Japanese University Students and Learning Management Systems Charlotte Murakami

Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are widely promoted as a social constructivist approach to education that should enable students to have more ‘connectedness’ with their learning. In the USA and the UK, LMS diffusion levels reached 95% several years ago, as a form of blended learning or as the main medium for distance learning. Research in the UAE, however, reveals considerable unwillingness among university students to use LMSs. What about Japanese university students? To answer this question, the presenter introduced an online LMS, in which content is built by the instructor, to 458 Japanese university students. Specifically, the study looked at the students’ IT education, their ability to use an LMS over 15 weeks, its ease-of-use, and their satisfaction with it as a medium of learning. This presentation shared the findings of this research and identifies numerous considerations regarding expansion of use.

Presentation slides

4 Responses

  1. Alison Stewart says:

    Hi Charlotte, thanks for posting your PowerPoint and summary about your presentation at the LD Forum. It’s a great topic and I can relate to a lot of what you say here. My university also has Moodle which is very underused. I wonder how your university promotes it – I suspect, like mine, it’s available and there may be a workshop before the start of each year for those who want it – but there’s not particular incentive to use it. Your point about students complaining about teachers’ usage was quite depressing!

    It’s quite clear from your PowerPoint how you will probably write up your paper. I’m looking forward to finding out more about the context – who uses Moodle? why? why are you interested? – about the students – this is quite a large number: are they all your own classes? are they mixed majors? first years? – and about the classes: are they compulsory/electives? What is AI? What Specific Purpose is ESP?

    I’d also like to know more about the use of LMS in these classes: how was it introduced to them? Was it introduced in English/Japanese? Was it modeled in the class? Did students have time to discuss how they used it and any problems?

    I’m also wondering about your research method – was this done as a paper-based questionnaire, or was it also administered using LMS? (Would that make a difference to the results, do you think?) Were the questions in Japanese or English? (Would that make a difference?)

    I’m sure that computer literacy is a major problem, as well as the fact that LMS are the exception rather than the rule for all classes. I wonder why you mention student IQ – do you have a measurement for that? Do you mean their TOIEC scores? And does this make a difference?

    I’d really like to use LMS more productively in my own context – I currently only use it for a graduate class I teach and then only for the discussion forum and to store PowerPoints and other materials. I wonder how you are hoping to expand use in your own context – are you in a position to encourage other teachers to use it also?

    I’m really looking forward to reading your full version!

  2. Charlotte Murakami says:

    Many universities installed Moodle because it ticked an IT box. Only a handful of people use Moodle in my university. Only two trainign workshops have been held to date, and the one I attended was poorly organised. As an LMS, Moodle is quite clunky compared to many of the online LMSs and it is also very expensive for a university to maintain.
    I used Coursebase, which is cloud based. I am interested because we have to reduce paper usage in universities (unsustainable) and because LMSs can serve to bridge classroom learning and home learning more effectively. LMSs are meant to be social constructivist as a pedagogy/andragogy.

    I’d also like to know more about the use of LMS in these classes: how was it introduced to them?
    – 60 min hands on induction
    Was it introduced in English/Japanese? – Both
    Was it modeled in the class? – Yes.
    Did students have time to discuss how they used it and any problems? – Yes.

    I’m also wondering about your research method – was this done as a paper-based questionnaire, or was it also administered using LMS? (Would that make a difference to the results, do you think?) -Yes, and yes.

    Were the questions in Japanese or English? (Would that make a difference?) – Japanese, and yes.

    I’m sure that computer literacy is a major problem, as well as the fact that LMS are the exception rather than the rule for all classes. – Countries like the USA and UK have 95% Diffusion rates for LMSs. Japan is bit of a galapagos in this respect.

    I wonder why you mention student IQ – do you have a measurement for that? – No, and I state that this is a major issue in universities that even hide GPA scores.
    Do you mean their TOIEC scores? No, I mean their scholastic/cognitive development.
    And does this make a difference? I honestly think it does.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Andy Barfield says:

    Hello Charlotte

    Thank you for sharing your slides from the forum about learner development and learning management systems. They made me look back at different experiences I’ve had of using ICT and question how the introduction of ICT at my university managed has been. At an institutional level for a long time there was very little activity or interest; then a few years the university started using a system called ‘C-Plus’ which allows for course descriptions, teacher to course members messages (assuming students use the email address that they have registered with the university), uploading of course materials, online grades, and responding to student course evaluations. Just over a year ago the university started offering ‘manaba’ for teachers to use, and ‘suddenly’ (or so it seems) teachers are using ICT much more for LMS … And all through this teachers have been using other forms of ICT and developing their own approaches.

    I wondered if at your university there is a similar process of variation among faculty members in using ICT, and of apparently slow take-up by teachers. Has the university introduced a university-wide LMS in Japanese for doing mostly institutional-administrative tasks?

    I got the sense that you were talking about two different kinds of engagement by the students – one with the system, the other with their own learning – so I wanted also to ask how you and your students would like to develop the using of ICT beyond students’ “engagement with the LM system” itself towards their “engagement with exploring the use of ICT for managing and developing their own learning”.

    Many thanks again

    Best

    Andy

    • Charlotte Murakami says:

      [ wondered if at your university there is a similar process of variation among faculty members in using ICT, and of apparently slow take-up by teachers. Has the university introduced a university-wide LMS in Japanese for doing mostly institutional-administrative tasks?]

      The university wide LMS is Moodle using Japanese as its default language setting. As an LMS, Moodle is clunky so that prevents uptake of teacher users, I think. Second, there is no mandate in place so there may well be a lack of awareness about its existence. This is not to say that there should be a mandate. I came across research to say the mandates have a counter-effect upon effective use. Thirdly, users have to apply in Feb/March of the year to use Moodle for the next year. This places yet another hurdle in front of them.

      [I got the sense that you were talking about two different kinds of engagement by the students – one with the system, the other with their own learning – so I wanted also to ask how you and your students would like to develop the using of ICT beyond students’ “engagement with the LM system” itself towards their “engagement with exploring the use of ICT for managing and developing their own learning”.]

      Definitely leaned to researching the former here. I wanted to see how this particular LMS could operate as a platform before going to the deeper depths as to how the LMS is a social-constructionist tool for learning. Any further thoughts on this?

      I will look into MANABA. Thanks for the heads up.

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