Business Education Students’ Awareness And Utilization Of E-Learning

Project and Seminar Material for Business Education Students

Business Education Students’ Awareness And Utilization Of E-Learning


Abstract


The study investigated the awareness of e-learning and its utilization by business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions. Four research questions were posed and four hypotheses formulated. A total of 1603 business education students in four tertiary institutions in Anambra State made up the population of the study, out of which 320 students were used as sample. The research instrument was a structured questionnaire titled “Awareness and Utilization of E-learning by Business Education Students”. Five experts validated the instrument and a reliability test using split-half method yielded correlations of tttt0.86, 0.58, 0.62 and 0.97 for sections B, C, D and E respectively. Mean rating was used to answer Research Questions 1, 3 and 4. Research Question 2 was answered using frequency counts and percentages while t-test, at 0.05 level of significance, was used to test the hypotheses.

The major findings of the study were as follows: respondents were very aware of checking results online and searching for academic information on the internet; they were fairly aware of partaking in video conference and getting academic support and advice from a teacher by e-mail. Respondents were competent in computer usage and they often utilized e-learning facilities for searching for educational materials, checking results online and processing assignments. Respondents did not often send feedback to lecturers through e-mail. To encourage the utilization of e-learning by business education students, it was recommended, among others, that the management of tertiary institutions in Anambra State should provide e-learning infrastructure like digital libraries, and free wireless internet connections on the campus. Learning Management Systems (LMS) that allow online interaction between lecturers and students should be introduced. Videoconferencing should be introduced through collaboration with foreign institutions and some course content should be restructured using e-learning modules that can be recorded on CD/DVD which students can use.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

The recent advancement in scientific discoveries has made the world a global village. New technologies are invented today that would have never been thought of a few years ago. Tinio (2003) noted that globalization, once thought as a concept, has become a reality. This has led to the advancement in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) which is also revolutionizing business as well as the educational institutions across the globe. Globalization and technological change have created a new global economy powered by technology, fueled by information and driven by knowledge.

The drive for more information within the shortest period of time has led to the development of modern technologies. Examples include the advent of the computer in the 1950’s and the Internet in the 1990’s, which paved the way for the current revolution in information and communication Technology. Okereke (2005) observed that modern computers have the capability of reading, processing and storing millions of instructions per second. The Internet, usually called the “Information Super-highway” has also caused an indescribable expansion in the way information is transferred from one place to another.

Today, people can get information about anything just with a click of the mouse. The difficulties experienced by the old means of message transfer (Telegrams, mails by post, etc.) have been removed as the Internet provides ‘one-touch-one- delivery’ service to users anywhere in the world.

The impact of ICT to education is enormous. The Information and communication Technologies are potentially powerful enabling tools for educational change and reform. When used appropriately, different ICT gadgets help expand access to education, strengthen the relevance of education to the increasingly digital work place, and raise educational quality by helping to make teaching and learning an engaging active process that is connected to real life.

The introduction of ICT in the educational system has led to the development of e-learning. E-learning literally means electronic learning, i.e. learning by electronic means and through electronic devices. Tinio (2003) observes that e-learning encompasses learning at all levels, both formal and non-formal, that uses an information network – the internet, and intranet (Local Area Network) or extranet (Wide Area Network)- whether wholly or in part, for course delivery, interaction and/or facilitation. E-Learning actually goes beyond the mere usage of the internet. For the purpose of this research, the definition of e-Learning will be restricted to that of Allen (2003) who views e-learning as a structured, purposeful use of electronic system or computer in support of the learning process.

The integration of e-learning in tertiary institutions is witnessing rapid growth in developed countries. Most tertiary institutions in developed countries have websites from which students can take online lectures and participate in other educational activities. Omo-Ettu (2001) in Okereke (2005) reports that in developed countries, electronic mail, real time text conferencing, and online tutorials have been used in the teaching and learning process for several years. Schools use the internet to provide homework, assignments and other information for students stuck at home due to bad weather or sickness. Some schools allow students to retrieve textbook information, check and complete assignments from their personal computers. Students get 24 hours access to classroom assignments, study guides, daily worksheets and their teachers through e-mail.

