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Finding and analysis qualitative data Based on Technology Acceptance Model(Attitude towards usage and Perceived usefulness )

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4.5.3 External Variables

The Participants were asked about the external factors that support or limit the utilization of the learning management system. Similar to the survey responses, they could be grouped into four main categories namely institutional issues, technology issues, academic-related issues and student-related issues. Institutional factors

These are the issues that are under the direct influence of the institution and include access to technology, incentives offered by the university, training, and encouraging staff to use learning management. Institutions contributed in both positive and negative ways.

Positively, out of the 6 interviewees, five identified the positive institutional factors encouraging the utilization of the learning management system at their respective institutions (I-1) who worked in college of science indicated that she had a prior experience using Blackboard and that the university has shown commitment towards adopting the learning management system. She stated that “Sure, the university helped”, but didn’t specify examples.

Interviewee 2 (I-2) who worked in Deanship and Institutes reported that she did not use learning management system herself, but spoke about the introduction of courses, for both the lectures and students, aimed at making them familiar with e-learning. She said, “The University offers courses and opens registration every month for all teaching staff beginning from lecturer to professor.” The (I-3) who works in the same institute and also did not use LMS similarly reported that the institution has a website and intends to develop the e-learning curriculum as well as the system. She stated that “They intend to develop both curriculum and system generally.”

Interviewee 4 (I-4) the most qualified of the interview participants noted that her university had the necessary internet infrastructure required for the successful running of learning management system and that it provides different faculties with courses on the system. She stated that “I have taken courses in the last semester that taught us … how to use blackboard and get the best out of it” (I-4). This interviewee had more than 5 years teaching experience, praises technology support staff and sees this as one of the positive external factors, as she explains

The staffs are cooperative too, and we receive a great support, the university is really doing a huge effort to spread using blackboard in all the faculties. (I-4)

Interviewee 5 who also worked in the College of Science had a similar opinion to Interviewee 4. She noted that the administration is committed towards the use LMS and usually encourages both the staff and students to utilize it. She said:

Since the last year, the university started to guide us to use blackboard and give us training courses, not even the last year, as far as I remember my first course in blackboard was three years or so ago, so the university encourage us to use blackboard long time ago (I-5).

She also pointed out that the university offers courses on e-learning and that most of the staff has attended the courses. She reported that “There are courses all the time, this week there was a course (I-5).”

The institutional support for LMS through training was recognised by the interviewees, regardless of if they used Blackboard. For instance:

  • I-1 who had Blackboard experience reported that the university offers training on e-learning to both students and staff;

  • I-4 reported that her institution has an e-learning program and that the courses are tailored to meet the individual needs of different staff members. She said that “The courses are prepared well for everyone to understand, it shows you everything from A to Z, and you make use of everything.”

  • I-5 who also had Blackboard experiences noted: “They send you a link to a lecture on YouTube and tell us, for example, today we will teach you how to download the lectures for the students, then in the forum they ask me a question and check if I can answer it or not and that what helped me.”

  • I-6 who worked in deanship and institutes and did not have any Blackboard experiences also noted that: “Yeah there are trainings and they are in a regular manner. And it is repeated for the old and new staff.”

These findings do correspond to the findings from the survey were 46.5% of the participants in the survey felt that positive institutional factors promote the use of LMS. This is similar to the interview in which 5 out of the 6 participants readily identified the role of positive institutional factors. The interviewees also report significant commitment and support from the institution as far as the implementation and utilization of the system is concerned. This corresponds to the findings from the survey in which technical support from the universities was the second highest rated element as far as the perception of support and faculty desire to teach is concerned.

Institutional factors however, also negatively influenced the use of LMS. Out of the six participants in the interview, three identified negative institutional factors in discouraging the utilization of LMS. The factors identified through the interviews included overdependence on the IT department as well as the lack of investment in appropriate infrastructure. According to I-1, who used Blackboard in her teaching, the university does not have adequate laws and regulations that would have made it possible for the learning management systems to the extensively adapted across the university. She says

There are other factors such as the laws, I think if the university forced the lecturers to use the system and followed the application of the system it would be different. (I-3)

She pointed out that the IT department is the only one that has actively implemented such a system and that other departments depend on the IT department in applying the systems. She reported that the institution does not make it mandatory for lecturers to use the learning management system. She stated

As a lecturer, I put the material, activate the system with all what’s useful for the student and the curriculum, but nothing forces me as a lecturer in the University to do so. (I-1)

Interviewee 2 who did not use Blackboard as part of the teaching was of the view that her institution still lags behind and most of the learning approaches and the technologies at her institution are still based on traditional models. She explains that, her institution is “out of development such as electronic process.” This is also noted by Interviewee 3 who stated that “we use the traditional education, and we have not started the distance learning yet (I-3).”

