A Research Proposal Submitted In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Award of a Degree
Computer based instructional systems use computers for learning purpose. Computers in this case can be used as tools for word processing, database, spreadsheet applications and graphic design. Furthermore, computers can be used in delivering instructions regarding certain tasks and how they can be done in an efficient manner. The use of computers cannot be traced to have started at a particular time however, the advantages associated with its use are known to all.
The major advantage associated with the use of computers is the efficiency associated its use which is better than what can be achieved by the implementation of any non-computers based instructional system. The need for proper instructional system is stressed on the more in the present day complex operational environment where efficiency in operations in the capitalistic environment is key to success. Instructional systems therefore play a large role in ensuring transmission of strategic actions and instructions as entities target the achievement of goals.
With the advantages that computer based instructional system display, one would expect such system to perform optimally; this has not been the case as failure in computer based instructional system is common place. Poor development of instructional system either through poor formulation or implementation of instructional policies has been cited as key to failure in achievement of both personal and corporate goals. The proposed research adopts a primary research approach to look at factors that are deterministic of failure in a computer based instructional system so as to come up with recommendations that will not only act as basis for future research but also provide solutions to a problem that if not addressed may led to failure of much larger systems.
This is the first chapter of this dissertation. The main objective of this chapter is to create an understanding of what is to be expected of the dissertation. The background of the problem and the issues being researched on is relayed in this chapter. A thorough look of the methodology that will be used in the research, the problem statement and the significance of the proposed study are all brought out in this chapter.
Time is currently being viewed in a whole new dimension (Ciardiello, 2004). Time shifting and offshoring are some of the approaches that have been adopted to ensure that most is made out of limited time (Ciardiello, 2004). Instructional system are highly dependent on the interaction between the learner and the instructor (Ciardiello, 2004). The efficiency in transmission and application of principles dictated by instruction depend on the nature of interaction between the learner and the instructor. Time is one of the factor that determine the effectiveness in transmission and the nature of interaction between the learner and instructor (Ciardiello, 2004). Instructors are forced to adopt time limiting approaches in their delivery of instruction to ensure they develop their professional qualification by attending further studies. In fact, professional development courses are often an inconvenience to instructional systems and since they also involve instructional systems they may also fail due to time constraints. The time allocated for learning and development of a learner instructor rapport is limited. Instruction between the learner and instructor have taken on a impersonal approach where the emphasis is placed on the message and timeliness. The result is failure in instructional system as individual fail to relate to instructions and their significance which inevitably leads to failure in the implementation of instructional systems (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). Moreover, there are a lot of instructions that are to be passed thus instructors are often under pressure to ensure they meet strict deadlines and objectives set by their superiors. Working under such constrained conditions leads to a decrease in efficiency due to application of time conscious approaches that do not put into consideration learning characteristic of the audience (Henke & Latendresse, 2005).
Though there has been a general improvement in earnings and economic conditions, the cost of living has kept up with these developments. The current credit crunch and financial downtimes however shifts the balance in that the cost of living is high but the availability of financial resources is limited (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). The financial crisis has been blamed on poor instructional systems in a competitiveness environment where instructional system play important role in the development of strategies. These brings about a problem in that expectations are high and are expected to continue on an upward trend in an environment where resource availability is on a downward trend (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). The development of innovative approaches to instructional delivery by instructors are hindered by the unavailability of resources. Development of professionalism in instructional system is also limited by low funding and an approach to operation where dealing with problems in operation involves cost cutting in areas that are viewed to be of little significance (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). Professional development and instructional systems are often the first casualties due to the poor perception that most organization have on their role.
Teaching and delivery of instruction is highly dependent on the instructors skills. Most organizations that spend considerable resources on the development of their instructors have poor record of learner development. It appears that the principles learned by instructors are rarely applied to classroom situations (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). It is generally believed that professional development approaches used are based on extensive theory but lack in practical application thus the lack of application of principles learned leading to poor meet of instructional objectives (Henke & Latendresse, 2005).
