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Barriers to Implementing E-learning System in Organizations

Info: 5454 words (22 pages) Dissertation
Published: 12th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Workplace Training

1.0 General introduction/background

This chapter deals with general introduction and the background of the research area. It also contains the problem statement, objectives/purpose, research question, and the structure of the thesis.

In today’s world of globalization, knowledge and learning is considered most vital element for acquiring competitive advantage (Longworth and Davies, 1996). For gaining competitive advantage firms and institutions are becoming more knowledge intensive, therefore they concentrate on managing and sharing knowledge to gain significant advantage of this knowledge (Hertog and Sluijs, 1995).Traditional education style has remained consistent without any changes been made to the system. This has enabled a large number of creative thinkers to ponder other possible educational approaches that could benefit the system (Günes, 2008). On the other hand, technology is necessary in order to conquer, but it also a necessity to remain in competition. All the sectors, whether it is primary, manufacturing or tertiary, all of them have been forced to accept technology to become innovative and efficient (Günes, 2008).

Technology has not only radically changed the ways and methods of our works but is now beginning to transform the education system (Webster and Murphy, 2008).With the use of internet technologies, firms and institutions have outstanding opportunities to deliver education and different training techniques through strategic use of internet technologies (Lee, 2006; Kaohsiung; Taiwan, 2006). The use of Internet technologies combined with suitable learning strategies assists to provide an open, flexible and dynamic learning environment. As a result many corporations, government agencies and academic institutions worldwide have increased the use of internet and educational technologies to deliver instructions and provide training. This innovative approach of delivering information and education is known as E-learning (Khan, 2008). E-learning can be simply defined as the way of learning which delivers its contents through World Wide Web (Gulatee and Combes, 2007). Sharifabadi defined e-learning as “the term used to describe teaching and learning resources or experiences that is, in some way, delivered electronically”. (Gulatee and Combes, 2007; Sharifabadi, 2006, p.391).

E-learning is a way of interaction through electronic mediums, mainly computers, by using videos, photos, texts and sounds for different educational purposes (Gulatee and Combes, 2007). E-learning system creates a learning opportunity for the convenience of those who don’t have the opportunity to be physically available due to various reasons (Gulatee and Combes, 2007; Werry, 2002). Hence, during the late 1990s and early 2000 many virtual universities were established and more universities were offering online courses, but mixed results of the e learning systems were encountered (Gulatee and Combes, 2007). Different researches have pointed out many barriers in e learning’s implementation, which lead to its failure. For example technological infrastructure, course content quality, finance support, learner’s computing skills, staff training, management support and organization’s culture resistance (Romiszowski, 2003, Childs et al, 2005, Muilenburg and Berge, 2005).

Organization’s cultural resistance is considered as the most influential barrier in e learning’s implementation process. The culture’s resistance or resistance from the potential users negatively affects the implementation process. Unwillingness of the employees can create major problems for the managers and can lead to the system failure (Shields and Young, 1989, p. 22). Employee’s resistance and avoiding of the use of required procedures and rules could lead the system to failure even if it has been developed perfectly and is ready to use (Malmi, 1997, p. 475). In this instant the managers cannot gain full benefits of the new system unless they can create a change in the employee’s attitude (Yates, 1997, p. 164). Cultural differences among peers could create many problems in implementation of e learning system. Therefore, if the cultural issues are overlooked during implementation, their ignorance could act as a vital barrier in e learning’s success. (AL-Hunaiyyan et al, 2008; Gujar and Sonone, 2004)

1.1 Problem statement

There are different articles and books available in the market which mention about the usefulness and advantages of E learning. Web-based learning is a new medium of information technology; researchers have mentioned many different factors which act as barriers towards implementing E-learning system (Ngai et al., 2007). There are different factors cited by various authors which exist in their research papers that can help us to identify critical barriers. In addition, we are interested in finding out, to which extent an organization is dependent on the role of its culture, and how culture can lead to success or failure of the E-learning system. It should be noted that culture has a great impact in organizations and are important when decision making is involved in IT management. In this regard, an organization is said to be confronted with stiff resistance, consequently making IT management a difficult task (Childs et al, 2005). To overcome the barriers for implementing E learning, an organization should try and manage these barriers accordingly because they are critical to any organization’s general business model and can equally affect the organization’s decision making process.

