Measuring the impact of E-learning systems in higher education enterprises

E-learning as one of the Information Systems (IS) in e-services area provide a promising solution using new and improved technologies carried by web applications in the era of internet revolution. Regular method of learning borders the learner with restrictions whereas E-learning open broader horizons for the partners that involved in learning and teaching, dependency on E-learning systems increased in the last decade and opened new channels for learners to access the information in its new structure and lets course’s users collaborate among them and between students and teachers. E-learning systems can compensate the weakness of traditional learning methods by providing new features and built-in tools to enhance the learning process for students and teachers. A golden opportunity in presence if we use the features of modern technology, as it provides for learners and knowledge seekers (Hassanzadeh, Kanaani, & Elahi, 2012). The ingredients for success using this technology are very important to be integrated and compatible and so be measured.

The centrality of the educational operation is the key concept in the provision of E-learning. Modern technologies have the potential to create seamless, responsive and powerful learning for the benefit of all students and teachers. This can free the members from the need to understand the complex structures of E-learning in order to be able to deal effectively with it. However, it also requires that educational enterprise embrace the concept of a single integrated delivery channel that enables them to access the exact information required. Such a tool has the potential to transform the relationship between the students and teachers. By providing quality service, quality information through a valuable system, enabling the students to engage with the process, in such way E-learning system helps build trust between students and teachers, such trust is an essential element in giving people the confidence to use online systems.

A Learning Management System (LMS) one of the IS that used as an E-learning system, it is “a software application that automates the administration, documentation, tracking, and reporting of training events”. Most of LMS’s are web-based applications to facilitate access to learning content and information to users. However, LMS are used by regulated industries, e.g. financial services, for training fulfillment it also used by educational institutions to enhance and support classroom teaching and offering courses to a larger population of learners.

In such E-learning system a remote students are able to have their classes without physically attending the educational organizations. They can communicate, submit assignments and apply for quizzes and exams and attend lectures. All prefer education through purposeful innovation to improve access, affordability and quality of education. In our modern era everyone needs online courses, learning management systems, interactive classrooms, eBooks, problem-based learning applications, classroom capture, e-Portfolios, e-Assessment. LMS must contain student messaging and notifications, display student scores and transcripts.

E-learning system enables students to quickly create and communicate new policies, training, ideas, and concepts. LMS components allow students to achieve a great degree of coverage of knowledge.

This type of systems need measurement of its impact on their users, measuring the impact of systems is critical to understand the value, effect of management operations and investment on them (William H. DeLone & McLean, 2003). Electronic learning or E-learning – referring to learning via the Internet or electronic intermediate – has become a major phenomenon in recent years, Various educational enterprises tends to adopt an E-learning system as alternative to the traditional types of educations and training systems (Wang, Wang, & Shee, 2007). Most of these enterprises selected the suitable E-learning system based on their needs. However, others designed and developed their customized E-learning system and even trade it later as independent E-learning system ready-made package. A lot of these academies considered the E-learning systems as a tool to transfer knowledge and sharing information, “In order for E-learning applications to be used effectively in an organization, we need dependable ways to measure the impact and/or effectiveness of the E-learning system” (Wang et al., 2007).

Multiple researches has been conducted based on the model of (William H. DeLone & McLean, 2003) to measure the impact of IS, some of these studies derived a new models developed specifically to measure E-learning system impact (e.g.,(Beam & Cameron, 1998); (Carswell, 1997).

Multiple dimensions incorporated to build the structure of E-learning system, so the measure of E-learning impact can’t depend on a one single dimension (e.g., system quality). In order to assess the extent and specific nature of E-learning systems impact, different dimensions must be defined conceptually and operationally (Wang et al., 2007). Totally we need to analyze the causality between the E-learning system sides to understand the effect of each to get the system succeeded.

1.2. Problem statement:

Educational process has many factors effect on its quality, teacher and student are the most important members in this process. The used tools in this process are also important to evaluate it. E-learning system is one of this tools that has deep impact on the members of the educational process and its success. Various users contribute in the evolution of the E-learning system, each based on his role, and each user has his impression and feedback regarding to the nature of his use of E-learning system, intention of use is one of the results that reflect the direct impact of the system usage either from student, teacher perspective or even the administrator of the system.