In Nigeria, the integration of e-learning in our tertiary institutions has witnessed slow growth which may be as a result of mass unawareness. Manir (2011) noted that awareness to ICT in Nigeria started gathering momentum two decades ago. The early exposure came through lecturers, researchers, academics and students who studied abroad and had opportunities of attending conferences on ICT. However, Manir posited that a large number of people arestill not aware of the use of these ICTs in education. This is because Nigeria had no specific policy on e-learning until February 2007 when the ICT department of the Federal Ministry of Education was created (Manir, 2011).

Awareness means having knowledge of the existence and usefulness of something. Business education students cannot utilize e-learning except they are aware of the different e-learning activities. Teachers and students need to be aware of available e-learning tools that can be utilized in the teaching/learning process. Ipaye (2011) listed some of these tools to include websites, wikis, blogs, Second Life, e-mail, twitters, Course Management systems, video/audio podcasts, facebook, threaded discussion lists, video/audio text chat, videoconferences software etc. Awareness of the usefulness of these e-learning tools should aid a business education teacher to organize his/her course content in such a way that will enhance the e-learning experience of the students. Business education students in tertiary institutions seem not to be aware of e- learning applications and as such there seems to be underutilization of ICT gadgets in education. It appears that the unavailability of e-learning infrastructure, like digital libraries, computer studio, etc, in the tertiary institutions of Anambra State has affected students’ awareness and utilization of such e- learning tools. Some students have access to e-learning through personal computers, computers owned by friends or family members, mobile phones,cyber café, etc. There seems to be a disparity in how students utilize e-learning as a result of what means of access to e-learning tools they have.

Access to e-learning facilities should facilitate wide spread awareness of the existence and usability of technology in education. Where students do not have access to e-learning facilities like computers and internet connection, the issue of utilization will be a mere tale. Some business education students have personal computers and internet connection. Some others rely on the e-learning facilities provided by their institution. The importance of having access to these e- learning facilities cannot be overemphasized. Kinley (2010) pointed out that the provision of computer laboratories, digital libraries and access to the Internet, will lead to better teaching and learning processes.

The utilization of e-learning by business education students is pivoted by their level of computer literacy. Computer literacy has to do with the degree of proficiency of students in basic computer oriented operations. Olusegun, Oluwafemi and Sushil (2006) noted that the utilization of e-learning is affected by the level of computer literacy of the students. Students who are not competent in the general use of computers will not be able to utilize them for educational purposes, and hence they will discourage the new phenomenon of utilizing electronic devices for education.

Gender can be an influencing factor to the awareness and utilization of e- learning by business education teachers and students. Murphy and Greenwood (1998) reported that age and gender effects could be the factors in determining the extent of the low student teacher ICT uptake. Summer (1990) in Agboola (2006) suggested that male students experience less anxiety about ICT and make more frequent use of it. Also, female students are assumed to show lower confidence or knowledge ability than males about using computers (VanBraak, 2001).

Similarly, type of institution and the ownership of the tertiary institution could influence the success of e-learning integration. Wagner, Hassanein and Head (2008) pointed out that the success of the utilization of e-learning is influenced by the stakeholders. As noted by Wagner et. al. (2008) one of the stakeholders is the educational institution; others include the student, the instructor, content providers, technology providers, accreditation bodies and employees. They also noted that budgetary factors in a country could make the procurement of e-learning facilities by these institutions difficult or easy, as the case may be. The utilization of e-learning facilities in colleges of education and universities might differ and as such the awareness of e-learning in the various institution types may also differ. It is possible that the management of tertiary institutions can view the utilization of e-learning from different perspective. The federal government-owned, state government-owned and private-ownedinstitutions may differ in the e-learning facilities provided to their students (Leem and Lim, 2007). Eke (2011) and Okiki (2011) also noted that the use of e-learning facilities has begun in some federal government owned tertiary institutions. This may not be the case in state-owned or private-owned institutions, hence this study.

Business education, as a program of study, equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to make them self-reliant and self-employed. It is education “for” and “about” business, and as such, should be concerned with the modern trends in business. The modern trends in business which include the digitalization of business operations; e-banking; e-commerce; Management Information Systems (MIS) etc., form the basis for encouraging the use of e- learning in today’s business education training program. Students who undergo the business education program should therefore be aware of e-learning and its utilization in education. This is rather not the case in some tertiary institutions in Nigeria. This drive to find out how aware business education students in Anambra state tertiary institutions are of e-learning and how they utilize e- learning, necessitated this research.


