An investigation of the acceptance of mobile learning by high school students in the K-12 context in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Author: Tamim Alkhalifah

Alkhalifah, Tamim, 2018 An investigation of the acceptance of mobile learning by high school students in the K-12 context in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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Governments around the world are investing more than ever in the education of their citizens, eager for them to compete, and to help their countries compete, in the global economy. As Nelson Mandela (2003) noted, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world’.

In the 21st century, this means not just education for knowledge, but learning new ways of accessing knowledge, including the use of digital information and communication technologies (ICT) and information systems (IS), particularly the Internet, tablets, laptops, and mobile phones. In March 2017, as part of its efforts to modernise and enhance education, the Saudi Arabian government announced a plan to digitise its education system by replacing books with mobile technologies in K-12 education (5 to 18 years old) by 2020. However, a detailed review of the literature in mobile learning acceptance revealed that little research has been conducted into the factors that influence students’ acceptance of mobile learning in K-12 education.

A strong need, therefore, exists for policy makers in the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education to understand what factors are likely to affect the acceptance of mobile learning (M-learning) in order to plan how to support its introduction. The research described in this thesis is a response to this need through its investigation of the probable factors influencing mobile learning acceptance among students in high school (16 to 18 years old) in Saudi Arabia. The study makes an important theoretical contribution of a model for M-learning in high school by integrating the technology acceptance literature (specifically UTAUT) with factors from the education and broad IS literature (hedonic motivation, system quality, self-management of learning).

The mixed-methods research consisted of three different phases. In Phase 1, an online questionnaire, including both closed and open-ended items, was used to ascertain the attitudes of high school students towards M-learning in order to refine the conceptual model for the research. In Phase 2, a second online questionnaire was used to collect data to statistically test and validate the research model using structural equation modelling (SEM). For Phase 3, an M-learning application (app) related to English language learning was developed and provided to students for use on their mobile devices, and a third online questionnaire was used (after using the app) to confirm and validate the findings of the statistically tested model in Phase 2. Phase 3 also provided an opportunity to identify any factors which had not been covered by the research model. The findings of the three phases were triangulated to test their validity.

Data analysis confirmed the influence of performance expectancy, effort expectancy, hedonic motivation, system quality and self-management of learning on the acceptance of M-learning among the student cohort. On the other hand, the results indicated that social influence did not affect behaviour intention to use M-learning. Moreover, the results indicated that gender as the moderating factor was not supported for the research sample. Furthermore, the results of the M-learning software experiment confirmed and validated the findings of the statistical model (extended UTAUT), while revealing a potential factor, affordability, to be significant in the acceptance of M-learning.

The research has both theoretical and practical implications. The thorough and extensive literature review demonstrated that M-learning studies related to the acceptance of digital learning in K-12 education in the Middle East and Arab region are rare. The study has made a vital theoretical contribution of a model for M-learning acceptance for high school education by integrating the UTAUT, education and information system literatures. Additionally, it is the first study to develop a purpose built app to practically confirm and validate the factors that significantly influence Saudi Arabian students’ acceptance of M-learning. The outcomes of the study, therefore, not only offer insights and information that will assist, even encourage, future researchers, but the methods used in the study are also instructive for future research in K-12 education. Furthermore, the findings will assist the Ministry of Education in developing workflows and plans for the implementation of their 2017 policy for the modernisation of education.

Keywords: Mobile learning, Technology acceptance, UTAUT model, SEM analysis, Mobile apps

Subject: Computer Science thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: Denise de Vries