LMS is an E-learning system as mentioned before and such system increasingly populated in the higher education institutions over world and especially in universities in Kingdom of Bahrain, the evolution and propagation of E-learning systems over globe calls the need to evaluate it from multiple sides and dimensions.

Despite that increase in use of E-learning systems and many studies that conducted to evaluate it the E-learning system still deserves special attention.

The previous studies focused on various dimensions of E-learning either from the user perspective (students, teachers and administrators) or from the system side itself. This study focus on the impact of E-learning system from student side, we adopted the Moodle as E-learning system that used to manage the learning operation by all members.

Moodle one of the E-learning system that increasingly used in universities in Kingdom of Bahrain, a lot of universities going to depend on it as a platform to manage teaching and learning, it has wide range of tools to deliver presentations, lectures, notes, discussion board, forum and quizzes. The evaluation of success of content management courses as IS one of the most important operation that is little number of education enterprises care about it. It needs big effort to measure the impact of E-learning system adopting a single point of view.

In this study we used (Onofrei, Hunt, Siemienczuk, Touchette, & Middleton, 2004) model which is derived from (William H. DeLone & McLean, 2003) model to measure the success of E-learning system in Kingdom of Bahrain universities, which will help to answer the following four questions:

1- Student whom has experience in traditional courses, prefer to use E-learning system instead of traditional learning method.

2- Delivering course content via E-learning system increases the efficiency and the quality of the content.

3- E-learning system maintains the security as a part of the system quality.

4- E-learning system suite to introduce a quality learning for higher education enterprises.

1.3. Objectives of the Study:

Measuring the impact of E-learning systems in higher education enterprises is very important and help thus institutes to gain the extreme benefits of the E-learning systems they are using, by evaluating their E-learning systems they will explore the point of failure in the implementation and know how to fix it. The study aims to measure the impact of E-learning system from student side by selecting a group of students in Bahrain universities. By adopting (William H. DeLone & McLean, 2003) assessment model and apply it on Moodle as one of the most popular E-learning systems that used in these universities.

1.4. Significance Of The Study:

E-learning had helped multiple universities in Bahrain within the past ten years to deliver and assure a high quality of education, not only for Bahraini students but for near neighbors too. Issues and challenges emerged and related to open distance learning need to discover and care about it which are affect the whole higher education. Some of these issues are cutting down the cost per student; experimenting with innovative learning and teaching; developing and employing student support systems; developing an efficient strategy to optimize academic teaching and learning. A lot advocators and literature about distance learning especially in the form of high education can help in introducing the distance learning in valued shape to the society which will benefit each of stakeholders in teaching and learning operation.

About ten years of implementation attempts to employ E-learning in Bahrain universities. However, literatures and studies about it is not enough to expose the benefits of these attempts or the current experiments. We assume that the scientific evaluation of the experiment will discover the points of failure and help in cure it, which will help to promote E-learning and achieve its inspired expectations.

1.5. Limitations of the Study:

E-learning System: This study limited to discuss one of multiple systems used to manage learning and teaching, it is Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) which is using by many universities in Bahrain.

Proposed Model: To assess the success of E-learning system (Moodle), we are using modified model which is derived from D&M model. Based on the model of (Adeyinka & Mutula, 2010) the success of Moodle in Bahrain universities will be measured.

LMS: (acronym for Learning Management System) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of electronic educational technology, education courses or training programs.

Selected Sample: This study focus only on the students that using Moodle, although the universities we distribute the survey to it using a modified version of Moodle, but it still the core functions used with a modified interface or changes in the theme, Therefore, this will not affect the assessment. Main discussion of the study is the success of E-learning system from the student perspective.

1.6. Definition of Terms:

In following is alphabetical list of terms that used frequently in this study. Some of these words is popular but may be has different meaning in the context and need to define it.

CMS: (acronym for Course Management System) is an E-learning education system based on the web that models conventional in-person education by providing equivalent virtual access to classes, class content, tests, homework, grades, assessments, and other external resources such as academic or museum website links. It is also a social space where students and teacher can interact through threaded discussions or chat.

IS: (acronym for Information System) known as complementary networks of hardware and software that people and organizations use to collect, filter, process, create and distribute data.

Moodle: (acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is a free software E-learning platform, also known as a Learning Management System. As of June 2013, it had a user base of 83,008 registered and verified sites, serving 70,696,570 users in 7.5+ million courses with 1.2+ million teachers.

