1 Students Perception Toward the Use of Blackboard as a Course Delivery Method. By Dr. Ibtesam Al mashaqbeh Abstract: The aim of this study was to investigate students perception toward the use of blackboard as a course delivery method. Also it examine three issues that may have impact on students perception toward the use of blackboard, gender, year of study at the university, and the kind course they registered in. In this study blackboard software was used to deliver a computer education course and Architecture course. Students were required to use discussion board, digital Drop box, viewing assignments, announcements, and course documents posted by the instructor. There were a variety of other functions were for optional use such as external links and course syllabus. Participants of this study were twenty four undergraduate students enrolled in Architecture course and fifty undergraduate students were enrolled in computer education course. Both courses were conducted at Al Al bayt University in the Spring of 2005 and Fall semester of In each semester, a one month course section was designed using the blackboard software. At the end of each course section, a survey instrument was used. A 20 items questionnaire was developed by the researcher for this study. the result shows that no significant correlation between students perceptions regarding the use of blackboard and each of the following variables: gender, year of study, and the kind of course they registered in. Moreover, most of the student felt that using blackboard as a delivery tool was useful and enjoyable at the same time. The students used the blackboard software most of the time to get access to their homework and exams. Student faced some difficulties during the use of the blackboard software such as: most students revealed that the evaluation method for their work was not clear, and teacher communication was not enough. (keywords: web based instruction, blackboard software, distance learning, online interaction).
2 Introduction Leading the technology change in higher education is a process where the people in the institution, accept the change as an important component to move the institution toward success. They also have a good clear picture about the future of the institution, and develop a plan to implement the change smoothly (Lick, 2001). Universities use different methods to support teaching and student education. The regular way of teaching in higher education is traditional classroom instruction. With the new wave of using technology in higher education, distance education has became a part of an institution's curriculum. Most of the working adult students have become more interested in education to improve their professional opportunities. Universities start using non traditional ways of teaching such as distance learning to accommodate the needs of adult learners. Implementing new programs like distance learning programs into higher education needs some effort and support from the administration, faculty members, departments, and students. Mckeachie (1994) stated that in the twenty first century, distance learning is a technology revolution which will make a transition from traditional classroom teaching to distance education. And, the distance learning is based mainly on computer technology, where teaching and learning have developed positively in dramatic way. Mckeachie believed that teaching in distance learning marks a shift from lecturing and recitation to coaching. In this century, implementing distance education is not an institution's choice; it becomes a necessity to do so. It is important to create a plan for the institution to
3 accommodate change to distance learning. Distance learning and online programs or courses could be part of any institution in any content area. To have successful online programs, the design process should fit students' portfolio, lifestyles, and needs. Purpose of the study The purpose of the study was to investigate students perceptions toward distance learning as a method for course delivery using blackboard software. In this study blackboard software was to deliver a computer education course and Architecture course. Students were required to use discussion board and digital Drop box. Also, students were required to view assignments, announcements, and course documents posted by the instructor. There were a variety of other function were for optional use such as external links and course syllabus. Definitions of Terms The following definitions were addressed for this study: Blackboard software: A software that give students a learning opportunities to continue their education. It helps institutions to use the full power of the Internet for education. And help students to communicate with the instructors and with each other outside the classrooms door. E mail: An internet service that allows users to communicate together by electronic messages to each other. All users required to have internet access to use this service (Bates, 2000). WebCT Server:
4 It is a tool that can be used in the delivery process of online learning courses. It also consider as a web based delivery platform for online learning (Leo, 2002). Review of Related Literature Benefits In the online learning students are more in control of their own learning. Online learning creates opportunities that are not found in the traditional education. Students can choose their own time and their own learning environment to start the learning process. They can also adjust their daily schedules to fit their responsibilities and commitments. It also provide adult learners with a second chance to update their knowledge base at their home or at their places of employment. The key player for online learning are the students, teachers, supporting staff and administration, where all of them work toward fitting students' needs into the curriculum. Gagne (2001) reported that distance education increases students' access to courses with flexible schedules and less travel. For the institution, distance education provides for increased enrollment without constructing and maintaining additional buildings. Smith (2001) concluded that the web environment presents a number of educational opportunities and advantages over traditional classes. For example, includes more informational resources. Second advantages was the emphasis on the written word through s, discussion board that encourages a deeper level of thinking in online
