Finding analysis for open ended questions Essay Example

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6.2.2 Open ended questions

6.#.# Reasons for using Blackboard in teaching

In an open-ended survey question, the participants were asked to indicate some of the reasons why they use Blackboard in their teaching activities. The question was framed as “What are some of the reasons you use Blackboard in your teaching?” A total of 81 participants responded to this question. Twenty-five of them indicated that they did not know how to use Blackboard. The remaining 56 participants gave different reasons why they used Blackboard. For ease of analysis, the reasons given for using Blackboard were summarised into four broad areas (full responses can be seen in appendix A). These are improving teaching, improving student learning, improving academic members’ working conditions, and other related reasons. The categorisation of these the different reasons into various groups was based on the perceived benefits of technology as noted in the literature review.

Improving teaching

In terms of reasons related to improving teaching, the participants cited issues such as being able to display video content to students, attracting the attention of the students, being able to monitor students’ performance, and being able to increase their output as some of the ways through the use of Blackboard improves the teaching process. In particular, some participants indicated that the use of Blackboard makes it “easier in dealing with students” while others noted that the LMS improves teaching by “changing the usual teaching methods to reach the output of a strong education and learning”. This shows that according to the participants, there are different ways in which the use of Blackboard helps in improving teaching for faculty members.

The findings from the open-ended questions corroborate the responses given by the participants in regard to the closed-ended questions.
As seen in table16 (factors that promote participation in using Blackboard), many participants believed that Blackboard is appropriate for their courses which 40.6% agree and 23.2% strongly agree with that. This was also reinforced by the open-ended statements where 29 participants felt LMS improve their teaching. For example, one female academic stated that LMS “improve the quality of Teaching” and it help “to view the lesson material”. Others indicated that Blackboard enabled them to use different learning materials more interactively with their students and to clarify various details where required, to administer quizzes. These views imply that how perception of students towards the use of Blackboard can also affect the ability of members of faculty to use the LMS in teaching. Specifically, 45.7% and 14.5 percent of the participants agreed and strongly agreed, respectively, with the statement that “I feel students will see the use of Blackboard positively in my course”.

The point that 40.6% and 23.2% of the participants respectively agreed and strongly agreed with the closed-nodded statement that “I believe that Blackboard is appropriate for my courses/subjects” shows how useful Blackboard is to members of faculty. This is supported by some of the responses that the participants gave in regard to open-ended questions, such as Blackboard enables them to “to post homework for students”, to “view lesson materials”, “to use additional educational materials such as YouTube and PowerPoint”, and “to use standardised exercises”.

From the findings above, it is apparent that most participants cited the ability to interact with students, monitor them and administer assessments as one area through which Blackboard helps improve teaching, and hence the reason why they use the learning management system.

Improving learning

In regard to improving student learning, the reasons cited by the survey participants for using Blackboard include: the LMS allows students the opportunity to verify the information they learn at any time convenient to them and to exchange information among themselves, the use of Blackboard “support the students to each other and exchange different views through discussions in the Forum” and that Blackboard makes it possible to “provide educational resources for students at any time, and to involve students in the learning process and make the student-centred”. What this implies is that the use of LMS enhances self-learning and provides a better delivery of learning materials to students.

The views given by the participants in relation to the open-ended questions largely support the findings obtained through closed-ended questions. As shown in table 17 (Participants’ attitude and opinions regarding Blackboard), 50.8% of the participants believed that adopting Blackboard in Saudi universities will encourage students to be more interested in learning. This aspect of making students more interested in learning can be linked to the open-ended response that Blackboard “provide educational resources for students at any time, and to involve students in the learning process and make the student-centred”. This is because through Blackboard, students can access learning materials from any place at any time, participate in group discussions and access materials even if they miss the physical classroom. Students are also are motivated by the organisation of learning materials through the system. These findings that are based on the open-ended questions are also in agreement with the some of the statements in closed-ended questions. For instance, from table 17, it can be seen that 43.4% of the participants were in agreement with the statement that “I believe adopting Blackboard in Saudi universities will encourage students to be more interested in learning”.

From this account, it can be seen that most of the participants identified convenience to students, better delivery of learning materials, and student participation in Blackboard through aspects such as group discussion as the main reasons why they use the LMS. Moreover, the findings show that student learning and teaching by faculty using technology are enhanced when both students and faculty have positive attitudes toward the use of technology.