Portal: It is a framework for integrating information, people and processes across organizational boundaries. It provides a secure unified access point; often in the form of a web-based user interface and designed to aggregate and personalize information through application-specific (portlets). One hallmark of enterprise portals is the de-centralized content contribution and content management, which keeps the information always updated.

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1. Background:

E-learning system is a special type of IS; in this chapter we establish the theoretical foundation and conceptualization of an E-learning systems success construct based on prior IS success studies. First of all we will explore briefly the definition of IS and E-learning, then will show the historical foundation of the assessing of E-learning systems success and finally will discuss the features of the E-learning system that we depend on it in this study which used from students side in the three universities that we conducted the survey in it.

2.2. Information System (IS):

Many resources define Information System (IS) as “an integrated set of components for collecting, storing, and processing data for delivering information, knowledge and digital products” (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015).

In current, organizations use information systems to reach their potential customers with targeted messages over the Web, to process financial accounts, and to manage their human resources. Individuals use information systems to enhance their lives especially internet-based information systems: banking, shopping, entertainment and learning. Digital goods, such as electronic books and software, and online services, such as auctions and social networking are delivering via information systems. (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015). Knowledge considered as one of the goods transferred via E-learning systems as one of the information systems.

2.3. E-learning and E-learning Systems

Over last years, many different definitions for the term E-learning that may confuse while exploring that term. E-learning in its essential definition refer to transferring skills and knowledge using electronic applications and processes to learn, which include web-based learning, computer-based learning and virtual classrooms. Therefore it called at first “Internet-Based Training”, then “Web-Based Training”.

The term E-learning often used interchangeably with distance education or distance learning. As a one of these definitions that defined by the Instructional Technology Council (ITC, 1998), as well as the National Center for Education Statistics (Waits & Lewis, 2003), as the process of extending learning or delivering instructional materials to remote sites via the Internet, intranet/extranet, audio, video, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, and CD-ROM. With the rapid growth and use of internet technologies, the concept of E-learning has formatted and refer in most cases to learning that happen through internet or platforms that using the network. Technology Standard Committee has defined E-learning system as a learning technology that uses web browsers as a tool for interaction with learners and other systems. This system works as a platform to facilitate teaching and learning (Ferdousi, 2009). In fact, e-learning system is an information system based on the World Wide Web that provides training of learner in a flexible way (Lee, J. K., Lee, 2008).

As mentioned before there are many definitions for E-learning, all of it are considered and has its perspective. In the previous section, we discussed some of it, which related to the development of E-learning as information system. In following a list of other definitions, which give a more visions about E-learning.

1- The United States Distance Learning Association defined E-learning in 1998 (Roblyer, M. D., & Edwards, 2000) as “the acquisition of knowledge and skills through mediated information and instruction, encompassing all technologies and other forms of learning at a distance.”

2- “E-learning is training delivered on a computer (including CD-ROM, Internet, or intranet) that is designed to support individual learning or organizational performance goals” (Clark, R. C., & Mayer, 2003).

3- “E-learning is a structured, purposeful use of electronic system or computer in support of the learning process” (Allen, 2003).

4- “Web-based training (an alternate term for e-learning) is the integration of instructional practices and Internet capabilities to direct a learner toward a specific level of proficiency in a specified competency” (Conrad, 2000).

5- “E-learning is instruction that is delivered electronically, in part or wholly via a web browser, through the Internet or an intranet, or through multimedia platforms such as CD-ROM or DVD” (Hall, 1997).

2.4. History of E-learning:

It is important to note that there is no single revolutionary point in the history of E-learning but it was a chain of evolutions. Start of E-learning can be traced with begin of development of network communications late 1960s, Actually that development gives the people opportunity to communicate and collaborate despite the differences in time and place, and they became key to a social, economic, and especially educational paradigmatic shift (Harasim, 2006).

The beginning early 1960s with daring and enough amount of money to start a try of developing a computer-based training (CBT). The early assessment of that try indicate that the new attempts to train and transfer knowledge is giving better results than the regular methods. Much of the early CBT was accomplished on mainframe computers, like the U.S. Army’s Plato courseware administered on large Cyber computers. At first CBT project start with delivering the message for the student only in text format without any narration, a few sound effect and poor graphical view. With next few years the new CBT coming with its powerful and ability to harness the capabilities of the computer machine, this new technology could provide immediate assistance and it could do it quickly, in response to the student’s individual responses (Perry, 2000).

