Gauging the Extent of Online Practices Along the eLearning Continuum
Higher education institutions around the world are embracing computer-assisted learning and instruction practices creating four distinct learning environments namely: print, face-to-face, blended and online. This study assessed current online practices in all the four learning environments concurrently at both undergraduate and graduate levels at the University of the South Pacific. It explores the reasons for students’ actions/inactions and perceptions towards the current online practices in the different learning environments. A total of 975 learners (873 undergraduates and 72 postgraduates) participated in a survey with closed and open-ended questions. The findings reveal learners’ reasons for embracing computer-assisted learning and instruction practices despite their high satisfaction with face-to-face learning environments as reported in an earlier study. The ‘course structure’, ‘use of discussion forum for asynchronous interaction’, ‘learner support’ and the need for ‘eLearning awareness’ emerged as crucial points for consideration. Unlike other studies, this study provides insight into print and face-to-face learning environments as well highlighting importance learners place on the integration of technology in each of these learning environments. The findings of this study have implications for institutions/organisations around the world along the eLearning continuum, particularly if they have a diverse student population.
Keywords: eLearning, virtual learning environment, online learning, blended learning, higher education