5 classes. In the Online courses, one to one relationship between student and instructor may be more emphasized more than in traditional face to face settings. Baron and Mckay (2001) identified that enrolling on online course required dealing with all the technical issues. This consider a good learning experience for the students, and prepared them better for their work. Kleiner (2001) stated that there is a huge interest in remote learning the reason for that is the web now provides a formerly quick and easy communication between students and instructions, and among classmates. Also, distance learning often is a good solution for working adults who cant get to a university campus for education. Haselow (1999) indicated that the distance education required students to participate in the class discussion. It should give the students a chance to choose, when, how, and what they want to learn. Haselow added that new learning, new opportunities, and new qualifications become available in distance learning. web based courses Kim (2005) examined students attitude toward the use of web based learning using WebCT OR CMS (Blackboard developed course Management system). The population for this study was the students who took an on line course at the University of Houston main campus. The number of students surveyed in this study was 291 students. The study showed that a positive attitude regarding the quality of the instruction which delivered by the on line course. students reported that the interaction and feedback through the web based environment raised the quality of the use of online course.
6 Flowers (2001) collected information regarding the needs for online learning in Education Technology. the objective of this study was to help universities determine the needs for offering on line courses or on line degrees. The researcher developed a survey instrument after consulted a survey specialists and technology education professors. The number of students surveyed in this study was 923 students. All questioners were received, 90% of the respondents reported that they used internet to learn about some aspect of technology. And most of them used a PC and Macintosh in a regular basis at work or at home. Respondents shows a higher level of interest for on line programs in Education technology at undergraduate level and graduate level. from the result of this study some barriers were emerged to meeting online learning needs, such as a lack of awareness of online opportunities. Schmidt(2001) investigated the issues and concerns of undergraduate students regarding the web based learning through different media such as CD ROM or Internet. And also identifies the issues that must be considered to develop a web based learning course. Schmidt, design 19 questions that focusing on the importance of the interaction with the instructor, learning outcomes, and the benefits of distance learning. The number of questioners was 109. Most respondents indicated that the interaction with the instructor and the interaction with classmate was a very important issue in web based learning. Another issue was concluded from the study was that web based learning does not work for everyone, it just suitable for students who are self directed and selfmotivated. Woods (2004) conducted a study to investigate students perceptions of webbased instruction. A questioner instrument was sent by to 20 students who were
7 enrolled in web based courses with the blackboard. There were a significant correlation between students satisfaction with web based instruction and rating of web based technologies and principles of good practice. Woods' found that Discussion Board, Announcements, Course Information, , and External Links were received higher ratings than Syllabus, File exchange, and Multimedia. Also, communication between students and faculty, and between students themselves received a higher ratings than promote a feedback and time on task. Gammill (2004) conducted a study to examine Mississippi State University (MSU) Faculty members perceptions of factors and issues that support their teaching of web based courses. The result indicated that, most of faculty members was not using web based instruction (WBI). Gammill revealed that the reasons for not using WBI were not all classes are meant for online teaching, non reliability of technology, no release time for development and revisions of online courses, and not enough administration supports. Rodchua (2004) conducted a study to measure the quality of web based courses and students perception in the industrial management programs at Central Missouri State University. A sample of the study included that 161 students completing IM courses at CMSU in fall 2002 and spring 2003 semesters. The results revealed that graduate students accessed the web based course using Blackboard software were greater than undergraduate students. Also, students with higher grades accessed the web based course more than students with poorer grade. Almala (2004) conducted a study to evaluate the quality of e learning and the stages of this learning process at the Extended Learning Institute of Northern Virginia