Another technology coming to the scene early in 1970, the interactive video disc (IVD) that designed to take full advantage of the strengths of linear motion video while combining the interactivity of the computer (Perry, 2000), it replaces the depend on only reading text to watching the materials in animation base which help the trainers and educators to learn in effectively way. In contrary of CBT that use the standard feature of the PC to demonstrate the content, IVD need more powerful hardware, which is not easy found in all PCs and also cost more money.

Individualization of self-paced courseware starting with the presence of PC in 1980, gradually software that gives both educators and trainers the authoring tools to create their courseware had appeared, so the graphic began to be better, motion, audio narration and sound effects became more reality. Developers also start to be aware about the new desktop and its abilities to run a new type of software, either on IBM-compatible. With that great availability of PC resources CBT transformed to a new shape benefiting of the multimedia advantages to produce a product fit to all users and introduce a self-courseware in multiple fields of training and education.

Early 1990s more and more companies start to employ CBT as a part of their strategic plan in training, big range of multimedia items start of 2D and 3D images passing by the attractive videos with endless list of these items support this attitude. More sophisticated authoring tools make the development of that courseware faster and easier. More two technologies give the developers huge space for their high-resolution images and high quality videos, CD-ROM and DVD had emerged on the scene with its capabilities to carry large files and feature rich multimedia courseware.

At the end of 1990s many of the stakeholders in training field turn their attention to the Internet space, from that time till now it promises with more features and bring it to the real world. It let anyone with PC and Internet access to get the needed training or education from anywhere in the world. Technical difficulties like limited bandwidth face the distance learning at the beginning specially these courseware that contain high-resolution images and videos but the term distance learning broadly spread and evolved to cover many types of training.

Electronic learning which called E-learning nowadays is a type of distance learning and as (Clark, R. C., & Mayer, 2003) define it is training delivered on a computer (including CD-ROM, Internet, or intranet) that is designed to support individual learning or organizational performance goals, that definition concludes the evolution of E-learning as a result of rapidly growth technology and internet usage in the training sector. According to (Garmer & Firestone, 1996), they consider “the technology is challenging the boundaries of the educational structures that have traditionally facilitated and supported learning”. So according to their consideration the rapid changes and innovation in the computer and technology inventions is assisted in developing and implementing of new and creative techniques which will be reflected on the students’ performance and outcomes.

The concept of distance learning is On-Line learning which is taking in mind as the backbone of continuing education and is enabling the educators to get the populations that would be otherwise inaccessible (McEwen, 2001). Recently, the web applications as an option have also its contribution for increasing information to enhance the traditional classrooms.

While the researches trying to prove the impact of technology in education over the last thirty years, the results of their researches still facing doubt from the criticizers about the positive impact of technology in learning. Some of these researches have positive results, while others indicated no notable difference from performances by students working in traditional classrooms. Results indicated that the use of computers could make a significant difference to the learning of basic skills and as a motivational tool for both students and teachers (Bialo & Sivin-Kachala, 1996). So, we can say that technology now has no doubt become an integral part of higher education enabling students to access information rapidly and visually (Smith, 2002).

2.5. Considerations of E-learning as IS:

Learning Management System (LMS) in its nature is E-learning system, “little research has been carried out to address the conceptualization and measurement of E-learning systems success within organizations” (Wang et al., 2007). The researches about use of traditional IS success model and extend it in evaluating the E-learning system, this attitude did not spread widely.

“From the operational and conceptual wise different dimensions construct the ELSS; an empirically validated instrument that identifies the dimensions of an ELSS construct can be of great value to both researchers and practitioners.” (Wang et al., 2007)

Based on the supposition of (G. Davis & Olson, 1985) “information system collects, transmits, processes, and stores data on an organization’s resources, programs, and accomplishments. The system makes possible the conversion of these data into management of information for use by decision makers within the organization and thereby produces information that supports the management functions of an organization”.

