Assessing Virtual Learning Environment in Malaysia's Public University.

Author:Ajis, Ahmad Fuzi Md
 
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INTRODUCTION

Education design and concept evolved when technology make changes to the paradigm of learning into modern education (Sun, Tsai, Finger, Chen, & Yeh, 2008; Wang, Wang, & Shee, 2007). Embedment of technologies to increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning has become an interest to education provider in establishing e-learning or virtual learning environment. As integrate utilization of Internet and technology increased, e-learning offers broader opportunities to the education practice (Jia, et al., 2011). E-learning or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) can be defined as a provision of a web based communication medium, which enable students to access different learning tools, such as program information, course content, teacher assistance, discussion boards, document sharing systems, and learning resources at their own convenience (Van Raaij & Schepers, 2008; Motaghian, Hassanzadeh, & Moghadam, 2013). In addition, the application of VLE system is said to be the game changer of correcting mistakes and weaknesses of traditional learning methods (Hassanzadeh, Kanaani, & Elahi, 2012). Furthermore, the emergence of distance learning seen to be depending on the strength of the VLE's to serve a larger population of distant learners (Firat, 2016).

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or e-learning rely strongly on the greatness of intelligent learning platform called as Learning Management System (LMS). Some education providers may use open source LMS like Moodle, ATutor, Eliademy, Canvas or Chamilo while others may opt into commercial ones or established their own. These LMS is likely the core of VLE execution aspect and lessons' delivery. It replaces many responsibilities of human's task-oriented and increase efficiency of teaching and learning support.

At first, users' readiness was the matter of concerned as the perception of the students who engaged with VLE were studied in the early of 21st century. Then development of more sophisticated LMS interface and features increasingly being debated as the users' satisfaction studies were done to ensure learning effectiveness is achieved. On the other hands, challenges of VLE occurred more frequently with the existence of better and more sophisticated function of LMS. Challenges like ease of access and use, user friendliness, security, social media integration and information quality (DeLone & McLean, 2003; Ozkan & Koseler, 2009; Oztekin, Kong, & Uysal, 2010; Wang, Wang, & Shee, 2007; Au, Ngai, & Cheng, 2008), change the paradigm of VLE to be more reliable to be used as the aim is to provide equal education to everyone anywhere (Hassanzadeh, Kanaani, & Elahi, 2012).

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) in Malaysia

Public Universities in Malaysia are having many programs offered to their students and using e-learning or VLE as their platform, which mostly enrolled by distant learning students. Furthermore, many public universities have also integrated physical classroom session with VLE. Currently, all 18 Public Universities in Malaysia are offering VLE to enhance teaching and learning session.

According to our literature review, there are few researchers from Malaysia who have done research particularly on studying the e-learning phenomenon in Malaysia. The research focus can be identified as the following table:

Problem Statement and Objective

Establishment of e-learning platform tremendously emerged once the higher education provider have come to be familiar with technology especially public universities in Malaysia. Table 1 shows that many of the research focus on the humanistic aspects like content delivery, computer application of VLE, users' engagement and awareness rather than measuring e-learning progress level. None were reporting the current state of VLE practices whether they should be maintained or improvised. Therefore, focus of this study is neither to measure the contents of the VLE course nor any features or methods that should be embedded in the VLE platform. This study aims to assess the process being carried by the higher education provider to identify which process of VLE practice require critical improvement.

Universiti TeknologiMARA (UiTM) and VLE

Universiti Teknologi MARA engaged in VLE since 2005 with the establishment of i-Learn Centre (i-Lec) which operated under the Academic Affair Division (HEA). The adaptation of technology in learning being supervised and monitored by i-Lec using its Learning Management System (LMS) known as i-Learn (Nursyahidah Alias, Zazaleena Zakariah, Nor Zalina Ismail, & Mohd Norafizal Abd Aziz, 2012).

METHODOLOGY

Mohammadi (2015), mentioned many outstanding studies in relation of e-learning usage however, most of the study is merely on perceived studies on users of the e-learning which is not suitable to achieve this study focus. Few models were compared to find better approach in assessing VLE like E-learning Maturity Model (Marshal, 2014), Information System Success Model (DeLone & McLean, 2003), E-learning's Critical Success Factors (Bhuasiri, Xaymoungkhoun, Zo, Rho, & Ciganek, 2012), Technology Acceptance Model (Bagozzi, Davis, & Warshaw, 1992). Few scholars suggest that maturity assessment is much more compelling to study the success of particular e-learning progress rather than focusing on its features (Marshall & Mitchell, 2002; Neuhauser, 2004; Petch, Calverley, Dexter, & Campelli, 2007; Mettler, Rohner, & Winter, 2010; Clarke, Stoodley, & Nelson, 2013). In fact, maturity assessment able to assess maturing elements to act in upgrading the elements to perform better (Kohlegger, Maier, & Thalmann, 2009). Besides maturity assessment emphasize on how well such processes being used does, as it is designed to do; and a capability maturity model can be used as instrument to help institution to initiate, plan, manage and assess engagement practices (Clarke, Stoodley, & Nelson, 2013). Therefore, as the stand in this study is to assess the quality of process in VLE implementation, E-learning Maturity Model was found to be relevant and suitable to be chosen and adopted in this study as it is the only maturity model that emphasis on e-learning, focusing on VLE initiation, plan, manage and engagement practice including elements that can be assessed to be improved (Mukendwa, 2015; Marshall S., 2013). As an exploratory study, the research was conducted in Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia before proceeding with more Malaysia Public Universities.

e-Learning Maturity Model (eMM)

The e-Learning Maturity Model was established from a combination of Capability Determination Model (CMM) and Software Process Improvement and Capability Determination (SPICE) in 2002 by Marshall and Mitchell (Marshall & Mitchell, 2002; Kohlegger, Maier, & Thalmann, 2009). According to S.W. van Rooij, K. Zirkle, (2016), the model uses self-assessment instrument to collect data on five learning process area such as (a) processes that directly impact on pedagogical aspects of e-learning; (b) processes surrounding the creation and maintenance of e-learning resources; (c) processes surrounding the oversight and management of e-learning; (d) processes surrounding the evaluation and quality control of e-learning throughout its entire lifecycle; and (e) processes associated with institutional planning and management (Marshall S. , 2013; Van Rooij & Zirkle, 2016).

Instrument

The research Instrument is using eMM survey as the instrument to assess online learning because the aim of eMM is to assess the quality of the processes in online learning, and not at promoting approaches on teaching and learning. It includes processes of; (1) learning, (2) development, (3) support, (4) evaluation and (5) organization which described in Table 2. By using eMM Capability Assessments (Marshall & Mitchell, 2003), each process will be assessed accordingly using five dimensions as shown in figure 1 and table 3 including; (1) delivery, (2) planning, (3) definition, (4) management and (5) optimisation as shown in figure 4. Five Likert scale used are: (5) fully adequate; (4) largely adequate; (3) partially adequate; (2) not adequate; and (1) not assessed.

Population and sampling

In this paper only one population are considered because this population have the required knowledge and experience in the VLE processes (Turban, 1993). 135 questionnaire set were distributed to selected lecturers/instructors as these are the subjects that actively involved in the utilization of i-Learn and its processes.

DATA ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS

The data collected were analysed using eMM Workbook. From 135 questionnaire sets distributed only 133 were answered. Results from each section were represented using colours as indicated in the eMM guide as shown in figure 2. Process capability of VLE in UiTM were determine using the scale to identify processes which inadequately practiced and require improvisation.

Learning--Processes that directly impact on pedagogical aspects of e-LEARNING

Table 4 evident the results on the Learning Process capability of VLE...

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