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Factors affecting students’ intentions to undertake online learning

08 Apr 2021 | Dr Greeni Maheshwari Greeni Maheshwari, a lecturer at RMIT University Vietnam and a Senior Fellow, shares her research on factors affecting students’ intentions to study online.

"Many parts of the world were or are still under lockdown due to the outbreak of global pandemic COVID-19, and hence my intention is that the study results will be useful for universities to equip better with online learning for future crisis." Greeni Maheshwari

Educational institutions worldwide had to shift the teaching delivery mode from face to face to online teaching during COVID-19. It was not an easy situation for teachers and students as for many students and the teachers, this was the first time ever being exposed to online learning. Although the study on factors affecting students’ online learning intention is specific to Vietnam, there are other geographic regions that are still experiencing a similar situation of shifting from traditional teaching to online teaching. Hence, the study results might be helpful in other parts of the world as well.

The results of the study showed that the students online learning intentions were influenced by institutional support provided and the perceived enjoyment with the course. The support provided from the institution in the form of class activities, class interaction and teachers’ support played an important role in students decision-making to study the courses online in the future. Institutional support was found to be an important factor in this study and had the relationship with perceived enjoyment (measure of satisfaction of students).

The perceived enjoyment had a direct effect on online learning intentions and further perceived enjoyment was inversely affected by extrinsic factors (infrastructural support and internet speed and access) based on this study’s results. Even though, the direct effect was not found of extrinsic factors on online learning intentions, but the indirect effect was observed on online learning intentions of students.

COVID-19 pandemic might be an opportunity for educational institutions to review and strengthen their online learning and training capacity and hence this study results might be useful for educational institutions. The students felt that the instructional design was not effective and hence the class interaction might be missing, which affected students’ online learning intentions negatively. To better support the students and the teachers, an official online learning and teaching training course can be developed along with using effective and user-friendly learning platforms. The students and teachers might have difficulty in switching the learning and teaching mode and hence in future to equip them well, the proper training is recommended. Also, one or two days in an academic year can be assigned explicitly to online learning to provide them the experience, so that it becomes easy to adapt with online learning in any difficult situations arising in the future.

Embedding the online teaching and learning mode will need careful analysis of cost versus benefits. In regard to cost, first this will increase the cost of developing the sound online learning platform. Second, the cost will be involved in hiring the online specialists who can train the lecturers for using online platforms. Third, the resources will be required to develop the official online learning course for teachers and the students. In terms of benefits, online learning provides a lot of flexibility to the lecturers, and the students. During the post-graduation studies, many students might wish to work along with studying and the online learning gives them better flexibility in multitasking as this eliminates the learning place barrier. With online learning, the students also have the opportunity to re-watch the lecture recordings later to review the content. If universities see the advantages after doing cost-benefit analysis, then this COVID-19 outbreak should be the good starting point for reshaping learning and teaching. If universities are well prepared, it might be easy to switch to online learning in any such events of crisis.

Read the full article entitled “Factors affecting students’ intentions to undertake online learning: an empirical study in Vietnam”.

Dr Greeni Maheshwari is the lecturer and course coordinator of range of Quantitative courses at RMIT University, Vietnam. She has been a multiple award winner at RMIT University from 2016 to 2020. Her research interest lies in topics related to education, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

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