8 Community College. A sample of the study included a six e learning classes. The study found that the quality of e learning could be improved by focus on few issues such as enhance the development process, upgrading from Blackboard Acadmic Suite 5 to 6 for its new features, provide training program for students, providing faculty with effective support system. Schimidt (2002) stated that online teaching and learning gain more popularity with the www (world wide web) evolution. Also new web tools are created to improve online learning and make it easier to access. Cheung (1998) stated that students perception and feedback is very important for improving the quality of online teaching and learning programs. Hazary (1998) stated that distance education is an important learning method. It help teachers and students to achieve their teaching and learning goals. For delivering online courses there are many software packages such as WebCT and Blackboard software. Burgess (2003) examined students perceptions toward the use of WebCT as a tool for deleviring online courses. The result of the study indicated that students learned the basic instruction of using WebCT easily. WebCT was useful tool for students who are comfortable with the technology Alqurashi (2005) investigated the use of blackboard for collaboration learning in composition classrooms in Saudi Arabia Universities. He compared the students attitude toward the collaborative learning in two modalities: face to face learning and web based learning using the blackboard software. The research result did not show a significant differences between the group who used the face to face learning and the group who used the web based learning. The researcher explains that there are two reasons may led
9 to this result, first reason, was that the collaborative learning is a new teaching techniques to Saudi students. Second reason, was the universities did not have enough computer laps and also no full access to the Internet which led to this result. Schmidt (2002) conducted a study to survey students perception and learning outcomes of classroom teaching versus online teaching. The data sample were 29 students who were randomly assigned to one of two group A or Group B, group A studied subject matter using the traditional classroom method. GroupB used an online learning method. The result of this study stated that students enjoyed working from home or work at their convenience time. Also they enjoyed the ability to review lectures and course documents as many times as they need. There are few problems with technology were faced students during online section. Students Interaction In the regular classrooms students have the opportunity during class time to interact orally with each other and with their instructor. In distance learning, during the course planning the instructor should plan to use technology to create a place for student interaction. With today's technology, distance learning overcomes the interaction problem by encouraging and requiring the distance learning students to interact with each other and with the instructor through s, discussion board, telephone calls, and mail. To improve interaction in distance learning, teachers need to organize the class to encourage positive communication for example setting evening hours for office phone calls using a toll free number, contacting each student at a regular time to update them about their progress. Sherry (1995) concluded that in distance learning, students need
10 more support and communication. Students start learning about new technology and begin their hands on training regardless of their level of online learning experience. Communication is mediated not only by the technology, but also by a host of team partners, which may include editors, designers, producers, and service providers. Ryan and others (1999) indicates that most of the time students favor classroom interaction with faculty and with other students instead of working in isolation. Distance learning does not create interaction between the students. Ryam added that communication in distance education does not allow students to evaluate their own levels of preparation, responses and presentation. McKeachi (1994) stated that in distance learning there are fewer opportunities on the teacher to present information and fewer opportunities to diagnose learning problems to help students find solutions and ask more questions. Distance education by using electronic mail, video conferencing, and online software such as Blackboard, will surely help students to better communicate with their teachers. More than traditional learning, distance learning offers opportunities for teachers to reach a wider students audience, meet non traditional students needs, link students from different backgrounds, cultures, and geographic regions. Methodology Participants Participants of this study were twenty four students were participated in Architecture course and fifty students were participated in computer education course.
11 Both courses were conducted at Al Al bayt University in the year spring semester and year fall semester. Instrumentation and Validity of the Instrument A 20 items questionnaire was developed by the researcher. The students responses for this instrument were marked directly on the survey. The questionnaire instrument was designed to help the researcher identify students perceptions toward the use of blackboard. Also, questions were intend to gather information about students difficulty and satisfaction toward the use of Blackboard software to deliver course materials and as a communication tools. To insure the validity of the research instrument, it was sent to a four faculty members. The faculty members were asked to evaluate the questionnaire instrument and recommend any changes that could help the study. A comments were sent back which ensured the validity of the instrument and made some recommendations which were taking into consideration. Data collection method The study was conducted in two semesters. First semester, a one month Architecture course was designed to use the Blackboard software. The second semester, a one month computer education course was designed to use the Blackboard software. At the end of each section a survey instrument was used through the course site. The aimed of this instrument was to collect information about students attitude toward the use of distance learning as methods for course delivery using Blackboard software.