Accountability is the root cause of failure in financial system. Failing to account for financial resources and other plans put in place to ensure operations are maintained, inevitably leads to the collapse of financial systems and systems that depend on it (Gillies & Ashman, 2003). In most cases, instructional system are designed and implemented but the evaluation of the progress and the effects they have on operations of the said entity is never implemented thus failure of such system is rarely detected till its too late to make corrective measures (Gillies & Ashman, 2003).
Most instructional systems are based on the premise that learners and instructors have equal abilities and same objectives in learning (Gillies & Ashman, 2003).. This is untrue since learners and instructors have differential learning and teaching goals. In fact individual differences are varied that in some situation the application of a particular learning approach may have completely different result on the same set of learners (Gillies & Ashman, 2003). Varying levels of experience and the availability of training materials are often not put into consideration in the development of instructional system leading to a situation where a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the development of human resources and instructional system is adopted (Gillies & Ashman, 2003).
A major problem that has hit the development of instructional system is the lack of a common approach to formulation and implementation of these systems. Learners, administrators and instructors have different goal and this is culminated in the approach they take and the perception they have on instructional systems (Hays, 2006). The problem is a result of a poor approach to development of instructional system which places more emphasis on specific areas of operation rather than instructional needs of the organization. Poor communication system are also blamed for the development of strategies that are in no way relevant to the instructional needs of an organization (Hays, 2006). The implementation phase of such strategies is affected by poor communication since approaches adopted often require continuous and efficient communication system to ensure strategic approaches meet the needs of the organization as set out by the objectives in the instructional design plan. Another reason that has been cited as being central to the failure of information systems is the irrelevance of the system to needs of organizations whose roots can be traced to lack of a common vision (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). In any strategic approach to operation, the strategic vision is the platform on which strategic missions and objectives are developed. Instructional system should have a vision which should bear close correlation to the goals of the organization. Failure to implement such a vision, by either ignoring the whole subject or implementing it in a shoddy manner leads to development of irrelevant objectives and strategies (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). The result is failure in meeting instructional needs of the organization which is a cancer that soon spreads to other areas of operations and its effects felt by all stakeholders in the instructional system.
1.1.1. Contextual Relevance of the Problem
Operational environment are increasingly gaining complexity as the number of variables that determine success in any endeavor are many and their behavior borders unpredictable. To fully harness any opportunity in the current operational environment one has to have the resources to identify the opportunity, put up strategies to ensure its implementation and then ensure the strategies are well implemented to meet set objectives within a given time frame (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). Information systems are therefore gaining popularity and importance in modern day operations (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). A near perfect information system is seen as a right step towards the development of proper implementation mechanism, better instructional systems and the achievement of operational goals. Information systems on the other hand are increasingly adopting a computer based approach and so are instructional system. Almost all sectors of the economy have adopted a computer based approach to operations (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). The need to determine the nature of a computer based instructional systems so as to keep up with the real world and technological developments is a key motivation to the proposed study.
Despite the theoretical advantages that are expected of a computers based instructional system the reality on the ground brings out a different picture (Henke & Latendresse, 2005). Computer based and traditional instructional system are failing at a worrying rate. It should be noted that the instructional system are the basis for development and implementation of strategic actions. Without proper instructional system there is little that can be done by organizations to meet their mission. In fact, failure o the instructional system make in near impossible for organizations to have well developed missions and vision on which to base their actions. The credit crisis that has hit the US and other major financial markets is blamed on either failure or poor implementation of instructional systems (Jacko & Sears, 2003). It is therefore clear that instructional system are a key concern to the economic development of the society which inevitably has a bearing on social and moral development. Proper implementation of instructional systems is therefore an issue of social interest and should be looked at thoroughly since its failure has a bearing on the social and economic well being at individual and national level (Jacko & Sears, 2003). The need to ensure the social and economic wellbeing of the society is one of the reasons as to why I propose to carry out a research on computer based instructional systems.
