, Neil Hall,and Diana Kelly, 2021. Turning boxes into supportive circles: Enhancing online group work teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social Work with Groups, 44(4), 310-327.
  34. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2017. The technology acceptance of mobile applications in education. In 13th International Conference on Mobile Learning (Budapest, April 10th). Proceedings, pp., International Association for Development of the Information Society.
  35. Adriana Caterina Camilleri, and Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2019. Mobile learning via educational apps: an interpretative study. In Proceedings of the 2019 5th International Conference on Education and Training Technologies (pp. 88-92).
  36. Galina Ilieva, and Tania Yankova. 2020. IoT in Distance Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic.TEM Journal, 9(4), 1669-1674.
  37. Emily S. Kinsky, Patrick F. Merle, and Karen Freberg. 2021. Zooming through a Pandemic: An Examination of Marketable Skills Gained by University Students during the COVID-19 Crisis. Howard J of Comm, 32(5), 507-529
  38. Anne E. Drake, Jonathan Hy, Gordon A. MacDougall, Brendan Holmes, Lauren Icken, Jon W. Schrock, and Robert A. Jones.. 2021. Innovations with tele-ultrasound in education sonography: the use of tele-ultrasound to train novice scanners. Ultrasound J, 13(1), Article 6, https://doi.org/10.1186/s13089-021-00210-0
  39. Ming Lei, Ian M. Clemente, Haixia Liu, and John Bell. 2022. The Acceptance of Telepresence Robots in Higher Education. Int J of Social Robotics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12369-021-00837-y                                                           
  40. Yuan Li, David Hicks, Wallace S. Lages, Sang Won Lee, Akshay Sharma, and Doug A. Bowman   2021. ARCritique: Supporting remote design critique of physical artifacts through collaborative augmented reality. Proceedings – 2021 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Abstracts and Workshops, VRW 2021, 9419257, 585-586
  41. Vivekananth Subbiramaniyan, Chandrashekhar Apte, and Ciraj Ali Mohammed. 2021. A meme-based approach for enhancing student engagement and learning in renal physiology, Adv in Physio Educ, 46(1), 27-29.                 
  42. Joshua Zavitz, Aarti Sarwal, Jacob Schoeneck, Casey Glass, Brandon Hays, E. Shen, Casey Bryant, and Karisma Gupta. 2021. Virtual multispecialty point-of-care ultrasound rotation for fourth-year medical students during COVID-19: Innovative teaching techniques improve ultrasound knowledge and image interpretation. AEM Education and Training, 5(4), e10632.                         
  43. Vikash Gayah, Sarah E. Zappe, and Stephanie Cutler. 2021.Impact of Remote Instructional Format on Student Perception of a Supportive Learning Environment for Expertise Development. ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings.
  44. Butler, A., Camilleri, M. A., Creed, A., & Zutshi, A. 2021. The use of mobile learning technologies for corporate training and development: A contextual framework. In Strategic corporate communication in the digital age. Emerald Publishing Limited.
  45. Adriana Caterina Camilleri, and Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2019. The Students Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations to Engage with Digital Learning Games. In Shun-Wing N.G., Fun, T.S. & Shi, Y. (Eds.) 5th International Conference on Education and Training Technologies (ICETT 2019). Seoul, South Korea. International Economics Development and Research Center (IEDRC). ACM Digital Library. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/3337682.3337689
