This chapter articulates the background of the study in to four perspectives, namely: the historical, theoretical, conceptual and contextual perspectives. It goes on to give the problem statement, purpose, objectives, research hypothesis, significance and the scope of the study.
Teaching is becoming one of the most challenging professions in our society today where knowledge is expanding so rapidly that modern technologies demand the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). ICT has become within a short time one of the basic building blocks of a modern society. Many countries now regard understanding ICT and mastering its basic concepts as part of the core of education (UNESCO, 2002b). In Uganda, Government has established a fully-fledged ICT Ministry since 2006 to stress the importance of ICT in promoting economic growth and development.
Observers and proponents of ICT suggest that our use of increasingly sophisticated and enabling technologies will continue, to the extent that technological literacy will become a basic functional requirement for our work, social and personal lives. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, UK (2004), notes that as the pace of technological development continues to grow, children in our schools today will live in a world where ICT will be increasingly embedded in their daily lives.
The use of computers in education is not a new phenomenon. In the 1970‟s, its promoters claimed that it would transform and save education (Lockard & Abrams, 1994). The late 1980‟s saw a growing shift towards computer integration which emphasized the curriculum and not the tool. Its proponents felt that students would learn new skills as they needed them in order to make the computer work for them. The computer could now be viewed more as a partner as opposed to a competitor and could be treated in a more natural manner (Lockard & Abrams, 1994). The 1990‟s saw a heightened focus on increasing the use of computer technology in the classroom, and not just by the evangelists. Growing attention and pressure to implement technology in education is coming from many directions, including parents and the business sector, not just departments of education. One of the most significant features of the technological or digital era of much relevance to education is the Internet. Hargittai (1999) defines the Internet technically and functionally as a worldwide network of computers and people interacting together.
To enhance and streamline the developments in the ICT sector, the government of Uganda formulated an ICT Policy Framework in 2003 to meet the challenges and the harnessing of the underlying potentials and opportunities of the system (National ICT Policy Framework, 2003). Government recognizes that ICT has a big role to play in stimulation of national development, in particular, modernization and globalization of the economy. In recognition of the need of ICT for the development process, government undertook several initiatives to promote the development and application of ICT. The telecommunication sector was liberalized in 1996 by a policy framework, which provided for the introduction of competition and licensing for multiple operators (National ICT Policy Framework, 2003). The liberalization of the acquisition, use and application of ICT led to a rapid expansion of the ICT industry in Uganda over the last ten years. The Ministry of Education and Sports has approved a curriculum for ICT training for secondary schools. These schools are being equipped under various programmes, including the Schoolnet and ConnectEd Projects. However, only a very small percentage of secondary schools are offering ICT training, and in almost all cases the facilities are awfully inadequate for reasonable hands-on experience (National ICT Policy Framework, 2003). The Ministry of Education and Sports has formulated an ICT Policy for Education that it hopes to adopt so as to drive ICT training in schools and other institutions under its mandate.
More and more studies now support the claim that technology has great potential to provide new kinds of instructional opportunities and to enhance the knowledge and learning experiences of both the teachers and students (O‟Connor & Polin, cited in Fleming-McCormick, et al., 1995). However, the effect of ICT in teaching and learning is not yet fully established. Yet the need to prepare students for the information age is a recurring educational theme worldwide since today‟s students are to spend their career life in a very dynamic technological environment (Mbwesa, 2003).
1.2 Statement of the problem
Students‟ learning remains central in any academic achievement debate. ICTs provide a window of opportunity for educational institutions and other organizations to harness and use technology to complement and support the teaching and learning process. However, despite the enormous advocacy of ICT aided teaching and learning, investment and donation of ICT equipment to National Open University (NOUN), the University still faces the challenge of how to transform students learning process to provide students with the skills to function effectively in this dynamic, informationrich, and continuously changing environment.
The cause of concern is that unless this problem is addressed, investment in the development of ICT in the University is going to be put to waste and improvement in the quality of teaching and learning is going to be sluggish. This may make the University fail to achieve its mission and to produce graduates who are ready for the world of work which is increasingly reliant on ICT aided generation and dissemination of knowledge. In view of this discrepancy, there is need to examine the particular effects of availability, accessibility and user-ability of ICT resources on students learning in National Open University (NOUN)
1.3 Aims /Purpose
The main purpose of the study was to identify the perceived effect of the availability, accessibility and user-ability of ICT resources on student‟s learning in National Open University (NOUN) using cross-sectional survey design with a view to provide relevant recommendations.
The specific objectives were:
- To examine the effect of the availability of ICT resources on student’s learning in National Open University (NOUN)
- To assess the effect of the accessibility of ICT resources on student’s learning in National Open University (NOUN)
- To investigate the effect of the user-ability of ICT resources on student’s learning in National Open University (NOUN).
1.5 Research hypothesis
The study was guided by the following hypothesis:
- Availability of ICT has effect on students‟ learning in National Open University (NOUN)
- Accessibility of ICT resources affects students‟ learning in National Open University (NOUN)
- User-ability of ICT resources affects student’s learning in National Open University (NOUN)
The study will be limited to National Open University, Lagos State chapter. The study will focuse basically on undergraduate within level two hundred(200) to final year of some selected department.
The study should be of great importance to the policy makers and University administrators of National Open University (NOUN) helping them to appreciate the usefulness of ICT in learning so as to come up with policies that promote ICT in learning.
The findings and recommendations of the study should be of importance to National Open University (NOUN) lecturers and other lecturers of higher institution of learning on the use of ICT to aid learning.
The researcher hopes that result of the study may be useful to future researchers with interest in examining further the effects of ICT on students learning. This should lead to the generation of new ideas for the better implementation of ICT into learning process.
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