Scholarly article on topic 'Exploring the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Blended Learning Tools in a School of Business'

Exploring the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Blended Learning Tools in a School of Business Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Cho Cho Wai, Ernest Lim Kok Seng

Abstract The phrase blended learning (BL) was associated with the classroom training to e-Learning activities. However, BL has evolved to encompass a much richer set of learning strategies such as live events, online content, collaboration, assessment and reference materials. BL has entered into the major role of training and education scene and is gaining its popularity. This study investigates students’ perceptions of the effectiveness and efficiency of BL tools in teaching and learning. A case study design was used and 120 business school students enrolled at a private university being investigated. A set of survey questionnaires was conducted to examine the effectiveness and efficiency of BL by using path analysis. The empirical results confirm that BL tools do enhance students’ learning experiences and learning outcomes.

Academic research paper on topic "Exploring the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Blended Learning Tools in a School of Business"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 123 (2014) 470 - 476

TTLC 2013

Exploring the effectiveness and efficiency of blended learning tools

in a school of business

Cho Cho Wai*, Ernest Lim Kok Seng

Taylor's Business School, Taylor's University,Selangor, Malaysia

Abstract

The phrase blended learning (BL) was associated with the classroom training to e-Learning activities. However, BL has evolved to encompass a much richer set of learning strategies such as live events, online content, collaboration, assessment and reference materials. BL has entered into the major role of training and education scene and is gaining its popularity. This study investigates students' perceptions of the effectiveness and efficiency of BL tools in teaching and learning. A case study design was used and 120 business school students enrolled at a private university being investigated. A set of survey questionnaires was conducted to examine the effectiveness and efficiency of BL by using path analysis. The empirical results confirm that BL tools do enhance students' learning experiences and learning outcomes.

© 2013TheAuthors. Publishedby ElsevierLtd.

Selectionandpeer-reviewunderresponsibilityoftheOrganizingCommitteeof TTLC2013. Keywords: Blended learning; Perceptions; Effectiveness; Efficiency

1. Introduction

Blended learning (BL) is being used widely in both academic and corporate circles. The term is commonly associated with the introduction of online media into a course, while at the same time, retaining other traditional approaches in teaching and learning (Graham, 2004). This is a form of media that allows students the freedom to choose their learning environment which is also known as asynchronous media. This learning approach is a student-centered approach that uses online resources to facilitate information share outside the constraints of time and place among students (McCombs & Vakili, 2005). According to Young (2002), convergence between online and

* Corresponding author. Tel.:+603 5629 5693 ; fax: +603 5629 5001 E-mail address: chowai.cho@taylors.edu.my

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of TTLC2013. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.1446

traditional instruction was gaining popularity in today higher education. It means lecturers use online website to post lecture notes, assignments and announcements and at the same time continue to conduct face-to-face lectures and tutorials. However, how effective are these strategies in terms of cost, students' acceptable levels and performance. This study focuses on students' perceptions of BL, attitude towards Information and Communications Technology (ICT), effectiveness and efficiency of BL in teaching and learning. Therefore, the specific objectives of this study are threefold. First, it seeks to determine student's accessibility to ICT in BL environment. Then, it provides insights into the effectiveness and efficiency of BL tools in teaching and learning.

2. Literature Review

The phrase BL was often associated with conventional classroom learning to e-Learning activities (Singh, 2003). Osguthorpe & Graham (2003) suggest that BL should include the combination of online and face-to-face learning environments. Dziuban, Hartman, Moskal, Sorg & Truman (2004) studied the effectiveness of BL in a group of university students revealed that BL was effective and led to students' higher grades. This finding is coincided with Hiltz and Turoff's (2005) study. They strongly believe that introduction of asynchronous learning networks will be a critical breakthrough in improving students' learning.

However, a recent experiment of a course taught in all three modalities concluded that fully internet-based was the best compared to BL and face-to-face approaches (Reasons, Valadares & Slavkin, 2005). Similarly, Vaughn and Garrison (2005) did not find any evidence that BL could improve students' cognitive presence while exclusive Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN) environments did show that evidence. Wu and Hiltz's (2004) studied students in blended courses showed that online discussions were meaningful, but no evidence was shown to support the hypothesis that blended was significantly better than fully online.

One of the problems facing the field is whether BL is effective as measure through grades, course completion, retention and graduation rates. Others skeptical about the superiority of BL as compare to other modes of learning. Studies showed that fully online learning courses produced mixed results. Online courses were at least as effective as traditional classroom instruction (Russell, 2001; Zhao, Lei, Lai, & Tan, 2005). Generally, previous studies measured the effectiveness of BL by comparing the traditional teaching and fully online course in conjunction with course completion rates. However, very few studies investigated the accessibility of students in ICT and the effectiveness and efficiency of BL tools in teaching and learning.

