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Learning to learn in e-Learning : constructive practices for development
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis concerns technology use in distance educations and learning practices related to this use. The research was carried out over the period 2005 to 2009 in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and has been reported in 6 published papers. The research is situated within the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) and within this field e-learning. Education is important for development and for many students in developing countries distance education is often the only option to get educated. The research question is if the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in distance education can contribute to development, and if so, how?

This question is explored through two case studies in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. A variety of data collection methods have been used: interviews, questionnaires, participant observations and document review. The research approach is interpretative and findings are analyzed using Structuration Theory.

Initial findings showed that a major challenge for students was the change of learning practices that distance education required. Findings also showed that new constructive learning practices emerged through the use of ICT. For development to take place the learning practices of students are important. Students used to learning practices based on uncritical memorization of facts will not easily take initiatives for change, whereas students used to constructive learning practices will.  Notwithstanding the fact that most students found this transition challenging, it was found that by introducing technology into long-established transmission structures, changes towards constructive learning practices occurred.

A major contribution of this thesis is to increase the understanding of how ICT in distance education can facilitate constructive learning practices. By arguing that constructive learning practices are conducive to societal change this finding also has implications for development. The thesis also makes a theoretical contribution by extending Structuration Theory’s applicability in demonstrating its explanatory power in settings where researcher and informants are geographically and socially distant.

Place, publisher, year, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitet, 2010. 148 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Informatics, 3
Keyword [en]
ICT4D, distance education, constructive learning practices, Structuration Theory, ICT, developing countries, e-learning
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-10354 (URN)978-91-7668-721-5 (ISBN)oai:DiVA.org:oru-10354 (OAI)diva2:310100 (DiVA)
Public defence
2010-05-17, Hörsal M, Musikhögskolan, Örebro universitet, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, Örebro, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from2010-04-12 Created:2010-04-12 Last updated:2012-09-04Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. A Conceptual Framework for E-Learning in Developing Countries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Conceptual Framework for E-Learning in Developing Countries : A Critical Review of Research Challenges
2009 (English)In: Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, ISSN 1681-4835, Vol. 38, no 8, 1-16Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper presents a critical review of research on challenges for e-learning with a particular focus on developing countries. A comprehensive literature review including 60 papers on e-learning challenges was undertaken for the purpose of understanding how to implement e-learning in developing countries. Research questions were: what has existing research identified as the major challenges for e-learning, and, what differences, if any, are there between developing countries and developed countries in this respect? The literature study found 278 papers which were condensed to 60 based on exclusion and inclusion criteria designed to find papers of best quality as well as papers that clearly investigated well-defined challenges. The research found 30 specific challenges which were grouped into four categories, viz.: courses, individuals, technology and context. The overall conclusion is that these challenges are equally valid for both developed and developing countries; however in developing countries more papers focus on access to technology and context whereas in developed countries more papers concern individuals. A further finding is that most papers focus on one or two categories of challenges; few papers exhibit a comprehensive view. Because challenges are interrelated, based on the findings we propose a conceptual framework of emerging issues for e-learning in developed and developing countries. The framework is useful to guide both practice and research.

Publisher, range
Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong, 2009
Keyword
e-learning, challenges, literature review, conceptual framework, developing countries
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Computer Science, informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-8058 (URN)
Available from2009-10-01 Created:2009-10-01 Last updated:2010-06-29Bibliographically approved
2. Seven major challenges for e-learning in developing countries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Seven major challenges for e-learning in developing countries : Case study eBIT, Sri Lanka
2008 (English)In: International Journal of Education and Development using ICT, Vol. 4, no 3Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

By using an extensive framework for e-learning enablers and disablers (including 37 factors) this paper sets out to identify which of these challenges are most salient for an e-learning course in Sri Lanka. The study includes 1887 informants and data has been collected from year 2004 to 2007, covering opinions of students and staff. A quantitative approach is taken to identify the most important factors followed by a qualitative analysis to explain why and how they are important. The study identified seven major challenges in the following areas: Student support, Flexibility, Teaching and Learning Activities, Access, Academic confidence, Localization and Attitudes. In this paper these challenges will be discussed and solutions suggested.

