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 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
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 online units that are considerably shorter in length into the traditional classroom model. This additional research can provide greater insight into which factors promote e-learning success. Keywords: E-learning, Online learning, Web-based learning, Blended Learning, Learner satisfaction
E-learning has grown tremendously over the past several years as technology has been integrated into education and training. “Elearning” may be defined as instrucMaterial published as part of this journal, either on-line or in tion delivered electronically via the print, is copyrighted by the publisher of the Journal of InformaInternet, Intranets, or multimedia plattion Technology Education. Permission to make digital or paper copy of part or all of these works for personal or classroom use is forms such as CD-ROM or DVD granted without fee provided that the copies are not made or dis(Hall, 2003; O’Neill, Singh, & tributed for profit or commercial advantage AND that copies 1) O’Donoghue, 2004). Since many usbear this notice in full and 2) give the full citation on the first ers today have access to direct Internet page. It is permissible to abstract these works so long as credit is given. To copy in all other cases or to republish or to post on a connections, e-learning is often identiserver or to redistribute to lists requires specific permission and fied with web-based learning (Hall, payment of a fee. Contact Editor@JITE.org to request redistribu2003). Many writers refer to “etion permission. learning,” “online learning,” and Editor: Chris Cope
Students’ Perceptions of Online Learning
“web-based learning” interchangeably, an approach that will be taken in this paper. E-learning can be implemented in a variety of ways, such as through the use of self-paced independent study units, asynchronous interactive sessions (where participants interact at different times) or synchronous interactive settings (where learners meet in real time) (Ryan, 2001). Estimates...