1.2 Research question

What are the critical barriers of implementing e-learning system and what is the role of organizational culture in successful implementation of E-learning system?

1.3 Objectives and Purpose of the Research

The purpose of this research is to describe and analyze the critical factors which may affect the implementation of e-learning system. Investigating the barriers of implementing e-learning system would help to lower down the barriers in future implementation. Moreover by examining the cultural influence of an organization towards e-learning system’s implementation process, it will be easier to identify a complete outline for organizations to implement E Learning system and to make the system work efficiently and successfully.

1.4 Thesis design

The structure of the thesis is principally focused on six chapters which include

Chapter 1: Introduction/Background

The Introduction gives brief overview of the research topic, including the purpose and objectives, problems and research question.

Chapter 2: Research Design/Methods

This chapter deals with the choice of topic, research process which indicates how these data’s will be analyzed, data collection, validity and reliability, and method critique.

Chapter 3: Framework of reference

This chapter discusses relevant theories to give the reader an understanding of the barriers which come across E learning system’s implementation processes cited by different authors.

Chapter 4: Findings

This chapter provides frequencies of different barriers for implementing E learning system described by different authors.

Chapter 5 Analysis

This chapter will describe the analysis based on the findings.

Chapter 6: Conclusions

This section finally concludes the lessons drawn from the findings

2.0 Research Design/Methods

This chapter deals with the choice of topic, research process which indicates how these data’s will be analyzed, data collection, validity and reliability, and method critique.

2.1 Choice of Topic

Fisher (2007, p.31-33) suggested that authors should choose research area according to their interests, so they remain motivated and committed to complete the project. The authors belong to Pakistan, where E-learning system is not much in practiced in organizations. While, e learning system is already in use in Sweden, we found that E-learning system is a proficient tool in learning process. Therefore, it was quite intriguing for us to explore this topic. In addition, we were interested in finding out the barriers for implementation of E-learning system and to investigate the role of organization’s culture for successful implementation of E-learning system. Fisher (2007, p.31-33) urges that chosen topic should be accessible and it is necessary to make sure that quite literature is available for making detail analysis. We are certain that our topic is enough interesting, significant and demanding for all researchers, businesses managers and Information Technology Management students.

2.2 Research Process

There are various methodological approaches to carry out research i.e. Realist research, exploratory research, critical realism, standpoint research, action research and phenomenology etc, Fisher (2007, p.15). In addition, Fisher (2007, p.153-155) mentioned two kinds of discoveries e.g. Explorers and Surveyors. A kind of research where an open approach is used with conceptual framework but the authors are not sure about outcomes and results of the work they do, is called exploratory research. On the other hand surveyors’ discovery approach is pre-structured where surveyors are already inform of the results and out come of their work. According to these concepts our research is exploratory as we are dependent on secondary data.

2.3 Data Collection and source

Fisher (2007, p. 45) states that data could be collected from existing databases, through questionnaires, conducting fieldwork or performing case studies as it depends on the kind of research. In this research entire data has been collected from available databases as the research is entirely based on secondary data collection method. Secondary source has been used in this research. The data was extracted from articles, books and websites, magazines, journals and articles with focus on critical barriers to e learning implementation.

Fisher stated that (2007, P.158-161) data could be qualitative or quantitative depending on the method of research study. A quantitative approach has been used here in this research. No statistics has been used in this research and as all research has been analyzed by words not figures.

