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What Drives Public Sector Adoption of eLearning Practices?

By Guest Writer on December 21, 2023

adult elearning

The adoption and utilisation of elearning in the public sector appears to be inadequately researched. A systematic review of academic research into Adoption and Utilisation of Workplace E-Learning Practices in Public Sector Organisations located only a total of eighteen peer-reviewed studies.

The review seems to suggest that as countries develop and embrace technological innovations the uptake of elearning tends to be of the utmost importance. For example, out of eighteen reviewed studies, twelve were from Asia while six were from other continents, namely, Africa, South America and Australasia.

The pattern above could suggest that the conversation about e-learning in the public sector is concentrated in the developing world, seemingly because of the impeding factors such as lack of funds needed to acquire modern technologies, lack of accreditation by international bodies and use of quality assurance measures.

The majority of the rather limited research publications on e-learning in the public sector tend to report the implementation of e-learning and barely cover the evaluation of e-learning in the public sector. This observation is consistent with claims that there is relatively little research on the evaluation of e-learning in the public sector.

The five themes that emerged in the review’s findings seem to be interrelated, suggesting a logical relationship that could help theorise the implementation and evaluation of elearning in the public sector. The relationships between the themes also suggest possible predictors of workplace elearning adoption and utilisation practices in the public sector.

Public Sector e-Learning Adoption

The review suggests that public sector employees’ satisfaction is key, influencing public sector employees’ attitudes, behavioural intention and, ultimately, continuance to use e-learning.

Whilst some studies strongly suggest that satisfaction is the dominant predictor, some suggest that attitude towards using e-learning is the dominant predictor of e- learning adoption but satisfaction seems to stand out because it appears to influence attitude.

There seem to be factors that are reported to influence satisfaction such as self-efficacy, job relevance, expectation confirmation, perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness and course content. The above claim is consistent with Expectation Confirmation Theory, which ties the above-mentioned factors to employees’ continuous use intention and their satisfaction.

Other factors that are reported to influence satisfaction are quality, quality disconfirmation, value, value disconfirmation, disconfirmation usability, technological readiness and performance. In a nutshell, a public sector employee who is satisfied with e-learning tends to have a positive attitude towards e- learning and that impacts on their behavioural intention and continuance to use e-learning.

The review suggests that organisational learning culture influences job satisfaction and public sector employees’ behavioural intention and, ultimately, continuance to use e-learning. Factors that are reported to influence organisational learning culture include time allocation, discipline, learning style, prior experience and peer support. The above-mentioned factors are linked to successful e-learning as they motivate learners and keep them disciplined and, hence, able to cope with the workload.

eLearning Adoption Conceptual Model

e-learning conceptual model

The conceptual model above summarily shows the relationship between the themes that emerged in the data analysis.

The relationships show that public sector employees’ satisfaction with e-learning influenced their attitudes, and their attitudes also influenced their satisfaction with e-learning. Also, organisational factors influenced both public sector employees’ satisfaction and attitudes towards e- learning.

Further, public sector employees’ attitudes influenced their behavioural intention to use e- learning, which also influenced continuance use or behaviour and public sector employee’s satisfaction. Furthermore, both public sector employees’ continuance use of e-learning or behaviour and employees’ satisfaction influenced each other.

How to Increase eLearning Adoption

The adoption and utilisation of e-learning in public sector organisations requires a formal approach, where a programme is carefully developed to instill the culture of e-learning and facilitate the employees who use e-learning.

The development and implementation of an e-learning programme have to take into consideration all the major factors including organisational factors, and public sector employees’ satisfaction, attitudes, behavioural intentions and continuance use or behaviour.

Also, the programme has to pay special attention to the mediating factors that influence the above-mentioned major factors such as user perceptions of e-learning, policy factors, personal factors, professional factors, barrier factors, course design and content, IT infrastructure, etc.

Policies that make learning mandatory, when paired with incentive policies, could improve employees’ uptake of e-learning. However, the IT infrastructure should be ready to support e-learning because if not, the public sector employees will experience challenges that will lead to dissatisfaction, negative attitudes towards e- learning and, ultimately, negative behavioural intention and no continuance to use e-learning.

A lightly edited synopsis of Adoption and Utilisation of Workplace E-Learning Practices in Public Sector Organisations by Marguerite Margie Serema, Sadrag Panduleni Shihomeka and Rakel Kavena Shalyefu at the University of Namibia

Filed Under: Education, Government
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