The advent of technology has played a role in the overall development of the human society. As with other sectors of the society, technological advancements such as new media and the internet have furthered the development of the educational sector. New media has brought about various ways which can enhance the learning process of students. In that regard, the study focused on Elearning, an example of new media that has received both positive and negative reviews concerning its influence on the education sector. While a certain school of thought believes Elearning is a useful learning model, another believes it cannot replace the traditional classroom teaching. Fuelled by such debates, the study sought to provide some answers by examining the use of Greensprings School’s Elearning platform called Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) by the secondary school students to establish its effect on their academics. This study drew inspiration from the technological deterministic theory which basically proposes that technology affects the way the society operates. Primary data was collected from 136 copies of a questionnaire filled by students and also from interviews conducted with four teachers. Data obtained from the questionnaire were studied, analysed with the use of SPSS and presented in tables. Interviews were transcribed and used to complement findings from the questionnaire. Findings from the study revealed mixed reactions in which the students did not feel that that Greensprings School’s VLE has any positive influence on their academics while the teachers were of the opinion that the VLE actually helps the students in their academics. Factors such as limited access to the platform, internet downtime and so on were responsible for the students’ negative response. The study came to the conclusion that Elearning can have a positive influence on students’ academics provided that certain factors are put into consideration.
Keywords: New media, Elearning, Influence, Academic performance, Teenagers, Secondary School Students, Education.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The term “New Media” has no exact definition. Socha & Eber-Schmid (n.d.) in their work explained that due to its evolving nature, new media is subject to change. Numerous definitions have been offered by experts, researchers and enthusiasts who have shown interest in the phenomenon that is new media.
Neese (2016) defines new media as “those digital media that are interactive, incorporate two-way communication and involve some form of computing”. Garrett (n.d.) suggests new media be called the Digital interactive media as it involves anything that is digitally delivered and interactive. Beal (n.d.) describes new media in terms of content: internet driven content that can be viewed on devices that enable users to interact with the content and other users in present time. Deductions can be formulated from the above definitions that new media has to do with the various technologies that ride on the internet and also create interactivity among users of such technologies. Some examples of new media include websites, emails, blogs, chat rooms, internet telephony, e-learning platforms, and mobile applications.
The advent of new media and their various platforms has brought about a change in the manner of communicating and spreading information to one another. As opposed to the traditional or mass means of communication (television, radio, printed newspapers, magazines and newsletters) which can arguably be said to have majorly operated on a “one to many” or “one-way” mode of communication( with the exemption of telephones which offer one to one or two–way communication) , new media has taken communication to another dimension. The transition from mass media to new media was first observed in the 20th century with the invention of the internet and it became pronounced when subsequent inventions in the 21st century such as smart mobile phones came into existence. These inventions turned the world into a small village – regardless of location or time difference, an eventuality can be shared across the world (Agbamuche & Chinwendu, 2015). The phrase “global village” -coined by Marshall McLuhan (Dixon, 2009) – with respect to the internet, indicates that individuals around the world are brought closer through the globalisation of communication – This is the interactive nature of new media which has virtually been employed in every aspect of human life. In her article, Uduh (n.d.) articulates her views on media: The media is essential in informing and teaching individuals about societal issues. She further breaks down the role of media into four functions: Information, Education, Entertainment and Opinion. This research is focused on the educational function of media – particularly, new media.
As the 21st century saw the continuous use of new media technology, new methods for learning in the education sector emerged. Since new media involves the use of the internet, education has taken the same direction. The utilisation of electronic technologies to retrieve educational material through the internet (online) – typically outside the traditional classroom setting – is referred to as Elearning. According to Arkorful & Abaidoo (2014), Elearning has to do with the utilisation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to make possible the access of educative materials and resources online. Alzaghoul (2012) describes Elearning as the provision of educational activities such as learning and teaching through electronic media. Educational institutions have started investing heavily in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in order to key into the Elearning approach. Elearning can only be made possible when such ICT infrastructure has been provided for (Ayere, Odera & Agak, 2010). Being a type of new media and having the characteristics of new media, the interactive nature of Elearning is said to enhance the learning process of students in educational institutions and also serve as an aid to teachers and lecturers in such institutions. According to Kirby & Sharpe(2010), there is the tendency for secondary students offering distance Elearning courses to be academically sound and technologically savvy upon graduation from their school. This exposure aids the students in planning to further their studies in tertiary institutions.