2.4 Access of information

Secondary data has extracted from different sources. The required literature has been acquired by searching Mälardalen University’s library. Furthermore, we have used online library (ebrary) as well as other library’s database such as Elin, Emerald, Eric and EBSCO for articles and journals, which have helped us to answer our research query. Going through a wide-ranging literature review, twenty five articles were identified that give answer to the research question from distinct angles. To identify the barriers to Implementation of E-learning system, keyword search criteria based on title contained;

Ø Barriers of E learning system implementation,

Ø Implications of E learning system in organizations,

Ø Implementation of E learning system in large organization,

Ø Challenges of E learning Implementation,

Ø Limitations of E learning System,

To describe and analyze the role of organization’s culture for successful implementation of E-learning system in organization, keyword search criteria contained;

Ø Cultural issues of E leaning system,

Ø Cultural Influence on online Learning,

Ø Cultural influence on student learning,

Ø Analyzing cultural Influences on E learning Transactional Issue,

Ø Cultural difference and influence on E learning,

Ø Social and cultural impact on e learning Effectiveness,

Ø A cultural Analysis of relearning for developed and developing countries,

Ø Cross and Multicultural issues for e learning success,

Ø Influence of organizational cultural in E learning,

Ø Organizational resistance towards implementing E learning system.

2.5 Data Analysis

According to Miles and Huberman (1994) the data analysis consists of three parallel flows of activity: (1) Data reduction, (2) Data display, and (3) Conclusion drawing/verification” (p. 10). Furthermore they suggested that data analysis components could be successfully integrated during data analysis, as it is an iterative and continuous process (Miles and Huberman 1994). They have stated three components of activities that describe analysis which are; First is ‘’data reduction” that is focused on selection, simplification and transformation of data (Miles and Huberman 1994). This process is applied in qualitative data. The objective of this is data is to help drawing final conclusion and verification.

In this study data is taken from the studies where authors cited barriers to implement E-learning with focus on cultural resistance in an organization. Second is ‘’data display” i.e. data reduced in data reduction needs to be organized that help to draw conclusion easily. In table mentioned below, different factors related to critical barriers to implementation of E-learning system and the role of organization’s culture is given below along with the frequency of each factor. Third is the conclusion based on drawing/verifying; describes the possible explanations, causal flows and propositions to be made. Therefore based on the findings and discussed analysis, conclusions would be drawn to signify the influential role of organization’s culture towards the implementation process

The above model is used for the analysis of this research. Moreover, this analysis emphasizes more on comparing various authors’ view on to analyze and describe the critical barriers and role of culture to employ E-learning system in organizations.

2.6 Validity and Reliability

Validity is defined as “the degree which researchers have measured what they have set out to measure” (Kumar, 2005) whereas reliability means “the extent to which another researcher can reach the same conclusion by following the same research process” (Taylor et al., 2006).

Several articles have been used to identify the barriers of implementing E learning system and to analyze the role of organizational culture. Besides, frequencies of more influential barriers have been generated to validate the barriers and cultural role in implementation process.

2.7 Method Critique

Due to the limitation of time, a limited number of articles have been used to formulate the frequency to identify the critical barriers. It could be better to use more articles to strengthen our research as a number of studies have already been done in this area. However this study will describe and analyze the critical barriers for the implementation of E-learning system related literature and to gain a theoretical background. It was also discovered during analysis of this study that most of the authors mentioned the critical factors with mere repetition with diverse definitions.

3.0 Framework of Reference

This chapter discusses relevant theories to give the reader an understanding of the barriers which come across E-learning system’s implementation processes cited by different authors.

3.1 E-learning

3.1.1 What is E-learning?

E-learning can be defined as learning and communication exercises across computers and networks or electronic sources. (Wong, 2007 ; Schank, 2002; Roffe, 2002 & Tsai & Machado, 2002; Sambrook, 2003; Fry; Wild, Grggs and Downing, 2002) have defined E-learning as “delivery of training and education via networked interactivity and distribution technologies.”According to Khan (2008), the word e-learning is used for an open, flexible, and diversed-learning environment. “E-learning can be viewed as an innovative approach for delivering well designed, learner-centered, interactive, and facilitated learning environment to anyone, anyplace, anytime by utilizing the attributes and resources of various digital technologies along with other forms of learning materials suited for open, flexible, and distributed learning environment” (Khan, 2008).