  46. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2019. The Acceptance and Use of Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education. In Pfennig, A. & Chen, K.C. (Eds.) 3rd International Conference on Education and eLearning (ICEEL2019), Barcelona, Spain. ACM Digital Library. https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3371647.3372205
  47. Adriana Caterina Camilleri, and Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2019. Mobile Learning via Educational Apps: An Interpretative Study. In Shun-Wing N.G., Fun, T.S. & Shi, Y. (Eds.) 5th International Conference on Education and Training Technologies (ICETT 2019). Seoul, South Korea. International Economics Development and Research Center (IEDRC). ACM Digital Library. https://doi.org/10.1145/3337682.3337687
  48. Mark Anthony Camilleri, and Adriana Caterina Camilleri. 2020. The students’ acceptance and use of their university’s virtual learning environment. In Chen, K.C., Ma, Y., & Kawamura, M., The 11th International Conference on E-Education, E-Business, E-Management, and E-Learning (IC4E 2020). Ritsumeikan University, Osaka, Japan. ACM Digital Library. https://www.mendeley.com/catalogue/037e2920-3bc5-3f9f-8b92-210a2e924156/
  49. Paul Capriotti, Iliana Zeler, and Mark Anthony Camilleri. 2021. Corporate communication through social networks: The identification of the key dimensions for dialogic communication. In M.A. Camilleri (Ed.) Strategic Corporate Communication in the Digital Age, Emerald, UK. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-80071-264-520211003
  50. Valeria Aloizou, Tania Chasiotou, Symeon Retalis, Theodoros Daviotis, and Panagiotis Koulouvaris. 2021. Remote learning for children with Special Education Needs in the era of COVID-19: Beyond tele-conferencing sessions. Educ Media Int, 58 (2), 181-201.
  51. Yelena Chaiko, Nadezhda Kunicina, Antons Patlins, and Anastasia Zhiravetska. 2020. Advanced practices: Web technologies in the educational process and science. 2020 IEEE 61st Annual International Scientific Conference on Power and Electrical Engineering of Riga Technical University, RTUCON 2020 – Proceedings, 9316567.
  52. Courtney J. Chatha, and Stacey Lowery Bretz. 2020. Adapting Interactive Interview Tasks to Remote Data Collection: Human Subjects Research That Requires Annotations and Manipulations of Chemical Structures during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Chemical Educ, 97(11), 4196-4201.
  53. Phil Legg, Thomas Higgs, Pennie Spruhan, Jonathan White, and Ian Johnson. 2021. ‘Hacking an IoT Home’: New opportunities for cyber security education combining remote learning with cyber-physical systems. 2021 International Conference on Cyber Situational Awareness, Data Analytics and Assessment, CyberSA 2021, 9478251.
  54. Jenifer M. Ross, Lauri Wright, and Andrea Y. Arikawa, 2021. Adapting a classroom simulation experience to an online escape room in nutrition education. Online Learning J, 25(1), 238-244.
  55. Jintawat Sangpratoom, Atima Tharatipyakul, Natnaree Ua-Arak, Kejkaew Thanasuan, and Suporn Pongnumkul. 2021.Comparing Remote Learning between Live Lectures and Self-paced Interactive Tutorials for Learning an Introduction to Blockchain Proceedings – 2021 International Conference on Information Systems and Advanced Technologies, ICISAT 2021
  56. Sharon Wallace, Monika S. Schuler, Michelle Kaulback, Karen Hunt, and Manisa Baker. 2021. Nursing student experiences of remote learning during the COVID‐19 pandemic. In Nursing Forum, 56(3), 612-618.