She further explained that despite having a website, the available e-learning materials at her institution are only limited to a single online reading CD and believes the university has shown very little interest in implementing a learning management system and that many staff members are unfamiliar with Blackboard. She also noted that although the university has an IT department its focus is on fixing technology devices rather than fostering LMS for teaching and learning purposes. She feels it might be better owned at a local level such as faculty level, rather than centrally located. She states “I think that they need more organization. It will be better if each faculty establish commission monitoring and organizing the courses (I-3).”

While the offering of training is a positive, the training also has to be suitable for the attendees and some of the participants identified issues with the training. For instance, Interviewee 1 noted that there was a lack of interest trainees as well as the inaccessibility of some important learning materials that was taught as part of the training. She says that “the blackboard is applied but no enough assistance (I-1).”

Interviewee 2 who did not use Blackboard, stated that the despite her university offering the training programs, she found them inadequate. She stated that “It was like course but, actually, it was not. We just know how to switch on and switch off (1-2).”

She later said she didn’t finish the training as it didn’t meet her needs:

Previously I took a course, once I heard it is about learning management system, I did not interact with it, although my name is shown as member of teaching staff, but I cannot work on it. (I-2)

From the survey data, the negative institutional issues that the participants identified as barriers to the utilization of LMS were the lack of adequate training; lack of incentives to support the use of the learning management system, as well as the lack of support and encouragement from some of the learning institutions Technology-related factors

The interviewees spoke about a number of technology related factors that impact on or support their use of LMS including software problems, technical malfunctions, lack of Internet support, network problems, device malfunctions and the complex nature of the software.

Out of the six participants, three identified technology access and infrastructure in positive ways. They were from college of science and used blackboard as part of their teaching. For instance, (I-1) reported there had been no software/technical problems. She says “I can’t remember any errors in the system, I was actually surprised with the huge options that I had as a lecturer (I-4).”

(I-4) reported that technical issues and device malfunctions as far as the system usage is concerned often get solved as quickly as possible by the IT department. She stated that:

Any problem about the password, you should send an email to them, and they try to fix it because the electronic system here makes their response very fast. (I-4)

The same sentiments are raised by (I-5) who pointed out that the university’s IT department has been at the forefront in encouraging the utilization of the system across the different departments. She stated that:

I used it the last year, and I had no problem accessing the system, I have never found the system not working, and they tell us about the updates in advance. (I-5)

The positive technological factors identified in the interview are quite different from those identified in the survey.
In the survey, some of the positive technological issues identified included increased demand for technology, growing technological knowledge and skills among students as well as a desire to adopt new technologies or to interact with online learning environment.

Four out of the six interviewees also discussed some negative technology related issues. Three of them were from deanship and institutes and did not use Blackboard as a part of their teaching and the fourth one is (I-1) who used Blackboard in college of science. (I-4) who used Blackboard pointed out that using blackboard proved to be quite complex as it required linking the subjects to the system at the beginning of each academic year. She stated that “linking the subjects with blackboard is the main problem that I faced then connecting with the students”. The negative technology related issues were also highlighted by (I-1) include some flaws that make it impossible for students to download assignments as well as failure by the system to capture important information for new users. She stated that:

I think that IT is only responsible for faculties, so I think if there was self-assistance for each faculty, for example, me and one of my colleagues were so great in the program, we could learn very fast and we got things they didn’t even tell us about. (I-1)

She also highlighted issues regarding access, pointing out that sometimes it is difficult to access certain pages due to slow speeds as well as a failure by the system to recognize usernames and passwords.