In e-learning system Students are able to interact anytime from anywhere with different instructional material (text, sound, pictures, video and so on) through Internet. Furthermore, learners can even communicate with teachers and classmates both individually and as a group discussion with the use of message boards, instant message exchanges and video conferencing. (Al-Ammari and Hamad (2008); Andersson, 2009; Zhang and Zhou, 2003). (Lee, 2006) Therefore, E-learning has been defined variously, learning system using different carrying technologies and techniques like Computer Based Training (CBT), Internet-based training (IBT), Web-based instruction (WBI), distributed learning (DL), advanced distributed learning (ADL), distance learning, online learning (OL), mobile learning (or m-learning) or remote learning and learning management systems (LMS) (Khan, 2008).

For managing learning environment like, registration of learners, scheduling learning resources, controlling and guidance of learning processes and analyzing learner’s performance are all accomplish in Learning Management System (LMS) (Gulatee and Combes, 2007; Brown, 2006).

In 1970s and 1980s distance learning started becoming popular and sued to conduct through postal mail but in 1990s the rise of World Wide Web changed the nature distance learning. With the use of this technology learners can get a number of resources from their teachers like discussion forums, multimedia, chat, video conferencing and electronic black boards.

These changes which have been brought in distance education are an attempt to provide easier access to students who live very far from universities, who are working or have other reasons for not being able to attend in person. In the US ‘in the academic year 2001-2, five million people took at least one course online, and three million were enrolled in online degree programs (Gulatee and Combes, 2007; Kazmer & Haythornthwaite, 2005, p.7). It can be seen in these figures that distance education online has become a popular alternative to face-to-face instruction.

3.2 Implementation of E-learning

One of the following three approaches is necessary for the implementation of the e-learning system: To strengthen the traditional face-to-face courses with support of new communication technology, enhancement of learning experience with in traditional courses by integration of online activities and delivery of entirely online courses. In this implementation the readiness of some influential factors like budgeting, infrastructure planning, human resource development (experience, skills, knowledge and attitude of the end users) are most common.

Uhomoibhi (2006) stated that E-learning initiators, institutions must use and prepare strategies for adoption, diffusion and implementation. For a successful implementation of online environment where learners can actively learn and get support from well-organized approach is mandatory. Processes of planning, designing, development and evaluation are all parts of a successful implementation that could help to lower down the barriers of implementation. An e-learning system can only be successful if it is significant to all stakeholders e.g. instructors, learners; support services staff and the institutions itself.

In order for learners to become quickly accustomed to E-learning, it must be made sure that it is easily accessible, efficient, well designed course, affordable, and has a facilitated learning environment. Instructors must feel a sense of accomplishment when learners meet the goals and objectives of the course in a successful way. Technical support staff should feel happy when learners receive reliable services without interruptions. One of the most important factors for institutions is the profit they earn as well as the satisfaction of the learner and a low rate of dropouts (Khan, 2005).

A strong foundation is required in order to have an effective implementation of E learning. Aligning and communication are two important factors in implementation of e learning system. It is necessary to make sure the communication is in order. Involvement of key stakeholders at the decision making stage or any other early process is very important. Communication is also important for those who are directly responsible for the implementation; and professionals also suggest a horizontal leadership style so that everyone is responsible for their actions. This includes individuals who are critical to the implementation’s success which include line, functional and divisional leaders. There should be consistent scheduled meetings with these individuals to discuss the newly arising issues in the project to come up with a solution. Most of the pitfalls of e-learning are tied to technological issues so it is important to involve IT leadership throughout the project to mitigate the problems in implementation process. Creation of helpdesk for reporting of IT related issues is more important. While selecting the vendors it is important to make sure that the vendors have an outstanding and proven record. Strong communication and feedback from vendors is a necessary step for a successful implementation.

3.3 An overview of the critical issues in E-learning implementation

Worldwide, E-learning arises as a new paradigm of advance education with a growing rate of 36.5% in the market, but still failures exist. As many companies are moving very fast to the adoption of e-learning in order to reap its benefits but they are facing significant barriers in its implementation and adoption, which leads them to implementation failure.

