Higher education and research requires quick and easy access to large amount of information, which calls for an introduction of networked digital technology in this field. Use of ICT applications and e-learning can help universities provide access to information to its students. In a previous blog, we had discussed the challenges faced by universities in introducing ICT and e-learning in higher education in Kenya. Please read the blog here: Information and Communications Technology and E-learning in Higher Education
Individual higher educational institutions will require to follow the below procedures in order to be ICT-ready. This will ensure improvement in the quality and efficiency of delivery of higher education.
Before starting to setup ICT applications in universities, it is important to carry out needs assessments for the use of ICT in the improvement of quality and efficiency of higher education delivery, and create increased use of it.
Digital technology has changed the way we live, work, communicate and learn. Everything from research to communication in higher education involves the use of technology. Online distance learning has transformed the use of technology in the field of different higher education programs.
Here, the individual institutions need to identify the domains in which there is a need to infuse ICT application for enhancing quality and efficiency.
Higher educational institutions must work out a strategy to implement ICT and e-learning. The delivery of education is different to the traditional methods and thus needs development of a plan and its constant review. Introduction of an alternate method of delivering education will affect the way teachers teach, students learn and administrators carry out their tasks.
Therefore, there needs to be a set strategy which will define what further actions needs to be taken in terms of all aspects of implementation of ICT and e-learning in the curriculum.
Introducing ICT applications and e-learning in higher education will need development of institutions in terms of technical, infrastructural, organizational and administrative capacity. The efficient use of information and research networks will help universities to improve the quality of higher education and thus there should be ways to build the capacity of all aspects of ICT applications.
For an instance, if an individual institution intends to deliver an agricultural program by means of using ICT applications or providing an e-learning platform for it, then they must prepare themselves to be equipped with all that is required. The specific program might require the right kind of content, equipments and other tools to build the right capacity to deliver knowledge.
There have been studies to measure the digital divide between those who have access to ICT tools and those who do not. The tools could include computer hardware, software and digital networking tools. Higher educational institutions in Kenya need sufficient bandwidth with an extensive network to allow access to information to students, teachers and other staff. This improved access will also facilitate connectivity between local research and the delivery of education in higher educational institutions.
The ability to use the ICT tools is as much important as much as the access to digital technology and internet is. There are cognitive skills required by the teachers and other staff to manage, deliver, integrate, assess and develop information using technology. As a part of the capacity building for ICT, higher educational institutions will need to train and develop staff to be able to use different ICT and e-learning tools. Improving the ICT proficiency through proper training and development of teaching, administrative and management staff will enable better quality and efficiency of higher education delivery methods.
ICT proficiency is the ability to use digital technology, communication tools, and/or networks appropriately to solve information problems in order to function in an information society. This includes the ability to use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate, and communicate information and the possession of a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information.
Online distance learning programs and use of ICT and e-learning as an alternate delivery method in higher education will require the curricula to be revised. The new pedagogy will need the infusion of different ICT applications that will include internet, intranet and other ICT tools. Once the course pedagogy is developed in sync with the new and innovative use of networked digital technology, delivery of education will improve in terms of quality and efficiency.
Meeting these requisites will enable universities to build the capacity required to implement ICT and e-learning in their curriculum and will also make them ICT-ready. Implementation of this procedure on an institutional level will help smooth infusion of ICT applications and e-learning in higher education in Kenya.