1 University of the Philippines (PHILIPPINES)
2 DEREE - The American College of Greece (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 140-146
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
The technological developments of the 21st century pose major challenges to education today.  Sir Kenneth Robinson (2010) had pointed out the need for a new paradigm of learning more suited to the new types of learners of this era.  This is the generation that has been referred to as digital natives (Tunks, 2010), “immersed in technology and new technical devices since the time they were born.”  They are used to life lived at warp speed and have little patience for the slow learning processes of traditional and old-school education.  Enter the new university virtual learning environment (UVLE). This shows much promise in terms of meeting the needs of this techno-savvy generation of learners.  Unfortunately, learners may be at different levels of digital facility, leading to issues and problems with the learning situation.  

This paper attempted to look at some of the variables that may influence learning in a virtual learning environment. Studies on the use of Moodle, an open learning management system, in university courses were reviewed. A case study approach was then used to look into the effects of using a Moodle-based learning environment on an undergraduate social psychology class versus a graduate social psychology class at a university in a developing country. The undergraduate class (N=32) was composed of 28% male and 72% female students with ages ranging from 18 to 35 years old (M=20.1, SD=2.9); the graduate class (N=6) was 50% male, 50% female students with ages ranging from 29 to 44 years (M=37.8, SD=6.1). At the start of classes and as a prerequisite to instituting the virtual learning program, the students were asked about prior computer experience and familiarity to ensure that no one would be adversely affected by the program, as there is no formal computer course prerequisite in the psychology curricula at the university. The students' self-reports indicated familiarity with computer use and a fair working knowledge of computer basics sufficient for the course requirements.

The case study was designed primarily to compare the patterns of access and use at the above-mentioned two levels of study. Using the data logs provided by the support staff of the university interactive learning center, the following hypotheses were examined: that graduate students have a lower frequency of access and usage of UVLE than undergraduate students; that utilization of UVLE is higher in the rigorously structured undergraduate course than in the flexibly structured graduate course; that female students access the UVLE more frequently than male students. Significant results of nonparametric tests used indicated support of these hypotheses.

The study also suggested that other access issues are highlighted when using the virtual learning environment in a developing country. A qualitative description detailed the study's experience with other fairly common problems like inadequate computing resources, slow or lack of access to the internet, poor connections and narrow bandwidths.   
Moodle, virtual learning environment, undergraduate, graduate psychology, developing country.