Being a co-educational institution that exploits what modern technology has to offer, Greensprings School provides an Elearning platform called VLE where the students in the school login to retrieve information, resources and also carry out various assessments. For the purpose of the study, this research, therefore, examined how Greensprings School students’ exposure to their Elearning platform affects their overall academic performance.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In the pursuit of globalisation and new ways to enhance the learning process, educational institutions are embracing Elearning methods. However, there have been mixed reactions regarding the adoption of this mode of learning in complementing the traditional classroom setting. Although the utilisation of Elearning, a new medium, brings about a different form of interactivity among teachers and students –outside the classroom- it is argued that the classroom interaction cannot be replaced with this modern technology. There is the tendency for students to be isolated because of technology- which can have a negative effect on their personality and communication skills (Singh, 2013). Also, put into consideration is the attitude of students toward Elearning. While some students show enthusiasm towards this technology, some develop a negative attitude as a result of the feeling of isolation created when being separated from their teacher. The absence of teachers can encourage students to indulge in bad activities such as cheating. Furthermore, the ease of copy and paste can also bring out issues of plagiarism which can gradually instil in students, a nonchalant attitude towards developing works of their own (Arkorful & Abaidoo, 2014). Such debates question the position of Elearning’s role in the academic lives of students.
In an attempt to quell the concerns earlier mentioned, the study sought to examine whether Greensprings Elearning platform enhances or hinders the academic performance of the students that make use of the platform. The findings in the study will help ascertain Elearning’s influence on the academic performance of teenagers.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The overall objective of this study is to ascertain the influence Elearning as a learning tool has on the academic performance of students, particularly teenage students. In this attempt, specific objectives of this research include the following:
- To assess the level of use of the Elearning platform by the secondary school teenage students of Greensprings School.
- To assess the influence of the use of the Elearning platform on the academic performance of the secondary school teenage students of Greensprings School.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- To what extent do the secondary school teenage students of Greensprings School use the Elearning platform in the learning activities?
- How does the use of the Elearning platform influence the academic performance of the secondary school teenage students of Greensprings School?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study aims to add to the body of knowledge on the influence of new media on the learning process of teenagers as it examined the extent to which Elearning, a type of new media, has an effect on the academic performance of secondary school teenage students of Greensprings School.
The findings in this research can act as a foundation for further research work in areas relating to Elearning and education.
Furthermore, this research seeks to provide knowledge and recommendation that may be of help to policymakers, social scientist and planners who are constantly looking for new ways to improve the learning experience of students.
Finally, this study can provide a contribution to teachers, students and researchers in the areas of e-learning for the purpose of improving the teacher-student relationship.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Greensprings School is an international co-educational institution comprising crèche, pre-school, elementary and secondary situated in Lekki areas of Lagos state. The study put focus on the secondary school section of the institution, further limiting the focus on the teenagers in the secondary school section. Students that fall under fall under this category were in the classes: year 9, 10 and 11. The study therefore did not focus on other secondary students outside the specified age group.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study reflected a number of limitations. Firstly, a selected group comprising Greensprings School secondary school students were being studied. Findings from this study may not have represented a general view of Elearning’s influence on the academic performance of all students in Greensprings School.
Secondly, Greensprings School secondary school was the only school that was studied. Findings in this study may not have necessarily represented how students of other schools equipped with Elearning fare. Further research may additionally study a number of schools equipped with Elearning capabilities.
Finally, as there is a myriad of factors that can affect the academic performance of students using Elearning models- such as the level of technological skills or expertise of teachers and students – the research focused on the interactive nature of Elearning and how such interactivity affects the academic performance of teenagers. Other factors were not put into consideration. Further research may factor in these other ways in which the academic performance of students can be affected.