1.2 Statement of Problem

As indicated in the background of the study, though the importance of e-learning is enormous, it seems that its level of awareness and utilization in instruction andlearning in Nigerian tertiary Institutions is rather unknown. This is so because research in this area is either scanty or non-existent.

Furthermore, there appears to be lack of computer culture among business education students in tertiary institutions in Anambra State which, according to Manir (2011), tends to impede the rapid diffusion of the new technologies. There is also the issue of shortage of skilled manpower among lecturers and computer technology literacy among students. These are part of the challenges that the growth of e-learning in Nigerian tertiary institutions, and particularly business education students, faces. When students are not computer literate, they would find it difficult to adapt to the use of computers in education.

Though authors such as Manir (2009), Eke (2011) and Okiki (2011), have conducted studies on various aspects of e-learning, there has been no study, to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, on business education students’ awareness of e-learning as well as their utilization of e-learning facilities in Anambra State tertiary institutions. This reason prompted the researcher to undertake this study.


1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to determine business education students’ awareness of e-learning, as well as their utilization of e-learning in Anambra State tertiary institutions. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Determine the level of awareness that business education students have of e-learning in Anambra State tertiary institutions.
  2. Determine the means by which business education students have access to e-learning facilities in Anambra State tertiary institutions.
  3. Determine how often business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions utilize e-learning facilities in their learning process.
  4. Determine how competent business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions consider themselves in the use of computers.
  5. Determine the differences that may exist in business education students’ awareness and utilization of e-learning as a result of demographic profile (gender, type of institution and ownership of institution).

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions were posed to guide the study:

  1. To what extent are business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions aware of e-learning?
  2. By what means do business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions get access to e-learning facilities?
  3. How often do business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions utilize e-learning facilities in their learning process?
  4. How competent do business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions consider themselves in the use of computers?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance:

  1. There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions on their awareness of e-learning as a result of their type of institution (university or college of education).
  2. There is no significant difference in the ratings of business education students in federal government owned tertiary institutions in Anambra State and their counterparts in other tertiary institutions on the means of access to e-learning.
  3. There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions in how often they utilize e- learning as a result of gender.
  4. There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions in their computer competence level as a result of the type of institution.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The outcome of this study could be of benefit to business education teachers in Anambra State tertiary institutions could benefit from this study by knowing the level of students awareness to e-learning applications. This could enable them plan their course content to suit students’ knowledge and ability.

Also, the findings and recommendations of this study could be of benefit to business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions as they could show students’ level of awareness of e-learning, computer competence and utilization of e-learning devices. Students could be aided to know how they can synchronize the use of electronic devices in the educational process.

Additionally, the management of tertiary institutions in Anambra State could benefit from the findings of this study as it will show the access to e- learning that students have. They could be aided to know the role they play in providing free or low cost e-learning facilities to students and how access to these facilities influence their utilization.

The outcome of this study could also profit business education curriculum planners. By knowing how aware of e-learning students are and how often these e-learning devices are been utilized, business education curriculum planners could be aided to plan the business education curriculum to suit present ICT innovations. They could also be aided to introduce e-learning experiences and perhaps e-learning courses into the business education curriculum. This study could contribute significantly to current literature on e-learning, showing how electronic devices can be used in tertiary institutions in Anambra State.


1.7 Scope of the Study

The focus of this study is to determine business education students’ awareness and utilization of e-learning in Anambra State tertiary institutions. However, the study is limited to business education students in tertiary institutions in Anambra State of Nigeria. The views or perceptions of other students will not be considered in this study.

E-learning in this study does not exclusively mean 100% online course delivery or distance education. It rather includes the use of electronic devices like telephone, radio, television, projectors, videophones, mobile phones, computers, internet, intranet etc, for education.


1.8 Limitations of the Study

This study was limited by several factors. In the first instance, business education students in some of the institutions were resistant to filling the questionnaire. Many of them felt it was a waste of their time and this led to the researcher pleading with them that the questionnaire was for research purpose only. More so, some students did not fill some of the items of the questionnaires correctly while a few others left some sections unfilled.

