n Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies - E-learning in agriculture higher education : a case study

Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2141-6990
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E-learning strategies are increasingly being using in the higher education sector to facilitate the teaching-learning process. The Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya recently established a Leaning Support Centre (LSC), to which teachers can upload e-learning modules (ELMs) so that students would have free access to course related additional learning resources. During the time of this study, the LSC offered e-learning materials for 13 courses. The study was conducted to find out the (i) level of use of ELMs, (ii) undergraduates' attitudes towards e-learning, and (iii) limitations and challenges in using e-learning. Sixty one undergraduates were selected for the study using stratified random sampling method. A structured self administered questionnaire was used in data collection. Focused group discussions were also conducted with staff members to collect information. Frequency distributions, chi-square tests, and Spearmen's correlations analysis were used to explain the variables. Use of computers and the internet for academic work is fairly common among the undergraduates. About 95% of the respondents found to be using web for academic purposes at least once a week. Students who frequently use the internet for academic purposes had higher GPAs indicating higher academic performances (r=0.266, p < 0.05) and had favorable attitudes towards e-learning (r=0.301, p =0.018). Many (69%) students were seen using the LSC recommended for the ongoing academic semester. Average number of e-learning modules used by a student was limited to 3 although an average student has visited 5 such modules available in the LSC. The major challenges for introducing e-learning in the Faculty were seen as lack of advanced computer skills among the academic staff, less awareness on instructional design techniques, time constraints, and security concerns. Hence, it is important to provide the necessary technical assistance to interesting academic staff members to develop good quality e-learning resources.

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