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H. Thinyane

Rhodes University (SOUTH AFRICA)
Around the world, Higher Education Institutions are adopting e-learning systems for a number of reasons, including: promoting resource sharing amongst academics; promoting deeper approaches to learning; catering for different learning styles; and enhancing collaboration between staff and students. After undertaking a review of related work in this field, it was found that most studies have focused on staff experiences, or lessons that can be learned from the adoption of e-learning systems. The few studies that focus on student perspectives have investigated once-off snapshots of students perceptions, and analyzed them in relation to a number of different factors including gender, age, previous experience with technology, and attitudes towards technology

This paper presents an evidence based understanding of first year students’ use and perceptions of e-learning, and how they have evolved over a period of four years. In order to ascertain students changing perceptions on e-learning, a comparison is made with the results of an earlier investigation into first year students’ access to and use of technology. This paper examines students changing perceptions of e-learning at a small public university in South Africa (approx. 7,200 students). It provides the results of a questionnaire that was presented to first year students in 2009, and then again in 2013, and an analysis of first year students’ changing perceptions of e-learning. In 2013 it was found that more students believed that using technology would help them get better results, and that the use of technology made their work more convenient than in 2009. The study also found students were less interested in Web 2.0 technologies and showed more interest in mobile technologies for learning in 2013 than in 2009.