Retention and application of concepts learned in the classroom to real life situation contributes to the benefits one achieves from the education system (Jacko & Sears, 2003). As an MBA student, the ability to use theories and principles learned in class to analysis of problems in the real world and coming up with recommendation is important in determining the benefits reaped out of the school system. The proposed dissertation includes analysis of literature and theories relevant to research questions to come up with findings that form the basis for recommendations calls for the application of academic theories, analytical skills and research skills. Recalling these concepts and applying them in a variety of situations is key to ensuring their retention and application in latter situations. The need to have gained optimally in academic matters from the education system is key to this proposal.
The education system is tasked with the responsibility of developing individuals in a manner that will ensure they are well groomed for social responsibility (Jacko & Sears, 2003). Therefore, the education system ensures that students develop personal attributes that are required of any social being. Determination, courage and cooperation are some of the key attributes required of any individual in the society (Jacko & Sears, 2003). Drafting a dissertation requires the application and exhibition of these attributes at a personal level. Therefore, drafting a dissertation is key to achievement of social goals of the education system. The need to meet the social goals of the education system and ensure achievement of maximum benefit from the education system is important to the proposed dissertation.
1.2. Problem Statement
1.2.1. Security Vs. Usability
Usability is an important aspect in the development of computer systems. In information technology, equipments are useless if the personnel who should be using them have difficulties in accessing the services or utility that it provides. Technological development have brought forward equipments whose use is associated with considerable level of utility (Kafai & Sandoval, 2004). However, the development of such systems has effectively led to an increase in the level of complexity due to increased automation. Computer systems and the protocols require for the end user to be protected from the complexities of internal system level workings. However, this is not always the case as complex working of computer systems have found a path to application level of computers systems (Kafai & Sandoval, 2004). Usability is generally defined as a measure of the quality a user experiences in interacting with either a product or service (Kafai & Sandoval, 2004). Usability is therefore a product of the ease of use and performance levels that the product or service provides the user with. Ease of use is a combination of factors including ease in learning, efficiency, operation memorability, error severity and frequency of occurrence of errors. Usability ensures that errors are managed promptly an easily while ensuring the system is liked by the people who use it.
Though importance of usability defines the performance levels any computer system will achieve, security issues are central to the development of computer systems (Seel & Dijkstra, 2004). Information systems and leverage gained by information has increased the need for security to such extent that complex systems that are secure are preferred to user friendly less secure systems. The security-usability issues are central to the development of softwares and has attracted debate from all over since information technology is a modern day language (Seel & Dijkstra, 2004). Those for usability argue that software and computer systems should be made more usable if computer resources are to be used in an optimal manner (Seel & Dijkstra, 2004). They further argue that it makes no sense to have resources whose utility cannot be ascertained since the systems limits the end user from achieving optimal performance. Security supporters argue that the need for security is increasing and if systems are not made secure the integrity and use of computer systems no matter how usable they are is questionable (Seel & Dijkstra, 2004). Information and system integrity are key to the adoption of computer system in tasks that were otherwise done manually (Seel & Dijkstra, 2004). They further argue that if usability was more important than security reverting to the traditional manual way of operations would make much sense (Seel & Dijkstra, 2004).
These arguments aside the need for security and usability are important to development of a computer based instructional system. A balance should be struck between security and usability since the two variables display indirect proportionality. The need for usability is stressed on the more if the computer based instructional system is designed for individuals who have been using traditional instructional system thus the adoption of a computer based instructional system represents a change process (Jacko & Sears, 2003). Seasoned workers are often resistant to change and the implementation of a system that is nearly impossible to use will only add on to the problems (Jacko & Sears, 2003). One would expect computer system development and research to focus on creating a balance between usability and security however, research and development of computer instruction system is leaning more on the security factor. The reason for this bias which has restrained the acceptability and usability of instructional systems is unclear. Research should therefore look into the bias towards security over usability and coming up with computers systems designs that will ensure security and usability.