1.8 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Influence: The ability to change the development of fluctuating things such as conduct thoughts or decisions.
New Media: This refers to technologies such as include websites, emails, blogs, chat rooms, internet telephony, e-learning platforms, and mobile applications that ride on the internet and while providing interactive content.
Academic Performance: In the context of this study, this refers to how the Greensprings School secondary school teenage students perceive their use of the Elearning platform with respect to their academic performance.
Teenagers: The teenagers in this study refer to students that of the ages 13 and above at the secondary level of Greensprings School.
Greensprings School: Greensprings School is an international co-educational institution comprising crèche, pre-school, Primary and Secondary schools with campuses situated in both Anthony and Lekki areas of Lagos state.
Elearning: The utilisation of electronic technologies to retrieve educational material by means of the internet.
Elearning Platform: An informative system that creates a virtual learning environment which enables facilitators (teachers) to provide educational and interactive content for learners (students).
2 LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter examines previous studies and reviews literature relevant to the subject matter in order to have a comprehensive understanding of the study. Quite a number of researchers have studied the connection between technology and education, with reference to the attitudes of students towards technology, the readiness of teachers for internet based learning, the impact technology has on the academic performance of students, the social behaviour of students and so on. Also, this chapter draws inspiration from one communication theory- technological deterministic theory- as it is of high importance that this study is grounded in a relevant theory in order to have a better understanding of the communication problem being investigated. The chapter further explores various definitions of Elearning, types of Elearning, its uses, advantages and disadvantages.
2.2 ELEARNING: EXPLORING DEFINITIONS
Many scholars, researchers, and enthusiasts have attempted to define Elearning. Cross (2004) was the individual responsible for coining the term “Elearning”. In his write-up about emerging convergence of learning and the internet, he defines Elearning as learning done on internet time. Lewis (2016) defines Elearning as an online learning, web-driven learning or internet-driven learning model that is provided by a computer. An article by Adu et al (2013) reveals that Elearning is an inventive style for delivering learning to whoever, wherever through the use of digital technology and the internet. Ajadi et al (2008) simply define Elearning as the coming together of learning and the internet to create an interactive learning environment.
Due to the interactive nature of Elearning, it should be noted that Elearning does not entail learning through videotapes, CD-ROM, DVD or television channels which limit interaction. Elearning provides an avenue for communication between the teacher and the student. It can be delivered in real time or involve pre-recorded lectures (What is eLearning?, n.d.).
2.3 TYPES AND USES OF ELEARNING
Elearning can be used in different ways. However, its use depends on the type of Elearning model. Yakaraju (2014) classifies Elearning into two categories:
2.4 SYNCHRONOUS ELEARNING
This type of Elearning involves learning in real-time. Here, the teachers and students log in and interact at the same time from irrespective of their locations. This type of learning allows the partakers to share ideas and information to one another during the session. This helps in solving common problems faced by participants; detailed answers and solutions can be derived. As technology keeps improving and with more flexible bandwidth capacity, the synchronous learning is admired by learners. Various forms of synchronous learning include Video and audio conferencing, Webinar, Instant messaging, Chat rooms, Virtual Classrooms.
The benefits of synchronous learning include some of the following:
• Learning accomplishments can be tracked;
• Learners can connect to each other on a global scale to create more cooperative prospects;
• Teachers can place focus on each learner thereby, personalising every relationship;
• Continuous mentoring and monitoring is feasible (Different types of e-learning and what suits me best, n.d.).
2.5 ASYNCHRONOUS ELEARNING
This type of Elearning involves users learning at their own convenient time. The teacher and learner are not online at the same. Learners partake at the in the web-based training without real-time interaction with their teachers. Learners have 24/7 access to the platform whenever they need to make use of it. Although there is no real time interaction, with the teachers there are still modes of interaction through forums, message boards, bulletin boards and online courses (Yakaraju, 2014).
The benefits of asynchronous learning include the following:
• It can be accessed anytime and anywhere;
• Content is uniform and cost of production is low;
• Learning is done at a pace set by the learner;
• Companies make use of it to reach a large number of employees (Different types of e-learning and what suits me best, n.d.).
