TheE-learning business research paper is going to report theobservations that are made and the skills gained from delivering andadvancing both online qualitative and quantitative methods programsfor the business candidates and undergraduates. Spearheaded andspurred by the challenges and issues emerged in the process ofhatching the online course, the model is primarily advanced toprovide the sufficient information to the question about how to guidethe development, design, and delivery of the reliable e-learningproject based on the knowledge from a User-centered InformationSystems Development Paradigm (UISDP). The advantages of applying theput forward model for e-learning business assessment is wellexplained using the four cycles of action. The findings of theempirical research justify the worthiness of the action studymethodology in the promotion of the e-learning success. The researchends with the discussion of the distinction of the suggested model tofurther the comprehension of the definition, assessment, anddevelopment of e-learning business.
Theuse of the Internet has changed the way people interact andcommunicate with one another. On June 2005, a study carried out bythe Pew Internet and American Life Project (PIALP) depicted that more138 million Americans used the Internet (Hernández98).About 90 million Americans used it for daily activities, such asweather checking, searching for information, accessing news,e-mailing, online banking, and instant messaging. The educationsystem has also felt the grip of the dramatic changes and developmentof the internet. In 2004, all public schools in the US had a reliableaccess to the internet, up from 95% in 1999. Out of that, about 92%of the public schools offered Internet programmes through theapplication of the asynchronous computer-based rule (Campbell70).About 85% of the public schools are planning to commence or perfectthe use of the Internet as the principal means of deliveringinstructions. Such information provides unequivocal evidence that theinternet-dependent technology has changed the senile in-classlearning to a new form of learning. The Instructional TechnologyCouncil (ITC) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)can be used to define the e-learning process. The paper will reportthe experience gained and the lessons learned from embracing suchtechnology.
Withinany business, learning and continuous development have proved to becritical components. Many companies are still in their traditionalcomfort zones conducting their business, most of the time involvingin-house workshops (Hogan 20). However, there are numerous flawsassociated with the traditional approach. This approach for one takesthe assumption that all workers are at the same level ofunderstanding or performance. Of course, this is never the case.Traditional learning has proved to be counterproductive at timesbecause any incidence of poor planning may significantly affectbusiness operations. Also, if education is conducted by differentindividuals who rely on various methodologies to deliver on theirtopics, there is a possibility that inconsistencies might ariseespecially if one or more questions are related.
Learningand development are important aspects of an organization because theytake a center stage in nurturing and preparing upcoming talents byequipping with skills that are necessary for their careeradvancement. It gives the employees the feeling that their employeris committed to their advancement in their careers (Thorne and Mackey52). Learning is also cost- saving as it will help companies to cutdown on costs that may be associated with hiring and training newstaff. For these reasons, business should adopt the best learningtools to ensure that they gain the most in this competitive world.This paper sets out to answer the following questions: What are thekey factors or components that may lead to the success of e-learning?In which situation is e-learning an excellent substitute fortraditional learning? Or can the best results be achieved when thetwo approaches are utilized together?
Formany years, businesses have invested quite a fortune in learning anddevelopment programs given the attached importance in the success ofbusiness. They have however previously failed or neglected flaws thatcome with traditional learning approaches like in-house workshops.Currently, businesses are on a high alert and are self-critic abouttraditional learning methods (Sumathisri 148). Technology has taken acritical spot in the major operations of companies around the globe.Events are changing every day in the technological arena, and it isonly logical that businesses evolve with changes to maintain theircompetitiveness in a field that is determined by the ability to keepup the competition and out-do opponents.
Theanalysis of the changing events is leading many businesses to theadoption of e-learning as a tool for the advancement of skills amongemployees. Many companies are drifting away from the traditionalapproaches, but some businesses do not see the whole essence ofe-learning in their operations and in so doing, they are lettingtheir lack of opportunity evaluation limit their success (Hogan 33).To say that all businesses need e-learning is, in fact, anunderstatement. Weighing the advantages of e-learning to the successof companies against the limitations of the traditional learningapproach carefully will almost instantaneously trigger businessesthat are still clinging on the traditional approach to reconsidertheir options.
E-learningmakes sure that every individual relates to the same content andobtain similar learning experiences. This approach also helps themanagement of the organization to plan their time effectively toensure that no time is lost during learning as some workers can be inthe training and others on their respective duties and this ensuresthat operations do not come to a standstill during learning. Again,this approach gives employees an opportunity to enroll in onlymodules that are relevant to their performance. Having control overwhat they learn to mean that they will stay motivated at all times.
Keyamong the success factors is the plan of implementation chosen by themanagement. A favorable plan will incorporate training among itsfirst priorities. Planning also involves installation and testing ofpossible applications that will be used in the implementation of theproject. Safety and backup plans should be sound and transparent(Clark and Mayer 24). At this stage, methods and standards that willensure that both the objectives and expectations of the organizationare met should be visualized. Each should have roles defined for themand quality requirements for all deliverables determined. This willensure that all efforts are geared towards achieving those standards.