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The students’ perceptions of remote learning through video conferencing!

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from a recent article that was published by Springer’s Technology, Knowledge and Learning Journal.

Source: Camilleri, M.A. & Camilleri, A.C. (2021). The Acceptance of Learning Management Systems and Video Conferencing Technologies: Lessons Learned from COVID-19. Technology, Knowledge & Learning.

The unexpected Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted the provision of education in various contexts around the globe. Education service providers, including higher education institutions (HEIs) were required to follow their respective governments’ preventative social distancing measures and to increase their hygienic practices, to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. They articulated contingency plans, disseminated information about the virus, trained their employees to work remotely, and organised virtual sessions with students or course participants.

These latest developments have resulted in both challenges and opportunities to students and educators. Course instructors were expected to develop a new modus operandi to deliver their education services, in real time. During the first wave of COVID-19, HEIs were suddenly expected to shift from traditional and blended learning approaches to a fully virtual course delivery.

The shift to online, synchronous classes did not come naturally. COVID-19 has resulted in different problems for course instructors and their students. In many cases, educators were compelled to utilise online learning technologies to continue delivering their courses. In the main, educators have embraced the dynamics of remote learning technologies to continue delivering educational services to students, amid the peaks and troughs of COVID-19 cases.

Subsequently, policy makers have eased their restrictions when they noticed that there were lower contagion rates in their communities. After a few months of lockdown (or partial lock down) conditions, there were a number of HEIs that were allowed to open their doors. They instructed their visitors to wear masks, and to keep socially distant from each other. Most HEIs screened individuals for symptoms as they checked their temperatures and introduced strict hygienic practices like sanitisation facilities in different parts of their campuses.

However, after a year and a half, since the outbreak of COVID-19, some academic members of staff were still relying on the use of remote learning technologies to deliver education services, as they utilised learning management systems (LMS) and video conferencing software to teach their courses. During the pandemic, they became acquainted with online technologies that facilitated asynchronous as well as synchronous learning.

Whilst their asynchronous approaches included text and/or recorded video that were made available through LMS (like Moodle), in many cases, they also utilised video conferencing platforms including Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, D2L, Webex, Adobe Connect, Skype for Business, Big Blue Button and EduMeet, among others, to interact with students in real time.

In this light, our research investigated the facilitating conditions that can foster the students’ acceptance and usage of remote learning technologies including LMS and video conferencing programs. We examined the participants’ motivations to use them to continue pursuing their educational programs from home, during COVID-19. Specifically, our study investigated students’ perceptions about the usefulness of remote learning, their interactive capabilities, their attitudes toward their utilisation, the facilitating conditions as well as their intentions to continue using them.

Our targeted respondents were registered students who followed full-time and part-time courses at the University of Malta in Malta. We used a structural equation modeling partial least squares (SEM-PLS) analytical approach to examine the responses of 501 students who voluntarily participated in our research.

The findings clearly indicated that the higher education students perceived the usefulness of remote learning technologies during COVID-19 and valued their interactive attributes. They confirmed that the respondents held positive perceptions toward their universities’ facilitating conditions (like ongoing support, as well as training and development opportunities).

The empirical results reported that the HEI’s facilitating conditions had a significant effect on the students’ interactive engagement with online learning resources and on their attitudes towards these technologies.

The confirmatory composite analysis reported that there were positive and highly significant effects that predicted the students’ intentions to continue using remote learning technologies. Evidently, educators have provided them with the necessary resources, knowledge and technical support to avail themselves of remote learning technologies.

The respondents indicated that they accessed their course instructors’ online resources and regularly interacted with them through live conferencing facilities. The findings from SEM-PLS confirmed that the perceived usefulness and perceived interactivity with online technologies had a positive effect on their attitudes toward remote learning.

In sum, this contribution has differentiated itself from other studies as it investigated the students’ perceptions and attitudes on the use of asynchronous as well as synchronous learning technologies in higher education. It implies that the integration of these technologies ought to be accelerated in the foreseeable future as they may become the norm, in a post COVID-19 era. Therefore, HEIs ought to continue investing in online learning infrastructures, resources and facilitating conditions, for the benefit of their students and faculty employees.

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The acceptance of learning management systems and video conferencing technologies

The following texts are excerpts from one of my latest articles.

Suggested Citation: Camilleri, M.A. & Camilleri, A.C. (2021). The Acceptance of Learning Management Systems and Video Conferencing Technologies: Lessons Learned from COVID-19, Technology, Knowledge and Learning, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-021-09561-y

Introduction

An unexpected Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted the provision of educational services in various contexts around the globe (Rahiem, 2020; Johnson, Veletsianos & Seaman, 2020; Bolumole, 2020). During the first wave of COVID-19, several educational institutions were suddenly expected to interrupt their face-to-face educational services. They had to adapt to an unprecedented situation. This latest development has resulted in both challenges and opportunities to students and educators (Howley, 2020; Araújo, de Lima, Cidade, Nobre, & Neto, 2020). Education service providers, including higher education institutions (HEIs) were required to follow their respective governments’ preventative social distancing measures and to increase their hygienic practices, to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. Several HEIs articulated contingency plans, disseminated information about the virus, trained their employees to work remotely, and organized virtual sessions with students or course participants.

