E-learning use and relevance in vocational institutes in New Zealand
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Following the initial enthusiasm shown by institutions to embark on e-learning, a sense of disillusion has followed. With many institutions feeling that the promise of e-learning has not been realised, these same institutions have been re-examining their e-learning use. This study examines the use of e-learning by vocational institutes in New Zealand by exploring lecturers' use of the technology and the impact on their students' success. The study also looks at what type of programmes use e-learning. Finally, the study examined the organisational support provided to the lecturers.Data for this study were collected from two different groups by means of two different research methods. Lecturers from 13 vocational institutes completed surveys and e-learning managers from the same institutions were interviewed. Data were analysed by statistical methods and a grounded theory approach.Lecturers who taught mainly diploma, degree or a mix of courses had a more positive perspective on how e-learning affected their students' success. Lecturers also held more positive views on using e-learning with theory-based courses. In terms of gender mix, lecturers who taught mainly female or mixed gender courses viewed the use of e-learning as having a positive effect on student success.The e-learning managers' interviews were included to provide background about professional development and organisational support available to the lecturers. The analysis of the interviews indicated that a range of professional development opportunities were made available. It also indicated that the level of support was dependent on what drove the development of the courses. If the development was lecturer driven, the support provided was much smaller scale. If the development was driven by senior management or external funding, the support was provided on a much larger scale. These larger scale developments were generally project-based. This analysis echoed the lecturers' responses as the majority indicated that they had developed their own courses. The conclusions that can be drawn from this are that the majority of the lecturers who participated in the survey were e-learning enthusiasts. The key message for institutions is to encourage these enthusiasts, while also encouraging the larger scale online developments.
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