Therelevance of the e-learning to the career development of employeeswill also determine their cooperativeness. The employees should beable to derive value from the program. Without value, the programwill likely meet resistance from those individuals who are supposedto ensure its success. Relevant content should be good regardingquality and should also be devoid of errors (Sumathisri 149).Awareness creation among employees can help them understand therelevance of the program to their career as well as personaldevelopment.
Toensure the success of an e-learning tool, learning objectives and thecontent to be delivered should be carefully considered. Things to befound in actual setting include elements of knowledge transfer suchas data, facts, and figures (Clark and Mayer 79). Other aspects suchas applicability, analysis, and synthesis can also be considered.Application evaluates the relevance of concepts to practice studyassociates the different relationships logically while integrationseeks to understand the bigger picture. Aligning the objectives withthe expectations is usually the best strategy for ensuring successfulimplementation of the e-learning tool.
Choiceof technology will determine whether e-learning is a success or aflop. Webster and Hackley (2004) are of the school of thought thatquality reliability and richness of the medium are what determinesthe outcomes of learning. Leidner and Jarvenpaa (2001) also in thesame breath believe that some technologies are more suited to supportcertain specific learning models. To put this into perspective,computer-aided individual instructions will be most suitable forsupporting the objectivity approach. A technology that utilizesonline forums in engaging discourse in the subject matter ensuresavailability and accessibility of information. This can greatlyfoster exploration and the ability of employees to construct newknowledge from the perspectives of their colleagues.
Perceivedease of use is a consideration in ensuring the success of e-learning.Since e-learning around technologies, a technology that is easy touse should always be selected to evade the difficulties that may befaced by the employees (Thorne and Mackey 47). It should be said thatsome people are not satisfied computer users. For this target group,orientations should be made first to ensure that they are wellacquainted with the core operations before any decision to implementan e-learning tool is made.
Underconsideration also is flexibility. Most employees might not beavailable at all times for learning purposes by factoring them inmeans selecting an e-learning tool that is flexible. Flexibilityimplies that workers can take up their learning lessons at times thatare convenient for them. People should be able to access thematerials either at home or the workplace (Sumathisri 147). The moreflexible a program is, the greater the chances of success. Lastly,there should be an established strategy to measure the success of theprogram.
Justbecause e-learning presents itself so many benefits for businesses toconsider does not mean that it will be suitable for all kinds ofactivities. Before embarking fully on this approach, dueconsiderations should be made as to the suitability of the program inenhancing business operations for each business type. Most of thetime, concerns for small businesses will emerge as different fromthose of large business transactions. In perspective, e-learning maynot be very much suitable for businesses with a limited number ofemployees like let`s say five.
Text-basedmedia are synonymous with little richness since they eliminate verbalcues. Verbal cues aid in the understanding of concepts. Therefore, incircumstances where an organization seeks to ensure that learning isefficient in both delivery and absorption, it can rely on the face toface presentation method. Verbal cues will enhance both supply andcontent retention among participants (Clark and Mayer 15). Thetechnology to be selected should be independent of both time andplace. For example, techniques that rely on the internet are moresuitable as they enhance the accessibility of informationirrespective of locations. This cannot be provided by the traditionallearning approaches.
Theobjectives of the organizations will determine which learning modelis suitable. If for instance, the goal of the knowledge that themanagement of the business seeks to transfer to its employees is toenhance communication between different departments, then ane-learning model will be suitable in this scenario (Thorne and Mackey21). However, if the objective is to help the employees understand anew concept that is very critical in the business operations, then itis best if a traditional approach is used in this scenario because itprovides a personal touch and clarifications can be sought byemployees to enhance their understanding further.
Thetraditional learning methods are responsible for the creation of bothsupportive and collaborative learning platforms. The same cannot besaid about e-learning. Interaction of employees through face to facemeetings and in-house workshops builds trust amongst them. Throughtraditional approaches, clarifications can be made easily because thereal concern can easily be deduced during the interaction. Sincetrust boosts motivational levels among employees, it is importantthat a learning tool that makes sure employees are in good workingrelationships is the most suitable and in this case, it is thetraditional approach.
Toremain in a rapidly changing and yet competitive businessenvironment, working managers, as well as employees, are required tokeep up with every upcoming trend in the technological as well as thebusiness world (Thorne & Mackey 45). Two main important modelsare immediately available for their reviews and considerations. Owingto the flexibility and effectiveness of the e-learning design, it isnow being considered the model of choice for facilitating learning inmany organizations. While this seems the most appropriate answer tothe dilemma of business managers and workers in their bid to remainrelevant in the firm, it is important not to overlook the traditionalapproach since there are situations in which its suitabilitysupersedes that of e-learning.
