STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The general problem is the increased pressure on higher education institutions to integrate technology effectively in lecture-based classroom settings. Students join higher education institutions with the expectations that various e-learning technologies will be used for teaching and learning. Such demands put administrators under pressure to provide quality teaching and learning experiences using different e-leering tools. As a result, administrators in higher education expect that faculty will integrate technology effectively in their teaching (Donnelly, 2010, Lareki et al., 2010). The specific problem is that administrators require faculty to integrate a CMS features in traditional teaching effectively to meet the needs of the digital students. Allen (2012, p. 1) addresses the problem of inconsistent and ineffective use of CMS by stating that “the most common Learning management systems (LMS) use is sharing syllabus information with students. Communicating with students and recoding of grades is also very common. Other functions are used by relatively few faculties.” Not having a clear understanding of the actual use of different CMS features as well as faculty experiences and perceptions in web-enhanced learning may lead to the development of inappropriate abrupt professional training programs, ineffective use of technology (Donnelly, 2010; Vaughn, 2010). The present mixed-methods case study addresses this problem by exploring faculty usage and perceptions with integrating different CMS features in their lecture-based course.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
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The purpose of this mixed-methods approach study is to understand faculty usage and perceptions of a CMS in traditional instruction in the university undergraduate programs in the United Arab Emirates. The study seeks to understand how faculty members use and perceive different CMS tools in their traditional instruction. By identifying how a CMS features are used as well as faculty perceptions towards technology integration, university administrators and IT leaders can gain a better understanding of their faculty regarding patterns of use and level of adoption to initiate adequate technical support and tailored professional development sessions to enhance the use of technology at the university. An exploratory case study using mixed -methods approach is appropriate for this study because it aims to collect quantitative data to investigate how faculty actually use a CMS tools. It also looks at qualitative data by conducting interviews to explore faculty perceptions and factors pertaining the integration of technology in traditional teaching. The themes that may emerge from the study will provide administrators with information for conducting effective training sessions.
The following research aims to answer the overall arching research questions:
1-How are CMS tools used by faculty in a university in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?
2-How do faculty members perceive the use of different tools of a CMS in traditional teaching?
1-What are the factors perceived to enhance technology integration in traditional instruction?
2-What are the factors perceived to limit technology integration in traditional instruction?
“There are multiple research paradigms, each with their own assumptions about knowledge, about the world, about how knowledge is obtained, about education” (Ernest, 1994, p. 19). The literature reviewed for this study helped in driving the conceptual framework and guided in developing the research questions. The conceptual framework provided foundation to investigate the literature pertaining to the use of CMS, faculty perceptions about adopting CMS features in their teaching. The framework also looks at perceived factors and barriers towards technology integration. It also proposes technological professional development sessions tailed to address specific needs and contexts.
Adopting a pragmatist view as a theoretical framework for this study aims to improve the educational research by being able to draw possible connections between actions and consequences (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998). The pragmatist position allows the researcher with an alternative framework to look for useful theories and understandings of a problem to achieve satisfactory practice. This conceptual framework allows the researcher to understand how philosophical conceptions are used by some faculty members who integrate technology in their lecture-based classes. They may face technical, pedagogical and personal challenges that could affect the level of motivation to integrate technology in their teaching (Wrench et al. 2010. Cooner, 2010; Collopy & Arnold, 2009). The implementation of pragmatism as a theoretical framework for this study aims to improve the educational research by being able to draw possible connections between actions and consequences. It at the same time allows the researcher with an alternative framework to look for useful theories and understandings of a problem to achieve satisfactory practice.
Since the purpose of the study is to explore how a course management system tools are used in traditional teaching and investigating the relationship between faculty members’ perceptions of technology and the level of technology adoption. The study is situated within two theoretical frameworks: constructivism and connectivisim. This study adopts a pragmatist point of view that lies between the constructivism and connectivisim and draws on the ontological and epistemological assumptions from scientific and interpretive approaches to answer research questions using both qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate faculty use and perceptions of a CMS to augment traditional instruction (Creswell, 2009). Therefore, the main objective for choosing these two concepts is to explain and explore how the two theories can be used effectively in education technology.
Siemes (2008) argues that advances in educational technology and the widespread of social media change the way learner’s access knowledge and perceive information. This demands teachers change their traditional teaching methods and view learning as a two-way communication between students and teachers. Such changes, according to Dede (2008), may lead teachers to change their traditional epistemological views of teaching, learning and adopt new ones based on the co-creation and co-construction of knowledge using varied educational technology tools.
One of the main objectives of the study is to understand how technology is used in a traditional teaching context and how the views of faculty members affect the level of integration. Therefore, it is necessary to adopt a constructivist point of view. Constructivism, as a concept, is related to the study as it allows students to learn actively through exploring objects, views and ideas (Siemens, 2014). By adopting a constructivist approach towards learning, teachers develop authentic student-centered learning environment related to real-world problems. In such case, by embracing a constructivist approach, teachers are able to engage students in different learning experiences through everyday activities as well as structured learning in a classroom environment. The study adopts the view that the constructivist approach could be regarded as a learning theory that can explain the importance of technology integration for teaching and learning (Kop,& Hill, 2008).).
Constructivists believe that learners need to be engaged in different authentic activities to make learning meaningful. Such activities encourage learners to construct knowledge based on their prior experiences and aid in the development of critical thinking skills (Vaughan, 2007; Baker, Jensen, & Kolbe, 2005). Educators who adopt the constructivist approach view students as active learners who need to be engaged in a variety of authentic learning tasks in order to work collaboratively to construct knowledge and meaning. Adopting a constructivist position seems relevant to this study because the construction of technology supports a learning environment. It also supports an active learning where students are expected to be self-motivated, self-directed, interactive and collaborative to develop their learning and social experiences (Bernat & Gvozdenko, 2005).