Course instructors were expected to develop a new modus operandi to deliver their higher education services, in real time (Johnson et al., 2020). During the pandemic, many HEIs migrated from traditional and blended teaching approaches to fully virtual and remote course delivery. However, their shift to online, synchronous classes did not come naturally. COVID-19 has resulted in different problems to course instructors and to their students. In many cases, during the pandemic, educators were compelled to utilize online learning technologies to continue delivering their courses (Fitter, Raghunath, Cha, Sánchez, Takayama & Matarić, 2020). In the main, educators have embraced the dynamics of remote learning technologies to continue delivering educational services to students, amid peaks and troughs of COVID-19 cases.

Subsequently, policy makers have eased their restrictions when they noticed that there were lower contagion rates in their communities. After a few months of lockdown (or partial lock down) conditions, there were a number of HEIs that were allowed to open their doors. They instructed their visitors to wear masks, and to keep socially distant from each other. Most HEIs screened individuals for symptoms as they checked their temperatures and introduced strict hygienic practices like sanitization facilities in different parts of their campuses.  

However, after a year and a half, since the outbreak of COVID-19, some academic members of staff were still relying on the use of remote learning technologies like learning management systems (like Moode) and video conferencing software to teach their courses (Cesco, Zara, De Toni, Lugli, Betta, Evans & Orzes, 2021). During the pandemic, they became acquainted with online technologies that facilitated asynchronous learning through text and/or recorded video (Sablić, Mirosavljević & Škugor, 2020). Moreover, many of them, organized interactive sessions with their students in real time. Very often, they utilized video conferencing platforms including Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, D2L, Webex, Adobe Connect, Skype for Business, Big Blue Button and EduMeet, among others. COVID-19 has triggered them to use these remote technologies to engage in two-way communications with their students.

Although in the past year, there were a number of researchers who have published discursive articles about the impacts of COVID-19 on higher education, for the time being, there are just a few empirical studies on the subject (Bergdahl & Nouri, 2020; Aguilera-Hermida, 2020; Gonzalez, de la Rubia, Hincz, Comas-Lopez, Subirats, Fort & Sacha, 2020). This contribution addresses this gap in academia. Specifically, it investigates the facilitating conditions that can foster the students’ acceptance and usage of remote learning technologies. It examines the participants’ utilitarian motivations to utilize asynchronous learning resources to access course material, and sheds light on their willingness to engage with instructors and/or peers through synchronous, video conferencing software, to continue pursuing their educational programs from home, during an unexpected pandemic situation.

This study builds on previous theoretical underpinnings on technology adoption (Cheng & Yuen, 2018; Al-Rahmi, Alias, Othman, Marin & Tur, 2018; Merhi, 2015; Schoonenboom, 2014; Lin, Zimmer & Lee, 2013; Chen, Chen & Kazman, 2007; Ngai, Poon & Chan, 2007; Davis, 1989). At the same time, it explores the students’ perceptions about the interactivity (McMillan & Jang-Sun Hwang, 2002) of LMS as well as video conferencing software, and sheds light on their HEI’s facilitating conditions (Hoi, 2020; Dečman, 2015; Venkatesh, Thong & Xu, 2012; Venkatesh, Morris, Davis & Davis, 2003). The rationale of this study is to better understand the research participants’ intentions to use remote technologies, to improve their learning journey. To the best of our knowledge, there are no other contributions that have integrated the same measures that have been used in this research. Therefore, this study differentiates itself from the previous literature, and puts forward a research model that is empirically tested.

The development of remote learning

According to the social constructivist theory, individuals necessitate social interactions (Fridin, 2014; Lambropoulos, Faulkner & Culwin, 2012; Ainsworth, 2006; Tam, 2000). They develop their abilities by interacting with others. Therefore, online learning environments ought to be designed to support and challenge the students’ reflective and critical skills, by including interactive learning and collaborative approaches (Rienties & Toetenel, 2016; Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2012; Wang, 2009; Wang, Woo, & Zhao, 2009). Social constructivism and discovery-based learning techniques emphasize the importance of having students who are actively involved in their learning process. This is in stark contrast with previous educational viewpoints where the responsibility rested with the instructor to teach, and where the learner played a passive, receptive role (Lambropoulos et al., 2012).