(I-3) reported about the lack of proper internet infrastructure within her institution. She said:

We need internet as we are language lecturers and the male and female students ask about the meaning of words and in this case, I wish I could search on internet to display word image or word translation. In fact, I use my mobile. (I-3)

She pointed out that this has contributed to inadequate utilization of the learning management system. In the survey data, the negative technological related issues identified included software problems and delayed technical support, poor or lack of access to technology, and lack of knowledge required to use the technology as well as difficulties in using Blackboard system. Most of the participants faulted technical problems, an issue that most of the participants in the interview also highlighted. As such, the findings from the survey correspond to the interviews. Academic-related factors

The academic factors identified through the survey include reduction of teaching load, communication and interaction with students and as well as way LMS making their work easier/more rewarding. These were similar to the interview findings. For instance, I-4 and I-5 who both used Blackboard in their courses stated that it is relevant to their work as they teach in colleges of science and they felt that it necessary to prepare them for this profession.

(I-4) stated that has improved her workload and changed the way she works, she notes Blackboard “has everything I need and it allows me to communicate easily with the students.” She also stated that Blackboard also supports her teaching work as she has all hours’ access:

So you teach everything online and they answer while you are sitting at your home, everyone is there in the same time, they take the lectures online, tutorials and everything else. . . I also write notifications for them and perform small quizzes for them because it’s easier on blackboard, it is more credible. (I-4)

This was similarly noted by I-5 who noted that “All the online quizzes are available and the homework too, you can evaluate them through Blackboard.”

The lack of LMS knowledge and experience was one of the main barriers identified by female academics interviewed who did not currently use Blackboard. For instance, (I-2) stated “I do not have any idea about it” and (I-6) who had only one year of teaching experience said “I do not have any back-ground about that”.

In the survey, the negative academic related issues identified were lack of knowledge about Blackboard and lack of experience in using the system, difficulties related with using the system these were also raised in the interview. However, the perception that face-to-face interaction between the lecturer and the students is necessary in some courses which was noted in the survey was not raised by this small sample. Student-related factors

In the survey issues such as students having technology knowledge, family support and unwillingness by students to the use Blackboard were cited as barriers and enablers of LMS adoption.

Two out of six interviewees talked about the positive student related factors. They worked in college of science and used Blackboard. (I-1) sited that having students with knowledge on how to use Blackboard would encourage them to use the system more, and using Blackboard allow student to interaction with each other. She said “nowadays, student and young people can use technology easily and they can use Blackboard”. (I-4) who was non-Saudi and her age was between 46-50 years sited that students in her college have support from their families by providing the technology gadgets and internet at home for their daughter because it related to their study filed. She said “there’s no house without internet connection these days, when I enter a class with 40 students for example, all of them have internet and all of them can access the internet”. However, (I-4) contradicted this statement and didn’t agree that all students would have access at home. She stated “This is the problem, when the student has no internet connection at home” (I-4). Interviewee 5 also question students’ access and knowledge: “Maybe because they don’t deal a lot with the computer so they find it difficult”. These sentiments are also questioned by I-6 who also reported about lack of personal computers among the students:

This point is that the students don’t have computers this is because we had few students who are from poor families and when we asked them about the computers, they would always say we don’t have computers we don’t have tablets and that is the point. (1-6)

Four of six interviewees talked about some negative issues related to students’ technological knowledge. (I-1) who used Blackboard pointed out that despite being a useful tool, blackboard proved to a complex tool for some students who were not able to smoothly make use of it. She said:

One of the issues that made me think twice before putting quizzes and tests using blackboard for the students is that I know very well that the students won’t be able to deal with them easy. (I-1)

(I-1) who worked in college of science reported that many students are still not aware of how to go about with the basic operations in the learning management system. She said:

The reason is that the students don’t know how to use it, for example when I ask a student to go see my Facebook page and follow the articles that I post for a certain topic then I see it’s not easy for them to do so, easier if they follow the articles that I download for them. (I-1)

She also pointed out that the fact that the training offered is not mandatory has contributed to lack of interest among students. She stated that:

I heard it wasn’t obligatory for them to register, there were no conditions for them to register in the course, for us as lecturers we had a problem that we don’t know what the students knew. (I-1)

All of these factors — institutional, academic and student – will also influence female academic attitudes towards usage which this thesis now turns to.

