Investigating Technology User Acceptance of Virtual Learning Environments in Higher Education Institutions in Qatar
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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o ABSTRACT Since the rapid growth and development in technology, specifically in the Internet followed by the popular attitude pertaining to using computers and technology, this resulted in the birth of new gadgets and tools which would support various kinds of firms and institutions in conducting courses which are mediated by such new technologies, one such technology refers to ‘Virtual Learning Environment’ (VLE) (Belmonte & Grossi, 2010). There has been an influx of distance learning courses along with the emergence and implementation of a VLE. A VLE can be described as a kind of e-learning software which permits online interactions of different types to occur, this usually takes place between the tutor and the learner (student) (Dunn, 2003) The fact remains that the implementation of technology used for the purpose of teaching and improving learning in higher education has shifted and in fact progressed from its embryonic experimental phase to being deeply rooted and interwoven as a basic component of numerous colleges and university curriculum in the last 10 years. One of the most significant aspect which has modified has been aggravated by the extensive initiation and implementation of VLE e-Learning technology. Interestingly, one of the attributes of the technology refers to the fact it integrates various tools and resources in a combined system. In order to implant VLE within the context of a university curriculum is not something which simply refers to using an individual mediation, but to modify the overall experiences of teachers and pupils alike with regard to teaching and learning also referring to the senior management of that specific institution involved. It must be noted that looking back at the previous literature published on VLEs, it has primarily focused on studies which clearly mention and conduct a comparison of system operations, defining small-scale and short-term operation or merely offering speculative theories and speculations. In fact, there has been a very limited focus laid on evaluating the impact and effects of VLEs use on the participants, specifically focusing on a large number of users in the Middle East. It is within this context, this thesis presents an assessment of the introduction, management and impact of the VLE e-learning technology within the set of universities and colleges in Qatar. An attempt has been made to evaluate the effectiveness and user acceptance of how VLE can be managed by students and teachers, whether it contributes towards enhancing one’s learning experience. Secondly, the impact of the VLE learning on teaching and learning within the context of studying in a university. Thirdly, has the VLE-learning technology contributed in cutting down costs of the way courses are conducted or delivered. In order to answer these questions, a quantitative research method has been implemented where a survey was designed and distributed amongst Qatari students in universities in Qatar. It would be interesting to note that the change management concepts would also be implemented in this context in order to demonstrate how students have learned and the effect of such a technology on them. The purpose of this research is to emphasise on the significance of technological change within an academic institution plays an increasingly pivotal role in terms of its use and acceptance (Osadiya, 2008). The data recommends that the user acceptance of VLEs in Qatar exists within the higher educational institutions. Although based on a very small sample, the research study also recommends that pedagogical perceptions and techniques linked with networked learning is possibly emerging in the curriculum in Qatar. Furthermore, the theoretical research structure of e-learning adoption has been featured in the literature review is based on the technology acceptance model. It is essential to emphasise that the study offers an indicator of pupils’ acceptance of e-learning along with recognizing the significant factors which are seen to be pivotal towards its successful usage. The results will cultivate the comprehension of pupils’ acceptance of e-learning and will support in its consistent application at Qatari universities and colleges.
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