Forbest results, the two methods should be used synergistically in thelearning needs of the organization (Hogan 13). One method can be usedto augment the disadvantages of the other. Relying on one approachwill prove less fortuitous for organizations because of thelimitations that are presented by individual models. Since e-learningensures that flexibility is achieved in the delivery of content, itshould be used in scenarios that require flexibility. The traditionalmethod improves collaboration among workers. For this reason, itshould be utilized in a situation that calls for collaboration inachieving the set objectives.
Thequestion about what comprises of the success of e-learning has led tovarious anecdotal researches that attempt to address and assess theachievement of the e-learning project on different parameters, forexample, learning styles, benchmarking, learning outcomes, learningenvironment, teaching practice, and cost-boons. Byrne tries to giveout the guidelines about the best practices of the e-learning thatare evaluated from the case studies he carried out (Byrne 89).Moreover, the excellent guidebooks, such as Liu’s24 study in seven regions: course structure, institutional support,student support, course development, and faculty support are alsoessential for the better understanding of the e-learning business(Liu78).The remaining researches try to delve into various factors and thevariables that interfere with the success and development of thee-learning business. For this reason, it is not easy to comprehendand recluse the factors that can lead to the success of thee-learning process because there is no general agreement on thecomponents of e-learning.
Thesemblance equivocal and different construes of how to scrutinizee-learning are not, in one way or another, astonishing as the studyin this section is at its productive platform with the newrealization of the educational facts of the technologies that arebased on the internet. Campbellsays that it is necessary to formulate and integrate the whole systemrather than individual and understand the model that can be used toevaluate e-learning (Campbell72).The shortcoming of the studies mentioned above is that the measuresof success are acquired from assessing the outcomes of thedevelopments bids only. It is also necessary to diversify the pointsof view of the successful learning from a result of model processingperspective.
Thestudy suggests the application of the e-learning model is to help inguiding the process of development, design, and delivery ofe-learning activities. The e-learning success representation is shownin figure1 below.It has been adapted from MacLean and DeLone’s information systems(MacLean and DeLone 77). Analyzed from the past data about the systemsuccess, six perspectives of the factors that constitute of successmodel, namely, information quality, user satisfaction, servicequality, use, and the net benefit are recognized and compiled into anoverall e-learning success model. In this case, not only did thedesign invented by MacLean and DeLone achieve the task of puttingtogether an integrated view of achievement of the informationsystems, but the representation also assisted in creation of theprocess that can be used to approach the success of the informationsystem.
Thelegitimacy of approaching the e-learning development from the angleof information systems is backed up by the realization that both ofthese bids are propelled by the ubiquitous objective to seize the newtechnology with an aim of meeting the anticipations of their users.Also, the researchers of the information systems have undertakensimilar approaches with an attempt of identifying various factorsthat have led to the success of the information systems. Relatedconcepts and theories that were gathered in the 1980s can haveprovided a worthwhile contribution to the hounding success ine-learning. The second aim of this research is to scrutinize theapplication of the information systems model to the e-learningassessment and development.
Thee-learning model, in this case, makes the process tend to theassessing and measuring success. The model also brings in the successmetrics that are incorporated particularly for the e-learning factorsunder investigation. The process approach suggests that the entiree-learning project leans upon the attainment of the final objectiveof the three stages involved in the e-learning development thatinclude delivery, design, and the analysis of the results. Thedesign stage success can be evaluated along three-dimensionalfactors: service quality, information quality, and system quality. Onthe other hand, the design stage success can also be viewed along onefactor: use. Finally, the analysis of the results stage success canbe evaluated using two success dimensions: net benefits and usersatisfaction. Arrows in the figure below show the interdependencebetween the factors involved in the three stages of e-learningsuccess. The success at the design stage is imperative to the successof the delivery phase, which finally affect the success of theanalysis of the results. However, the success of the final resultshas an effect on the next delivery system, as shown by the line witharrows at both ends connecting the outcome and delivery platforms.
(a). Time saving
(b). Academic success
(b). Lack of contact
(c). Quality concern
(a). Easy to use
(b). PowerPoint slides
(c). Case studies
(d). Excel tutorials
(f). Practice problems
(g). Practice exams
(a). Overall success
(b). Enjoyable experiences
(c). Recommend to others.
(a). Well organized
(b). clearly written
Figure1:e-learning success model.
Thereason for using the suggested model in the assessment of thee-learning success is to illustrate this model via the utilization ofthe technique called action research methodology. Kurt Lewinintroduced such research methodology in the early 1940s to evaluatethe social changes and social psychology in Michigan UniversityResearch Center for Group Dynamics (Hernández102).Helping him carry out his study successfully, Lewis built aremarkable reputation of the action research termed as the “Scienceof Practice” that was appropriate in examining the complex socialstages by converting changes into practice and tallying the impactsof such changes. Similarly, action research becomes the primarymethodology in this study. Following the indomitable trend of theaction research, this study acquires the repetitive process thatincludes five phases that are used in better understanding of how todevelop the successful e-learning. Such phases includeaction-planning, action-taking, diagnosis, learning, and evaluation.
