Volume 5, 2006
Students’ Perceptions of Online Learning: A Comparative Study
Karl L. Smart and James J. Cappel Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI, USA
In search of better, more cost effective ways to deliver instruction and training, universities and corporations have expanded their use of e-learning. Although several studies suggest that online education and blended instruction (a “blend” of online and traditional approaches) can be as effective as traditional classroom models, few studies have focused on learner satisfaction with online instruction, particularly in the transition to online learning from traditional approaches. This study examines students’ perceptions of integrating online components in two undergraduate business courses where students completed online learning modules prior to class discussion. The results indicate that participants in an elective course rated the online modules significantly better than those in a required course. Overall, participants in the elective course rated the online modules marginally positive while those in the required course rated them marginally negative. These outcomes suggest that instructors should be selective in the way they integrate online units into traditional, classroom-delivered courses. This integration should be carefully planned based on learner characteristics, course content, and the learning context. For most participants of the study (83 percent), this was their first experience completing an online learning activity or module. In addition, the largest dissatisfaction factor reported among the participants was the time required to complete the online modules. Future research is encouraged to explore: (1) how previous experience with technology and online learning affects students’ attitudes towards and success with e-learning; and (2) the effects of interspersing... [continues]
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