An Investigation on Instructors’ Knowledge, Belief and Practices towards Distance Education
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AbstractDistance education systems have emerged as increasingly accessible and indispensable features in education owing to the development and spread of communication technologies and the transformation of individual characteristics, needs and demands. With the growing popularity of distance education programs, detailed analysis of their actual success and the factors contributing to this success are necessary. Distance education involves technological, organizational, social, instructional and psychological dimensions and its success rests on an acceptable arrangement of all dimensions. Instructors play a role of critical importance and act as an agent of change. Based on these defining features, this study focuses on the instructors tasked with giving lessons in distance education programs and aims to determine their instructional practices and the effect of their knowledge and beliefs on these practices. The study sample includes 16 instructors from three different public universities conducting lessons in distance education programs. Study data were collected during interviews and analyzed using qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods. The study findings indicate that the majority of instructors have greater understanding of the facilities such as time and space flexibility that distance education system provides than of subjects related to the instructional process, such as the role of the student and teacher and the use of learning-teaching principles. In the dimensions of technology management and virtual classroom management, instructors have strong self-efficacy beliefs, but low self-efficacy in learning process management. Similarly, instructors have high benefit beliefs as to the economical nature of distance learning, but lower benefit beliefs about the effectiveness of the learning products and the variety of learning experiences. Furthermore, instructors perform the tasks the system requires, but do not endeavor to increase the quality of teaching. Therefore, this study concludes that the beliefs of instructors teaching in distance education programs should be strengthened by ensuring a proper knowledge background to increase the effectiveness of the instructional process.
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