1.2.2. Developing Usable Computer Systems
Instructional system find use by persons of all ages in almost all sectors of the economy The advent of the computer is a recent event and the technology has not been accepted and adopted by all. Persons above the age of 45 years generally have problems in using computers though they appreciate the fact that computer systems make work easier (Jacko & Sears, 2003). Changing operational approaches especially if the change is to affect elderly people or people who have been implementing a specific approach to operations is not always easy. The baby boomers represent an age group that display a combination of these characteristics and implementation of computer based instructional systems has often faced criticism and resistance from them. Research clearly shows that baby boomers are aware of benefits that result from computerization of instructional systems thus their resistance cannot be attributed to perceived inefficiencies. Psychologists trace the problem to intimidation; the advent of computer system and the changes that it brought to modes of operations creates an inferiority complex in baby boomers who view computers as an invention that is out of their mental grasp (Jacko & Sears, 2003). The implementation of computer based instructional systems is therefore intimidating to baby boomers who express their intimidation by resisting changes without concrete evidence or cause. There is little research into how computer based instructional systems can be made more agreeable to the baby boomer generation as they represent a large portion of the work force and play a great part in a number of instructional systems. The current implementation of computer based instructional system is so intimidating to the baby boomer generation that usability they accrue as a result of using this system approaches zero. There is therefore need to look at how computer based instructional system can be made less intimidating to the baby boomer generation to ensure that computerization of instructional systems is accepted by all. It is only after a system has been accepted that its usability can be determined.
Collaborative efforts in the development of user related systems are theoretically associated with considerable level of acceptance and performance of systems (Gillies & Ashman, 2003). Collaborative efforts have in the area of business led to mixed results. Some collaborative efforts have led to increased performance for example Citigroup and some are a perfected definition of failure for instance, DaimlerChrysler merger (Hays, 2006). Effectiveness of collaborative efforts is therefore questionable however, experts state that success is highly depend on the nature collaboration (Hays, 2006). A well carried out collaborative approach is costly; the need to develop a common vision, base strategies on facts, have well developed communication systems, ensure professionalism and continuously evaluate come at a cost that most organizations choose not to incur (Gillies & Ashman, 2003). The delivery of computer based instructional system through a collaborative approach is slow. There is therefore need to determine if the implementation of collaborative approaches in development of computerized instructional system is worthwhile in consideration of costs and benefits that the approach is associated with (Hays, 2006). It should be noted that the actual implementation of a collaborative approach and the mechanics involved are subjects that has attracted controversy (Hays, 2006). The internal workings in collaborative efforts take on different approaches thus there is need to research on what the best approach is so as to determine way in which computerized instructional systems can be more successful in meeting their goals thus ensure growth and development of entities and organizations in the modern day instruction oriented world (Gillies & Ashman, 2003).
Computers are increasingly finding use in almost all areas of operation. The application of computers in instructional systems has recorded both failure and success. The factors that determine success or failure are not so well defined whereas the role of instructional system in the social and economic development is on the increase. Failure in instructional systems witnessed in 2008 has led to financial crisis and human suffering (Hays, 2006). There is therefore need to develop schemes and systems that will ensure success in use of computer based systems by dealing with areas of failure in computer based approach. The proper formulation and implementation of the research will come up with recommendations that will not only address the problems faced in development of computer based instructional systems and thus address the problems resulting from failure of instructional system but will also highlight areas that need to be b further researched on to come with conclusive findings and recommendations on what should be done to ensure near perfect computer based instructional systems. The research is therefore significant to the society and academic world.
1.4. Research Objectives
These are the objectives in the proposed research:
l To determine why computer based research does not focus on user friendly instruction systems.
l To determine why the use of computer based instructional system is intimidating to the baby boomer generation.
l To make recommendations on what should be done in system development and implementation to ensure that software engineers develop instructional systems that are more relevant to the needs of the organizations and users.
1.5. Research Questions
These are the questions that will guide the research:
What are the causes of failure in computer based instructional system?
l Are the user interface implemented poor and irrelevant to the needs of the learners?
l Is the interface implemented by computer based instructional system relevant to the needs of the instructors and the varied need of the learners?
l What other internal factors affect the performance of a computer based instructional system?
