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The Virtual Möbius strip: Access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in higher education in the Western Cape

Brown, Cheryl; Czerniewicz, Laura

Abstract:

This report is a regional study into the access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in five higher education institutions in the Western Cape, South Africa. The research was conducted in 2004 – through a survey of 6577 students and 515 academic staff, and in 2005 - through interviews with key informants in the region.  This study is one component of the larger HictE (Information and Communication Technologies in Higher Education) Project, which is a cross-institutional Carnegie-funded project designed to improve understandings of quality and equity issues in educational technology in higher education in the Western Cape, South Africa.  The investigation takes place in a higher education context characterised both by resource constraints and increased expenditure on ICT infrastructure. Despite the lack of a Higher Education national educational technology policy and funding incentives as in other countries, there have been indications in recent years of increased ICT uptake for teaching and learning.  This use has either been driven by institutional strategies or by changes in academic and student practices, presumably because of the need for participation in the knowledge society about which there is general consensus.  While there has been a sense that the use of ICTs has shifted from administration to supporting research, teaching and learning, most of the evidence has been anecdotal or in the form of case studies. This study therefore fills a gap by providing a meso level description of both access and use in one region, the Western Cape. The study set out to provide baseline information about access and use, as well as to identify factors hindering or encouraging the use of computers for teaching and learning.  The framework for understanding access is based on a “thick” concept which understands access to four kinds of resource groupings being required, as summarised in Table 1.  The study examines the extent and the breadth of the resources that students and staff have access to, in order to use ICTs for teaching and learning. It also considers how access is differentiated for different demographic groups, and how academic staff and students access resources differently.  Students’ and staff ways of using computers are described in terms of a framework adapted from Laurillard’s conversational framework (2002), providing a way of linking particular media forms with specific kinds of teaching and learning events.  Findings about use describe the breadth and extent of different events and media forms, as well as their use across the curriculum and in different disciplinary domains.  The relationship between access and use is also explored.

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Document Title: The Virtual Möbius strip: Access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in higher education in the Western Cape
Project Title: (Information and Communication Technologies in Higher Education
Institution: University of Cape Town
City and Country: South Africa


Date:2006
Document Type:Research Report (Peer Reviewed)
Subject Area:Teaching and Learning
Country:South Africa
Keywords:Access to Higher Education, ICT (Information & Communication Technology), Higher Education Institutions HEI s, Western Cape, Access, Computers, Computer Mediated Communication


File Size:4.45 MB
Rights:Self-archived
Date Added:13 February 2009


Brown, Cheryl; Czerniewicz, Laura (2006). The Virtual Möbius strip: Access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in higher education in the Western Cape Centre for Educational Technology, Research Report Series, Number 1