The Research Digest, September 2015, Issue Number 48

The Research Digest highlights new research in learning and teaching. This month, we are highlighting recent work on the use of learning management systems in the university classroom. This issue was developed in conjunction with September’s issue of Best Practices on Getting to Know Desire 2 Learn. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, or have any suggestions for us, please send an email to lto@ryerson.ca. To access past issues of the Research Digest, visit the LTO website.

New research on the use of learning management systems:

Learning Management Systems and Principles of Good Teaching: Instructor and Student Perspectives
Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 2013

The blended learning environment in university courses integrates teaching technologies in traditional (i.e. non-technological) learning contexts, most evidently through the adoption of a Learning Management System (LMS). Past studies on the use of LMSs have focused on the economic and technical challenges in LMS adoption (West et al., 2006; Morgan, 2003). Drawing from students’ perceived value of an LMS, Kruger (2012) used a quantitative method to examine the link between an LMS and its impact on learning processes and performances. Yet, a minority of studies view LMSs from a theoretical lens, that is, to specifically explore how LMSs function as pedagogical tool to support teaching and learning. By referencing Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) “Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education”, this study will highlight areas in which LMS supports and/or hinders “good” teaching and learning. Instructors’ and students’ perceptions of LMS around these seven principles were examined through in-depth interviews and focus groups, consisting of fieldwork conducted with seven leading instructors and three groups of undergraduate students. They broadly represent all faculties at McMaster University. Preliminary findings suggest that LMSs are particularly useful administratively but are perceived by students and instructors as a poor substitute to classroom teaching. Results further suggest students were most engaged in the learning process when instructors communicated their interests and passion in teaching through classroom environments that were then reflected in the on-line components of a university course.

Student Satisfaction with Learning Management Systems: A Lens of Critical Success Factors
Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 2012

Institutions of higher education have invested heavily in learning management systems (LMS) for creating course websites. Yet, how to assess LMS effectiveness is not fully agreed upon. Based on institutional theory, this article considers student satisfaction as indicative of LMS success and proposes a lens of critical success factors (CSF) as a different new approach for exploring LMS effectiveness. Results obtained in a survey of 8425 students and in semi-structured interviews with 40 students point to five critical success factors for increasing student satisfaction with LMS: Content Completeness, Content Currency, Easy to Navigate, Easy to Access and Course Staff Responsiveness. The main contribution of the CSF lens is in guiding institutions of higher education toward informed decision making regarding LMS technology.

The Impact of Faculty Perceived Reconfigurability of Learning Management Systems on Effective Teaching Practices
Computers & Education, 2013

This study explores whether learning management systems (LMSs) enable faculty course developers to use the reconfigurable characteristics of the software to implement the seven principles of effective teaching (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). If LMSs are to be considered pedagogically effective, these systems must help engage faculty in effective teaching practices. A model is presented that contends: (1) faculty course developers’ perceptions of interface reconfigurability, interaction reconfigurability, and content reconfigurability of the software facilitate LMS use for effective teaching practices and (2) the LMS use to implement these effective teaching practices enhances faculty perceived benefits. The model is tested using a sample of 379 faculty respondents. The results suggest that all three system reconfigurability dimensions have significant impacts on helping faculty use LMS to implement effective teaching practices. Interaction reconfigurability has the strongest relationship with the seven principles. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Motivational Factors Affecting the Integration of a Learning Management System by Faculty
Journal of Educators Online, 2011

Online courses taught using a learning management system are common in higher education. Teaching online requires a new set of skills, knowledge, and professional growth. Faculty development programs often overlook factors that promote or inhibit the use of technologies among professors. This study identified the motivation factors that faculty consider relevant to their personal decision to adopt a learning management system. A needs assessment evaluation methodology was applied to investigate two research questions. The first question analyzed the demographics of the participants in this study including gender, age, tenure status, department, and years of experience using a technology and using an LMS. The second research question investigated the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that motivate faculty to adopt a learning management system in their instruction.

Course Management Systems in Higher Education: Understanding Student Experiences
Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 2009

Purpose: The course management system (CMS), as an evolving tool and innovation, is increasingly used to promote the quality, efficiency and flexibility of teaching and learning in higher education. This paper aims to examine students’ experiences of CMSs across faculties at a comprehensive university in Hong Kong. Design/methodology/approach: This is an exploratory study. With questionnaires as the means of data collection, the exploration focuses on: perceived usefulness of technologies for study, usage pattern of CMSs, students’ perceptions of CMSs, user support preference, and self-reported experiences. Findings: The results show significant differences between academic levels of students in their uses and perceptions, and shed light on issues concerning technology, pedagogy, and implementation strategies of CMSs in higher education. Research limitations/implications: This is a small-scale study and results will not produce generalizations that can be applied directly in other institutions. However, empirical studies in CMS implementation are relatively rare, and results of this study provide initial evidence to shed light on a number of issues concerning the implementation of CMSs. Practical implications: On the whole, this study centering on university students’ experiences and perceptions could inform the decision-making process concerning successful implementation of CMSs. Originality/value: Many studies concerning e-learning have focused on practitioner perspective or course design and overlooked students’ voices. In this study, students’ experiences are central. In particular, the paper probes the possible differences between academic levels of students.

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