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This chapter describes in details the background, the statement of the problem, and the purpose of this study. Besides that, this chapter also underlines on the research objectives that aimed on answering the research questions. In addition, this chapter also explains about the significance, scope, conceptual framework, and definition of terms that relate to the study. Finally, this chapter ends with a summary of the whole chapter.
1.1 Background of the Study
Internet and education is not a trend anymore in today's context. It is a must to connect with the world via Internet in order to gain more knowledge in a short period of time. That is why in current teaching and learning process, educators set a huge effort on collaborating the lesson with online communication and information resource - which is Internet. Entwined with the effective teaching and learning is the quest for continuous improvement in pedagogical competence. One way of achieving this is to develop an effective channel that suits the learners' needs and at the same time, allows students to keep themselves updated with educators at any hour. Hence, the chosen line of attack in this paper is the I-Learn Class Portal which focuses on the blended learning and its impact towards students' achievement. The depth review on the historical development of blended learning will be described in Chapter 2 Literature Review.
For years and years, the expert has gone through several stages in doing a number of researches in order to search for better way of acquiring education. Thus, blended learning has been created. According to Hisham Dzakiria, et. al (2006) has stated that the term "blended learning" (BL) has gained considerable interest in recent years as a description of particular forms of teaching combined with technology. The definition of BL is varied and contrasting. For example, Whitelock & Jefts (2003), Alavi & Gallupe (2003), Arbaugh (2005) and Peterson (2003) referred BL as the integrated combination of traditional learning with web-based online approaches, the combination of media and tools deployed in an e-learning environment and the combination of a number of pedagogical approaches, irrespective of the learning technology used in each case.
This study will focus on the probability in using the I-Learn Class Portal may contribute to the higher achievement among the varsity students. In addition, the implementation of I-Learn Class Portal that illustrates the paradigmatic shift from knowledge-based rote learning to self-access learning promotes independence and life-long learning and this is parallel with the Malaysia Vision of 2020. Besides that, the study will examine on how I-Learn Class Portal Class Portal usage can affect students' achievement during their campus life.
Universities in Malaysia, specifically Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Shah Alam is also using this blended learning in order to cater varied needs of learning styles among the students, especially and of course for better way of educating the target group. In UiTM, it is called e-learning or specifically, I-Learn Class Portal. For UiTM, e-learning will create an extended learning environment that supports, complements and enriches face to face classroom teaching and learning for the on-campus programs as well as distance learning programs (The Monthly Publication on ICT and Education for Asia and the Middle East which entitled 'Digital Learning', 2007)
Hence, does I-Learn Class Portal really contribute to the students' achievement?
1.2 Statement of Problem
In Malaysian cultural context, the education system has trained the students not to make noise during class. Hence, this culture indirectly affects the students' communicative aspects in class (Sumadevi, 2001). According to Sumadevi (2001), lecturers at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) often say that most of the time students do not have questions to ask even when they do not understand but they choose not to ask.
As we all know, any human's creation or invention on this planet; there must be some weaknesses or its own technical problem here and there. This predicament is also occurring in using I-Learn Class Portal. Based on the researcher's experience in using I-Learn Class Portal, there were times where I-Learn Class Portal cannot loading too much users' information when the users were responding to the forum at one time. This is like a burden for the users to use I-Learn Class Portal regularly at a regular time because as a student, there are abundance of workload of assignments, presentations which have to be prepared, group work and all. So, I-Learn Class Portal seems to be a place to stop-by-for-a-minute for the users because of this matter. In addition, sometimes the users have to write a long respond or wanted to provide some ideas on the issue related, so it will take times to type and to think on the spot. The problem is, I-Learn Class Portal cannot 'wait' the users, so I-Learn Class Portal will hang for couple of minutes and the information that the users want to add will be lost. This situation is frustrating.
Furthermore, there are non-residential students or users who do not have Internet connection at their rent house. If they have to go to the library for the access, they will have restricted time because they will be having classes and they might not have extra time to go to the library to access the information. So, it is a matter to be pondered because I-Learn Class Portal is designed to help students academically thus, contribute to their achievement.
