Enthusiasm or Skepticism What Students Think about E-Learning

Enthusiasm or Skepticism What Students Think about E-Learning

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Enthusiasm or Skepticism? What Students Think about E-Learning Margit Pohl Dietmar Wieser [email protected] , [email protected] Institute for Design and Assessment of Technology Vienna University of Technology Austria Abstract: It is essential for the efficient implementation of e-learning that students have positive attitudes about this new approach. Existing literature indicates that students’ attitudes about e- learning are mixed. To support the implementation of the e-learning platform TUWEL at Vienna University of Technology, we conducted a study using semi-structured questionnaires with open- ended questions. Students enjoy the flexibility e-learning offers, but some of them do not want to miss the personal contacts to other students traditional lectures offer. Students are also skeptical about electronic learning material. This might be due to the lack of quality of these materials which was also mentioned in the present study. Informal learning, supported electronically, seems to form an important part of students’ learning activities and should be investigated in more detail. 1. Introduction The use of e-learning systems plays an increasing role in university education. Students’ attitudes concerning e- learning is a fundamental issue in this process because success or failure of the implementation of e-learning systems also depends on the adoption of such systems by students. Students are often enthusiastic and motivated by the new technical features of e-learning systems, but sometimes problems (often technical in nature) arise. These problems have to be understood and solved to ensure that e-learning systems become successful. Collis and Moonen (2002), for example, argue that students are not intrinsically motivated by the use of educational technology. When this technology is not integrated into the course-work, they will soon lose interest. As a consequence, the use of this technology will become less effective than traditional forms of teaching. More detailed information about students’ attitudes concerning e-learning is, therefore, necessary. In recent years, this topic has attracted interest of researchers in that area, and several studies have been published. At the Vienna University of Technology, there is ongoing research concerning this problem. In a previous study, we investigated this issue using focus groups (Pohl et al 2007). This study indicated that students’ attitudes to e-learning are mixed. Some students enjoy it, but others complain about the lack of personal contact. Some features of e- learning seem to be quite attractive, others are not appreciated by the students. It also seems to be necessary to distinguish between formal and informal learning. Some e-learning features are only used by autonomous groups of students without supervision by university teachers. A very successful forum for computer science students has, for example, been founded several years ago where students exchange information about lectures and help each other. Investigating such informal forms of learning (for a discussion of this term see e.g. Livingston 2001) also seems to
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Enthusiasm or Skepticism What Students Think about E-Learning

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