(http://www.citeulike.org/user/jdellano/article/5315881) (Simmons, 2002, p.19). (Mungania, 2003)

Hence, to mitigate this failure we have to investigate key factors that encompass different dimensions of an open, flexible and advanced distributed learning environment for diverse learners (Khan, 2005). Literature has mentioned a wide range of factors that can influence the successful implementation of e-learning e.g. some talks about pedagogical issues, faculty issues and organizational issues while some may have discussed about personal issues, cultural issues and some other issues. A broad range of factors that can influence the success of e-learning environments has been mentioned in the literature. However, there is no organized work to characterize collective group of most influential issues or factors, which could be seen as barriers. (Successful wala article)

Distinct authors consider different barriers as most influential in implementation of e-learning.Wong (2007) has categorized e-learning limitations in three main areas; technological limitations, personal issues and other limitations. The lack of hardware, limited Internet coverage and low bandwidth are all consider as technological barriers in implementation of e learning. (Wong, 2007 ; Kathawala, Abdou, Elmulti, 2002; Hiltz, 1997).

(Chadha & Kumail, 2002, p.28).Roy (1996, p.9) // where u use this reference

Personal issues are mostly related to learners and teachers. Teachers should give a complete guidance to the learners about this new and non-traditional system to prepare new learners psychologically (Wong, 2007 ; Kember et al., 2001; Dearnley, 2003). For learners the use of new technologies could be a disadvantage or barrier in e learning. So the lack information, communication and technological skills might be barriers to e- learning because learners could get frustrated from this unconventional learning environment.(Wong, 2007 ; Carr, 1999; Hamid, 2002; Angelina, 2002a, p.12)

The freedom provided by E-learning could be a disadvantage for the learners as internal motivation and self discipline is required at its maximum which learners may find hard to achieve in order to complete their studies or assignments in time. As (Wong, 2007 ; Kearsley, 2000) Schott et al., 2003; Rivera and Rice, 2002; Abouchedid and Eid, 2004).

In e-learning environment students are usually supposed to communicate in a text based environment so learners’ poor writing ¨skills might be a disadvantage in e learning. Therefore, the inability of communicating efficiently of learners could create misunderstandings (Wong, 2007; Smith & Rupp, 2004). Others limitations: e-learning provides 247 access. This infinite work might be a disadvantage for learners and particularly for teachers. This unlimited work could over stress teachers, resulting in a low quality services from instructors.(Abdou & Elmulti, 2002;. Dringus, 2003; Newton, 2003; Kathawala, Schifter, 2004).

Poor course design could appear a major barrier in implementation of e learning as it could frustrate the learners and teachers. (Young & Bal, 2003; Smulders, 2003; Howell, Williams & Lindsay 2003; Gordon, Young & Bal, 2003; Svensson, 2004; Ivergard & Hunt, 2005;). Cronje (2009) sees some influential barriers such as student barriers are related to lack of financial support from their families and cooperation among peers and from teachers (Cronje, 2009; Galusha, 1997). Faculty barriers the lack of funds is the most important one. Institute’s attitude towards the lecturers that some time seems less prominent among their peers is considered another important barrier in successful e learning (Cronje, 2009; Galusha, 1997). Organizational barriers poor funding for three major costs areas are considered more crucial barriers e.g. Initial costs of the implementation process, maintenance and up gradation.

Course barriers course design is regarded as most important one. Poor course design is one of reasons of inferiority of Distance learning. Conversion of teaching context in to electronic shape could not add any value to e learning (Cronje, 2009; Galusha, 1997)

Boondao et al (2008) mentioned, “It is not possible, in the view of some scholars, to create a model of the good teacher without taking issues of culture and context into account”.

The influence of culture cannot be ignored in successful implementation of e learning. Considering learners from different culture e.g. east and west, learners from both cultures have particular approaches and styles of learning. Therefore, lack of consideration of cultural issues during designing could prove as a barrier in successful implementation of e learning (Boondao et al, 2008).