E-learning as a combination of learner, faculty, instructor, technical staff, administrative, learner support, and use of the Internet and other technologies (Volery & Lord, 2000) . “In parallel, the success of an E-learning system may be considered as an emerging concept of ‘social issues’ and ‘technical issues’ and depends on numerous circumstances, rather than a black-and-white formula. E-Learning systems are open systems so they are affected by the environment and influenced by the people who use them.” (Ozkan & Koseler, 2009)

2.5.1. Social Entity:

The previous researches determine that the quality of instructor is an important for effective LMS (Wang et al., 2007). (Liaw, Huang, & Chen, 2007) claimed that the instructor is major aspect in E-learning, like the face-to-face skills needed to classroom instructor, so the e-learning instructor need special skills. From this view, another group of researchers considered the attitude of learners towards the LMS and their satisfaction as important factor also in evaluating the success of LMS. “In order to design effective LMS learner characteristics such as motivation, belief, confidence, computer anxiety, fear, anxiety, apprehension, enthusiasm, excitement, pride and embarrassment need to be identified” (Konradt & Sulz, 2001). There are many of social points that identified by the researchers and it considered as important points, e.g. ethical and legal issues, environmental issues (Ozkan & Koseler, 2009). We focused here in this research on two of it, which support the study and more related to impact of E-learning.

2.5.2. Technical Entity:

“In addition to social issues there are the other technical issues such as system quality and internet quality that affect directly on the E-learning system from technical side” (Ozkan & Koseler, 2009). “The software quality involves stability, security, reliability, pace, responsiveness, ease of use, user-friendliness, well-organized design and personalization” (Shee & Wang, 2008). However another opinion see that “The quality of the peripherals involves wellness of microphones, earphones, electronic blackboards, electronic mail, online threaded discussion boards, synchronous chat, and desktop videoconferencing. The higher the quality and reliability of used technology, the higher the learning effects will be” (Sun, Tsai, Finger, Chen, & Yeh, 2008).

“Content quality in E-learning depends on how well the learning environment is designed and managed.” (Ozkan & Koseler, 2009) “Learners place great value on content where a quality content is well-organized, effectively presented, interactive, clearly written, in the right length, useful, flexible, and provide appropriate degree of breath” (Shee & Wang, 2008). Service quality, which include administrative issues such as student progress tracking, course management, instructional funds and resources, all of those issues have direct and in-direct effectiveness on the success of E-learning.

2.6. Moodle as Information System

Moodle is a class of information systems that manage the learning process, it provides information or content to support the management of the learning operation. According to the definition of Moodle creators “Moodle is a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalized learning environments” (Moodle.org, 2015). Sometimes it called as LMS (Learning Management System) and CMS (Course Management System), there are a lot of differences between these two terms but simply we can say that LMS is more comprehensive over the CMS. In fact, CMS treated as a part of LMS, because LMS include the most important features of CMS and an extra administration features also.

2.7. What is LMS?

Definition of LMS (Learning Management System) changed over the past decades according to the usage and target of use and users that use it, so one definition will not be enough to cover the meaning of LMS. While we can use the basic description of LMS as is “a software application that automates the administration, tracking, and reporting of training events” (Ellis, 2009). It also can be “a software that automates the administrative tasks of training, such as registering users, tracking courses in a catalog, recording data, charting a user’s progress toward certification, and providing reports to managers” (Left Brain Media, 2000). There are scores of LMSs are available on the market. Among them are Net Dimensions EKP, Saba, and SumTotal Systems (Carliner, 2005). The previous definition is clear to understand what LMS is but as mentioned before it is not specific enough to identify the LMS and contrasting it from other systems may interfere with it. To achieve a specific description to LMS we have to go to more definition that is complex and focus on the factors that differ it.

“LMS is the framework that handles all aspects of the learning process” (Watson & Watson, 2007). According to (Szabo & Flesher, 2002) “An LMS is the infrastructure that delivers and manages instructional content, identifies and assesses individual and organizational learning or training goals, tracks the progress towards meeting those goals, and collects and presents data for supervising the learning process of organization as a whole”. In addition, (Gilhooly, 2001) stated that “An LMS delivers content but also handles registering for courses, course administration, skills gap analysis, tracking, and reporting”.

From a participant perspective, “a list of processes and activities the LMS provides as it is a central point from which learners access activities” (Carliner, 2005). Then a test for learner knowledge can be conducted. For an e-learning course, the system can launch the course, track student progress, record completions, and send the information to the learner’s permanent employment record (Carliner, 2005).

2.8. LMS Components:

There are four components should be exist in the LMS to differentiate it. LMS components can be separated into four main systems as depicted in (Figure 1). “Those four systems are concerned with courses, exams, assessments, and collaborative. LMS can be thought of as the integration of four separate entities, each presenting specific functionalities via specific tools” (El-Ghareeb, 2009).

