Cloud computing adoption and usage in community colleges

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Haifa Library]On: 22 October 2013, At: 09:20Publisher: Taylor & FrancisInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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    Cloud computing adoption and usage in communitycollegesTara S. Behrend a , Eric N. Wiebe b , Jennifer E. London b & Emily C. Johnson ca Department of Organizational Sciences & Communication , The George WashingtonUniversity , Washington, DC, 20052, USAb Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, North Carolina State University , Raleigh,North Carolina, USAc Federal Management Partners, Inc. , Alexandria, Virginia, USAPublished online: 15 Jul 2010.

    To cite this article: Tara S. Behrend , Eric N. Wiebe , Jennifer E. London & Emily C. Johnson (2011) Cloudcomputing adoption and usage in community colleges, Behaviour & Information Technology, 30:2, 231-240, DOI:10.1080/0144929X.2010.489118

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  • Cloud computing adoption and usage in community colleges

    Tara S. Behrenda*, Eric N. Wiebeb, Jennifer E. Londonb and Emily C. Johnsonc

    aDepartment of Organizational Sciences & Communication, The George Washington University, Washington DC 20052, USA;bFriday Institute for Educational Innovation, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; cFederal

    Management Partners, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia, USA

    (Received 15 September 2009; nal version received 21 April 2010)

    Cloud computing is gaining popularity in higher education settings, but the costs and benets of this tool have gonelargely unexplored. The purpose of this study was to examine the factors that lead to technology adoption in ahigher education setting. Specically, we examined a range of predictors and outcomes relating to the acceptance ofa cloud computing platform in rural and urban community colleges. Drawing from the Technology AcceptanceModel 3 (TAM3) (Venkatesh, V. and Bala, H., 2008. Technology Acceptance Model 3 and a research agenda oninterventions. Decision Sciences, 39 (2), 273315), we build on the literature by examining both the actual usage andfuture intentions; further, we test the direct and indirect eects of a range of predictors on these outcomes.Approximately 750 community college students enrolled in basic computing skills courses participated in this study;ndings demonstrated that background characteristics such as the students ability to travel to campus hadinuenced the usefulness perceptions, while ease of use was largely determined by rst-hand experiences with theplatform, and instructor support. We oer recommendations for community college administrators and others whoseek to incorporate cloud computing in higher education settings.

    Keywords: cloud computing; Technology Acceptance Model; higher education; community college; educationaltechnology

    1. Introduction

    Cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular asa way to deliver technology to secondary and post-secondary education environments and other organi-sations. Industry leaders estimate that revenues fromcloud computing enterprises will reach $160 billion,and dene cloud computing as an emerging ITdevelopment, deployment and delivery model, en-abling real-time delivery of products, services andsolutions over the Internet (Fowler and Worthen2009). With its emphasis on the delivery of low-cost orfree applications anywhere on the Internet, cloudcomputing is a promising prospect for educationalinstitutions faced with budget restrictions and mobilestudent population. Commercial providers are eager toencourage educational adoption of cloud computing;for example, Google has created a special educationedition of their cloud-based Google Apps and touts ontheir website the number of educational institutionsthat have adopted this suite (Google 2009). Successfulimplementation of cloud computing in educationalsettings, however, requires careful attention to anumber of factors from both the student and schoolsperspective. This study examines the implementation

    of a cloud computing initiative in a community collegesetting with the goal of identifying the factors that leadto successful implementation.

    1.1. Cloud computing

    The term cloud computing describes the softwareapplications or other resources that exist online andare available to multiple users via the Internet, ratherthan being installed on a particular users localcomputer. Users can access these applications fromany computer with a high speed Internet connectionwhile having no other connection to the hardware thatholds the source software (Gruman 2008). Becausecomputation takes place on a remote server, the usershardware requirements are much lower than theywould be otherwise, reducing both cost and main-tenance requirements (Erenben 2009). For this reason,cloud computing holds appeal for school adminis-trators who seek to reduce information technology(IT) budgets (Behrend et al. 2008a). For many schoolsystems, cloud computing allows students to accesssoftware that was previously unavailable either due tocost or due to capability limitations in the local

    *Corresponding author. Email: behrend@gwu.edu

    Behaviour & Information Technology

    Vol. 30, No. 2, MarchApril 2011, 231240

    ISSN 0144-929X print/ISSN 1362-3001 online

    2011 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/0144929X.2010.489118

    http://www.informaworld.com

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  • computer hardware (Jerald and Orlofsky 1999). Alter-nately, applications can be oered through cloudsolutions because they are easier to maintain ascentralised services. Some well-known providers ofsuch applications are email service providers such asGmail or Yahoo. Similarly, Google provides GoogleDocs (2007), a popular, free program that allows a userto upload a document and specify other users who canhave access to it.

    Cloud computing can be highly benecial ineducational settings. Among the possible benets isthe enhanced usefulness of the existing technology.Because processing is done outside a users computer,older computers can remain useful for longer periodsof time. In addition, installing software or repairingerrors can be done centrally at the server level by theschool IT sta, as opposed to that at the individualcomputer level, which can result in less time expendedon these tasks (Chen 2004, Erenben 2009).

    Community colleges have begun to oer moredistance learning courses in the hopes that with agreater exibility to complete their coursework, morestudents will be able to enrol. In this scenario, cloudcomputing oers a way to ensure that students are ableto access and run the required course software,regardless of their location or local computer proces-sing power. Without cloud computing, the potential ofdistance learning is often not realised for technology-intensive courses, as students would need to travel tocampus to access the software they need in schoollaboratories.