It is unquestionable that the emergence of I-Learn Class Portal makes the students' or users' life easier as they can reach the information as similar as they had in class. However, there will be a potential reason for them to skip classes because they know that they will check it out in I-Learn Class Portal. This bad scenario can encourage the students or users to be lazy. Hence, this research focuses on the usage of I-Learn Class Portal and its impact on students' achievement.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to assess the potential reasons, benefits and challenges of implementing blended learning using I-Learn Class Portal in order to see a parallel view of using I-Learn Class Portal will increase the students' achievement or not.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are:
1. To investigate reasons why students choose I-Learn Class Portal.
2. To understand how I-Learn Class Portal contributes to students' achievement.
3. To analyze the opinion and perceptions of students towards the implementation of
I- Learn Class Portal.
1.5 Research Questions
For the purpose of this research, two research questions will be looked into:
1. How does I-Learn Class Portal contribute to students' achievement?
2. Does I-Learn Class Portal contribute to students' CGPA?
1.6 Definition of Terms
It is basically a learning process which involved both ways of teaching and learning process - traditional and the advanced one like teaching Mathematics using blackboard and perhaps after that using the computers to search for questions bank in online portal. According to Colis & Moonen (2001), blended learning is described as a hybrid of traditional face-to-face and online learning so that instruction occurs both in the classroom and online, and where the online component becomes a natural extension of traditional classroom learning. Blended learning is thus a flexible approach to course design that supports the blending of different times and places for learning, offering some of the conveniences of fully online courses without the complete loss of face-to face contact (Fong S.F. et. al, 2005)
I-Learn Class Portal
I-Learn Class Portal is basically created by UiTM for the alternative in teaching and learning process. I-Learn Class Portal is an acronym for 'interactive learning' - meaning that it uses virtual information and Internet is the connection in order for acquiring for academic information. This I-Learn Class Portal is more concerned with getting lecturers to upload their teaching materials onto the platform so that when the portal is accessible to students; they can at least start off with the materials available online (which is taken from the Monthly Publication on ICT and Education for Asia and the Middle East which entitled 'Digital Learning', January 2007, Vol. 3, Issue 1. Page 6 - 'E-learning Implementation and Strategies for UiTM, Malaysia')
Students' achievement is basically measured based on their Cumulative Grade Point Average or CGPA. This can be determined by the distributed questionnaires randomly to the Part 8 students who are currently studying in Bachelor in Education in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) at UiTM Shah Alam, Seksyen 17, Shah Alam, Selangor.
1.7 Significance of the Study
In this globalization era, there are so many tremendous usages of science and technology towards education field. They may derive a whole lot of positive impacts and also the negative ones. Generally, this research will look in to the effects of 'online learning' towards the lecturers and the students. Another significances are; this research is important to be conducted as it is to measure the students' needs to use this I-Learn Class Portal as their second medium of learning and it is also significant to understand the students' learning styles.
Online learning and distance learning is not new for Malaysians (Prof. Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Ali A., n.d). Most of higher institutions in Malaysia are adopting online learning in order to create a more effective teaching and learning process. For UiTM, I-Learn Class Portal has been established. Thus, expectations set high upon the implementation of I-Learn Class Portal which has been launched on 2005. Basically, the target users for I-Learn Class Portal are the students and lecturers themselves. They will benefit the online discussion or forum mostly as the lecturers will get to assist their students in no limited of time. Hence, with such assistance, this paper investigated upon I-Learn Class Portal has its own role in contributing to the students' achievement.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
The first limitation of this study is the nature of the nameless respondents for the driven data from the questionnaires later. So, the researcher will not know from whom the questionnaires belonged to. Therefore, the data collected after respondents answered were not valid enough because there was tendency for the respondents to not answer the questions given honestly. Also, the researcher found some difficulties in getting cooperation from the target group - Part 8 Students in Bachelor in Education in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) at Faculty of Education, UiTM Shah Alam, Seksyen 17, Shah Alam, Selangor because of the different times for 4 classes and the hectic life of being a final year student. In addition to that, this research is conducted within a relatively short period of time may also limit the extent the results of this research.
In conclusion, this chapter has introduced the scope of this research which is to study the relationship between the usages of I-Learn Class Portal and the students' achievement at Faculty of Education, UiTM Shah Alam, Seksyen 17, Shah Alam, Selangor. There are a number of researchers have been studied the impact of online learning. Hence, this research will be presenting the correlation between those two elements - I-Learn Class Portal usage and the achievement. This is to clarify the notion whether it has direct correlation or none at all. Thus, this chapter has outlined the needs for conducting this research which are; the objectives, the purpose, the significance, and the limitations of the study.