F. Thaufeega, M. Watts, N. Crowe

Brunel Univeristy London (UNITED KINGDOM)
For Maldives, an island nation, consisting of over 1190 islands, e-learning is the ideal form of delivery of higher education for students on the 202 remote inhabited islands. This study explores Maldivian college students’ e-learning readiness. Mixed-method research has been conducted using questionnaires (quantitative) and semi-structured interviews (qualitative). 111 students from two private higher education institutes completed the questionnaires, 10 were selected for interviews out of which 9 completed the interview. Students’ technological skills, access to technology and learning abilities, as well as their level of e-learning efficacy, are measured and further explored through interviews. Their lifestyle and family and workplace environments’ conduciveness for e-learning is explored. Similarly, 45 lecturers/facilitators completed the questionnaire to obtain teacher/institute readiness for online teaching. Responses allow exploration of Maldivian higher education students and institutes readiness for e-learning. Lecturers/facilitators’ readiness is measured by their skill and ability to support e-learning. Readiness of Institutes are explored using semi-structured interviews with 2 senior personnel from the institutes. The role and importance of the three elements of the Community of Inquiry Framework: Cognitive Presence, Teaching Presence and Social Presence, in e-learning, is also explored through questionnaires and interviews. This paper presents the findings from the interview data. The study’s findings are significant as it is the first research in the Maldives to provide such a case in support of e-learning in higher education. The research supports the transferability of the findings to similar colleges and student populations in the Maldives.