Although these are the main types of Elearning, there is a new form of Elearning called blended learning emerging. It is the amalgamation of synchronous and asynchronous Elearning. Training management systems are examples of systems that employ blending learning (Mindflash, 2012).
2.6 ADVANTAGES OF ELEARNING
Elearning has its perks that can be of aid to educational institutions. Studies have offered advantages of employing Elearning technology into educational institutions. Some of these advantages include the following:
1. As a result of easy access to information, Elearning improves the capacity to acquire knowledge;
2. The use of online chat forums creates an avenue for learners to relate with one another. This helps boost the confidence level of reserved individuals by engaging them in constant interaction;
3. Elearning is not restricted by geographical factors. Teachers and students do not have to be at the same place in order to a class session;
4. Elearning encourages self-learning the asynchronous type of Elearning allows learners to educate themselves at their own pace;
5. Elearning helps make up for lack of human resources. In a situation where there is a shortage of academic staff, Elearning can be a substitute (Arkorful & Abaidoo, 2014).
2.7 DISADVANTAGES OF ELEARNING
Although Elearning has features that can improve students’ learning process, it also has its setbacks:
1. The tendency of students to feel isolated regardless of the interaction provided still exists;
2. Although students that engage in Elearning methods are said to academically sound, their communication skills deteriorate as a result of the absence of face to face interaction;
3. Elearning can create an avenue for malpractice such as cheating in an online test;
4. Some subjects or disciplines cannot be effectively delivered through Elearning. Scientific disciplines that involve intense practical cannot be properly taught through Elearning (Arkorful & Abaidoo, 2014).
Elearning is a technology-dependent model of learning. This means there can be no learning unless such infrastructure is put in place. The procurement and maintenance of these Elearning facilities can be capital-intensive which some educational institutions cannot afford (Mobbs, 2003).
2.8 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Theories are concepts, notions, and suggestions that explain events or circumstances by identifying relations among variables. Reeves et al (2008) note that theories provide researchers with a different perspective through which they view complex problems and societal concerns. These perspectives provide a framework with which the researchers carry out their study.
There is a number of communication theories of relevance to this study. However, due to the objectives of the study, the theory of choice was the technological deterministic theory. The rationale behind selecting this theory was based on the perspective that technology such as Elearning can change the way people interact with each other.
2.9 TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISTIC THEORY
Technology affects how the society functions. As the transition from one technological age to another happens, the lives of human beings are affected by such transition – from the thought process of people to the way they feel and act (Momoh, 2015). This is what is known as the technological deterministic theory. Devised by Thorstein Veblen, technological deterministic is a reductionist theory that seeks to establish a relation between the nature of the society and technology (Technological Determinism, n.d.). It is said to be the driving mover and shaker of culture in the society.
Great men such as Langdon Winner, Karl Marx and Marshall McLuhan have made famous statements and hypothesis about the phenomenon that is the technological deterministic theory. However, Marshall McLuhan attributes his views to media and media technology. His views formed the basis of what is known as “media determinism”, which is an offshoot of technological determinism (Goudarzi, 2015). This research study drew inspiration from such views by Marshall McLuhan. These perspectives are highlighted below:
2.10 THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE
McLuhan suggests that the medium used to pass across the message is more significant than the message or content itself. Here, he lays emphasis on the characteristics of the medium being the factor that influences the society rather than the content of the medium (Semansky, 2011). In other words, as media differ from one another, a society is influenced by the uniqueness of a particular medium.
In relation to this study, the technological advancement has brought about a different way in which education is being delivered. Learning by way of the internet, Elearning has its specific features that have the capability to influence the learning process of individuals. Elearning’s interactive nature and its ability to allow students have access to resources at any time are some of the key characteristics that can influence the learning process of students. These characteristics can be seen in Greensprings School’s Elearning platform.
