Discussion chapter (the ways academics use LMS)

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    Education
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    Masters
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5.1.2 LMS in Higher Education in KSA

Introduction (150 words)

This section is about the ways that female academic staffs were using LMS which is related to the first research question (in what ways, and to what extent, does female academic staff currently use LMS in KSA universities?). The findings identified different ways that female academic staffs were using Learning Management System in higher education in Saudi Arabia. The discussion in this section is based on findings pertaining to open-ended and close-ended responses to
the survey question about the Blackboard technologies in which the participants have been trained (section 4.2.10). The focus on this area is based on the fact that it is only when members of faculty have received some training on a given aspect or aspects of technology that they can use the skills that they have acquired in regard to that feature or features in their day-to-day teaching activities. Therefore, the training received in a way determines the ways and extent to which the female academic members who participated in the research currently use LMS. The analysis will also use findings from section 4.5.2 (Actual System Use) that presents interview findings on why the research participants actually use learning management systems. The findings of this section are related to the aforementioned findings because they show the various ways and extent to which the participants use various features of a learning management system. The discussion is presented as a brief analysis of the survey and interview findings followed by an analysis of key messages from the findings compared with information from the literature review chapter.

Brief overview summary of survey and interview findings

From the findings relating to the closed-ended questions in the survey questionnaire, in section 4.2.10, the majority of research participants who had received some training on the use of Blackboard had been trained in regard to general Blackboard features. This means that such participants are able to use the general features of Blackboard such as providing learning content to students in formats such as text, PowerPoint slides, sound, images, audio, graphs, animations and many other features that are generally available in Blackboard. Other areas of the LMS in which the research participants had received training and were therefore making use of in their teaching activities include ListServs, Chat Room, Web-based lectures (Blackboard Collaborate), Videoconferencing, and Teleconferencing (Table 17). From information presented in Table 17, it can also be seen that there is a correlation between training in a given aspect of Blackboard and actual use of the knowledge gained through training in teaching using that feature of the technology. This suggests that one’s area of training in the use of Blackboard can be said to be a determinant of the extent to which the person uses the technology to teach.

Findings relating to the open-ended questions in the survey questionnaire also agree with what has been mentioned above. For instance, some of the responses given to the open-ended question that sought to determine reasons why the participants used Blackboard for teaching and learning purposes included things such as the lecturers being able to post homework for students, enabling students to access course materials, and the use of educational materials such as PowerPoint and YouTube (section 4.4.1.1). This means that the members of faculty use Blackboard largely to provide learning materials and other related content to students.

In relation to the interview findings, the research participants’ views in relation to actual system use (section 4.5.2) also highlight the various ways in which the members of faculty use Blackboard. For instance, one participant noted that she had only used Blackboard a little while another used the LMS for “content and to upload the slides” (section 4.5.2). As well, some faculty members use the system for preparing quizzes and small tests that they administer to students while others use Blackboard to upload slides so that students can access them.

Analysis of key messages from the findings in relation to the literature review chapter

Three key messages can be seen to arise from the findings. These are: (1) training is related to the actual use of LMS; (2) members of faculty use different features of Blackboard based on the training received; and (3) participants use Blackboard in different ways and for different purposes. These messages are analyzed and compared with the information in the literature review in the following sections.

To start with, it can be seen from the findings that one’s training in the use of a given feature of Blackboard is related to how the person uses the knowledge gained to teach or deliver instruction using that feature. That is, training is related to the different ways in which members of faculty use technology to deliver instruction. Specifically, it was noted that members of faculty who had received training in areas such as general features of Blackboard, ListServs, Chat Room, Blackboard Collaborate, Videoconferencing, and Teleconferencing were using these features in some or all of the courses that they teach.

The point above is in agreement with some ideas that were presented in the review of literature in relation with the connection between training and the use of technology in higher education institutions. For instance, training the teaching staff on the need to adopt elearning and elearning methods is one of the issues that were emphasised by Mapuva and Muyengwa (2009) as being critical to the use of elearning in higher education (section 2.3.1).Similarly, according to Albidewi and Tulb (2014), training of staff in education institutions is one of the measures that help ensure that the technologies are used effectively. One example that illustrates the significance of training in regard to the use of LMS is that in which the Computer Center of a private university in Thailand conducted training for all members of faculty when Moodle was first introduced in the institution (Wichadee, 2015). The significance of training is that “after instructors get training, they can make use of LMS in their course easily” and that “LMS is not a difficult tool after they are trained to use it” (Wichadee, 2015, p. 59).

It is also apparent that members of faculty use different features of Blackboard based on the training received. For instance, faculty members use Blackboard to upload materials so that students can access them; others use additional educational aids such as PowerPoint and YouTube via Blackboard, and so forth. This is in line with the assertion in the literature review (section 2.3.2) that a number of universities in Saudi Arabia, such as King Khalid University, Imam University, King Saud University, King Faisal University, Effat University and Prince Mohammed bin Fahad University, are using elearning to deliver instructions and materials to students in various ways (Al-Khalifa, 2010a). Some of the other features that faculty members can use in the utilization of LMSs such as Blackboard include music, audio recordings, text, video, sequencing and interactivity (Wichadee, 2015).

The final message is that faculty members use Blackboard in different ways and for different purposes. As it was noted in section 4.5.2, some faculty members use Blackboard to upload slides so that students can access them, others use Blackboard to deliver “content and to upload the slides”, while others use the LMS to prepare quizzes and small tests. This finding is in agreement with a point that was mentioned in the literature review that faculty members use LMSs for different purposes such as making auto-marked quizzes and providing immediate feedback and for facilitating discussion forums among students and between them and students (Palahicky, 2015) (section 2.3.4.2). Again, this can be related to the point that if faculty members get training in the aforementioned areas, then they will use those skills and knowledge areas when using technology to deliver instruction to their students.

References

Wichadee, S. (2015). Factors related to faculty members’ attitude and adoption of a learning management system, The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 14(4),
53-61.