Figure 1: The main functionalities of an LMS

For more details about the list of functionality components under each entity, (Figure 2) shows the main components belonging to these entities. However, there are other components, which are considered as an extension for the LMS, It is also important based on the needs of the organization. It depicts the most common features that should be available in each of those four separate entities (El-Ghareeb, 2009).

As shown in (Figure 2), CMS is a one part of LMS, however LMS is a comprehensive IS but CMS still the main part that make the meaning of the LMS. The features of the CMS working as the switch that let LMS working as E-learning system while it On, and anything else if it is Off.

From a systematic application wise the above is helpful to understand what is LMS and how it administer the learning process into the organization, but still extra terms need to review to complete the image while contrasting LMS with the related technologies (Watson & Watson, 2007).

Figure 2 LMSs offer a long list of component functionality

CMS is an ideal solution to handle the academic classrooms activities in the universities and other academics environments. The communications capabilities which offered by CMS make it ideal for managing long-term, academic distance courses taught in an asynchronous manner, and for which students are expected to do extensive reading (Carliner, 2005). Although, LMS designed to manage E-learning operations and manage all of a training organization’s learning programs, including traditional classroom learning, but both of two solutions (CMS & LMS) were designed for different environments and purposes.

Both of LMS and CMS can classified as an IS, each used for different purpose and for different environment, and Moodle in this case belongs to LMS, this will be shown in the following while preview the components and features of Moodle.

Moodle’s creators said, “the word Moodle is an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment” (Moodle.org, 2015). So it is useful for the programmers, educators, learners and the administrators of educational organizations. Programmers to build their add-ons and extensions to the system, educators and learners to benefit from its course management and communications capabilities, administrators to build and manage the learning environment. In other words it can be extended with modules for assignments, quizzes, grading, social, certification and collaborative learning in an engaging manner.

A constructivist perspective views learners as actively engaged in making meaning, and teaching with that approach looks for what students can analyze, investigate, collaborate, share, build and generate based on what they already know, rather than what facts, skills, and processes.

“The heart of Moodle is courses that contain activities and resources. There are about 20 different types of activities available (forums, glossaries, wikis, assignments, quizzes, choices (polls), SCORM players, databases etc) and each can be customized quite a lot. The main power of this activity-based model comes in combining the activities into sequences and groups, which can help you, guide participants through learning paths. Thus, each activity can build on the outcomes of previous ones.” (Moodle.org, 2015)

“There are a number of other tools that make it easier to build communities of learners, including blogs, messaging; participant lists etc., as well as useful tools like grading, reports, integration with other systems and so on” (Moodle.org, 2015).

2.9. Moodle Structure:

Moodle consider the modular design, which allow the admin to build and manage the courses in easy way and use its components easily. As shown in (Figure 3) user can add any of the following from a single point:

1- Course: Based on who has a course creation privileges, he can select from one of three courses layout; Topic, Weekly or Social format, then click Turn editing on within the blank course template, finally create the course.

2- Assignment: this allow user to assign offline tasks or even online tasks and learners can submit tasks in any file format (e.g. MS Office, PDF, image etc.).

3- Book: This module support creating multi-page resources in flipping book format.

4- Journal: Journal allow students, teachers and administrators to get their private or public web blog. The online journal has many settings, it control granting permission to desired users to read them.

5- Chat: regular and useful chat module to help students and instructors communicate in real-time.

6- Choice: Instructors use this feature to create a question and list of choices. One of uses of that module in creating quick surveys when needed to related subject.

Figure 3: Add new item

7- Survey: Allows any authorized user to create surveys.

8- Forums: Like a regular forums, student or instructor can open new threaded topic for discussion and allow permitted users to exchange opinions on shared subject. “Participation in forums can be an integral part of the learning experience, helping students define and evolve their understanding of subject matter”. (Fucile, 2006)

9- Glossary: administrator can create a glossary of terms in a list form to allow instructor to use in a course. The creator of it able to put it in one of these formats: (encyclopedia, entry list, dictionary style or FAQ).

10- Quiz: Create all the familiar forms of assessment including true – false, multiple choice, short answer, matching question, random questions, numerical questions, embedded answer questions with descriptive text and graphics.

