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Free choice of learning management systems: Do student habits override inherent system quality?

Gavin W. Porter (Faculty of Science, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Article publication date: 7 June 2013

1014

Abstract

Purpose

Although multiple studies examine institutional transitions of learning management systems (LMS) or compare their merits, studies examining students' free choice of access on parallel LMSs for the same course are absent from the literature. In order to investigate usage in a free‐choice situation, identical content was posted at the same time to two different LMSs in a large enrollment class with a diversity of majors.

Design/methodology/approach

Two prevalent LMSs were utilized in the study: WebCT, which was in existence at a university‐wide level previously, and Moodle, which will become the new university‐wide system in the 2012‐13 academic year onwards. Both student self‐reports and LMS log usage data were analyzed. LMS preferences and usage groups were categorized.

Findings

Although this inquiry revealed that most students chose to use the WebCT system (85 per cent WebCT users, 15 per cent Moodle users; both self‐reported and log‐verified), the reasons given for WebCT preference pertained largely to habit and that most other courses are using the WebCT LMS. In contrast, the reasons given for using Moodle spoke directly to the attributes of the LMS itself, namely the interface quality and the way it is organized.

Originality/value

This study indicates that institutions should look beyond student usage patterns in making LMS choices, and that LMS quality is sometimes, and perhaps unfortunately, overshadowed by student habit and familiarity.

Keywords

Citation

Porter, G.W. (2013), "Free choice of learning management systems: Do student habits override inherent system quality?", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 84-94. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITSE-07-2012-0019

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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