Determinants of e-learning effectiveness: A qualitative study on the instructor

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD Student in Educational Management, Department of Educational Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

2 Associate Professor of Educational Management, Department of Educational Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.

3 Assistant Professor of E-Learning and Entrepreneurship, Department of Educational Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


With the advent of e-learning, various studies have emphasized that the role and characteristics of an e-learning teacher are very different from the role and characteristics of a traditional class teacher. As a result, many studies have been done to identify and explain the effective characteristics of the teacher in the effectiveness of e-learning. Most of the studies that were reviewed by the authors, have examined and studied one or more factors related to the teacher that have been effective in the effectiveness of e-learning. Since the approach of these studies were quantitative methods and the researchers used questionnaire tools to collect data, as a result, a limited number of influential factors were examined and explained. Only, examining one or more influential factors related to the teacher in the effectiveness of e-learning causes that the synergistic effects of these factors on each other are ignored. Because many of these factors interact with each other and influence on each other. While, studies with a qualitative approach also identify factors that are synergistic with each other and certainly the number of these factors is more than the factors identified in the quantitative approach. Also, the identified factors will be studied and explained according to the context and conditions in Iranian universities. As a result, a deep study of the subject will be done. For this reason, the present study identifies the influential factors of the teacher in e-learning according to the experience of expert instructors in e-learning courses. Therefore, the main question of this study is: what are the influential factors related to the teacher in the effectiveness of e-learning?
The present research paradigm is interpretive. The approach of this study is qualitative and its strategy is phenomenology. Faculty members and instructors of e-learning courses in educational sciences and educational psychology in public universities in Tehran, formed the community of this study. Using criterion-based purposeful sampling method, 12 people were selected as the research sample and data were collected through semi-structured interviews until the researcher achieved theoretical saturation, and in the twelfth interview, theoretical saturation was achieved. They have been experts in the field of e-learning and have done a lot of research in this field. Also, their field of study have been education or educational psychology, that is, they have specialized in the field of andragogy and pedagogy. Also, the questions designed based on STAR and 5W1H techniques. In addition to these questions, complementary questions were also asked to clarify the answers in order to gain a deep understanding of them. Data obtained from the interview were analyzed by qualitative content analysis method in three stages of code, subcategory and category. The interviews were first implemented and then reviewed to identify and codify the meaning units to answer the main research question. In the next step, the codes that were semantically close together were merged and as a result, the sub-categories were formed. In the last stage, the sub-categories that were semantically close to each other were merged and the categories were formed. In order to ensure the validity of the findings, the member checking method was used, that is, the coding process was reviewed by a subject expert and a specialist in qualitative research. Of course, it should also be noted that the coding process by the researchers has been a long and precise process with a lot of reflection. Also, early conclusions were avoided. In the same process, codes, sub-categories and categories were modified and revised.
By performing the above steps, 8 sub-categories and 4 categories were identified. The categories identified in this study are: “Facilitate the learning process”; “Prepare strategies to motivate and interest the learner”; “Teacher’s knowledge” and “Psychological characteristics of the teacher”. And the subcategories in this study include the following: “Facilitate the active participation of learners in the learning process”; “Facilitate interaction between learners”; “Perform activities and skills to increase student’s sense of presence in the teaching process”; “Active response before, during and after e-learning class”; “Teacher’s technological knowledge”; “Teacher’s subject knowledge”; “Teacher’s attitude towards the effectiveness of e-learning”; “Teacher’s interest and enthusiasm towards technology and teaching through it”. A significant point that can be deduced from these results is the synergistic interaction of these factors on each other. This synergy can be expressed as follows, the teacher’s positive attitude towards the effectiveness of e-learning affects the interest and enthusiasm of the teacher to use these technologies in the process of teaching and learning. Because if someone believes in the efficiency and effectiveness of something, this belief and attitude will certainly be shown in her/his feelings and interests, and consequently in her/his external behavior. Therefore, the teacher’s external behavior leads to the role of facilitator in the learning process, i.e. facilitating the participation of the learners and facilitating interaction between the learners. Also, the teacher adopts strategies to increase the learner’s sense of presence and focus in the e- learning class. As a result, the teacher is available to solve the learner’s problems and answer his or her questions and follow up to solve the learner’s problems. Certainly, subject knowledge and technological knowledge are the necessary requirements for a teacher to enter these courses. If the teacher does not have subject knowledge, she/he cannot teach the specified content. If she/he does not know how to work with technology, she/he cannot enter the e-learning class. Therefore, it is necessary that instructors who are selected to teach in e-learning courses in universities need to be trained about the advantages and disadvantages of these courses in order to become familiar with their capabilities and efficiency. As a result, they begin to teach in these courses with a positive attitude and vision. Also, they become familiar with the tasks and strategies that should be done in these courses, as a result, use them in their teaching process in order to provide the necessary conditions for achieving the desired results and the effectiveness of these courses as much as possible. As a result, it is suggested that managers and planners of e-learning courses at universities should consider these factors when choosing instructors for their e-learning courses.


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