The Role Of Computer And Internet Access In Business Students’ Acceptance Of E-Learning Technology

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The Role Of Computer And Internet Access In Business Students’ Acceptance Of E-Learning Technology


Abstract


The advent of the personal computer and the Internet has inevitably changed the way we live. These technologies, as well as others, have altered the method in which people work, communicate, shop, and even learn. Distance education, a form of education traditionally associated with correspondence courses, has benefited greatly from the new technological devices of the 21st century. In this study, our focus was on the role of computer and internet access in business students’ acceptance of e-learning technology, business students in University of Abuja as case study. The findings suggest that computer access is not enough to close the digital divide. Research has shown that simply providing students with technology does not guarantee that the students will use it (Blau, 2002). Thus, the more realistic issue that needs to be addressed is digital inclusion. Ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status, have access to and are using the technological tools in this digital age should be a concern for our society. To be productive members of our society and to compete in the increasingly global economy, we must all be digitally connected.


Table of Content


Chapter One:

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the study
  • 1.2 Statement of the problem
  • 1.3 Objective of the study
  • 1.4 Research questions
  • 1.5 Significance of the study
  • 1.6 Scope of the study
  • 1.7 Limitation of the study
  • 1.8 Definition of terms
  • 1.9 Organizations of the study

Chapter Two:

Review of Literature

  • 2.1 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3 Empirical Review

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Population of the study
  • 3.3 Sample size determination
  • 3.4 Sample size selection technique and procedure
  • 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
  • 3.6 Method of data collection
  • 3.7 Method of data analysis
  • 3.8 Validity of the study
  • 3.9 Reliability of the study
  • 3.10 Ethical consideration

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation and Analysis

  • 4.1 Data Presentation
  • 4.2 Analysis of Data
  • 4.3 Answering Research Questions

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation
  • References
  • APPENDIX
  • QUESTIONNAIRE 

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The advent of the personal computer and the Internet has inevitably changed the way we live. These technologies, as well as others, have altered the method in which people work, communicate, shop, and even learn. Distance education, a form of education traditionally associated with correspondence courses, has benefited greatly from the new technological devices of the 21st century. Today, communication tools such as e-mail, satellite connections, and video conferencing software have provided educators with the tools to provide synchronous as well as asynchronous communication with their students.

At the postsecondary level, distance education has grown tremendously. Online courses, which may or may not provide teacher-student interaction, are becoming the most common form of distance education at the postsecondary level. According to a study conducted by the Sloan Consortium, approximately 90% of all public institutions offer online courses (Allen & Seaman, 2004). In many of these online courses, instructors have simply placed their traditional course information on a website, failing to consider the interaction needed to facilitate learning. Lectures in the form of transcripts or PowerPoint presentations are often used without considering the various learning styles of different students. Research has shown that students who take online courses are extremely concerned about teacher-student interaction. (Beard & Harper, 2002; Perreault, 2002). Students want to receive continuous feedback from their instructors in an online setting. They also want their instructor to be accessible when they have a problem or concern (Huang, 2002).

Because many online instructors and students face the aforementioned problems, numerous institutions are choosing the concept of web-based or hybrid courses to address the various issues surrounding distance learning. In web-based courses, many of the techniques such as placing assignments on a website and using chat rooms are incorporated as a supplement to learning. In this type of course, class attendance is still required. In hybrid courses, instruction is not totally online. Periodically, students physically attend class. These alternatives allow for face-to-face student-teacher interaction while taking advantage of technology (Theriot, 2004).

To assist in the delivery of web-based and online courses, many institutions and educators have adopted electronic-learning (e-learning) systems. E-learning systems provide educators with an easy method to manage course content and student interaction on the web. These courseware packages can be utilized in a totally online setting or as an enhancement to traditional classroom learning. While many institutions have implemented e-learning software packages such as WebCT and Blackboard, limited attention has been given to the perceptions of students concerning these systems. Although research has shown that students are receptive to the idea of online learning, few studies have been conducted concerning whether students embrace the concept of using e-learning systems within a classroom setting.