11- Wiki: It is a known Wiki feature; which allow admin to collect documents automatically in a form of HTML to view it via web browser.

The previous features coming under the term Moodle Activities, but still Moodle full of features, “Moodle Resources are the primary tool for bringing content into a course” (Fucile, 2006) and can be added from a drop-down menu :

1. Add plain text page 2. Add webpage

3. Uploaded files 4. Links to the websites

5. Display contents of directory 6. Deploy IMS Package

7. Insert a label

Table 1 Moodle features

2.9.1. Calendar:

Calendar is one of the important features in Moodle for both learner and instructor.

Events can be created for different categories, including:

• Global events will exposed in each course.

• Course events set by an instructor.

• Group events created by teacher and related to certain group.

• User events set by learner (e.g. due dates, personal etc.)

“Upcoming Events appear on the course homepage, alerting the learner across all courses they are enrolled in of different category events”. (Fucile, 2006) Alerts are colored by category (Figure 4).

2.9.2. Admin:

The control panel for the Administration brings all the important and needed features to the figures of the admin, which allow him to manage the system with a single click (Figure 5).

System allow instructor and student to enrolled or remove from any certain course. It also allow administrator to configure the backup & restore operation from a single screen.

Most of the links in the administration block in a course are only visible and available to teachers of the course. Students see a course administration block with just two links – Profile and Grades.

2.9.3. Grades:

The Grades feature in Moodle provides a quick view of all Forum, Assignment, Journal, Quiz, Lesson and Workshop grades. (Fucile, 2006). Also it allows users to “Viewing Assignment and Journal submissions, and adding Grades and comments, are done from a single page that displays all enrolled students”. (Fucile, 2006)

The concepts of grades and of gradebook have been completely revisited in Moodle 1.9. These words and modules were used in earlier version. There are important differences that users who are upgrading to 1.9 need to understand and this should help new users.

2.10. Moodle Security

IS security is a one of the most important issues while talking about IS quality, Moodle as an IS was maintaining this point and care about cumulatively when issuing a new version (the last version while writing this study is 2.8). Security in the web application is a complex issue; Moodle takes security seriously, and is continuously improving Moodle to close such hole.

Moodle introduces security measures and recommendations that administrators of the system have to follow it. However, every administrator has regular rules to follow to administrate the server’s components (OS, Database, Network, Firewall, etc.) but still need to apply a set of suggestion of the application’s creators. In Moodle, it comes with recommendations ranges between simple and complex. List of basic recommendations to initiate extracted from Moodle website (Moodle.org, 2015), See appendix (C).

2.11. Site policies

Administrators of the system have to follow these recommendations to secure the web application in any environment, but the highly recommendations that must to follow are the site policies. It is a list of settings can switched On or Off by the system administrator to strengthens the security and privacy from the application side that exposed to the users. It is a list of 26 item as following (Moodle.org, 2015):

1- Protect usernames 2- Force users to login

3- Force users to login for profiles 4- Force users to login to view user pictures

5- Open to Google 6- Profile visible roles

7- Maximum uploaded file size 8- User quota

9- Allow EMBED and OBJECT tags 10- Enable trusted content

11- Maximum time to edit posts 12- Full name format

13- Allow extended characters in usernames 14- Site policy URL

15- Site policy URL for guests 16- Keep tag name casing

17- Profiles for enrolled users only 18- Cron execution via command line only

19- Cron password for remote access 20- Account lockout

21- Password policy 22- Group enrolment key policy

23- Disable user profile images 24- Email change confirmation

25- Remember username 26- Strict validation of required fields

Table 2 Site policies

Some of these settings not very important but a lot of it is must to use even if it annoy the users like strong password. It is highly recommended that a password policy is set to force users to use stronger passwords that are less susceptible to being cracked by an intruder. Administrator can set these settings by using the password policy options by setting the minimum length of the password, the minimum number of digits, the minimum number of lower-case characters, the minimum number of upper-case characters and the minimum number of non-alphanumeric characters as shown in (Figure 6).

The password policy enabled by default and the recommended values for its fields set as a default. Account lockout also on of good options that may enabled also to lock the user account after a specified number of failed login attempts, a user’s account is locked and they are sent an email containing a URL to unlock the account.

Source: Essay UK - http://www.essay.uk.com/essays/education/measuring-the-impact-of-e-learning-systems-in-higher-education-enterprises/


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