Indiagnosis phase, obstructions of the successful e-learninginitiatives are established so that the rational overcoming measuresof these hurdles are developed in the action-planning stage. In theaction-taking phase, the measures taken in the action-planning phaseare carried out to come up with the successful e-learning process.Examination of the final changes from the actions taken in an attemptto assess their effect on the e-learning success is carried out inthe evaluation phase. Finally, the assimilation of the experiencegained, and the skilled learned towards comprehending the success ofthe e-learning takes place in the learning phase.
FirstCycle of Action Research
Suchcycle started after the proposal to establish both online qualitativeand quantitative methods was approved. The primary drawback to thebetter design and development of this course was an inadequacy incomprehension of the needs and attitudes of the students toward theelectronic learning. The major plan, in this case, was to examine thereception of the student regarding the e-learning through a pilotstudy. Such research included devising an e-learning module based onthe analysis of the facility location. In this study, 46 studentsfrom two portions of quantitative analysis course used such modulewithin the Internet vicinity and filled out the course survey toexamine the results upon the completion of the module (Byrne 56). Theoutcomes of the study showed that apart from the flexibility andlearned at their disposal, the students gained a lot out of thee-learning programs.
SecondCycle of Action Research
Itwas introduced with the principal aim of convincing the students toaccept the e-learning. In this research, 76 students from twosections of the quantitative course were, at the beginning of thesemester, introduced to the topic of facility location that was to belearned through distance learning environment (Liu71).The lectures stressed the importance of the e-learning process duringthe period. Similarly, the survey was administered to the studentthat was to be delivered at the end of the module. The findings fromthe students depicted that there was a significant improvement in thestudents’ attitude towards the e-learning, showing that making thestudents aware of the availability and the importance of thee-learning would act as the vital instrument in acquiring morepositive reception of the program (Hernández67).
NextFour Cycles of Action Research
NextFour Cycles of Action Research was carried out to establish theusefulness of the e-learning model. The quantitative methods wereprovided online through the application of the Blackboard 5.0 as themode of the system delivery. In this case, the system measurementprovides the suitable characteristics of the Blackboard environment,such as security, responsiveness, ease-to-use, stability, anduser-friendly. On the other hand, information quality dimensionexamines the contents of the course on various parameters, such aslength, clarity, presentation, and organization. The service qualitydeals with the measurement of the interaction between the instructorand the students on various attributes, such as fairness,responsiveness, availability, and competency. Lastly, the “use”measurement was used to show the scope of the usage of the variouscourse elements, such as audio, PowerPoint slides, discussion boards,lecturer scripts, and case studies. The survey was conducted showedmany advantages of e-learning, the smooth interaction betweenstudents and lecturers being one of them.
Theanalysis of the feedbacks of the survey in the pilot study in thefirst two action research cycles depicted that most of the studentsaccepted that e-learning enabled them to control when and where tolearn and quickly accessed the learning materials. Moreover, eachtopic in quantitative methods units in the University was developedto ensure that there is efficient and flexible learning. Throughusing some prototype module of e-learning like a blueprint, thematerial in each course were presented in various formats: audioclips, PowerPoint slides, and lecture scripts. The pilot study alsoshowed the indifference attitude of the students towards thee-learning that would be the primary bar of e-learning initiativesdevelopment.
ModelLimitations and Extension
Althoughthis model can be used by the instructors to evaluate and measuree-learning success, it works with an assumption that the instructorshave the knowledge on how to develop the system and adopt thee-learning programs. The e-learning extended model needs the school’ssupport for the lecturers and instructors, especially those that aree-learning disbelievers. Some outstanding school support includesdevelopment of infrastructures like high-speed Internet access, anorganization of the trainers’ workshop, e-learning developmentsupport in terms of pedagogical aids, and organization of theincentives like grants to encourage the practice of e-learning.
Theresearch has drawn some individuals a step closer to the clear powerand the tasks completed by the Internet-based technologies. Throughthe research cycles, the paper has illustrated the applications ofthe e-learning model to direct the development, design, and deliverye-learning. The principal objective of this paper was to further thepeople’s understanding of the correct definition, assessment, andpromotion of the e-learning. To this extent, the success of thee-learning can only be defined as the complete construction assessedalong six principal dimensions that include information quality,use, service quality, system quality, net benefits, and usersatisfaction. As depicted in the research, the net benefits alsooccur in three stages that include the system design, systemdelivery, and the system outcome (analysis of the results).
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