The impacts of IT on the quality of Higher education

The impacts of IT on the quality of Higher education





1.0 Research Questions & Objectives

A good number of academic books, articles and journals have given different varying opinions on the impacts of information technology on the quality of higher education. Others have given positive reports on the impacts with e few shortcomings while others have also reported on negative effects with at least some positive impacts on the quality. For example, Yuan & CETIS (2013) cites several positive impacts such as open curriculum which enable learners to combine academic sources, packages together with various disciplines in order to meet many of their needs which implies good quality. At the same time, Cristensen (2003) cited in Yuan & CETIS (2013) reports that the existing higher education model of funding has been well thought-out to be a major barrier to exploring fresh models of business and innovative techniques in the learning institutions.

The main problem is thus to investigate which side of impacts outweighs the other that is, positive or negative. The research on this problem is important because it will help learning institutions to take corrective actions on areas of curriculum weakness in relation to IT. The varying report opinions leads us to a number of research questions listed bellow with an aim of finding out the level of positive impact against the negative impacts of IT on the quality of higher education.

1.1 Research questions

How does information technology contribute to good performance of students in the higher institutions of learning?

How does information technology contribute to poor student’s performance in the learning institutions?

What are the impacts of the negative performance brought about by IT on the students in terms of job market in the organizations or companies?

Does the structure of the syllabuses used has any effect on the adoption of IT and hence its effects on the performance of students?

Do you think that all students who perform well or bad academically also perform the same practically in the job market?

How do IT adoption inlearning institutions add value to the current syllabuses used in learning institutions?

1.2 Research objectives

The first objective is to find out the extent to which IT contributes to student’s good or bad performance at the higher learning institutions.

The research is also to establish whether the student’s good or bad performance has any effect on the quality of education in terms of job performance in the company or organization level.

The research is to find out whether the structure of syllabuses used has any added value and to what extent on the performance and hence the quality of education and competency in the job market.

The next objective is to find out whether the job performance by various graduates at the companies or organizations is due to good or bad quality of education brought about by IT.

After the analysis, I hope to achieve the result showing more weight of positive quality impacts as opposed to negative impacts on quality.

2.0 Systematic Literature Search

The database of online academic library of articles, journals and books has been used to help in the search of systematic literature that is relevant to the proposed topic above. This library of journals and articles is found through the Google scholar search engine available at internet site. The search by topic method was thus used to find the required sources of information that meets the requirements of the search topic. In order to retrieve the relevant articles from this online library of academic database, the following steps were followed.

2.1 Steps taken

First, the existing or the available browser which is Mozilla Firefox software in this case, was launched. The was then typed at the address bar of the browser followed by a click event to the search command. A specific topic was then proposed first within the line of IT in which the entire research is to be based. The topic is entitled, “The impacts of IT on the quality of higher education”. Once the scholar Google search engine appeared on the screen, this research topic was typed, followed again by a click event on the search command next to it. A list of several books, articles, and journals then appeared on the screen in a variety of page tabs. In order to get the most reliable information that are up to date, the list of articles and journals were sorted first to include only those sources that were published at most five years ago. This was done using the sort feature that is available within the same interface of the Google search engine.

Since the articles and journal sources come with their associated topics and brief synopsis on the screen, this helped in knowing the source or sources with the contents that matches the research topic. Others sources appears as pdf, that is, portable document format which can be downloaded, others in the form of hypertext markup language webpage which can also be downloaded easily. The others also have portable document format with only the abstract of the article and thus cannot be downloaded directly unless bought. The others are books which can be opened and read while online but cannot be downloaded. In some cases, the sources with well summarized abstract were also considered in the case where the whole article cannot be accessed. Starting with the first page tab, the relevant sources were opened, read and/or downloaded where possible. The associated source citations provided were also downloaded from the cite tab command provided immediately after the synopsis of the article or journal. The same process was repeated by navigating all the available pages through the page tabs until all the required relevant sources were found and selected for use in the research. The search did not necessarily visit all the existing web pages. As long as a good number of relevant sources and materials were found, the search was terminated. The Google scholar was then closed and then the browser itself respectively. The downloaded sources are finally read and compiled by extracting major points which are more relevant to the chosen topic of study. This is done source by source until all the selected and downloaded sources are exhausted.