2.11 THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE
McLuhan relates the experience of being given a massage with media technology. As the purpose of a massage is to have a physical, soothing or relaxing effect on the human mind and body, so is that of a medium on the human sensorium (Jump into this Vehicle and Let’s Go For a Massage!, 2015). McLuhan suggests that users find new media to have enjoyable effects. Not only does an Elearning platform – such as Greensprings School’s VLE – provide a beautiful interface pleasant to the eyes, the ease of use especially at one’s convenience along with other features, leaves students and teachers feeling relaxed. This can create a conducive learning environment.
2.12 THE GLOBAL VILLAGE CONCEPT
The term global village describes how people across different parts of the world have been able to connect to each other through the use of media technology. Regardless of geographical distances, individuals can share information across the globe in a matter of seconds. Marshall McLuhan suggests electronic media has made the world feel more like a community of people; a global village (Semansky, 2011). Elearning platforms such as Greensprings School’s VLE make vivid, the global village concept. Students and teachers have the ability to communicate and retrieve information from other people regardless of their location. This encourages a learning experience not bound by time, space or distance.
A critique of this theory is that technology does not have the ability to force itself on the society. Instead, members of the society choose technology to use. As it pertains to media determinism, members of the society choose what medium to use. As man is the maker of technology, the choice of utilising any medium and feeling its effect is to his discretion (Technological Determinism, n.d.).
Mehta (2002) opposes Marshall McLuhan’s perception of the medium being more important than the message. He argues that McLuhan’s view numbs man’s capacity to realise that the message is a separate entity. He describes the message as whatever the controllers of the medium desire it to be. This suggests the message is as significant as the medium given the fact that different media can be used to derive the same outcome.
2.14 EMPIRICAL LITERATURE REVIEW
The empirical review sought to present a foundation for the topic of this research study. Here, the research works of other scholars with regards to technology’s effect on education were reviewed. Numerous studies have been undertaken in this field with various method applied. The recurrent methodology used was the quantitative methodology. Thus, this methodology was one of the methods employed in this study.
Studies on Elearning in Nigeria are still in the preliminary phases. However, more scholars around the world are beginning to carry out studies in this field. These studies try to find out how technology such as Elearning can affect the learning process of students and also the interaction between teachers and students.
In their work, Ayere et al (2010) came to the conclusion that Elearning has the capacity to affect the teaching/learning process which in turn can improve the academic performance of students. From their paper E-Learning in secondary schools in Kenya: A case of the NEPAD E-schools, it was disclosed that the Kenyan government sought to attain a knowledge-based economy by keying into ICT initiatives. This lead to the government partnering with a body called the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to create an Elearning initiative. NEPAD schools equipped with Elearning were created. Ayere et al (2010) compared the application of Elearning in NEPAD schools to non-NEPAD schools. The following factors were put into consideration: The degree of ICT integration in subjects, differences in the usage of e-materials for educational research, the availability of e-libraries and the academic performance of NEPAD and non-NEPAD schools as a result of using Elearning strategies. Findings from the study revealed that constant availability and frequent access to ICT infrastructure equipped with Elearning facilities can positively influence the academic performance of students. Thus it was recommended by the researchers that every school with an ICT program should further provide Elearning facilities.
In his work, Oleabhiele (2015) stated that there is a possibility for Elearning to provide essential information that can improve the teaching and learning of the subject economics. He carried out his study on two hundred and forty-nine secondary school II students in Abakaliki Education zone area of Ebonyi state. His findings revealed that students taught economics through Elearning strategy attained higher scores than students that were taught only using the normal lectures. The findings were in line with Ayere et al (2010) which stipulated that Elearning can have a positive influence on the academic performance of students. He also noted that students, regardless of their sex (gender), attained the same scores in economics. Oleabhiele (2015) recommended economics teachers to engage their secondary school students in Elearning strategies as it can aid their understanding of the subject which will eventually lead to an improvement in their performance in the subject. He also suggested that the teaching curricula should inculcate ICT based activities.
