Understanding the advent of information technology in teaching at the University: A case study of the University of British Columbia
Reginald Nnazor, The University of British Columbia , Canada
Doctor of Philosophy, The University of British Columbia . Awarded
This study investigated the use of interactive information technology in teaching at the University of British Columbia in early 1997, the factors influencing it, and the changes in the University associated with it.
The use of interactive information technology in on-campus and distance education at UBC is largely limited to E-mail, World Wide Web, and to a lesser extent, CD-ROM. It seems to be a relatively recent development, the number of users of technology in teaching increasing only since 1994.
Four factors in the broader external context are driving the use of interactive information technology in teaching at the University. These are: (1) demands on higher education for greater and more flexible access, as well as for technologically literate graduates, (2) the tight fiscal context in which the University operates, (3) the culture of information technology in Canadian and British Columbian society, (4) government policies on access, funding, and the use of technology in teaching.
Within the University itself are two kinds of influence: actions by the university leadership and the changing attitudes of faculty. The leadership has put in place enabling initiatives in six areas: (1) infrastructure, (2) equipment, (3) internet access, (4) funding, (5) faculty development, (6) university publications. The attitude of faculty members towards the use of the technology in teaching is generally positive. This is different from what was found in earlier studies (Black, 1992).
Given strong external pressures for the adoption of interactive information technology in teaching, given the existence of enabling structures and mechanisms from the university leadership, and given a marked increase in the favourableness of faculty attitudes, the question arises, why so little use seems to be made of the technology? A number of hindering factors emerge: (1) perceived or experienced pedagogical limitations of technology, (2) lack of time needed to learn or use the technology, (3) lack of professional reward for teaching by means of the technology, (4) lack of appropriate skills, and (5) lack of resources and equipment. There seem also to be three key organizational weaknesses in the technology-integration approach of the University. These are, (a) lack of coordination of the various initiatives, (b) a neglect of the motivational needs of faculty members, and (c) the assigning of technology responsibility to units that do not have academic policy-making authority.
Despite the modest use of interactive technology, there are indications that the prospects for the use of interactive information technology at the University for both on-campus and distance teaching are strong. The study shows that the University of British Columbia generally manifests features and tendencies typical of trends in the development of contemporary universities, such as increasing acceptance of interactive information technology in teaching, increasing responsiveness to societal imperatives, growing government influence, and institutional restructuring. A number of implications for policy and for research arising from the study are discussed.
Nnazor, R. Understanding the advent of information technology in teaching at the University: A case study of the University of British Columbia. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, The University of British Columbia.
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Kathryn Dixon, Lina Pelliccione & Geoff Giddings, Curtin University of Technology, Australia
EdMedia + Innovate Learning 2004 (2004) pp. 4922–4929
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