The summary of the search algorithm is sequentially represented as shown bellow.

Start by launching the existing browser and wait for it to open up

Type in the address bar of the browser and click the search button.

Think of the specific, precise and relevant topic to search about and type it on the Google scholar once it opens up and click search command next to it.

Sort the various articles and journals to fit the years of publication using the available sort feature.

Select the relevant article or journal from the list that appears on the screen by reading their synopsis, opening them and even downloading the entire article where possible.

Click the cite tab provided bellow the selected article or journal and copy the related citation in the format specified for the research.

Repeat the same process by navigating through all the page tabs available until the required number of the specified sources is found which are relevant to the topic of study.

Close the Google scholar search engine once you are through with the whole process of the search. Then finally close down the browser.

Compilation is then carried out by reading each and every source accordingly.

3.0 Analysis and Critical Evaluation

3.1 Techniques used

In one of the articles entitled, Digital learners in higher education by Wong, Levinson & Shojania (2012), a study was carried out by using the techniques of structured interviews and surveys in five schools. The findings were thus based on center of attention for a collective interview with 69 students together with a survey responses received from the random sample of 438 students who were all second years in fourteen various programs in five schools within the institution. The number of female and male students interviewed was 188 and 247 respectively where the number of male students outweighed those of female students with the percentages indicated at 56.8% and 43.25 respectively. The average age of all interviewees was reported to be 24.1. the students t-test and the Mann Whitney test were then carried out in order to test for the significance of the generational variations in behavior that could come as a result of impact of technology on the quality of education.

The independent t-test was also employed for the significance measure of the difference in groups. The generation was used as the independent variable with particular characteristics of the generation being use as the dependent variable. In the use of Mann Whitney test for differences in group, the ICT use was taken as the dependent variable with the given that the ICT data was not measured on interval scale but ordinal. The sample data was thus divided in to two groups namely the net-generation students which mean those who were born in the year 1982 and after that. The other group was the non-net generation students who were born before the year 1982. In order to deal with the net generational characteristics, 11 survey items were used while 2 items were used to find out the preferences for students for communication with instructor and peers (Wong, Levinson & Shojania 2012)

3.2 Resources used

The authors have used reliable sources in support of their research. Most of the sources used are journals and articles on issues of technology and the use of computers. Examples of journals used in this research include the ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence by Bennett, Maton and Kervin(2880), beyond the ‘digital natives debate: Towards a more nuanced understanding of students technology experiences by Bennet and Maton (2010), the net generation in higher education: Rhetoric and reality by Bullen et al. (2009), Digital natives, digital immigrants: An analysis of ICT competence in teacher education by Guo, Dobson and Petrina (2008) and many more related sources. It is evident that the authors in deed used reliable technology sources to support their research and thus the findings from their research cannot be disputed. This means that the paper is also based on the credibility of future research (Wong, Levinson & Shojania 2012)

The authors also used the sources most of which were recent as per that particular time. Therefore the time of publication of the sources used is also enough evidence that the research is indeed based on sources which are credible. In addition, the relevance of the sources used concurs with the author’s topic of study and research which is basically the IT technology versus education. If the information from all these sources led to credible findings and conclusions, then any reference made from their publications is also true and thus further research can be developed from the same.

3.3 Evaluation of results

The results of the research findings and the review of the literature added to the advanced body of research. The findings were consistent with those of other previous researchers which they used as their sources, some of which are listed above in the resources section. The past researchers also suggested that criticality is really required concerning the claim that the differences of these generations and much extra care concerning the implementation changes to the higher institutions of learning founded on these ideas. A major finding of the study in this article was that generational divide does not exist in the body of students for the higher institutions of learning. In other words, the students born before and after the year 1982 were not significantly different. The authors in their findings stated that the findings are not arguments for upholding the status quo at the higher institutions of learning. The findings rather implied we require avoiding the temptation of basing our decisions on the stereotypes of the generations. Instead we need to look for deeper understanding of how students are employing technology and the role played by the IT technology in their learning and teaching in higher education. The context is thus the main issue; therefore, the faculties and students need to be given specific ICT to both the context and content (Wong, Levinson & Shojania 2012)

The findings also stated that the IT infrastructure that was put in place within the institution was necessary according to most of the students. Nevertheless, it was further stated that the software that were put in place for students did not entirely offer suitable return on investment, that is, added value on the quality of education. This is because the students as reported depended so much on constrained freely available tools rather than using the ones provided by the institutions.