3. Research Methodology

3.1. Data Collection

This study used a set of survey questionnaires focused on students' perceptions of BL, attitude towards ICT, effectiveness and efficiency of BL tools in teaching and learning. 120 students were chosen randomly from a school of business. The survey questionnaires comprised of information about ICT, usage of online tools and effectiveness of BL in teaching and learning. These survey questionnaires covered student's knowledge of ICT, experiences and usage of BL tools. Students were being asked about their internet usage such as social media, online chatting, online discussion, online games, personal space, other social and communication tools.

3.2. Research Methodology

Path analysis was used to measure the effectiveness of BL. Path analysis provides estimates the magnitude and significance of hypothesized causal connections between sets of variables. The general Path model is as followed:

Fig. 1. General Path Regression Model for BL

This model is specified by the following two general equations:

• Equation 1: Effectiveness of BL = p1 + b11 Use of online Tools in Teaching

+ b12 Use of online Tools in Learning +e1

• Equation 2: Efficiency of BL = p2 + b21 Effectiveness of BL+ e1

In order to investigate the relationships among all the variables, correlation and asymptotic covariance matrices were used in the analyses; whereas, KMO and Bartlett's test were employed to investigate the reliability of the measurements. This study used statistical analysis to determine whether to accept or reject the hypotheses. Therefore, the hypotheses for this study are:

• H1: Students' ICT accessibility.

• H2: How effective the usage of BL tools in the perspectives of lecturers and students.

• H3: How efficient the usage of BL tools in teaching and learning.

4. Research Findings

Course delivery has been changed over the decades. Almost all lecturers use online method to deliver their course content. At the same time, students can study on their own based on the online materials. Students need to acquire the basic knowledge of ICT in order to access online materials. Therefore, information pertaining to students' ICT usage was investigated in this study.

4.1. General Information about the Usage of Technology

Students today rely heavily on electronic devices. However, students need to access to these devices in BL environment. Based on the survey results, 65% of the students had more than 8 years of computer usage experience. Majority of students used computer for emails and social networks. Online chatting and online games were the highest percentage usage; whereas blogs was the lowest percentage in daily usage. The results also showed that students' ICT usage could be classified as satisfactory level and acquired the knowledge of ICT.

4.2. Students' Accessibility of BL Tools

Most students acquired knowledge of using BL tools. It is important to find out how students use these devices, how ICT influence their educational experiences and its effect on their learning. This study used PowerPoint, video, online exercises, online lectures, emails, SMS and online Chatting as BL tools. PowerPoint was the main presentation medium in classrooms since 1990s. Numerical studies investigated the link between PowerPoint and student engagement, PowerPoint handouts and student's performance and the effect of PowerPoint on classroom interactions (Noppe, Achterberg, Duquaine, Huebbe & Williams, 2007). The results showed that 93% of the students downloaded their PowerPoint lecture from student's portal and 97% of their lecturers used PowerPoint in their teaching. This indicates that the usage of PowerPoint is important in teaching and learning.

With the advance in technology, lecturers are able to access authentic audiovisual resources directly such as friction.tv, beeline.tv, lonelyplanet.tv and YouTube. These resources bring benefit to the modern classroom. 70% of the lecturers used video in their teaching and 45% of the students used it for their assignments. Beside power point and video, online lectures and exercises are important in BL setting. Online lecture and exercises can reduce the cost and allow flexible study time for the students. Higher percentage of students used online exercises compared to online lectures. Many students had problem to download the course contents. Students were looking for better software to speed up their downloading time.

Many subjects require the usage of ICT such as Mathematics, Statistics, Accountancy and Finance. Students felt that ICT enhanced their learning in term of calculation and time. Advance technology allows students to discuss online tools via telephone, SMS, email and online chatting. However, this study showed that the percentage of using these BL tools were still very low. These learning tools need to be used widely in campus. The results also showed that business school students had acquired the knowledge of ICT in teaching and learning. Thus, hypothesis 1 was accepted and students had the potential to access to the ICT in BL environment.

4.3. Effectiveness of BL Tools

The reliability of BL variables were acceptable level (Nunnally, 1967). Statistically, KMO values of more than 0.5 and 0.7 can be considered mediocre and good. Table 1 shows that our variables were significantly acceptable for reliability test. Therefore, path regression analysis was carried out to identify the BL effectiveness model.

Table 1. Reliability Measures for BL Variables: KMO and Bartlett's Test

BL variables Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy Bartlett's Test of sphericity (p-value)

PowerPoint 0.519 0.000

Video 0.676 0.000

Online Lectures 0.633 0.000

Online Exercises 0.697 0.000

Computer Software 0.618 0.000

Telephone/SMS/email/online Chatting 0.756 0.000

There are two stages of path analysis. The first stage is to measures the effectiveness of BL tolls in teaching and learning and the second stage is to measure the efficiency of all the BL tools. This study investigated lecturers' usage and how often students use BL tools for their assignments.

