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Study Level: BTech, BSc, BEng, BA, HND, ND or NCE
In the past decade, distance education enrollment has become more common in colleges and universities, increasing from 1.6 million students in 1998 to an estimated 6.7 million in 2012. The purpose of this study was to identify which constructs in Rogers’ (2003) diffusion of innovation theory are more likely to contribute to adoption and diffusion of distance education in health education. Health education instructors and faculty can use the information obtained from the results of this study if they want to implement distance education. Experience with distance education was not shown to increase the likelihood of distance education adoption because the majority of participants have not yet decided whether to accept or reject distance education. The social system construct was the least predictive of distance education adoption. If distance education has not yet fully diffused through the health education profession then it is hard for the social system to impact the likelihood of distance education adoption.
- Background Of The Study
Distance education has been a part of the United States educational system since the 1800’s. The United States Postal Service (USPS) provided long distance communication capabilities in the United States, leading to the beginning of distance education (Casey, 2008). Casey (2008) explained that the first correspondence course classified as a distance education course was developed in 1852. Since this course, distance education has evolved along with advances in technology in our society. Advances in technology that followed the USPS include radio, television, satellite, and Internet. Distance education courses and programs have been created to educate people using all of these systems (Casey, 2008). Distance education is quickly becoming an alternative option for people to receive an education in the Nigeria.
(Allen & Seaman, 2012; Doyle, 2009; Harasim, 2000; Lei & Gupta, 2010). Distance education provides universities an opportunity to maximize their educational resources to meet the needs of diverse students by reducing overcrowded classrooms and providing students with the flexibility to complete lessons, discussions, and class work at their convenience (Gould, 2003). Allen and Seaman (2010) found that 74% of administrators at public institutions of higher education believed that distance education was critical to include in their long term plans. Increases in technological capabilities are not the only reason why distance education in the United States has evolved. “Three-quarters of institutions reported that the economic downturn has increased demand for online courses and programs” (Allen & Seaman, 2010, p. 3). In addition, the next generation of “tech-savvy” students will be entering university systems across the United States. Simonson (2010) called this group of students the millennial generation, and explained that distance educators needed to establish a level of understanding about millennial learners so that distance education courses and programs could capitalize on this generation’s interests and abilities. With increases in distance education enrollment from 1.6 million students to 6.1 million students and demand from administrators to implement distance education to remain competitive, it will be essential for institutions of higher education to offer distance education courses and programs of the same quality as face-to-face courses (Allen & Seaman, 2011; Doyle, 2009; Harasim, 2000; Lei & Gupta, 2010). More importantly, it is crucial for the health education profession to increase quality distance education programs, so that it can attract those individuals who are being affected by the economic downturn as well as the millennial generation of technologically savvy students. To help implement distance education in the health education profession, it is important to identify characteristics of people who adopt and reject distance education, their perceptions about distance education, and the constructs effecting adoption and diffusion of distance education within the health education profession. For the purpose of this study, the definition of distance education is as follows: institution-based formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors (Schlosser & Simonson, 2009). Hybrid courses are courses that combine face-to-face classroom instruction with educational technologies, often using the Internet (Simonson et al., 2012). For the purpose of this dissertation, “blended learning” is considered a hybrid course.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
“Health is wealth” as they say, so therefore effective and efficient knowledge of the subject matter cannot be compromised for the economic benefit of any institution, health education is a practical thing, so therefore distance education among health workers is cumbersome in Nigeria with the level of technological infrastructure and the technical know-how of the personnel involved.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
he primary purpose of this study was to identify which constructs in Rogers’ (2003) diffusion of innovation theory are more likely to contribute to adoption and diffusion of distance education in health education. The main constructs of Rogers’ (2003) diffusion of innovation theory include characteristics of the innovation (distance education), social system (surrounding health education faculty), communication channels (used by health education faculty), and time (characteristics of health education faculty and adopter category).
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
The following research questions were addressed in this study:
1) What are the self-reported levels of knowledge and experience with distance education based on perception of need, characteristics of the innovation (distance education), social system, communication channels, and characteristics of adopters (health education faculty) among the participants in this study?
2) To what extent do differences exists among participants’ based on demographic variables such as gender, age, highest degree, type of institution (public or private), teaching or research oriented type of institution, and experience?
3) To what extent do differences exist among participants’ such as perception of need, characteristics of the innovation (distance education), social system, communication channels, and characteristics of adopters (health education faculty)?
4) What is the relationship between perception of need, characteristics of the innovation (distance education), social system, communication channels experience with distance education?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
With the current movement toward increasing distance education enrollment across the country, it is critical that health educators and administrators explore characteristics of people who adopt and who don’t adopt distance education in health education.
Results from this study will inform the health education profession about the constructs and factors that need to be addressed to implement distance education in the profession. This information can be used to create effective professional development opportunities that increase the probability of adoption and diffusion of distance education. Health education departments will be able to use the identified characteristics of people who adopt distance education, the factors affecting adoption and diffusion of distance education, 8 and the perceptions of health educators about distance education to design more effective trainings to increase implementation of distance education. As part of their professional preparation programs, health educators could use the findings from this research to educate their students about the implementation of distance education, the characteristics of people who adopt and who choose not to adopt distance education, and the perceptions of health educators about distance education. Results will inform health education professionals about the state of adoption and diffusion of distance education within the health education profession.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The studies covers the factors affecting adoption and diffusion of distance education among health workers. However, the study has some limitations which are:
- a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
- b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher have to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
- c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.
1.7 DEFINATION OF TERMS
Web-based courses that offer students the ability to access course materials anytime and anyplace (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek, 2012).
The degree to which the innovation is consistent with the values and needs of the potential adopters (Rogers, 2003).
Distance education or distance learning is the education of students who may not always be physically present at a school. Courses that are conducted (51 percent or more)] are either hybrid, blended or 100% whole instruction. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), offering large-scale interactive participation and open access through the World Wide Web or other network technologies, are recent developments in distance education. A number of other terms (distributed learning, e-learning, online learning, etc.) are used roughly synonymously with distance education
One of the earliest attempts was advertised in 1728 in the Boston Gazette for “Caleb Philipps, Teacher of the new method of Short Hand,” who sought students who wanted to learn through weekly mailed lessons.
The first distance education course in the modern sense was provided by Sir Isaac Pitman in the 1840s, who taught a system of shorthand by mailing texts transcribed into shorthand on postcards and receiving transcriptions from his students in return for correction. The element of student feedback was a crucial innovation of Pitman’s system. This scheme was made possible by the introduction of uniform postage rates across England in 1840.
This early beginning proved extremely successful, and the Phonographic Correspondence Society was founded three years later to establish these courses on a more formal basis. The Society paved the way for the later formation of Sir Isaac Pitman Colleges across the country.
The first correspondence school in the United States was the Society to Encourage Studies at Home, founded in 1873