    Rural students may have the most to gain fromcloud computing initiatives. Students who attend ruralschools are typically dispersed and have to commutelonger distances to get to campus. Cloud computingcan meet these students needs by providing a commoninterface to a class or a school and by providing richcontent that allows the students to engage in learningregardless of location. The prospect of completingtechnology assignments from home instead of stayingafter school to use laboratory computers may mean thedierence between staying enrolled and dropping out,as high transportation costs can become unmanageablefor many low-resource students (Sander 2008).

    Along with the substantial benets of cloudcomputing, though, come potential pitfalls that canimpede usefulness and cause substantial frustration.One concern is the prospect of uncontrollable down-time, which will vary by provider, and can occur asserver maintenance is performed or as unforeseenoutages occur (Stone 2008). Because software isaccessed remotely, there may be a perceived or actuallack of control over when it will be available for use.Another concern is the lack of training and support forkey stakeholders, such as instructors, administrators or

    IT professionals. Unless instructors both understandand endorse cloud computing as a means of softwaredelivery, students will probably not understand thebenets from the system (Behrend et al. 2008b).

    1.2. Cloud computing in community collegeeducation

    Many community college students attend courses whilebalancing other roles and obligations, such as a full-time job or a family, making them more likely thantraditional college students to drop out before com-pleting degree requirements (Conklin 1997, Medvedand Heisler 2002). Finances can also be a factor indecisions to pursue higher education, for instancewhen gas prices make long commutes to campusprohibitive (Sander 2008) or when courses requireexpensive software. Perhaps in part due to these issues,college students tend to appreciate learning tools thatallow them greater exibility to do their work whenand where they want (Beyth-Marom et al. 2003, Selim2007).

    Given that rural community colleges are relativelyunderfunded and tend to serve a dispersed studentbody where long commutes require even largerinvestments of time (Yudko et al. 2006), cloudcomputing could be a technological innovation thatboth reduces IT costs for the college and eliminatesmany of the time-related constraints for students,making learning tools accessible for a larger number ofstudents. It is clear that careful, strategic integration ofcloud computing applications into courses is necessaryif students are to accept and use them; research on thistopic, however, does not yet exist to guide colleges.Thus, it is important to understand the factors thatlead students to embrace this technology, from both aninstructional and administrative/planning perspective(Venkatesh and Bala 2008). The purpose of the currentstudy is to address this goal by examining studentcharacteristics and experiences that lead to successfuladoption of a cloud computing platform in a commu-nity college setting. The following sections outline thetheoretical frameworks we draw from to form ourpredictions.

    1.3. Theoretical background

    Successful implementation and adoption of ITs such ascloud computing depend on technical factors of IT,characteristics of the organisation that introduces thetechnology and the response of individuals within theorganisation to the new technological tools. Central tothis research has been the inuential TechnologyAcceptance Model (TAM) (Davis 1989, Davis 1993,Venkatesh and Davis 2000, Venkatesh et al. 2003,

    232 T.S. Behrend et al.

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  • Venkatesh and Bala 2008). Though the TAM wasinitially developed to predict individual adoption anduse of new technologies in a business setting, theframework has also been used in educational settings.We draw from the TAM in developing hypothesesabout the factors that lead community college studentsto adopt cloud computing resources oered by theircollege. The initial and subsequent TAM renementshave garnered extensive empirical support (e.g. Al-Gahtani and King 1999, Venkatesh et al. 2003, Kingand He 2006, Karahanna et al. 2006, Schepers andWetzels 2007, Venkatesh et al. 2007) and provide arobust framework that is well aligned with the cloudcomputing IT acceptance context being studied.

    The most recent TAM, i.e. TAM3 (Figure 1), canbe best understood by exploring the determinants toperceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. TheTAM posits that individuals behavioural intention touse IT is determined by two beliefs: perceivedusefulness and perceived ease of use (Venkatesh andBala 2008). Perceived usefulness is dened as the extentto which a person believes that using an IT willenhance their job performance, while perceived ease ofuse is dened as the degree to which a person believesthat using an IT will be free of eort. These two beliefsare driven by a number of other external factors (e.g.specic characteristics of the IT system, organisationor the individual user).

    Individual dierences are important determinantsof the construct of ease of use. Among the identiedfactors are computer self-ecacy, computer anxietyand computer playfulness. Computer self-ecacy is thedegree to which an individual believes that they havethe ability to perform a specic task or job using acomputer or a related technology (Compeau andHiggins 1995). Computer anxiety, on the other hand,is the degree of an individuals apprehension, or evenfear, when she/he is faced with the possibility of usingcomputers (Venkatesh 2000, p. 349). Finally, computerplayfulness is . . . the degree of cognitive spontaneity inmicrocomputer interactions . . .[where] those higher in

    microcomputer playfulness tend to be more sponta-neous, inventive, and imaginative in their microcom-puter interactions (Webster and Martocchio 1992, p.204).

    Perception of external control, a facilitating condi-tion, is also a determinant of perceived ease of use.Perception of external control is dened as the degreeto which an individual believes that there areorganisational and technical resources available tosupport his/her use of IT system (Venkatesh et al.2003). Finally, there are two system characteristics thatare the determinants of perceived ease of use: perceivedenjoyment is the extent to which the system is perceivedto be enjoyable in its own right, regardless as towhether its use impacts job performa...

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