Today’s students are increasingly using online technologies to learn, both in and out of their higher educational institutions (Al-Maroof, Al-Qaysi, & Salloum, 2021). They are using interactive media to acquire formal and informal skills (Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2012), particularly when they take part in constructivist activities with their peers and course instructors (Fridin, 2014). This argumentation is consistent with the collaborative learning theory (Lambropoulos et al., 2012; Khalifa & Kwok, 1999). Students can use digital technologies to access recorded podcasts (Merhi, 2015; Lin et al., 2013), watch videos (Hung, 2016) and interact together through live streaming technologies in real time (Payne, Keith, Schuetzler & Giboney, 2017). Hence, online education has fostered collaborative learning approaches (Wang, 2009). Computer mediated education enables students to search for solutions, to share online information with their peers, to evaluate each other’s ideas, and to monitor one another’s work (Lambić, 2016; Sung et al., 2015; Soflano, et al., 2015). 

Course participants can use remote technologies, including their personal computers, smart phones and tablets to access their instructors’ asynchronous, online resources including course notes, power point presentations, videos clips, case studies, et cetera (Butler, Camilleri, Creed & Zutshi, 2021; Hung, 2016; Ifenthaler & Schweinbenz, 2013). Moreover, in this day and age, they are utilizing video conferencing technologies to attend virtual meetings, and to engage in one-to-one conversations, or in group discussions and debates with their course instructor and with other students. These virtual programs enable students to engage in synchronous communications with course instructors, to ask questions, and receive feedback, in real time.

A critical review of the relevant literature reported that university students were already using asynchronous technologies, in different contexts, before the outbreak of COVID-19 (Butler et al., 2021; Sánchez-Prieto et al., 2017; Hung, 2016; Liu et al., 2010; Sánchez & Hueros, 2010). Many authors held that online technologies were improving the students’ experiences (Crompton & Burke, 2018; Kurucay & Inan, 2017; Sánchez-Prieto et al., 2016). Before the outbreak of COVID-19, many practitioners blended traditional learning methodologies with digital and mobile applications to improve learning outcomes (Al-Maroof et al., 2021; Boelens et al., 2018; Furió et al., 2015). Course instructors can design and develop online learning environments to support their students with asynchronous resources (Wang et al., 2009). They may allow them to engage in collaborative learning activities through virtual environments (Rienties & Toetenel, 2016; Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2012). These contemporary approaches are synonymous with the social constructivist theory (Fridin, 2014; Lambropoulos et al., 2012) and with discovery-based learning (Ifenthaler, 2012; Lambropoulos et al., 2012).

Theoretical implications

This contribution investigated the students’ perceived usefulness, perceived interactivity, attitudes toward use, facilitating conditions and behavioral intentions to utilize remote technologies. It posited that higher education students perceived the usefulness of remote learning technologies including LMS and video conferencing programs during COVID-19. The findings clearly indicated that they valued their interactive attributes. These factors have led them to embrace these programs during their learning journey. This study also confirmed that the universities’ facilitating conditions had a significant effect on their perceptions about the interactivity of these online learning resources and on their attitudes towards these technologies, as reported in Figure 1. This finding is consistent with previous research that reported that facilitating conditions is positively related to the students’ intentions to continue using digital and mobile learning resources (Gangwar et al., 2015; Teo, 2009).

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Figure 1

This study has differentiated itself from previous contributions as it integrated facilitating conditions (Hoi, 2020; Dečman, 2015; Venkatesh et al. 2003; 2012) and perceived interactivity (Chattaraman et al., 2019; Chen et al., 2007; McMillan & Jang-Sun Hwang, 2002) with perceived usefulness (of technology) and attitudes (toward the use of technology) to better understand the students’ intentions to utilize remote learning technologies to improve their learning journey (Cheng & Yuen, 2018; Al-Rahmi et al., 2018; Merhi, 2015; Schoonenboom, 2014; Lin et al., 2013; Ngai et al., 2007; Davis, 1989) during an unexpected pandemic situation.