Why do baby boomers find the use of computer based instructional systems intimidating?
l Do baby boomers have the required skills to properly interact with computers at the ordinary user level?
l Do baby boomers readily accept the use of a computer approach to implementation of instructional system?
What can be done to ensure that computer based instructional system are relevant to needs of an organization and strategies relevant to instructional needs?
l What should be done in the formulation of instructional system policies?
l What should be done at the implementation phase?
l What should be done to ensure proper evaluation and continued conformance to the needs of an organization?
1.6. Research Design and Methodology
The research designs that will be adopted in the research is content analysis. Statistics and data from past sources will be analyzed in a bid to come up with result on the research questions. Literature resources will be selected carefully and looked at to ascertain the relevance of their content to research questions. To ensure accuracy of data, data resources have to be accurate and of high integrity since they form the basis for findings and recommendations that will be made with regards to their manifestation. Analysis of literature to come up with findings is the main source of information and data regarding research questions. The approach is highly dependent on accuracy of secondary data and information. Bias and irrelevance to research question should be guarded against since there is a general tendency for researchers to drift out of context. Use of biased data would not only dent the integrity of the research process but also the entire dissertation. The research design is a simple random sampling approach in that literature cases that will be referenced in the research will be generalized for computer based instructional systems anywhere in the US. This is made possible by the dynamics of learning which are nearly the same all over the globe. It is generally assumed that findings made from the review of the literature will be representative of the population: Computer based instructional systems in the US. The choice of content analysis is governed by financial and time constraints on the research.
1.7. Organization of Study
The study can be organized into three distinct phases. Organization in carrying out research is important in determining the levels of accuracy that the data collection process will permit. It is worth noting that though data determines the accuracy of the findings the mechanisms used in its collection determine its integrity and therefore applicability to real life situation which is a key objective research. The following are the phases of the research:
This is the stage before actual data collection. This stage is important in determining accuracy and efficiency that other stages will be carried on with and is therefore key to the success of the entire research process. The phase mainly deals with organizing the rest of the stages and how they will be carried out. A timeline for the research is developed to provide a guideline for use of time resources. One of the most important activity at this phase is choosing literature resources that will be used in analysis of research questions and in coming up with recommendations. There is a wide resource base that can be used as literature on the proposed research moreover, the use of a large number of data resources is commendable in the proposed research though cost considerations limit the number of resources that can be used. The following guideline will be used in choosing literature resources:
l Literature resources that will be used must be recent. Instructional design and computer science are fields of study that are quite dynamic. The use of recent information resources is aimed at reducing the risk of irrelevance due to use of data whose relevance in the current operational environment is questionable.
l Literature resources must be from diverse sources. Journal articles, books and internet articles must all be used in the research. The use of a wide variety of literature resources is aimed at ensuring that data and information retrieved is representative of the conditions on the ground.
l Data Accuracy: Journal articles will only be retrieved from known journals, books from credible authors and publishers, and web articles from sites whose integrity is of public knowledge. Blogs and unprofessional sites will not be used in research as credibility of the data they contain cannot be guaranteed.
l A large number of sources will be used in the research: At least fifteen literature resources must be used in the research. The use of a large number of literature resources minimizes the risk of bias and error in the retrieval of data and information from the literature resources.
l All data resources used must have full bibliographic entries. It should always be remembered that the dissertation is an academic writing and the need to attribute information to the relevant sources is important. Furthermore, referencing is important in ensuring that the information resources are easily retrieved by the researcher and any other party that may be interested in the sources of information. All sources used must have full bibliographic entries as per the APA referencing standards.
l No data or information will be retrieved form sources whose physical condition is questionable. The resources used have to be in good physical condition since torn sources raises question on integrity of information if they are used.
The sources that literature resources will be retrieved from are also identified at this phase. Arrangement is made for access of literature resources where retrieval is problematic. Subscription to libraries and checking on the availability of literature resources is important in ensuring timeliness and organization during data and information collection phase. Seeking relevant permission to use subscription databases and private libraries including borrowing books is of importance at this phase. If this stage is well implemented, other stages are likely to be smooth flowing as the number of hitches expected of the entire research is reduced considerably.