3.4 Discussing the different critical barriers

3.4.1 A Framework for E-Learning

These days an escalating amount of companies are implementing E-learning System (Mungania, 2003).. But as these companies try to take advantages of E-learning to gain strategic and competitive advantages in absolute urgency, there are significant number barriers to the implementation of E-learning come across to halt them (Simmons, 2002, p.19 and Mungania, (2003). As E-learning barriers are diverse and may include as personal, organizational, situational, instructional, and technological barriers. (Mungania, 2003) Moreover khan’s E- learning framework provides details on critical issues which may come cross E learning implementation process. Khan’s E-learning framework composed of eight dimensions: institutional, management, technological, pedagogical, ethical, interface design, resource support, and evaluation.

3.1 Institutional Issues

Institutions need to build a complete plan for the successful implantation of E learning system (Khan 2005, p.23).Moreover Childs et al (2005) stated that institution should focus on cultural aspects for the implementation process of E learning system which have a significant effect upon the success of E learning process (Cronje,2009). E-learning needs to be integrated to all departments of the institution therefore a strong comment needed from the institution and the trainers Childs et al (2005). Moreover, E-learning implementation plan must be fully aligned with the institutions’ missions and strategic plans (Galusha , 1997; Belanger and Jordan, 2000). Therefore e-learning implementation process is paradigm shift for the institution as a whole which includes learners, instructors, administrators, technical and other support services staff (Romiszowski, 2004).

To support institutions in strategic planning, change management and process development that are necessary to highlight their embedding process and issues which may occur in their organization (Childs et al (2005) and Khan 2005,p.23). Khan has divided institution issue into three parts administrative affairs, Academic affairs and Student services (Khan 2005,p. 24 ). Administrative affairs which includes organization and change (implementation of E learning system), budgeting and ROI , course information catalog, financial aid, course schedule, tuition and fees, registration and payment, information technology services, instructional design, whereas Academic affairs issues such as policies, instructional quality, faculty and staff support, intellectual property rights and so on (Khan 2005,p. 24 ). Moreover Student services deals with student support services for e-learning effectiveness. Some of the institutional related issues are mentioned below:

Needs Assessment

Needs analysis will assist institutions to examine the needs for their e-learning plan and establish its e-learning goals. (Khan 2005,p. 24 , Sue Childs et al.2005)

Readiness Assessment

Readiness Assessment critical factors should be considered are e-learning must be Open, flexible and distributed. There are three basic types of readiness: Financial Readiness which defines whether it’s e-learning initiative investment importance, Infrastructural readiness readiness which includes human resource readiness, equipment readiness, and technological skill readiness and cultural which are preferences of Learners’ instructors and the existing learning culture (Khan 2005, p.25).

Organizational change

E-learning engages a change of model to some level, a change in how you deal with knowledge and its information in organization (Khan 2005, p. 26 and Sue Childs et al.2005).

Budgeting and return on investment

Institutions should do costing before, during, and after the implementation of e-learning so that they are able to analyze return on investment and benefits of e Learning (Romiszowski, 2004 and Khan 2005, p.28-29).

Program and course information catalog

Institution should provide precise information about their courses, schedule and fees etc (Mungania 2003, Khan 2005, p.30).

Financial Aid

Financial aid services should be provided to support learners by using technological and human support services (Khan 2005, p.32).


Institutional e-learning policies must be communicated to all groups including instructors, learners, and support staff (Khan 2005, p. 35).

Instructional Quality

Instructional quality in e-learning creates meaningful learning environment (Khan 2005,p. 35, Muilenburg and Berge (2005), Gulatee and Combes (2007), Lum (2006), Park and Choi (2009).

Faculty and Staff support

For effective e learning instructor, faculty members as well as supporting staff should receive proper training to support the learners (Khan 2005, p.41).

Intellectual property rights

Institutions must give information to the learners, as well instructors about intellectual property rights (Khan 2005, p. 39).

Learning Skills Development

Well-designed learner’s guide can help those learners, supporting staff how have no experience with open, distributed and flexible learning environment which includes Library, Tutorial Services, and Support Network (Khan 2005, p. 39); ), Wong (2007).

3.2Management issues

(Magalhaes, 2008) stated that lack of management support is number one barriers towards successful implementation of E learning system in institution. Management issues of e-learning in organization ref

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