4.5.4 Attitude towards Usage

The six interviewees were asked to identify the benefits of using blackboard and all participants could articulate some positive aspects of Blackboard use. (I-1) who used Blackboard in college of science pointed out that utilization of blackboard at her institution ensured that students had constant access to important academic information. She said:

One of its advantages is that the data was always there for the students as a reminder for them about the curriculum content, the marks distribution, the main goal of the subject. (I-1)

Additionally, she was of the view that utilization of blackboard has led to increased speeds of correcting errors made by students in their assignments. She stated that:

it really saved a lot of time as I use it in the quizzes as my specialization was about accounting, I always had to deal with equations, so it was great because if it were manual such as the previous teaching method it would be hard for me to understand the different fonts and answers of the students. (I-1)

(I-2) who did not use Blackboard reported that despite her university heavily relying on the traditional approaches to teaching, she wanted to use Blackboard in her institute (Deanship and Institutes). She stated that “I want to use Blackboard, and I will use it if the university provides it in my college.” This is a clear indicator that her attitude towards utilization of Blackboard is positive. (I-3) who worked in the same sector with (I-2) also pointed out that the availability of Blackboard at her institution would have compelled her to use it. She said “I hope to use this kind of system if it available in my institute.” (I-4) who was the oldest interviewee and worked in college of science pointed out that she found the whole process of e-learning and utilization of Blackboard very interesting. She said

The electronic learning and blackboard are so great actually. (I-4)

She was of the view that Blackboard is quite beneficial to both the students and the lectures. She pointed out that “It’s better for them and for us too, it’s an easier and faster way of teacher and student dealing together (I-4).”

(I-5) who worked in the college of science saw blackboard as being positive. She reported that her experience using the system was quite enjoyable. She said “I enjoyed using blackboard; I would like to reach a higher level.”

(I-6) who did not use Blackboard also showed a positive attitude towards utilization of blackboard, saying that it is useful and provides support to both the students and the lectures. She said “I think it is useful and gives support as it is a connecting between the academic members and the student.”

The finding from the interviews corresponds to that from the survey in which the highest percentage of participants 38.2% agreed and 16.9% strongly agreed that blackboard is the future of higher education in Saudi Arabia.

However, participants also held some negative or mixed attitudes towards Blackboard. (I-1) who had experiences in learning and teaching using Blackboard in Australia, as well as, in Saudi Arabia noted that compared to Australia, academics at her university do not seem interested in using Blackboard. She noted:

But in Princess Nora University it was not the same thing, the lecturers didn’t attend training courses most of the time, I felt that many of them didn’t want to apply for the system. (I-1)

(I-6) who did not use Blackboard in deanship and institutes pointed out that some staff members’ preference of the traditional learning systems has made them develops negative attitudes towards blackboard. She said “this is really important point as some of the staff members don’t like the change.” The findings of the negative attitude usage do not correspond to the findings from the survey in which a paltry 3.7% of the participants strongly disagreed, and 6.6% disagreed that the blackboard is the future of higher education. The relatively smaller number of those who strongly disagreed and disagreed in the survey is an indicator that they have gained wide acceptance, contrary to some of the responses given by the interviewees.

4.5.5 Perceived Usefulness

Access for girls

Three of six interviewees gave some example for usefulness of Blackboard in teaching. According to (I-2) who did not use the system, stated that the system could appeal to female students due to the different visual aids that can be used alongside the traditional lecture notes. She said “The female-students want such as this method in teaching.”

According to (I-3), the use of blackboard is important female staff members to train in and become more accustomed to the system. She said

I hope that the member trains on technologies such as Blackboard and Moodle. The member should keep up with the development and technology to grow and be balanced. (I-3)

(I-4) who had a Ph.D. degree and 17 years of teaching experiences reported that with technology taking over many aspects of the modern life, better results are bound to be achieved. She stated:

You know, the development that is happening now such as using easy electronic way and using the internet and high speed computers, all these issues help you get the best results. (I-4)

She was of the opinion that using Blackboard has the potential to make better girls’ education. She said “No I think it is better; I mean using the electronic system with the girls here is a lot better (I-4).”

(I-5) who had a master degree and 5 years of teaching experiences, on the other hand, is of the view that there are no gender issues as far as the utilization of the system is concerned. She believes that the system does not favour any particular genders, stating that “I don’t think such an [gender] issue would affect, I think it’s the same because as I told you, the specialization is the point, not the gender (I-5).”

(I-6) who had a master degree and only one year of teaching experiences reported that the younger students are aware of the many benefits of such a system and would thus be more willing to use it compared to older students. She said “Yes very much. Because the student love using the technology and she is better in using that than the older who like traditional ways (I-6).”

Ease of communication with students

On the other hand, (I-4) pointed out that blackboard is useful in teaching as it facilitates easy communication between the lectures and the students. She pointed out that “It’s the easiest way to communicate between the student, professor and the university.”

