Computer mediated communications on Ilearn : use of asynchronous learning discussions by mature students
conference contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by I Vencatachellum, R Ramsaran-Fowdar
In the context of developing a distance learning strategy at the University of Mauritius (UoM), computer mediated communications, like asynchronous conferences, will be playing an important role to enable students to take responsibility for their own learning. This paper aims at understanding the factors affecting the use of online conferences by mature students as support to their face-to-face classroom sessions. Thus, we will be in a better position to understand and facilitate mature learners’ use of online conferences in the course of their tertiary education programmes. The study builds on the Technology Acceptance Model, which identified users’ perceived ease of use and usefulness as major determinants of technology acceptance. Factors, identified from the existing literature, that would influence perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness (like access and availability of technological infrastructures, motivation, technical and tutor support, collaborative learning, transferability of skills, training/induction programmes, design and delivery issues, and social influences),were used to assess their impact on mature students’ adoption of asynchronous learning discussions on the UoM developed Ilearn platform. A structured questionnaire was administered to 98 mature learners on four management education programmes after they have used asynchronous conferences, over 15-30 weeks in modules like Human Resource Development, Human Resource Management and IT, Managing Human Resources for International Business, and HR for the eWorkplace. Findings revealed that perceived ease of use and usefulness impacted the adoption of asynchronous conferences and the implications are that the factors contributing to the mature students’ perceptions need to be managed closely throughout the learning process so that they can participate actively in the asynchronous learning forums on Ilearn. Hence, some recommendations are discussed to ensure computer mediated communications support the delivery of people management courses and enhance the University of Mauritius distance learning strategy.