12 Data analysis The responses for the questioner items were coded numerically and entered on a SPSS database. The t test was used to determine statically significant differences according to gender, year of study, semester, and their past experience with blackboard. Descriptive analysis were utilized to compute the means and the standard deviations for variables and items of the questioner instrument. Result and Discussion Demographics Table 1 show the number of students who answered the demographic questions. Their gender, year of study, semesters(first and second semester), and answer the questions about using the software for the first time or not. it show s that all the 74 students who participated in this study answered all the question. It indicated that 24 students from the first semester and 50 students from the second semester and who answered all the questions. Table 1: number of students who answered the demographic questions Using blackboard for the first time 74 0 Year of study 74 0 gender 74 0 Second semester 50 0 First semester 24 0 Valid Missing N Table 2 show s that the percentage of students who participated on this study was 32.4% who registered on Architecture course on the first semester. It also show s that 67.6 students participated in this study was registered on computer education course.
13 Table 3 show s that 24.3% of students who participated on this study were boys and 75.7% of the participants were girls. Table 2: number of students who participated on this study in the first and second semester semester first second Total Cumulative Percent Valid Percent Percent Frequency Table 3: number of students who participated on this study from both gender boys and girls Gender Cumulative Percent Valid Percent Percent Frequency boy girl Total Table 4 show s that according to the year of study, 33.85% of the participants were on their second year. It also indicated that 55.4% of the participants on the third year and of the participants were on their forth year at Al Al bayt University. Table 4: number of students who participated on this study according to their Year of study Year of study second third fourth total Cumulative Percent Valid Percent Percent Frequency
14 According to the third demographic question about using the blackboard software for the first time or not, Table 5 show s that 95.9% replied that they used this software for the first time and 4.1% replied that they used this software before. Table 5: using the blackboard software for the first time or not Used the software before Cumulative Percent Valid Percent Percent Frequency yes no total The responses of the survey were analyzed to describe students perceptions toward the use of blackboard as a tool for distance education. The mean and the standard deviation were calculated for each item in the questioner (Table 6 shows). the descriptive analysis for the twenty questions of the questioner instruments that was used to describe students perceptions. The result revealed that the overall mean score was 3.84; which indicating that a high students attitude toward the use of blackboard. Table 6: shows the descriptive analysis for the twenty questions Question# Q1 Std. Deviation.82 Mean 3.70 Q Q Q
15 Q5 Q6 Q7 Q8 Q9 Q10 Q11 Q12 Q13 Q14 Q15 Q16 Q17 Q18 Q19 Q20 Total The responses for the questions were reordered based on the highest mean value as shown in Table 7. the most important item was item 19 with mean value "Using blackboard software was useful and enjoyable at the same time". It was noticed that questions 13, 7,2,11,17,18 were very important and have a highest means ( ). these results described their attitude toward the use of blackboard, and they indicated that most of the students enjoyed are using the course, which was delivered through the blackboard software. Students felt comfortable for using the course documents, announcements section, and drop box to submit their assignments and homework's. Table7: The responses for the questions were reordered based on the highest mean value Question Question# Std. Deviation Mean
16 Using blackboard software was useful and enjoyable at the same time Q read and submit the homework s and the exam through the blackboard software The activities that was delivered through the blackboard software was clear I use the announcement section to be updated about the course requirements I use the course document section to read the course materials The instruction about the use of the blackboard software was useful Using the blackboard software in another courses will be useful for me Q13 Q7 Q2 Q11 Q17 Q Table (8) shows that questions 14,20,5,4,3,6,1,10,16 with mean between this revealed that the students felt comfortable during their use of discussion board to communicate with other students and with the instructor. Course information, and instructor information were useful according to students responses. The communication between students and the instructor through the blackboard was not strong enough since it has low mean value (3.62). Table 9 revealed that items 9,12,15,8 have a very low mean between It was not clear for students how to get extra information. Students also faced some problems during their use of the blackboard software. It was found that the presentations was displayed through the blackboard software was not important according to most students responses. The lowest mean was 3.12 for question 8, using the blackboard software for displaying the course evaluation. It was not clear according to most students responses. Table 8 : shows that questions 14,20,5,4,3,6,1,10,16 with mean between