Findings from Kirby & Sharpe (2010) revealed a bit of deviation from the work of Oleabhiele (2015). Students that participated in distance Elearning (DEL) did not perform better in their academics than the conventional classroom students but it was revealed that the distance Elearners had the tendency to complete a more laborious academic program. This infers that students partaking in Elearning can be more academically adept than their orthodox classroom counterparts. They made known through their findings that female students had a higher tendency to enrol for Elearning courses. The distance Elearners had a positive attitude toward school.
The positive attitude of students, as well as teachers, was observed in the research study carried out by Ouma, Awuor & Kyambo (2013). Their study was carried out to ascertain the level of readiness to employ Elearning in secondary school. Their research results revealed that students and teachers were enthusiastic about Elearning technology. Despite their enthusiasm, some students lacked the computer skills needed to utilise the Elearning technology proficiently. Thus, a link between Elearning reception and computer literacy was established.
It can be deduced that the interaction between teachers and students through the use of Elearning platforms can lead to students performing better in their academics. Findings from Aboderin, & Kumuyi (2013) corroborate this deduction. They examined the prospect of Elearning in secondary schools in Owo LGA, Ondo state Nigeria. It was discovered that Elearning makes controlling a large class easy. Also, Students are able to learn at a pace set by themselves making teaching and learning very effective. They further disclosed some problems that can affect the application of Elearning in secondary schools. The unavailability of Elearning paraphernalia such as computers internet, email facilities, multimedia along with the lack of teachers with computer skills stood as obstacles to the proper employment of Elearning in these schools. As a result of their findings, they suggested that teachers undergo computer training programs.
Saleem & Rasheed (2014) identified workload, technology and time saving as crucial factors that influence the use of Elearning by students.
They arrived at the following conclusions:
• Ample time is saved by students using Elearning technology
• The workload of students can be divided and the burden reduced when they utilise Elearning technology.
• The use of Elearning can help students be up to date with modern technology.
2.15 METHODOLOGICAL REVIEW
The major method of research adopted by some past researchers that undertook studies related to the subject matter was the quantitative method of research. Most of the researchers made use of the questionnaire to generate their data.
Ayere et al (2010) used a combination of an exploratory approach with the aid of descriptive study and ex-post-facto design. Data analysis was achieved by making use of descriptive (counts, percentages and counts) and inferential statistics (variance analysis (ANOVA), correlation analysis and chi-square). Simple random sampling was exploited in generating a sample for the study. A test-retest method was used to approximate the reliability degree of the instruments used. The main data collection was the questionnaire. Interviews were also given.
The quasi – experimental design was used in Oleabhiele’s (2015) study. The pretest-posttest non-equivalent control group design was employed. To generate a sample, the study employed simple random sampling technique. The instrument used for data collection was a multiple choice test question created by the user. Kuder-Richardson 20 was used to determine the reliability degree of the collected data.
Kirby & Sharpe (2010) made use of the survey method. Questionnaires were designed to gather information. Logistic Regression Analysis was employed to determine the relationship between some variables.
Oumi et al (2013) made use of descriptive survey design in their study. Random sampling was used to generate a sample for the study. Mean and the standard deviation was used to analyse the trends in responses from the questions.
The survey research design was adopted in the study carried out by Aboderin & Kumuyi (2013). Simple random sampling was used and a 30- item questionnaire was the instrument for data collection. Pearson product moment correlation was employed to determine the reliability of the instrument. Data analysis was done using frequency distribution and mean.
Saleem & Rasheed (2014) used simple random sampling to collect data. Their research instrument questionnaire making the research method quantitative. The inputting, editing and analysing of data was done using SPSS version 16 and Microsoft excel. Cronbach’s alpha, correlation and regression techniques were adopted.
2.16 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS FROM LITERATURE REVIEW
In a nutshell, the emerging research demonstrated that learning through the internet-Elearning has the potential to add value to the academic lives of students and also has the ability to emulate and complement the kind of interaction experienced between the teacher and the student in an orthodox classroom setting. However, the proper application of this learning model is dependent on a host of factors. The availability of the infrastructure, maintenance of the infrastructure, proficiency in the use of the computer systems and computer software by the teachers and students, the attitudes of the users of the infrastructure, constant electric power supply and so on.
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