Collection of data is the phase that comes after preparation. Data collection is a key phase as it involves actual data collection and comparison of information. It should be noted that accuracy of data collected from literature resources is of utmost importance to findings and recommendations that will be made in the research. The literature resources are retrieved and thoroughly looked at to determine themes and relevance to research questions. It is noteworthy that differential views be noted and looked at in consideration of theories taught in class and those retrieved in the review of literature. Theories and postulation made should have academic evidence and backing to be included in themes brought out in literature review. Data must be recorded in an orderly manner; information collected in this research will be recorded in a thematic fashion.
This is the third and last stage in the research approach. The methodology employed requires that findings be derived from the literature. Themes brought out in the literature reviews are analyzed with regard to the research questions. The analysis of the research question is heavily dependent on the researchers analytical ability. The researchers should be able to integrate the concepts brought out in literature review with theories learned in class to come up with a case. The case will basically be an answer to the subquestions which are important in determining the answers to the research questions. A summary of the cases is brought our in the findings which should present the answers to all research questions. Recommendations are made in consideration of the concepts brought out by the subquestions and literature review. It is quite clear that each and every step in the research process is of importance to the development of the dissertation. Therefore, each step should be handle in a manner that will ensure integrity of the research process.
The following are some of the pros associated with the research approach that will be adopted:
l Cost effectiveness: The methodology employed is a qualitative approach where secondary data and content analysis are the main methods used in making observations and findings. Qualitative approaches to research are generally cost effective in consideration of finance and time. This is because the time and finances that would have been wasted in conducting primary research is saved. The ease in analyzing secondary data and information as compared to analyzing primary data is also influential on cost effectiveness of this approach to research.
l Accuracy: A structured approach to research is generally more organized than a flexible approach and the results can therefore be guaranteed. Confusion and disorganization that characterized flexible approaches are limited by the adoption of a clearly set out research process. This structured approach also ensures cost effectiveness and provides a mechanism through which time can be allocated to activities. Moreover, the guidelines put in place minimizes the risk of bias and error in research hence ensuring accuracy of data and information that will be collected.
l Appropriateness: Computer application to instructional systems is one of the main areas in which computer science finds application. The fields of study are therefore well researched on and information or data regarding the research questions should be readily available. The availability of data and information minimizes the need for primary research thus making the approach more suitable to the achievement of goals with an additional advantage of cost effectiveness.
These are the cons associated with the approach that will be adopted in research:
l Researcher Control: The researcher is in control of all aspects of the research putting the integrity of the entire research under his mercy. The researcher may knowingly or unconsciously doctor the results and observations. The researcher may tend to observe themes that are inclined towards a particular view. Such a subjective approach dents the integrity of the entire research process.
l Bias: Though measures have been put in place to ensure integrity of literature resources that will be used in the research, it can only be assumed that the sources will exhibit no bias. The qualitative approach makes it impossible to ascertain levels of bias using proven statistical approaches. Therefore, author bias may find its way to findings and recommendations flawing the research process.
l Complexity: An analytical approach to analyzing results is not as well defined as structured statistical approaches. In situations where the variables involved in the research and their relationship is not clear, analysis can be a time consuming nightmare. Thus the method employs an approach where analysis depending on the nature of variables found in the literature review is gullible to rolling out of control.
These are some of the limitations of the proposed approach to research:
l Literature Resources: Though the use of a large number of resources is well advised in the research approach employed, one can only use finitely many references and the number of references is limited by accuracy, objectivity and time allocated for research.
l Non-Uniformity: The research postulates that the areas being researched on is uniform and the views of the literature resources referenced is representative of the situation as it really is on the ground. Not all areas of research display uniform distribution, the application of this research approach in fields that display non-uniformity will result to wrong findings.
Some of the assumptions that will be made in the research include:
l The authors in the fields referenced have uniform views which are representative of the situation on the ground.
l The approach used in the selection of information resources ensures minimum bias.
l Researcher bias is negligible.
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