3.4 Article conclusion

The study in this article concluded that the students in higher institutions of higher learning use limited set of infrastructure fir the ICT. In addition, the use of IT infrastructure is driven by the cost,, immediacy and familiarity. The conclusion further stated that the use of a number of ICT equipment was ubiquitous and thus did not find any proof that could support the arguments that digital literacy, connectedness, need for immediacy in addition to need for the experiential learning for quality were characteristics of a specific generation of learners. The conclusion the findings were consistent with Reeves & Oh, 2007; SelWyn, 2009, Kvavik, 2005; Margaryan & Littlejohn, 2008; Pedró, 2009; and Kennedy et al., 2007, 2009 whose article publications were all used by the authors in their reference of sources.

4. Research proposal

The specific topic chosen for discussion from the previous section is “The impacts of IT on the quality of Higher education”. The following research question can be derived from this topic of discussion.

Does IT really have significant impact on the quality of education at higher learning institutions?

This question can be answered by carrying out a project that can be conducted through a research proposal. The research proposal in this case will employ various strategies and methodologies for the generation and analysis of data. The research will use statistical techniques for data collection, analysis and interpretation. The methodologies to be used will include a combination of interviews and sample self managed sample surveys. The answer to this question will also be useful given that negative critical incidents in addition to attitudes are the major determinants of the intention of users to proceed with the use of e-learning, regardless of their experience in e-learning. The impact of negative serious events on apparent ease of use is greater for users who are less experienced. On the other hand, the impact of negative serious events on the apparent usefulness is greater for extra experienced users. All these factors are thus the determining factors on the use of it facilities by students to gain the quality of its use. Therefore experience in the use of IT comes first before its attributed value is considered. This also implies that not all students will benefit from the quality of using IT unless they are all experienced to use it(Lin, 2011).

4.1 Justification on the choice of methodologies

4.1.1 Use of sample surveys

The self managed mode of sample surveys will be appropriate for this case because it more suitable in situations where probability sampling is applied in order to be able to make generalization to particular population of target. It thus places an emphasis on the significance of coverage error topics that will have established awareness in the literature of survey. Sample surveys will also b used because it is expected to cheaper in terms of cost and time as compared to covering the entire population. (Bennett et al. 2011). The face, construct and content are some of the existing methods for establishing the survey instrument validity that will be considered for use. In this case, a process that comprises of four steps will be employed. The steps start with the definition of constructs plus the content sphere, generation and judgment of items of measurement, designing and carrying out studies for the development of scale and scale finalization in that order. It should also be noted that use of construct in validation is essential for guaranteeing accuracy and survey instrument validity although it is also a time rigorous course (Burton & Mazerolle, 2011).

As far as this research is concerned, the advent of computers with complicated software, for instance, has made it promising to solve several difficult problems extremely fast at the lowest cost possible. This is also made possible due to the huge production of affordable computers, creation of internet broadband connection and rich content in education which has also generated a worldwide occurrence in which ICT is employed in the transformation of education (Masud & Huang, 2012). Consequently, the sample survey is very suitable in this case to gather information from various students in higher institutions of learning with the main aim of establishing whether the use of the ICT in these institutions has any significance on the quality of education in terms of any added value to the skills of graduates.