17 I use the discussion board to communicate with other students and the instructor The instructor control the course site and update it in a regular way The course objectives that were display through the blackboard was clear The course syllabus that were display through the blackboard was clear I used the course information that were display through the blackboard The course curriculum that were display through the blackboard was clear I have enough information about how to use the blackboard software The information about the instructor that were display through the blackboard was useful The blackboard software was very important for students instructor communication Questions Q14 Q20 Q5 Q4 Q3 Q6 Q1 Q10 Q16 Std. Deviation Mean Table 9: revealed that items 9,12,15,8 have a very low mean between It was clear how get information from extra resources I used the presentations that was displayed through the blackboard software I did not face any problems during the use of the blackboard software The course evaluation method was clear Question# Q9 Q12 Q15 Q8 Std. Deviation Mean The research questions were used to determine in which extent that gender, year of study, semester, and past experience could predict students perceptions toward the use of the blackboard as a distance learning delivery tool. The finding of this study revealed that gender, year of study, semester, and past experience have no significant relationship on students perceptions toward the use of Blackboard as a delivery tool for distance learning
18 Using blackboard software, according to students responses was a successful method. Students were very motivated using this tool as a delivery tool for distance learning. It was a new way of communication for most of them, but most students faced some difficulties at the beginning but after that they got used to it and enjoy it. One of the problems faced students was getting used to the new way of teacher interaction, the reason for that was the way they used to interact with teachers in the traditional way of teaching was different in distance learning. The teacher role for distance learning as a course designer, was to give students a space to communicate together and to be independent and control their own learning experience that was not an easy transition for most students to get used to the new teacher rule. Having a specific time for students to meet with their instructor give the students a chance to learn more by participating in the class discussion and get a direct feedback from others. Being in a distance learning course without having a specific method or tool for interaction is a wasting for students time and provide less education for all distance learning students. On the other hand, distance learning, while having some weaknesses, does have advantages over traditional teaching. It is considered a very reliable learning techniques that it not only her to stay, but also, one that will continue to grow and be enhanced as more people gain access to technology. Conclusions and Recommendations In conclusion, it seems that Blackboard is a useful tool for students who are comfortable with the technology. Students who registered in the Education Technology course or Architecture course indicated their acceptance of this mode of information
19 access. It seems that students with different area of specialization felt good about using this software. Overall, the results of the study indicate that student interest in the use of Blackboard software is tempered by initial experiences with the technology. For students who struggled with using drop box, using the dissection board features, or checking for new announcement on a regular basis, e learning was perceived to be challenging for them but it was interesting at the same time. Most students felt in need of more teacher communication and interact through e mails and participation on discussion board. Most students indicated that evaluation method for their work was not clear. However, the majority of students adjusted to the technology quickly, and they felt that they gained a good learning experience. Further research needs to be conducted to determine whether the use of blackboard as a delivery tool for distance learning could effect students performance. Also comparing this tool with the traditional instructional methods. It is recommended that more studies should be conducted investigate the pedagogical methods, which are employed in using e learning tools. Finally, it is recommended that the study be repeated with a larger sample size from different universities and specialization area.
20 References Almala, A. H. (2004). "Planning for High Quality E learning in Institutions of Higher Education: An Analytical Case Study of a Two Year Public Community College in Virginia." Doctoral Dissertation, George Mason University. Alqurashi, F. (2005). " Computer Supported Collaborative Learning in Composition Classrooms in Saudi Arabia." Doctoral Dissertation, Ball State University. Bates, A, W (2000). Managing technological change: strategies for college and university leaders. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Baron, J. and Mckay, M. (2001). " Designing and Delivering an Online Course for k 12 Education" T.H.E. Journal, Burgess, L. (2003). "WebCT as an E Learning Tool: A Study of Technology Students' Perceptions." Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, fall, 15(1). Cheung, D. (1998). "Developing a Student Evaluation Instrument for Distance Teaching." Distance Education,19(1), Flowers, J. (2001). "Online learning needs in teaching technology education." Journal of Technology Education, Fall, 13(1). Gagne, M. and Shepered, M. (2001). "Distance Learning in Accounting." T.H.E. Journal. 28, Gammill, T. D. (2004). " Factors Associated with Faculty use of Web Based Instruction in Higher Education." Doctoral Dissertation, Mississipi State University.
