Using cloud-based virtual learning environments to mitigate increasing disparity in urban-rural academic competence

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The unequal distribution of educational opportunities between urban and rural areas is still a significant challenge in China. As a result, students from urban areas can benefit from highly qualified teachers and enjoy state-of-the-art facilities in contrast with their rural counterparts. Consequently, students from urban areas are more likely to join higher education institutes in comparison with their rural counterparts. In such a scenario, a cloud-based virtual learning environment (C-VLE) is of great importance to provide quality education in rural areas. This study aims to predict C-VLE usage's impact on academic performance and gender differences in rural China. The respondents belonged to rural areas and experienced varying levels of such difficulties. This study extended the task-technology fit theory with the channel expansion theory. The study revealed that task-technology fit, individual-technology fit, perceived media richness, omnipresence, and interactivity positively influence C-VLE usage that leads elevating academic performance. As a result, the students from rural areas have a better competitive position than their urban counterparts. Surprisingly, gender did not play any moderating role. The study provides significant theoretical and practical implications for scholars, educational authorities, and policymakers.

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Technological Forecasting and Social Change



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