4.1.2 Use of interviews

The use of structured interviews will be preferred in this case for the reason of providing respondents with a flexible way of giving elaborate responses. In addition, the use of interviews also provides a cheaper method cost wise than when methods such as questionnaires are employed though time intensive. The research in general thus tends to minimize the total financial cost. Interview also permits the interviewer to gather the most accurate data as you get time to interact with the interviewee one on one. This makes it somehow easier to judge the eventual data collected from the given sample size taken. Interview is also most appropriate and easier to conduct in situations whereby only sample size of population is targeted. This is because the process of trying to carry out an interview for the whole population under study will be very tedious and time consuming. Nevertheless, the sample data collected will be analyzed and the conclusion drawn from it will be interpreted to apply to the whole population. This implies that interview method of data gathering will not be suitable in situations where very large sample size is taken as this will consume a lot of time. Other methods like the use of questionnaires will be most appropriate for such situations although it will also be very expensive in terms of cost of printing and structuring the valid questionnaire for the large coverage (Zikmund, Babin & Griffin, 2012, Pickard, 2012).

Quality of education which is the main point of research for this paper can be affected by several factors which this interview method seeks to establish. There is always a limit to the time, money and talent that can be invested in e-learning facilities by an individual in the context of higher education. It can also be challenging to maintain the engagement of student away from traditional classroom setting and make sure that students get timely feedback that will be very helpful to them in carrying out their assignments. Reports from the past research also reveal that institutions still uses both the traditional classrooms in addition to ICT facilities for dissemination of knowledge to students. We can also ask why the institutions cannot just use pure ICT infrastructure if at all it is more effective and reliable in ensuring the best quality. It also seems that the old methods of teaching are still very useful and hold some added quality to higher education. It is as a result of this that the research on quality of education plans to use structured interview method to get possible views from the students concerning the benefit they achieve by using the IT infrastructure and equipment in their study (Tarhini et al. 2015).

4.2 Relevance of proposal to the current topic of research

This research is relevant to the current research topic because it will deliver result that can be used to tell whether the use ICT in the higher institutions of learning has any relationship with the quality of education either on the negative or positive side of it. As a result, the institutional management will be in a position to use the result of this research to make corrective measures on the weakness part of using IT technology or enhance the use of IT infrastructure for extra quality in higher education.

4.3 Strategy and analysis

4.3.1 Strategy

The coding strategy will be used to code the collected data through interview and sample surveys. The coding will be done by the use of statistical package for social science (SPSS). The SPSS which is statistical software will make it easier to code, analyze and interpret the data for reliable results. This will also enhance accuracy of computation during the analysis process since SPSS consists of inbuilt complex statistical formulas which help in fast computations at the electronic speed.

4.3.2 Analysis

The sample in this case will be divided in to experienced users and non-experienced users. The collected data will be grouped in to tables of frequencies and percentages that identify the non- experienced and the experienced users. Others descriptive statistics such as mean, variance and standard deviations will be used to provide more information from the collected data. The idea here is to find out whether experienced students in using technology have better quality in education in terms of performance in class and in the job market as compared to less-experienced students.

The independence t-test will be applied to test for the significance of group differences between experienced and non-experienced student users at either 99% or 95 % confidence interval for the 0.01 or 0.05 significance level respectively. The experience will be used as the independent variable with specific level of experience as the dependent variable in the coding process. The relationship between the use of IT and the quality of education in terms of performance will be computed using bivariate correlation analysis. The analysis of bivariate correlation will be will be carried out using ICT use and performance as the independent and dependent variables respectively. In this case, correlation values ranging from 0.1 to 0.3 will be interpreted as weak correlation. The correlation values between 0.3 and 0.7 will be interpreted as moderate correlation while any correlation value above 0.7 will be interpreted as strong correlation. These correlation values can either fall on the positive or negative side (Field, 2013).

4.4 Interpretation

The results of correlation will be interpreted based on the value of correlation (spearman in this case) and the significant level, that is, either 0.01 or 0.05 together with the direction of correlation, that is, positive or negative. The t-test interpretation will be done by stating the population value, value of the degrees of freedom, the level of significance as well as the sample mean with the standard deviation (Field, 2013).

4.5 Ethical value

The ethical values that may involve in this study include the report on the sources of finance for the research as well as information on procedures used for research and whether the study has received research ethics review of the board.

4.6 Schedule and dissemination plan

Research schedule for the year 2015

April May June July and Aug September October

Research proposal Preparing interview and survey questions Data collection Grouping and coding of data Analysis and interpretation Reporting and thesis writing

The interview and survey questions are to be distributed or disseminated in person to the respective student’s respondents in a selected institution of higher learning.


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