The irregularity in timing of the various institutions was also a limiting factor. The institutions did not resume from their long vacations at the same time. This therefore delayed the analysis of the data as the researcher had to wait until all the institutions had resumed.

Finally, the study was limited to accuracy of information got from the respondents, as indicated by their objectivity in completing the questionnaire items.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

This chapter presents the concluding part of the study under the following subheadings: summary of results, conclusions, implications of the study, recommendations, and suggestions for further studies.


5.1 Summary of Major Findings

The following major findings emerged from the analysis of data collected from the study:

  1. The respondents indicated that they were aware of e-learning applications in Anambra State tertiary institutions.
  2. The respondents indicated that they had access to e-learning via several means. The highest-rated means of accessing the internet was shown to be through mobile phones of the students.
  3. Business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions indicated that they often utilize e-learning facilities and processes for educational purposes.
  4. Business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions consider themselves competent in the use of computers.
  5. Business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions do not differ significantly in the mean ratings of their awareness of e-learning as a result of the type of institution they attend.
  6. Business education students in federal government-owned tertiary institution in Anambra State do not differ significantly from their counterparts in other tertiary institutions in Anambra State on the means of access of e-learning.
  7. Business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions do not differ significantly in how often they utilize e-learning as a result of gender.
  8. Business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions do not differ significantly in their computer competence level as a result of the type of institution they attend.

5.2 Conclusions

Based on the findings of the study, it has been concluded that business education students in Anambra State tertiary institutions are aware of e-learning applications and often utilize them for learning purposes. Also, students can access the internet and other e-learning facilities via their personal computers, computers of family members or close friends, digital libraries and computer studios provided by the institution, mobile phones and cyber café.


5.3 Implications of the Study

The findings of the study then imply that:

  1. Business education students in Anambra State are basically aware of e- learning applications and they will not need so much orientation before introducing any e-learning application in the education process.
  2. The management of the tertiary institutions in Anambra State have a responsibility to provide certain e-learning facilities that students can easily access.
  3. Business educations students have the ability to utilize all forms of e-learning processes provided they are accessible to them and properly designed.
  4. Teachers and lecturers of business education will have to arrange the course content to suit the current computer knowledge of the students. Business education lecturers will have to advance above the students in computer knowledge so that their students can benefit from the integration of information and communication skills in the educational process.

5.4 Recommendations

Consequent upon the findings of this study, discussions and conclusions drawn there from, the researcher proffers the following recommendations, which could be beneficial to the managements of tertiary institutions, business education lecturers and students.

  1. Management of tertiary institutions in Anambra State should provide e-learning infrastructure in their institutions to which students will have easy and cheaper access. Such infrastructure may include digital libraries, computer studios, free wireless internet connection on the campus premises, among others.
  2. Institutions should introduce Learning Management Systems (LMS) into the educational system. LMS are software applications that aid the administration, documentation, examination, feedback giving and reporting of classroom and online events. When the LMS are introduced, both students and lecturers should be given orientation on its benefits and procedure.
  3. There should be collaboration with other institutions, especially foreign institutions, from where lectures, seminars and other activities could be relayed via video conferencing.
  4. Business education students should have the e-mail addresses, facebook accounts and phone numbers (if possible) of all their lecturers as this will aid teleconferencing and other e-communications with them.
  5. Lecturers of business education should structure all courses into modules that could be taught through e-learning. Some course contents can be prerecorded on a VCD or DVD and given to students especially where the lecturer is always not available.
  6. Lecturers of business education should open blogs and wikis on the internet on which students can access and leave comments that can serve as feedback to the lecturer. This will make the learning process interactive.
  7. Government of Anambra State should come up with policies that will ensure every student in the tertiary institutions is provided with a laptop (at little or no cost) especially on gaining admission to the institution.

5.5 Suggestions For Further Studies

With regards to the research and recommendations made, the researcher suggests the following:

  1. Studies could be carried out to ascertain if business education students in other states are aware of e-learning and what extent of e-learning is being utilized.
  2. Business education lecturers’ awareness and utilization of e-learning can also be studied.
  3. Experimental studies on the benefit of e-learning over traditional teaching in business education can be carried out.
  4. Studies could also be carried out to experiment the use of M-learning in the Business Education program.

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