In addition to the concern of student acceptance of e-learning systems, technological access and computer use seem to be a major hurdle for educators to overcome (Glenn, 2005). Many students who would like to take advantage of the many benefits of e-learning are unable to do so or find it difficult because of limited technological resources. In many instances, the underlying reason for this problem involves the socioeconomic status of an individual, resulting in the digital divide.

The digital divide is the gap between those who have access to computers and the Internet and those who do not (Vail, 2003). According to a University of California-Los Angeles study, while 80.1% of freshman at predominantly White private institutions use e-mail, only 48% of students at private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) and 41.1% at public HBCU report using e-mail (Roach, 2000). Moreover, a study by the United Negro College Fund found that only one out of six students at HBCU had access to or owned a personal computer, compared to one out of every two White students at White institutions (Chappell, 2001). When comparing Internet use in 2003, 65.1% of White Americans used the Internet in comparison to 45.6% of Black Americans and 37.2% of Hispanics in the U.S. (NTIA, 2004).

Students who have unlimited access to technology at school and/or at home tend to be more knowledgeable and have more computer experience than those that do not (Zeliff, 2004). In an underprivileged environment, be it school or home, the hardware and software needed to increase computer use is often nonexistent. If students have limited access to computers, it may have an impact on their frequency of computer use. In turn, the frequency of computer use may impact whether a student accepts or uses a computer related technology such as an e-learning system.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The use of web-based learning to supplement post-secondary classroom instruction has increased since the introduction of the PC and the Internet. Institutions have adopted e-learning systems to assist in content delivery within these courses. While many empirical studies have been conducted concerning faculty adoption of these technologies in their classrooms, a limited number have addressed the extent to which college students accept these tools. The majority of these studies failed to consider computer access as a factor regarding computer technology acceptance.


1.3 Objective of the Study

In addition to the concern of student acceptance of e-learning systems, technological access and computer use seem to be major hurdles for educators to overcome. Many students who would like to take advantage of the benefits of e-learning are unable to do so or find it difficult because of limited technological resources. In many instances, the underlying reason for this problem involves the socioeconomic status (SES) of an individual resulting in the digital divide (Glenn, 2005). Considering that there is a disparity among those who do and do not have access to computers, it warrants an investigation to determine whether computer access has an impact on the acceptance of an e-learning technology.


1.4 Research Question

The research questions used to guide this study were as follows:

  1. To what extent is e-learning technology acceptance explained by computer access after controlling for the effects of race and socioeconomic status (SES)?
  2. To what extent is e-learning technology acceptance explained by Internet access after controlling for the effects of gender and SES?

1.5 Significance of the Study

Using e-learning to enhance education or as a form of alternate education is a valuable teaching technique that is being utilized throughout the world. Its popularity has resulted in e-learning initiatives at the local and the federal government levels. This study focused on the different variables that affect the acceptance of e-learning technology by college students. Its significance lies in the ability to provide pertinent information concerning the issues that contribute to a student’s acceptance and use of an e-learning tool. Additionally, this study examines the issue of computer and Internet access and determines whether these variables impact students’ acceptance of e-learning technology. This key finding could give administrators and educators insight on whether supplying students with additional access to computers and/or the Internet will increase students’ willingness to engage in e-learning tools. If so, the magnitude of computer/Internet access by students may be a factor to consider when promoting e-learning courses.

Findings from this study may cause business educators to make program changes and modifications to their current curricula to address the issue of technology use by students. The findings may also determine whether additional research is needed to address the technological needs of students in efforts to close the technological gap that potentially exists between students from various socioeconomic backgrounds at the postsecondary level.


1.6 Scope of the Study

This study on the role of computer and internet access in business students’ acceptance of e-learning technology. It will be Considering that there is a disparity among those who do and do not have access to computers, it warrants an investigation to determine whether computer access has an impact on the acceptance of an e-learning technology. Geographically, it will cover the business students in University of Abuja, Nigeria.


1.7 Limitation of the Study

Certain factors could possibly hamper and affect the success of this research project. Not enough time, funds, materials, too large a distance to be covered, might not allow for a very elaborate study to be conducted. Hence, the study might be of less meaning compared to its significance in order to save time, cost, effort and reduce stress.