21 Haselow, D. (1999). 5 th Annual conference on distance teaching and learning. University of Wisconsin, Madison. Micro fish in Eric Database (ED440287). Hazari, S. I. (1998). Evaluation and Selection of Web Course Managements Tools. Retrieved Dec. 13, 2003, from Kim, H. (2005). Can a Faceless Teacher be Close to Students: The Lived Experience of Online Instructors in Higher Education. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Houston. Kleiner, C. (2001). "Best Graduate Schools." U.S News &World Report Leo, T. M. (2002). "A Description of the Experiences, Perceptions, and Attitudes of Professors and Graduate Students About Teaching and Learning in a Web Enhanced Learning Environment at a Southwest Border Institution." An Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, New Mexico State University. Lick, D. (2001). "Leading change: creating the future for education technology" Syllabus, 15(5): Mckeachie, W. (1994). Teaching tips: strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers 9 th Edition. D.C. Health and Company. 125 spring Street, Lexington, MA Rodchua, S. (2004). The Measurement of Quality and Practices of Internet Based Distance Learning Regarding Students' Perception in the Industrial Management Program. Unpublished Dissertation. Central Missouri State University. Ryan, M. & Cartlton, H. & Ali, N. S. (1999). " Evaluation of traditional classroom teaching methods versus course delivery via the world wide web." Journal of Nursing Education. 38(6), Schimidt, K. (2002). " Classroom Action Research: A Case Study Assessing Students' Perceptions and Learning Outcomes of Classroom Teaching Versus On Line Teaching." Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, fall, 40(1). Schmidt, K. and Brown, D. (2004). " Considerations for Embedding On Line Components into Traditional Classroom Environments." Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, Winter,41(4). Sherry, l. (1996). Issues in Distance Learning, International Journal of Educational Telecommunications. Smith, G. and Ferguson, D. (2001). "Teaching college courses online VS Face toface. " T.H.E. Journal. 28,
22 Woods, G. (2004). Students Perceptions of Web Based Technologies, Principles of Good Practice, and Multiple Intelligences. Unbublished Doctoral Dissertation, Alliant International University at San Diego. Appendix A The Survey Instrument In this survey, there are two sections (1) demographic information; and (2) Students perceptions toward the use of blackboard as a delivery tool for distance education. Section one: demographic information 1. Your Gender: (1) Male (2) Female 2. Year of study: (1) second year (2) third year (3) Fourth 3. Past experience with blackboard (1) Yes (2) no
23 Section two: students perception the use of blackboard software as a delivery tool for distance education:
24 Q# Question Strongly Agree Q1 I have enough information about how to use the blackboard software Q2 I use the announcement section to be updated about the course requirements Q3 I used the course information that were display through the blackboard Q4 The course syllabus that were display through the blackboard was clear Q5 The course objectives that were display through the blackboard was clear Q6 The course curriculum that were display through the blackboard was clear Q7 The activities that was delivered through the blackboard software was clear Q8 The course evaluation method was clear Q9 It was clear how get information from extra resources Q10 The information about the instructor that were display through the blackboard was useful Q11 I use the course document section to read the course materials Q12 I used the presentations that was displayed through the blackboard software Q13 I read and submit the homework s and the exam through the blackboard software Q14 I use the discussion board to communicate with other students and the instructor Q15 I did not face any problems during the use of the blackboard software Agree Neither Disagree Strongly Disagree
25 Q16 The blackboard software was very important for studentsinstructor communication Q17 The instruction about the use of the blackboard software was useful Q18 Using the blackboard software in another courses will be useful for me Q19 Using blackboard software was useful and enjoyable at the same time Q20 The instructor control the course site and update it in a regular way