Exploring Student Readiness to MOOCs in Jordan: A Structural Equation Modelling Approach
The current study has been carried out to reveal students’ readiness to utilize MOOCs at higher learning institutions in Jordan.
Higher education institutions around the globe are shifting rapidly to reach learners worldwide by providing open education. In accordance with this universal effort, Jordan is committed to offering open access education that allows learners to access knowledge through the Internet and has launched one of the first Arabic “Massive Open Online Course” (MOOC) platforms in the Arabic region. Thus, students must be prepared and ready for this innovation in education. Nonetheless, MOOCs have been incessantly discussed and have faced wide criticism as an insufficient amount of research has been conducted on students’ readiness to be involved in MOOCs. The level of tertiary students’ preparation to utilize and attend MOOCs as a source of learning is unclear.
Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to test the proposed model of students’ readiness for MOOCs. Convenience sampling was used to distribute a paper-based questionnaire to the students of three Jordanian universities during a period of four months from May to September 2019. Out of 700 distributed questionnaires, a total of 537 responses were returned giving a response rate of 76.7%. Out of the returned questionnaires, 69 responses were reported incomplete as most of the questions (>80%) were left unanswered; these 69 questionnaires were eliminated from any further analysis. As a result, a total of 468 questionnaires were valid for statistical analysis.
This study aims to contribute to the existing literature by examining the perceptions of higher education students in Jordan toward MOOCs. The current study extends the continuing debate about MOOCs with respect to determining which factors influence students’ readiness to participate in these courses. Specifically, this study investigates both the cognitive and psychological influential factors that determine the readiness of Jordanian students to adopt MOOCs. The proposed theoretical framework for this research is based on the work of Yu and Richardson, who developed the model of Student Online Learning Readiness (SOLR). SOLR is comprised of three forms of competency assumed to be important in examining students’ readiness for online learning. Specifically, these competencies are (1) social competency represent skills, capabilities, and a sense of control, which is necessary for managing social situations and developing and sustaining relationships, (2) communication competency, “the ability of an individual to demonstrate knowledge of the appropriate communicative behavior in a given situation”, and (3) technical competencies, “self-efficacy in technology”. Furthermore, the research model includes an additional competency: self-management of learning, “the degree to which a student perceives himself/herself as being self-disciplined and is able to engage in a greatly autonomous learning setting.”
The results obtained from the SEM revealed that students’ readiness to accept MOOCs in their learning is significantly influenced by four types of competency: social, technical, self-management of learning, and communication.
Facilitators of MOOCs should take into account that technical competency can be enhanced by recognizing that technical competency related to online learning should be developed, taught, and constantly reinforced at every educational level as a life skill. Additionally, facilitators and developers of MOOCs should be prepared to find methods to support and inspire student participation, and to recognize the importance of learning skills in the MOOC environment. Furthermore, facilitators and developers of MOOCs should increase the social presence of fellow participants in MOOCs, which in turn facilitates the attainment of collaborative learning.
Researchers may use well-established theories related to investigating online learning usage in exploring students’ readiness to use MOOCs.
A study like the current one would be beneficial for higher education institutions in Jordan to determine the key factors that influence students’ readiness and in turn develop active strategies to address students’ needs in order for them to adopt MOOCs.
Further studies may include additional factors to better measure students’ readiness to use MOOCs. The additional factors can be revealed by utilizing a qualitative method. Thus, additional studies may employ a mixed-method approach (both quantitative and qualitative) to accurately identify additional factors that may influence student readiness to student readiness to MOOCs and to offer a more holistic understanding of readiness.