Improving working for academic staff members

With respect to improving academic staff members’ working conditions, the reasons identified by the participants include improved speed of delivering instruction; ease of use; better time management and accuracy of the system with regard to monitoring student performance; better communication with students; better student participation which improves teaching; making it easier to work with and interact with students; enabling flexibility in teaching; ease of sending learning materials to students; ease of making announcements to students; ease of administering quizzes and monitoring them; ability to keep records of learning progress; saving time; and making it easier to plan the teaching lessons. The elements of making work easier, faster and more flexible are reflected in the response that Blackboard “helps in organizing the various aspects of the course (by allowing me to post instructions on the conduction of the activities, and allowing online submission of requirements and establishing deadlines). Makes conducting of quizzes and exams easier, faster, and more organized”.

From the information above, it can be seen that most of the participants noted that Blackboard makes their work easier in regard to issues such as communicating with students, administering quizzes, monitoring their progress, interacting with them, and making teaching more flexible.

Other reasons

The other reasons that the participants gave for using Blackboard include: it is a requirement by their universities; the system is new and effective; the desire to keep up with the pace of modernisation in teaching; and that the system is preferred by most students. This implies that in addition to the participants’ own desire to use new technologies such as learning management systems, adoption of such systems is also promoted or required by the different learning institutions. With respect to individuals’ own liking to use Blackboard, the responses that were given along this line include “I think it is important to use new technology in teaching” and “its modern learning strategies and technical environment around us and which has become a necessary part of education”. This means that by and large, the participants were appreciating the significance of using technology in their teaching activities.

In regard to the use of technology being a requirement by universities, one of the participants’ responses was that they use Blackboard because it is a “mandatory requirement by the department”. Another response along this line was that the need to use Blackboard “became imposed from college”.

Overall, it can be seen from the responses given that the other reasons why members of faculty use technology in teaching include their own desire to keep up with the benefits associated with the use of technology and the requirement by universities for their staff members to use technology.

6.#.# Reasons for not using Blackboard in teaching

An open-ended question was also used to collect the participants’ views on why they do not use Blackboard in their teaching activities. The question was stated as “What are some of the reasons you don’t use Blackboard in your teaching?”. The total number of participants who gave their answers to this question was 94. Out of this number, 13 participants indicated that they did not have a specific reason for not using Blackboard. The rest of the participants (81) gave various reasons for not using the LMS. These reasons were categorised into four groups as follows: institutional issues, technology-related issues, academic-related issues and student-related issues (full responses can be seen in appendix B). The categorisation of the responses was based on the groups of factors identified in the literature review as challenges to the use of learning management systems in institutions of high learning.

Institutional issues

The main institutional factors identified by the participants as the reasons why they do not use Blackboard include: lack of adequate training; lack of incentives to support the use of the learning management system, as well as lack of support and encouragement from the participants employer institutions. Notably, most participants indicated that lack of training was a major concern as they either have not received adequate training or have not been trained at all. As well, a significant number of the participants noted that they had not received adequate support and incentives to use Blackboard.

Some of the participants’ statements such as “I did not get adequate training”, “lack of training and support” and “haven’t got any training” highlight the notion that lack of training to use Blackboard coupled with lack of support to use the learning management system are a hindrance to the use of technology in the universities whose faculty members were surveyed. These findings go hand-hand with the finding from table 16 where more than half of the participants (30.4% and 21.0%) disagreed with or were neutral respectively, to the statement that “I feel I have the necessary training to prepare me to teach using Blackboard”. This means that many of the members of faculty are either not trained or are not sure of their skills with respect to the use of Blackboard.

In regard to support and incentives from the university, the participants gave responses such as “the lack of support and encouragement by management”, “there is no stimulation of the university to use Blackboard. There are no mandatory courses on how to use”, “lack of incentives”, and “lack of sufficient labs to prepare students”. This coincides with the responses given in regard to the closed-ended questions (table 18) as follows. In response to the statement “I feel there is adequate technical support to use Blackboard effectively”, 22.7% of the participants agreed, while 27.7% were neutral. As well, in responding to the statement “I feel there is adequate administrative support to use Blackboard effectively”, 26.6% of the responded agreed while 30.8% were neutral. Combined, the findings indicate that the support and incentives that the participants receive from their universities may not be satisfactory. The incentives and support alluded to by the participants include commitment from the universities for their staff to use Blackboard by providing facilities such as computer rooms to prepare students and staff, making it mandatory for academic staff to use Blackboard, and training the members of staff so that they can use Blackboard effectively.