Keyword
e-learning; challenges, developing countries; support; flexibility; access; academic confidence; localization; interactivity; attitudes
National Category
Information Science Social Sciences Computer and Information Science Computer and Information Science
Research subject
informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-5908 (URN)
Available from2009-03-05 Created:2009-03-03 Last updated:2010-04-12Bibliographically approved
3. Letters from the field
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Letters from the field : e-learning students change of learning behaviour in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh
2008 (English)In: Proceedings of ECEL 2008: 7th European conference on e-Learning, 2008, 29-37Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper reports the findings from two case studies on e-learning in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In these countries much hope is set on e-learning as a means to disseminate education to a larger population, but statistics show that drop out rates from e-learning courses are much higher than from traditional, classroom based, courses. In this paper it is argued that one reason for this is that the introduction of e-learning and a more student-centred learning model involves a drastic shift for students who are brought up in very teacher-centred didactic educational cultures. In order to investigate how this change in learning is perceived by its main stakeholders (i.e. the students) visits to learning centres in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were made during 2007 and 2008. To capture the students’ opinions an open approach was chosen where students were asked to write letters about which major challenges they experience in changing their learning behaviour and completing the courses. Altogether the study is based on 107 student letters that have been analyzed and coded based on major differences and challenges identified by the students. Findings show that most students find learning on their own to be the major difference. They find this challenging because they feel very distant and because they do not know how to learn on their own. They have difficulties in managing their time and a lack of flexibility combined with a sloppy administration makes it even worse. Students used to being spoon-fed and learning by memorizing obviously need much support in taking ownership of their own learning in order to be able to learn by themselves. By comparing and mapping these findings to solutions suggested by existing research this study therefore suggests that support functions should be provided for students on ‘how to be an online learner’ and on ‘how to learn by yourself’. The teacher interaction and presence should also, at least in the early stages of the course, be frequent and active in order to make the student confident in his or hers ability to learn on their own. Finally, course flexibility (in regards to delivery mode and pace) should be high and much effort should be put into creating a supportive and well-organized administration

Keyword
e-learning, developing countries, educational structures, pedagogical differences, learning behaviour, support functions
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-5909 (URN)
Conference
7th European Conference on e-Learning, Agia Napa, Cyprus, 6-7 November 2008
Available from2009-03-05 Created:2009-03-03 Last updated:2011-03-24Bibliographically approved
4. Increasing interactivity in distance educations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Increasing interactivity in distance educations : Case studies Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
2010 (English)In: Information Technology for Development, ISSN 0268-1102, E-ISSN 1554-0170, Vol. 16, no 1, 16-33Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper describes how distance educations in developing countries can enhance interactivityby means of information and communication technologies. It is argued that e-learning involvesa shift in the educational structure from traditional transmission of knowledge to interactivecreation of knowledge. Our case studies are two distance educations in Bangladesh and SriLanka that use different technologies for implementing interactivity; Internet and computersin one case and video and mobile phones in the other. The findings are analyzed based onStructuration Theory and we compare the two approaches based on emerging norms andbeliefs. Findings from both cases show the concurrent enactment of both the transmissionand the interactive structure. Whereas peer collaboration and the use of self-assessment toolsmake students take more ownership of their learning, we also found the idea of a classroomwith an instructive teacher to be deeply rooted in the students’ minds.

Publisher, range
Oxford: Routledge, 2010
Keyword
e-learning; interactivity; educational structures; developing countries; Structuration Theory
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-10267 (URN)10.1080/02681100903533719 (DOI)
Available from2010-03-29 Created:2010-03-29 Last updated:2010-09-01Bibliographically approved
5. Learning e-Learning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning e-Learning : the restructuring of students beliefs and assumptions about learning
2010 (English)In: International Journal on E-learning, ISSN 1537-2456, Vol. 9, no 4, 435-461Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper builds on a case study on e-learning in Sri Lanka with focus on students’ underlying beliefs about how one learns. E-learning programs are most often set up with the assumption that students should think, act and learn independently and with underlying values of constructivism and learner–centred learning. For students used to classroom-based, didactic education the transition to the e-learning paradigm is, however, neither predetermined nor immediate. The objective of this paper is to find out if, and how, the e-learning practice manages to transform students into more independent and self sustaining learners. By drawing on Structuration Theory this study analyzes and compares novice and experienced students’ assumptions about learning when asking for a particular support function, because support needs should change if students start adopting the e-learning view on how learning is achieved. Findings show that students increasingly adopt the e-learning view on learning as they progress through the program. Students take increasingly more ownership of their learning and the teacher is no longer seen as the container of all knowledge. The importance of discussions also increases over time indicating that knowledge is no longer seen as being transmitted but rather created.

National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-10268 (URN)
Available from2010-03-29 Created:2010-03-29 Last updated:2013-10-17Bibliographically approved
6. Learning from e-learning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning from e-learning : emerging constructive learning practices
2009 (English)In: Doing IT research that matters, 2009Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This research is situated within the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) and asks if ICT use can make learning practices change. While constructive learning practices are critical to both individual and societal development, repetitive learning practices are the norm in many developing countries. The study is based on observations and in-depth interviews and uses a structurational approach to understand if and how students views of learning change during an e-learning program in Sri Lanka. We found four constructive learning practices that emerged through technology use; individual exploring, interaction with peers, interaction with teachers, and taking responsibility of the learning. Many constructive learning practices emerged outside the LMS used, in students’ voluntary uses of publicly available resources on the Internet. The study shows that technology use can play a positive role for development, provided an open environment is available; students learn constructive practicesfrom e-learning.

Keyword
ICT4D, e-learning, learning practices, Structuration Theory, constructive learning theory
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-8886 (URN)
Conference
International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), Phoenix 2009
Note
<p>ICIS 2009 Proceedings. Paper 51.</p>Available from2009-12-21 Created:2009-12-21 Last updated:2014-04-17Bibliographically approved

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Swedish Business School at Örebro University
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