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Students’ attitudes on the use of Zoom in higher educational institutes of Sri Lanka –

The Covid-19pandemic has seriously affected almost all sectors globally. One of the most affected sectors is education. Students have been forced to stay out of their Educational Institutions for so long. With the emergence of the pandemic as of April 2020, 90% of the world’s student population has been affected. At this time of great crises, e-learning has become the salvation. It is considered the best option to continue uninterrupted education.
E-learning allows students to learn whenever and whatever they want, whereas traditional learning requires a physical location for students and Educators to meet. Compared to traditional learning, e-learning has undergone tremendous innovations, and it has significantly changed the profile of higher education over the past decade. Significant changes have been observed in Faculty members’ opinions about online teaching after the effective implementation of e-learning during this pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on teaching and learning.
Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs) have suspended their traditional way of teaching, face-to-face learning, and shifted toward e-learning, a modern approach. Virtual conference platforms have emerged in HEIs as the most popular tool for delivering interactive classes in e-learning.
Empirical studies on e-learning applications have received much attention in the global context during the pandemic; however, it is minimal in the Sri Lankan context. The context emphasises the need for a detailed study to explore the use of the e-learning application by Sri Lankan students is viewed as most significant and timely.
In Sri Lanka, a Chinese traveller was reported as the first Covid-19 positive case on January 27, 2020, followed by a local was reported on March 11, 2020. The Sri Lankan Government strategically implemented public health monitoring system to control the spread of the pandemic. In this scenario, the government closed all HEIs on March 12, 2020, and stopped all academic operations. Since then, Higher Education in Sri Lanka has been experiencing many obstacles. At the pandemic’s beginning, the Government launched the “work from home” concept. As a result, the Educators had to teach students from home using an alternative method. The Zoom application was the best option available for them.
The Government also took many measures to implement e-learning and motivate educators and students effectively. The Lanka Education and Research Network (LEARN) made it possible to continue academic activities online. All Internet service providers have provided free access for Zoom to all Universities and state HEIs through LEARN during the pandemic. Therefore, almost all Universities and state HEIs in Sri Lanka prefer Zoom over other popular virtual conference platforms such as Cisco Webex, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams for online classes. Therefore, Zoom has become a popular teaching platform for delivering online classes in Sri Lankan Universities and state HEIs.
The Government of Sri Lanka has subscribed Zoom for all Universities and state HEIs to continue academic activities during the pandemic. Consequently, almost all Universities and state HEIs use Zoom to deliver online classes to their students. However, students’ attendances in the online Zoom classes are comparatively lower than the traditional face-to-face classes.
HEIs impose 80% of students’ attendance for each subject as one of the eligibility criteria for sitting the semester-end examinations. However, many students fail to attend classes regularly and do not meet the 80% threshold. The Zoom classes are attended by 50–75% of students on average.
This shows a significant decrease in students’ attendance for Zoom classes. Therefore, it is important to identify why students are reluctant to attend Zoom classes on HEIs to foster an effective teaching and learning environment. Understanding students’ attitudes, behavioural intentions and actual use of Zoom for online classes are essential to be addressed here.
There seem to be no attempts in Sri Lanka to study the factors affecting the students’ attitudes, behavioural intentions and actual use of Zoom for online classes. Hence, we attempted to investigate the factors that affect students’ attitudes, behavioural intentions and actual use of Zoom for online classes in HEIs. The study provides a better understanding of students’ attitudes toward Zoom in online classes, which helps higher education policymakers develop and implement better policies to enhance online teaching and learning.
We collected data from active students of state Universities, state HEIs and non-state HEIs who use Zoom to attend online classes through a survey questionnaire. A total of 207 students responded to the online survey, from which only 183 responses were useable for the analysis. Student distribution of Sri Lankan HEIs was taken into consideration when administering the questionnaire to ensure the sample represented the population distribution.
Using a very popular model from the literature, we developed six concepts, namely: computer self-efficacy,whichassesses a person’s ability to use computer technology; perceived usefulnesss is the degree to which an individual or group believes that adopting a particular technology will improve their job performance; perceived ease of use which refers to a person’s belief that new technology will be easy and comfortable; attitude which is a thorough assessent of that person’s ability to carry out that behaviour; behavioural intention is the desire to carry out behaviour; actual use is the students’ attendance in Zoom classes.
We analyzed the data scientifically and found that the students’ computer self-efficacy influences their perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use which in turn affects their attitude, behaviuoral intention and actual use. This implies that there is a chain reaction among the computer self efficacy, perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, attitude, behavioural intention and actual use of Zoom.
We also noticed that when the more the students perceive that the Zoom technology is easy and comfortable, they tend to believe that the technology could improve their performance.
This, in turn, induces their desire to use the technology. It was interesting to notice that the effect their belief that the technology would help them enhance their performance is larger than their attitude about the technology on the behavioural intentions.
This clearly indicates that students with a positive perception of Zoom have strong intentions to use it for their online classes. The positive attitude toward Zoom depends on its perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. Computer self-efficacy plays a significant role in the attitude toward using Zoom through perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use.
It was also revealed that computer self-efficacy plays a substantial role in shaping the attitude of the students with regard to perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use.
This suggests that students’ negative attitude towards Zoom causes poor attendance in Zoom classes. This negative attitude arises due to a lack of self-efficacy in operating computers or digital devices and applications, unawareness, unfamiliarity and incomprehensibility about Zoom.
E-learning uses online technology to enhance the flexibility, student-centeredness, and creativity of the teaching-learning process. To get maximum use of the technology, it is evident that computer self-efficacy plays a significant role among students in Sri Lanka.
Therefore, policymakers should take appropriate measures to enhance students’ computer self-efficacy, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. Further, HEIs should provide training about Zoom before teaching online, which enhances perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use.
Furthermore, the curriculum of primary and secondary schools has to be revised to improve students’ self-efficacy in operating computer/digital devices and applications.
This article is an extraction of the research paper published in the Asian Association of Open Universities Journal. Please visit https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/AAOUJ-11-2021-0130/full/html for more information.

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