Learning Foreign Languages in a Digital Environment: Learners’ Perception of the Sudden Transition to e-Learning During COVID-19 Lockdown
Keywords:e-learning, lockdown, online learning, foreign language learning, learning motivation, COVID-19
The research is devoted to the study of the forced and accelerated transition of education to an online environment on the example of learning a foreign language. Despite a large number of studies on e-learning, this study is one of the newest investigating recent education transformation trends. The ultimate goal of this paper was to study changes in students’ assessments of the e-learning process, participation in online-based education, and academic success during the transition to virtual training. The study involved 600 students from 5 private specialized educational institutions located in Moscow (Russian Federation) who were forced to switch to e-learning during the lockdown. The examination was conducted by means of a survey assessing the usefulness, comfort, and acceptability of e-learning in three isolated questions formulated by the authors and measured on a five-point Likert scale. The comparison of its outcomes with the results of objective knowledge tests at the beginning and at the end of the three-month e-learning period revealed the following outcomes. First of all, a decrease in the assessment of the acceptability of continuing e-learning for both genders was noted. According to female respondents, the assessment of the comfort of e-learning decreased significantly (from 3.70 to 3.14 points). In the meantime, the usefulness score dropped notably for both male and female research participants (from 4.10 to 2.98 and from 3.80 to 2.26, respectively). Similar changes were found in four age categories ranging from 20 to 42 years old. Thus, the participants over 30 demonstrated lower final scores. Academic success also decreased in the group of men compared to the group of women. The findings of this study can be practically applied for the further transformation of educational programs and additional preparation of educators with the aim of facilitating learning transition to an online mode. Future research on the topic can be conducted in other regions of the world to obtain more comparative data and investigate different learners’ perceptions.
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