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Covering the Distance with E-learning 1

Debra-Dreana Marshall-Stuart

Walden University

EDUC-6125-2 Foundations of Research

Instructor: Dr. Paula Porter


Covering the Distance with E-learning 2

Introduction

Educational institutions such as the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP) would

inevitably introduce e-learning into their curriculum as the technological age progresses. It is

also inevitable that with the implementation of this educational innovation there are several

barriers to efforts that the Management of the SJPP is likely to encounter. It is important that the

Board of Management of the SJPP be provided with a careful analysis of academic, cultural, and

technical barriers faced by other organizations, so that these management may find solutions to

reduce or to minimize reluctance or resistance to e-learning in their own organization. The

problem under investigation is what solutions will overcome the barriers based on instructors

attitudes towards e-learning.

The use of information and communication technology (ICT) is a necessary feature to

higher education teaching and learning strategies, but the adoption of e-learning or online

learning is can be negatively received by faculty, although enthusiastically embraced by students.

Research on e-learning appears to emphasize its benefits but as with the implementation of any

innovation e-learning is without its barriers.

The literature reviewed here suggests barriers to the use of technology as lack of

computer access, the lack of student and faculty support services, the lack of adequate training

and technical support, common problems faced by faculty. Consideration of these technological

barriers may help management find solutions to reduce or to minimize obstacles in their own

organization.

Literature Review
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The barriers impeding the development of e-learning appear to be mainly technological.

Technology has a significant impact upon the nature and growth of e-learning within an

organisation. Organisations with insufficient computer resources, unreliable connection to the

internet, and outdated software face obvious hurdles to the adoption of e-learning.

Berge (1998) discussed the issues facing faculty members that are closely related to the

Caribbean experience including the impact of e-learning on workload, the changing role of the

teacher, the quality of instruction and evaluation of faculty performance. Faculty preparation is

needed for newcomers as they may think that nontraditional learning, such as e-learning is the

same as a traditional learning environment. E-learning entails a host of teaching and learning

practices, such as responding to emails, updating course sites, and holding chat sessions, all of

which are more labor and time intensive than on-campus classes.

For instructors, the advent of e-learning challenges many basic notions about adult

learning and what constitutes good teaching. Gupta et al (2004) showed that faculty were

concerned that the e-learning courses available to students did not provide good standards of

teaching by not delivering the same curriculum as traditional face-to-face teaching, and that

placing lecture notes on-line would reduced lecture attendance. Negative attitudes towards new

technology are particularly evident amongst older faculty, many of whom do not see the point of

learning new skills towards the end of their working life.

For instance, some instructors fear that an increase in the use of e-learning technologies

may decrease the need for teaching faculty. Further, Gupta et al (2004) stated that faculty worry

about e-learning not providing a "quality" education and that it "spoon fed" information.

Regardless of age and skills, some degree of training and support is likely to be necessary when
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introducing e-learning into an organisation. The need to provide regular computer training for

faculty as well as opportunities to practice was also recommended by Gupta et al (2004). Berge

(1988) further suggests that by developing train-the-trainer session specifically for learning how

to use e-learning tools faculty may overcome this fear.

The use of electronic resources to facilitate learning and teaching is well received

by students but there may be a lack of enthusiasm and uptake of these resources by

faculty. Moving into e-learning is difficult for instructors who are already familiar with the

traditional teaching environment (Strauss, 2003). Berge, (2002) also agrees that the transition

into e-learning is rather difficult as it involves faculty converting physical teaching materials into

e-learning materials and this takes time to complete. One deterrent related to this repeatedly was

the issue of faculty workload (Berge, 1998). According to Bonk (2001), 62% of faculty

respondents indicated that the main obstacle to using the web in teaching was the preparation

time required (p. 8).

Berge (1998) found in his study that a majority instructors are not exposed to the

necessary software, and do not want to change their teaching styles. As a result, instructors need

e-learning training before transitioning (Strauss, 2003).

In addition, instructional design and development support was cited as being essential for

faculty who do not have the time to develop and maintain online courses (Bonk, 2001). Berge,

(1998) study suggests than an instructor should be encouraged to participate in planning and

designing the online course, as well as doing the instruction. This may mean that an instructor

who plays multiple roles must be trained to use all the necessary instructional tools in all stages

of design, development, and evaluation or the course.


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Most tertiary institutions have allocated Information and Communication Technology

(ICT) resources to provide alternatives to the previously used teacher-centred "chalk and talk"

approach to learning and teaching. The barriers and potential solutions identified are useful for

those designing e-learning programs in any professional context. The main barriers are:

requirement for change; costs; poorly designed packages; inadequate technology; lack of skills;

need for a component of face-to-face teaching; time intensive nature of e-learning; computer

anxiety. These can be considered as the most prominent barriers in this particular situation and

indeed, may not be the case for other situations.

Conclusion

All the barriers and solutions mentioned in this study should be considered when

planning and implementing distance education. A range of solutions can solve these barriers. The

main solutions are: standardization;; integration of e-learning into the curriculum; blended

teaching; access to technology; skills training; support; (Berge, Z.L. & Muilenburg, L.Y. , 2003).
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References

Berge, Z.L. (1998). Barriers to online teaching in post-secondary institutions. Online Journal of

E-learning Administration. 1(2). Summer. [Online.]

http://www.westga.edu/~distance/Berge12.html

Berge, Z. (2002). Obstacles to distance training and education in corporate organisations.

Journal of Workplace Learning. Bradford: 14 (5/6) 182-190.

Berge, Z.L. & Collins, M.P. (Eds.) (1998). Wired Together: Computer-Mediated Communication

in K-12, Volume 1 Perspectives and Instructional Design. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Berge, Z.L. & Muilenburg, L.Y. (2003). Barriers to distance education: Perceptions of K-12

educators. Proceedings of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education

International Conference. Albuquerque, New Mexico USA, March 24-29. Issue 1, pp.

256-259.

Bonk, C.J. (2001). Online teaching in an online world. Retrieved from

http://www.courseshare.com/reports.php

Brennan, R., Horton, C., McNickle, C., Osborne, J. & Scholten, K. (2003) Online learning on

location: Perspectives from regional Australia. Retrieved on 2nd August, 2004 from

http://www.ncver.edu.au/research/proj/nr1F04.pdf
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Cho, S and Berge, Z. (2002), Overcoming Barriers to Distance Training and Education.

Published in Education at a Distance - the USDLA Journal Vol. 16 No. 1. Retrieved from

http://www.usdla.org/html/journal/JAN02_Issue/article01.html

Gupta, B., White D. A. & Walmsley, A. D. (2004). The attitudes of undergraduate students and

faculty to the use of electronic learning. British Dental Journal, Vol. 196, No. 8, pp487-

492.

Moore, M.G. (1994). Administrative barriers to adoption of distance education. The American

Journal of Distance Education, 8(3).

Strauss H., (2003), Getting all of our courses online: A Euphoric State Case Study, E-Learn

Magazine, Association of Computing Machinery.