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This issue of CDTL Brief on Use of IT in Education discusses how IT can be used in various context to facilitate teaching and learning as well as factors that motivate or discourage faculty to adopt IT in teaching their courses.
April 2007, Vol. 10 No. 2 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
Factors Affecting the Adoption of Information Technology (IT) in Higher Education
 
Ms Kiruthika Ragupathi
Educational Technologist

Mr Krishna Booluck
Research Assistant

Ms Rita Roop
Senior Administrative Officer
Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning
 

Introduction

Information technology (IT) refers to an integrated framework of computers, software applications, multimedia content, the Internet, web-based applications, learning management systems (e.g. IVLE) and other tools that can be used to enhance the teaching and learning process. The benefits of using IT in teaching is supported by research and literature also indicates that one of the primary motivators in integrating IT into the curriculum is that it helps to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

Over the past few years, NUS has strived to cater to the IT needs of faculty and students. In an effort to fully exploit IT for teaching, learning, research and administration, NUS launched an on-going global campus initiative and invested heavily in setting up and providing IT infrastructure on campus to make IT readily available. While some faculty have accepted and adapted to new ways of teaching with IT, others resisted. This paper discusses results from a survey conducted in 2006 which examined what motivates faculty to adopt and use IT in their classes and what inhibits them.

Methodology and Study Participants

In the survey, questions were designed to determine:

  • faculty's knowledge of IT,

  • whether faculty use IT in teaching their courses,

  • faculty's self-reported proficiency in using IT,

  • whether faculty perceive benefits in using IT,

  • factors motivating faculty to use IT, and

  • factors keeping faculty from using IT.

Faculty were also asked to indicate their preferences in using IT in their courses and if they envisage using IT to support their teaching in the coming years.

Sample and Response Size

Surveys were mailed to 1721 full-time faculty at NUS. 486 (28% of 1721) faculty responded to the survey either through campus mail or the web-based survey. Faculty were asked to rate the importance of 25 factors that influence their use of IT for teaching purposes on a five-point Likert scale (0 = not important at all, 1 = of little importance, 2 = moderately important, 3 = very important and 2 = extremely important).

Key Findings

The responses were grouped into seven broad categories:

  1. perceived usefulness,
  2. perceived enjoyment,
  3. institutional factors,
  4. incentives and rewards,
  5. time constraints,
  6. inadequate support and training, and
  7. lack of knowledge and skills.

The frequencies of similar responses were tallied to analyse the patterns of IT usage. This information will be useful in analysing why some faculty resist the use of IT.

1

Figure 1. Factors motivating faculty in using IT in teaching

1) Perceived usefulness

Perceived usefulness includes concerns about how IT can improve the quality of teaching and student learning. It is obvious from the results (see Figure 3) that faculty value quality teaching and student learning as it is ranked 47%. Some respondents felt that they would use IT if students' learning experience can be improved, and if students appreciate or indicate a preference for using IT. Most respondents indicated that they would use IT only if it helps to enhance teaching and learning, and improves communication between students and them. This is evident from responses to the question where faculty were asked to rank the top benefits of using IT in their teaching (see Figure 4).

2) Perceived enjoyment

Perceived enjoyment encompasses factors like intellectual challenge, the opportunity to use new technologies, the opportunity for scholarly pursuit, personal motivation to use IT and overall job satisfaction. From Figure 3, we see that perceived enjoyment is the second most important factor in motivating faculty to use IT. Personal enjoyment and satisfaction from using IT seemed more important than recognition, rewards or incentives to use IT in teaching. Hence, this suggests that perceived enjoyment is necessary for encouraging faculty to use IT and in helping them to overcome any inhibiting factors that may be present.

2
Figure 2. Factors hindering the use of IT in teaching

3

Figure 3. Factors influencing the use of IT in teaching (based on categories)

3) Institutional factors

Institutional factors include time for planning, encouragement/support from university/department administration, grants for materials, expenses, design and development as well as recommendation/ support from peers. Though recommendation from peers is not considered important, the other three factors are ranked considerably higher.

4

Figure 4. Benefits of using IT in teaching

4) Rewards and incentive

Incentives and rewards were the least motivating factors. Only 15% of respondents felt that these were important. Some faculty indicated that professional prestige, status, recognition and monetary rewards that credit toward promotion and tenure, were not factors that would motivate them to use IT at NUS though these would be good to have!

5) Time constraints

Time is a critical resource to faculty and 38% of faculty cited time constraint as the most formidable barrier to adopting IT. Faculty need time to be familiar and experiment with new technologies and before they can be integrated effectively into the courses, and this takes time away from research activities. Though time is a critical issue, it also relates to the benefit derived from using technology. As one respondent put it, "Some were useful while others consumed too much time at low benefits". Hence, if faculty can see that the benefits of using a new technology outweighs the time spent on learning to use it, he/she may be more open to using IT in their courses.

6) Inadequate support and training

Training and support refer to technical support and assistance available during classes, training/ support in IT on campus and instructional design and development support provided by the university. Only one in five faculty members considered the lack of support and training a hindrance to using IT. This might indicate that faculty members are either generally happy with the level of support provided, or if they can see the benefits and are provided with adequate support at the same time, they could learn to use the technology.

7) Lack of knowledge and skills

As IT permeates into more areas of our lives and becomes more user-friendly, the issue of knowledge and skills becomes less important. When one develops a personal interest in IT and the confidence in using IT, the necessary knowledge and skills can be easily acquired. Technical support also makes IT easier to use.

Conclusions and Recommendations

It is evident from the study that faculty need to realise the advantage and value of using IT. Even though the infrastructure and new technologies are available, faculty will not use IT if they do not perceive any enjoyment or benefits to the teaching and learning experience.

It is recommended that attempts in IT integration should focus on using technology to make a greater impact on the educational experience rather than the acquisition of infrastructure. Time and perceived benefits of using IT to develop courses will continue to be an ongoing issue. The university should think of creative approaches to ensure that faculty have more time to experiment with integrating IT into their lessons. We should also explore ways of teaching and learning that are best supported by IT to enhance students' learning experience.

Further analysis will be performed on the data to see if the factors that motivate or inhibit faculty in using IT have any significance in relation to the following:

  • age group differences,
  • differences based on the years of university teaching, and
  • the extent a particular faculty/school supports the use of IT.

More details will be made available in a future executive summary report.

 
 
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