A bibliographic analysis revealed that there are a number of theoretical papers that have been published in the last eighteen months on this hot topic (Cesco et al., 2021; Fitter et al., 2020; Howley, 2020; Rahiem, 2020). Yet, to date, there are just a few rigorous studies, that examined the utilization of synchronous video conferencing technologies, in addition to conventional, asynchronous content, like LMS, in the context of higher education (Aguilera-Hermida, 2020; Gonzalez et al., 2020).

The findings from this research shed light on the utilitarian factors that were influencing the students’ engagement with interactive learning resources. According to the descriptive statistics, the students felt that remote technologies were useful to achieve their learning outcomes. They indicated that they were provided with appropriate facilitating conditions that enabled them to migrate to a fully virtual learning environment from face-to-face or blended learning approaches. During the pandemic’s lockdown or partial lockdown conditions, and even when the preventative measures were eased, many students were still using remote learning technologies to access online educational resources. They also kept using video conferencing technologies to attend to virtual classes, and to engage with their course instructor(s) and with their peers, in real time.

The confirmatory composite analysis reported that there were positive and highly significant effects that predicted the students’ intentions to use remote learning technologies. Evidently, educators have provided them with the necessary resources, knowledge and technical support to avail themselves of remote learning technologies. The respondents indicated that they accessed their course instructors’ online resources and regularly interacted with them through live conferencing facilities. The findings from SEM-PLS confirmed that the perceived usefulness and perceived interactivity with online technologies had a positive effect on their attitudes toward remote learning. This research implies that the students were confident with the utilization of interactive technologies to continue their educational programs. In fact, this research model proved that they were likely to use synchronous and asynchronous learning technologies in the foreseeable future, in a post COVID-19 context.

Implications of study for educators and policy makers

The COVID-19 pandemic and its preventative measures urged HEIs and other educational institutions to embrace video conferencing technologies to continue delivering student-centered education. This research suggests that educators ought to monitor their students’ engagement during their virtual sessions. It revealed that the students’ perceived interactivity as well as their higher education institutions’ facilitating conditions were having an effect on their perceptions about the usefulness of remote learning, on their attitudes as well as on their intentions to use them. These digital technologies were supporting the research participants in their learning journeys, whether they were at home or on campus. The students themselves perceived the usefulness of asynchronous LMS as well as of synchronous communications, including video conferencing software like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, among others.

These virtual technologies were already utilized in various contexts, before the outbreak of COVID-19. However, they turned out to be important learning resources in the realms of education. Course instructors are expected to support their students, by developing attractive digital learning resources (e.g. interactive presentations, online articles and recorded video clips) in appropriate formats that can be accessed with ease, through different media, including mobile technologies (Sablić et al., 2020). In this day and age, they can also use video conferencing technologies to interact with course participants in real time. When engaging with online resources, instructors should consider their students’ facilitating conditions, particularly if they are including high-res images, interactive media, including podcasts, videos, etc., in their LMSs. Their asynchronous content should be as clear and focused as possible, with links to relevant sources, including notes, case studies, quizzes, rubrics and formative assessments, among others.

COVID-19 has taught us that the individuals’ engagement with LMS and video conferencing software necessitate high‐quality wireless networks. There may be situations where students as well as their instructors may require online technical support, whether they are working from home of from university premises. Educational institutions including HEIs ought to regularly evaluate their students’ experiences with remote teaching in order to identify any issues that are affecting their academic performance (Camilleri, 2021b). HEI leaders are not always in a position to evaluate the quality and standards of their instructors’ online learning methods and to determine with absolute certainty whether their students have achieved their learning outcomes. During remote course delivery, students may not always have access to appropriate interactive technologies, learning materials or to adequate productive environments (Bao, 2020). There can be instances where course instructors and students could require facilitating conditions like technical support or training and development to enhance their competences and capabilities with the use of remote technologies.

A prepublication copy of this contribution can be downloaded through: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353859136_The_Acceptance_of_Learning_Management_Systems_and_Video_Conferencing_Technologies_Lessons_Learned_from_COVID-19

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