Technology-related issues

The technology-related issues that were identified by the participants include software problems, delayed technical support, difficulties in using the Blackboard system, non-functioning of some features of the LMS, lack of technical support, failure of the system in some instances, and technical problems. Most of the participants in particular identified technical problems (network failure, difficulties in using the system, and failure of some functions of the system or the entire system) and lack of technical support as the reasons why they do not use Blackboard. As well, some of the participants pointed out lack of knowledge in using some technical aspects of Blackboard as the reason why they do not use the LMS. For instance, one participant noted that “the program is complex and the many similarities and does not constitute any enthusiasm me to work on it”, implying that the ‘complexity’ associated with using Blackboard makes some faculty members less enthusiastic to use the LMS. As well, another participant in the research noted that “academic staff, unfortunately, at the Princess Noura University not be able to use Blackboard for lack of banner which links the names of students and courses with Blackboard”. Yet another response was that “students still find it hard to log in and participate due to technical difficulties”. This implies that there are some features of Blackboard which some of the members of faculty and students are unable to use effectively.

Academic-related issues

In relation to academic-related issues, the reasons identified by the participants for not using Blackboard include lack of knowledge about Blackboard; lack of experience in using the system; the perception that Blackboard is complicated, burdensome and time-consuming; lack of adequate time to prepare teaching materials; the fact that some lessons require face-to-face interaction between the lecturer and the students; and the perception that teaching in class physically is better and more important than using Blackboard. In sum, difficulties associated with the use of Blackboard and the perception that the traditional classroom way of teaching is better or that face-to-face interaction between the lecturer and the students is necessary in some courses can be seen as some of the key reasons that make members of faculty to not use Blackboard.

The findings above are corroborated by some of the findings reported in table 17 (Participants’ attitude and opinions regarding Blackboard). Notably, as shown in table 17, many participants did not believe that students learnt just as much in LMS as they do in the traditional classroom with 39.3% disagreeing and 8.1% strongly disagreeing with that statement that “I believe students tend to learn just as much in Blackboard environment as they do in the traditional classroom”. This is supported by several open-open-ended responses in which the participants seemed to indicate that the level of learning that is achieved through Blackboard is not the same as that which is achieved through the traditional classroom. Such responses include: “some courses need to be face to face because they need more explain”, “theoretical and practical teaching in the classroom is much better than Blackboard”, “my course does not need to Blackboard”, and “I believe case discussions in our specialty are best conducted in class”.

Student-related issues

Concerning student-related issues that hinder the use of Blackboard, the participants identified a number of factors. For instance, the participants identified concerns such as complacency among students with regard to the use Blackboard (including non-compliance with academic requirements and cheating). Other concerns are difficulties in using the LMS, lack of family support, lack of training, unwillingness to use Blackboard, lack of student interaction with lecturers, preference for the traditional classroom learning, and lack of adequate facilities and skills among students. Lack of student interaction with lecturers as caused by the use Blackboard, and preference for the traditional classroom learning, can be linked to two findings from the previous section. One is that there are situations in which face-to-face interaction is preferred in the course of teaching or learning. Another is that there are situations in which the course that students are undertaking is more suited to the use of the traditional classroom method of teaching.

In relation to student complacency, one response was that “some students complacency when a new program and create excuses of others in convincing non-compliance or delivery obligations or provide short-exams and became used as a means cheating among students for exams”. This means that students can take of advantage of the flexibility that is provided by Blackboard to engage in vices such as plagiarism or cheating. Other statements depicting students’ complacency or unwillingness to use Blackboard include “students do not open the Blackboard and use material there”, “unwillingness of students to use it”, and “not every student goes online and check blackboard until I tell them”.

6.#.# Factors that encourage the use of Blackboard in teaching

The participants were asked an open-ended question on what they believed would help them to use Blackboard more in their teaching. The question was put forward as “What do you believe would assist you to use Blackboard more in your teaching?”. Eighty-eight participants gave their responses to this question. Nine of them indicated that they did not know what could help them to use Blackboard more. On the other hand, the remaining 79 participants gave different views in regard to what they think can help them to use Blackboard more in their work. The responses were grouped into four categories for ease of understanding them. The categories are institutional, technology-related, academic and student-related issues (full responses can be seen in appendix C). The factors were grouped into the various categories based on the groups of factors that were identified in the literature review.

