N.P. Vidanapathirana1, K. Hirimburegama2, W.K. Hirimburegama2, S.A.P. Nelka1

1University of Colombo Institute for Agro-technology and Rural Sciences (SRI LANKA)
2University of Colombo (SRI LANKA)
Today’s rapid changing world highlights the influence and impact of technology in all aspects of learning life. Although many universities across the world have incorporated internet-based, learning systems for different users there are only a few examples for e-learning programs for farmers. None was available in Sri Lanka.

Identifying this issue, Institute for Agro-technology and Rural Sciences in University of Colombo, Sri Lanka has implemented e-learning program called Online Agro-technology Diploma for farmers in Sri Lanka. Learning Management system (LMS) was developed in local language using Moodle. All lesson contents are in digital form in the LMS. Online discussion forums and chat sessions were also designed in this program in order to help farmers to make daily communication with their colleagues and teachers on issues in agriculture. The prototype was developed and implemented in 2009. Currently, about 500 farmers all around the country have joined in this course.

There is a rapid growth of Internet and e-Learning initiatives in different management and business fields and there are many studies done for validating e-Learning adaption of e-Learning users. However, there are few studies done with the users in agriculture fields to determine factors affecting their e-Learning adaption. Therefore, this paper focuses on the investigation of student farmers, who attempt to successfully adopt e-learning systems at UCIARS. The conceptual research framework of e-learning adoption, which is used in the analysis, is based on the technology acceptance model.

This study used case study as a methodology and adopted quantitative methods of data collection to explore the factors that impact the acceptance of e-learning for farmers. This study conducted a survey to understand student farmer’s attitudes toward e-learning program. The questionnaire was distributed to 100 farmer students. SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) was used to analyze data for this research. A regression analysis was used to test hypothesis. The study provides an indicator of farmers’ acceptance of e-learning as well as identifying the important factors that would contribute to its successful use. The outcomes will enrich the understanding of farmers’ acceptance of e-learning.