Barriers to higher education technology adoption: Digital fluency or usefulness?

Motaghian et al (2013) in talking about “web-based learning systems” (LMS) conclude that (p. 167)

perceived usefulness was the most important influential factor on instructors’ intention and their actual use of the systems (adoption)

This is seen as important since earlier they’ve argued (p. 158)

despite the emerging trend of using web-based learning systems to facilitate teaching and learning activities, the number of users of web-based learning systems is not increasing as fast as expected (Wang &Wang, 2009). Eventually, while e-learning has been promoted to various levels of users, the intention to continue using such system is still very low. Although initial acceptance of e-learning is an important first step toward achieving e-learning success, actual success still needs continued usage (Lee, 2010). However, since the web is a new medium (for educators and learners alike) for course delivery and learning, it is not well known which mediating and moderating factors in the online environment contribute more to its acceptance and use (Sanchez-Franco, Martínez-López, & Martín-Velicia, 2009)

They found that how useful an instructor perceived the institutional web-based learning system to be, was the most important factor influencing use.

They found that “perceived usefulness (0.50) contributed two times more to intension to use than the perceived ease of use (0.25)” (p. 66) and concluded (emphasis added) (p. 66)

As a result, instructor’s perceived ease of use might not be as important as instructor’s perceived usefulness in this context. Thus, instructors will be more likely to continue to use the system if they consider it useful. Hence, instructors’ requirements should be taken into consideration when developing web-based learning systems (Wang & Wang, 2009).

What might that suggest about the idea from the 2014 Horizon Report that the #1 barrier to higher education technology adoption is the low digital fluency of academic staff?

Might it suggest that low levels of system adoption says more about the usefulness of the technology, than the fluency of the instructors?Might it suggest that the requirements of instructors aren’t being taken into consideration in their development?

Given my recent experience (at the same time as reading this paper) with institutional approaches to e-learning, I know how I’d answer those questions.

What about you?

Note: In talking about this I’m generally focusing on how institutions implement these systems (e.g. Moodle), rather than the development of those systems (e.g. Moodle). I think institutions (at least the ones that I’ve experienced) are particularly incompetent and producing systems that I would perceive as useful.

The importance of bricolage

Not to surprisingly, this observation has me thinking about the differences between the SET (in their way) mindset used by most institutional e-learning and the (breaking) BAD mindset used by people like myself.

A SET mindset is takes a Strategic approach to deciding what work gets done. It’s focus is on achieving the institutional plan or vision. For example, making sure that every course uses the standard look and feel template. Instructors’ perceived usefulness of the system is not the prime concern of a SET mindset.

A BAD mindset uses bricolage as a way of deciding what work gets done. Ciborra (1992) defined bricolage as the “capability of integrating unique ideas and practical design solutions at the end-user level” (p. 299). Bricolage is about solving the problems experienced by users. Bricolage focuses on enhancing perceived usefulness.

So, would the SET mindset or the BAD mindset contribute to greater levels of adoption?

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

References

Ciborra, C. (1992). From thinking to tinkering: The grassroots of strategic information systems. The Information Society, 8(4), 297–309.

Motaghian, H., Hassanzadeh, A., & Moghadam, D. K. (2013). Factors affecting university instructors’ adoption of web-based learning systems: Case study of Iran. Computers & Education, 61, 158–167. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.09.016

2 thoughts on “Barriers to higher education technology adoption: Digital fluency or usefulness?

  1. Pingback: Trying out a new writing process | The Weblog of (a) David Jones

  2. Pingback: A proposal for fixing what’s broken with ed tech support in some universities | The Weblog of (a) David Jones

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