On the other hand, (I-5) who used the Blackboard reported that Blackboard is a useful tool because of the better organization it offers to both lectures and students compared to individual blogs. She said “It’s organized, and it’s just one source for the students instead of many blogs for many subjects on the wiki space.”

According to (I-4) who used this system, Blackboard is a useful tool for student learning as it facilitates faster and easier connection between the students and the tutors. She stated that “Yes, sure, it’s better for them and for us too, it’s an easier and faster way of teacher and student dealing together (I-4).”

She pointed out that the system is an effective communication tool through which students can easily liaise with their lectures to have access to different learning materials. She said:

The students just need to have a communication tool with the doctor and be able to get the academic material, the books, the questions and the marks, everything is available for them with no effort, it’s very comfortable for the student, and any electronic system for learning is easy for the students. (I-4)

For the academic member’s working, three interviewees who used Blackboard and worked in the college of science gave their opinion regarding to that. (I-1) who had a master degree and had 2 years of teaching experience was of the opinion that the system makes student data easily available, which is quite beneficial to the work if academic members. She said:

One of its advantages is that the data was always there for the students as a reminder for them about the curriculum content, the marks distribution, the main goal of the subject because usually they take the subjects and don’t know what they should learn from. (I-1)

(I-4) who is non-Saudi with a Ph.D. degree and had 17 years of teaching experiences reported that apart from being useful to students, Blackboard is also useful to the academic staff. She was of the view that the system has everything she needs, saying that “it allows me to communicate easily with the students.”

(I-5) who had a master degree and had 5 years of teaching experiences was of the view that the learning management system used at their institution allowed for automatic evaluation of assignments, a fact that made the work of the academic staff much easier. She said:

And if we could apply the assignment because it evaluates the homework automatically then it would help the professors and the students, if there were available labs to test the students then the blackboard helps me and the students, I think it’s so great. (I-5)

Modern learning tool

In the survey, the participants were asked about their opinion on the impact of Blackboard use on student learning. 47.4% of the participants agreed that the tool has the potential to improve student learning while only 2.2% strongly disagreed. These findings correspond to those from the interview in which most of the interviewees highlighted the importance of the blackboard in student teaching.

Three of six interviewees gave some example for usefulness of blackboard in student learning. According to (I-1) who used Blackboard as a part of the teaching and work in college of science, Blackboard is a useful tool in student learning for it allows lecturers to guide the students through the reading processes. She said:

very useful because instead of being lost in topics you can get scores that support the information, the lecturer can guide you using daily messages as notifications such as how can he help you with your study, how to understand the curriculum. (I-1)

She was of the view that students do not have to depend wholly on lecturers when using the system since it offers more independence. She said “it doesn’t just depend on the lecture, not only to depend on the lecture and your own understanding of it.”

For (I-5) who use the system in college of science, the learning management system is beneficial to student learning to the better organization it offers compared to other approaches such as blogs. She said “It’s organized and it’s just one source for the students instead of many blogs for many subjects on the wiki space (I-5).”However, she was quick to point out the need to make it possible for students to discuss the different topics on Blackboard. She said “If we could make the students discuss together in the forum (I-5).”

When the survey findings are compared to the interview findings, it is clear that the findings are in line with each other. In the survey, 43.4% agreed and 7.4% strongly agreed that blackboard would motivate students to be more interested in learning. On the other hand, only 2.2% strongly disagreed, an indicator that most participants saw the learning management system as being useful to student learning.

Concerning the academic staff, 28.7% of the participants agreed that utilizing Blackboard creates more stress for them as instructors. On the other hand, only 5.9% strongly disagreed. This is contrary to the findings in the interview in which the participants reported that blackboard is useful to both the learners and lectures.

I-3, I-4, I-5 and I-6 are interviewees who reported perceived usefulness on other related issued. (I-3) and (I-6) did not use Blackboard and they worked in Deanship and institutes (I-4) and (I-5)used Blackboard as part of their teaching in college of science. According to (I-3)who had a master degree and 5 years of teaching experiences, most of the students at her institution are youths aged between 18 and 30 years and as such, find new technologies such as blackboard to be more useful than traditional approaches. She said “Because their ages are between 18 and 30, so they are considered youth and actually they want untraditional education. They want technology (I-3).”