Institutional factors

The institutional factors that the participants identified that could help them use Blackboard more are as follows: educating students about Blackboard; ensuring that each student’s data is linked to Blackboard via the banner system; providing training courses for students; ensuring that there is adequate infrastructure to serve the needs of students with regard to the system; educating students on the importance of Blackboard and how to use it; training members of faculty so that they can serve students well using the system; and allowing students more time to practise using the system. The emphasis that the participants placed on the need for training to use Blackboard suggests that many of the participants have not received adequate training that can enable them to use the technology effectively. This coincides with the finding that less than 50 percent of the participants reported to have trained on how to use Blackboard features and other technologies such as Chat Room, Discussion forum, and ListServs among others (table 14: Blackboard technologies in which the participants have been trained). The findings are also supported by the figures presented in table 16 (Factors that promote participation in using Blackboard), in which 5.8% and 30.4% of the participants strongly disagreed and disagreed, respectively, with the statement that they believe they have the necessary training to prepare them to teach using Blackboard. In particular, most participants emphasised the need to train both students and academic members on how to use Blackboard, as shown through statements such as “educate students and faculty members about it (Blackboard)”. This is because it is through awareness on the importance of the system and how to use it that both students and staff can use it. This in turn, as noted by most participants, will encourage them to participate in using Blackboard.

Technology-related Issues

In terms of technology-related issues, most of the participants noted that increasing the number of computer laboratories as well as other necessary technological infrastructure and providing technical support to facilitate the use of Blackboard would make them use the technology more. The responses are emphasised by the statements that were provided by the participants, such as “develop a system Blackboard in line with the User Requirements”, “provide technical support permanently”, “provide technicians in each college to respond to inquiries”, “provide equipped with online labs for students”, and “provide infrastructure, laboratories equipped”. The statements point to the notion that the participants’ universities either did not have adequate infrastructure or did not have adequate policies and support to facilitate the effective use of Blackboard. This is supported by the finding that more than 30% of the participants either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “I feel the university has a clear Blackboard policy”, as shown in table 15 (Possible barriers to the adoption of Blackboard).

The fact that many participants identified technical support as an issue that affects several aspects of learning from students to lecturers and to administrative matters also points to the policies that universities have toward the use of technology. Along this line, ensuring that technical support is provided when members of faculty need it would make the use of Blackboard easier and more accepted, which would make more academic staff to use the system even more.

Academic factors

Turning to academic issues, most of the participants were of the view that they can use Blackboard more if the system enables them to communicate with students at any time; if it allows functionalities such as quizzes and privacy; where distance education courses are involved; where there is full knowledge and familiarity with technology; if the technology facilitates interaction with students; and if the system facilitates improved usability and accessibility. The different reasons given by the participants as to why they would use Blackboard point to the perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use the technology. That is, if the participants would find Blackboard to be relevant to their work or if they deem the technology to be making their work easier, they would use the technology more in their teaching work. For instance, some of the statements given by some participants, such as Blackboard is useful “when there is a distance education or training programs or distance courses”, when it helps “reduce the teaching load” and that the participants would use Blackboard “when I see Blackboard’s benefits” imply that Blackboard can be used more if it is perceived to be useful and relevant. The usefulness of the technology is further emphasised by the response that the participants would use Blackboard more when there is “improved usability and accessibility of the system”.

Student-related issues

Some of the survey participants noted that having students with knowledge on how to use Blackboard would encourage them to use the system more. Along the same line, some participants cited student acceptance of Blackboard, ability of students to interact with the system as well as enthusiasm to adopt it as factors that would encourage them (academic staff) to use Blackboard more. As well, it was noted that family support for students to use Blackboard can make the participants use the system more in their teaching. This means that having students who are adept at using technologies such as Blackboard is likely to motivate members of faculty to use the technology. This is supported by some of the responses that were given by the participants, such as having “sufficient knowledge for students to know how to use it (Blackboard) and “students having knowledge in using it (Blackboard). Support for this notion can be seen from table 17 (Participants’ attitudes and opinions regarding Blackboard), where more than 50 percent of the participants either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I believe adopting Blackboard in Saudi universities will encourage students to be more interested in learning”. What this implies is that when universities in Saudi Arabia adopt the use of Blackboard, then more students will be motivated to use the system, and consequently, more members of faculty will be encouraged to use Blackboard more. As well,family support for students to use Blackboard such as through paying for the students’ training and buying them technology gadgets such as computers can enable the students to use technology, in turn enabling faculty members to use the technology more.