1.8 Definitions of Terms

Terms defined here are used throughout the text with the specific meaning stated below.

Chat or Threaded Discussion:

Form of online communication that allows students to post and view classroom questions and responses.

Course Management Software:

Web-based system that enables students and educators to engage in e-learning.

E-Learning:

Term is used to help describe the various uses of technology for learning, teaching, training, and wider knowledge management (Rowlands, 2003).

E-Learning System:

Web-based delivery applications that are used to assist in the management and facilitation of teaching and learning in a course.

Hybrid Course or Web Enhanced Course:

Face-to-face course that incorporates online technology into the traditional classroom instruction (Theriot, 2004)


1.9 Organizations of the Study

  • The chapter one consist of the introductory part of the study which includes the study background, the statement of the research problem, the study objective and scope of the study.
  • The second chapter is a critical review of other literatures relevant to the study and its objectives including the theoretical framework for the study.
  • While the third chapter is methods of data collection, sampling and data analysis used in conducting the study.
  • The fourth chapter centres around the research findings including an analysis of how it relates to previous findings.
  • The fifth chapter consists of the summary of findings, conclusion and recommendations base on the study objectives.

Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Summary of the Study

Electronic learning (e-learning), the use of technology in education, has become a mainstay in today’s postsecondary educational system (Arabasz & Baker, 2003). The Internet and course management systems, such as Blackboard and WebCT, have been utilized to assist in the learning process. Unfortunately, limited technological resources have hindered some institutions and students from participating in e-learning. Not having access to e-learning tools and/or the technical skills to use the e-learning tools are some of the challenges faced by students (Arabasz & Baker, 2003). Prior research has shown that one underlying reason for lack of access involves the race and socioeconomic status (SES) of an individual (Hoffman & Novak, 1998; Hoffman & Novak, 1999; NTIA, 1999; Glenn, 2005). Because of the technology access disparity that exists, this study was conducted to investigate whether computer access and Internet access has an impact on the acceptance of an e-learning technology.

Descriptive statistics were used to organize, summarize and describe the responses of the participants using SPSS. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to determine the relationship between the independent variables (race, SES, computer access, and Internet access) and the dependent variables (perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, attitude, and intention to use) of this study. Two regression models were performed to compute the variance of each set of added variables. Model 2 of the hierarchical regression used the theoretical framework which suggests variables such as race and socioeconomic status both influence technology acceptance. These two independent variables were entered first to control for them. The variable of interest, computer access was entered last. Separate regression analysis was conducted for each dependent variable. These steps were repeated to test Internet access in the regression model. Focusing on the different variables that impact e-learning technology acceptance by college students will provide valuable information about their willingness to engage in the use of e-learning tools. These findings will provide insight regarding whether additional access to computers and/or the Internet might increase students’ willingness to engage in e-learning tools.


5.2 Conclusion

These findings suggest that computer access is not enough to close the digital divide. Research has shown that simply providing students with technology does not guarantee that the students will use it (Blau, 2002). Thus, the more realistic issue that needs to be addressed is digital inclusion. Ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status, have access to and are using the technological tools in this digital age should be a concern for our society. To be productive members of our society and to compete in the increasingly global economy, we must all be digitally connected.

To assist in the movement toward digital inclusion, career and technical educators must provide students with the technical skills needed to use the technology. Educators must also equip students with critical thinking skills to make decisions. These lifelong learning skills will ensure that students can stay abreast of current technologies that evolve. In addition, individuals need access to diverse and meaningful content on the Internet. People from diverse backgrounds will not find information on the World Wide Web to be relevant and useful if it is void of information pertaining to their culture.


5.3 Recommendations

Having made the findings and conclusion for this study, the researcher recommended that;

  1. E-learning is essential to facilitate teaching and learning, however subjects that requires practical approach must be given the required time for easy skill acquisition by students.
  2. School managements should consider the availability of equipment and resources sufficient for all students before mandating the use of E-learning system.

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