Table 2. Path Regression Results of Effectiveness in BL Tools

Equation Variables Path Coefficient of Path Coefficients of Significance F R2

Usage of BL tools Usage of BL Tools (p-value)

(Lecturer) (Students)

1 PowerPoint 0.246* 0.131 0.001 0.094

2 Video 0.562*** 0.113 0.005 0.272

3 Online Lecture 0.085 0.613*** 0.000 0.434

4 Online Exercises 0.225 0.333** 0.001 0.225

5 Computer Software 0.037 0 915*** 0.000 0.855

6 Telephone 0.810*** 0.000 0.656

7 SMS 0.767*** 0.000 0.588

8 e-mailing 0.932*** 0.000 0.868

9 Online Chatting 0.739*** 0.000 0.545

Note: * significant at 10 percent level ** significant at 5 percent level *** significant at 1 percent level

Table 2 shows the first stage of path analysis results. PowerPoint usage for lecturer showed significant result compared to the students' usage. Students' PowerPoint usage showed insignificant result. Therefore, it shows that PowerPoint is effective BL tools in teaching and learning. The usage of video was more effective and significant than PowerPoint presentation. Students could get clearer pictures of the subject through video presentation. Online lectures were effective tools for the lecturers and the students. 64% of the students had difficulty to download their online lectures. It will be an efficient BL tool if the system can be up-graded in the future. The coefficient for online media was highly significant. Students mainly used telephone, SMS, emails and online chatting for their studies.

Table 3. Path Regression Results of Effectiveness and Efficiency BL Usage

Equation BL Variables Coefficient of Significance F R2

Effectiveness (p-value)

1 PowerPoint 0.407*** 0.001 0.166

2 Video/ Movies 0.537*** 0.000 0.288

3 Online Lecture 0.171 0.298 0.029

4 Online Exercises 0.414*** 0.002 0.171

5 Computer Software 0.554*** 0.003 0.307

6 Telephone 0.293*** 0.000 0.990

SMS 0.288***

e-mail 0.315***

Online Chatting 0.347***

Note: * significant at 10 percent level ** significant at 5 percent level *** significant at 1 percent level

Lecturer's PowerPoint and video presentation showed significant effect on students' learning. Students' usage of online lectures, online exercises, computer software, telephone, SMS, e-mail and online chatting had significant effect on their studies. PowerPoint and video were widely used in teaching and learning. These BL tools showed high efficient results. Although the effectiveness of other BL tools showed significant results, but the percentage of usage was still very low. The results suggest increasing the usage of online tools in teaching and learning. Hypothesis 2 was accepted and the effectiveness of the BL tools showed statistically significance.

4.4. Efficiency of BL Tools

Path regression analysis was used to measure the efficiency of BL tools. Table 3 shows that all BL tools were important except online lecture. Video and computer software had the highest coefficients, followed by PowerPoint, online exercises, online chatting, email, telephone and SMS. All these variables were significant at a=0.01.

Table 4. Path regression result of overall BL Performance and BL Efficiency

PowerPoint Video/ Movies Online Lecture Online Exercises Computer Software Other online discussion Tools

Standardized Beta 0.501 0.283 0.221 0.044 0.206 0.226

Coefficients

t-statistic 49.465 28.916 21.88 5.046 15.174 17.753

Significance 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000

Table 4 shows the regression analysis of BL efficiency and overall BL performance. Hypothesis 3 was accepted and the efficiency of BL tools showed statistical significance in teaching and learning.

5. Conclusion

This study investigates students' perceptions of BL, attitude towards ICT, effectiveness and efficiency of BL tools in teaching and learning. The analysis results showed that almost all the students were able to access modern technology. Majority of the students used computer, internet and social network daily. Students' ICT usage could be classified as satisfactory level and students also acquired the knowledge of using BL tools in their studies. Lecturer's PowerPoint and video presentation showed significant results. Students' online lecture, online exercises, computer software, telephone, SMS, e-mail and online chatting demonstrated significant effect in this study.

This study can be summarized into three areas. First, students' ICT usage was satisfactory in BL environment. In particularly, students mainly used PowerPoint for their studies and presentation purposes. Video presentation and online exercises were used moderately by the students. Secondly, PowerPoint and Video were effective of BL tools for the lecturers; whereas online lecture, online exercise, computer software and other online tools were significant for the students. PowerPoint and video/movies showed significant results in this study. However, there are a few weaknesses to be rectified in this study. The usage of online discussion tools was still low. Students had problem to download online lectures and online lecture showed insignificant results. Online exercises contributed lightly to BL in teaching and learning.

The results suggest that the usage of online discussion tools among students and lecturers need to be improved in BL environment. The computer system needs to be up-graded in the future so that all the online materials will be accessible to the students. Moreover, lecturers need to use more online lectures, online exercises in their teaching. In general, the results showed significant in the usage of BL tools in teaching and learning. The usage of BL tools not only enhancing students' campus learning experiences but providing quality and friendly learning environment as a whole.

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