|[ Teaching and Learning Forum 2001 ] [ Proceedings Contents ]|
ICT impels change in higher education institutions. The rate of ICT adoption is likely to increase over the next few years increasing financial and infrastructure needs, such as new equipment, more user training, and new kinds of courses. Infrastructure can drive the innovation as it creates still more demand for infrastructure and support as growing numbers of Faculty across all disciplines and institutions adopt and adapt information technology resources in their instructional activities (Rogers, 1995). ICT places new demands on academic staff such as necessitating the learning of new skills in developing and maintaining course and assessment materials and spending time differently. The new products of teaching will mean some lecturers will have to make a radical shift in their orientation from a view of transmitting information - to one of directly attending to the process of learning in their students.
Drawing on the work of both Rogers (1995) and Geoghegan (1996) the question can be asked - have academic staff crossed the point of critical mass for instructional use of ICT in higher education? There is strong evidence (DETYA, 2000) that ICT applications have not penetrated university teaching at much more than a superficial level, and that the level of expertise and practice is not yet sufficient to ensure that their wider use is considered viable by academics for developing and delivering courses. Other evidence suggests that academic staff are using ICT more for personal tasks - but not as extensively in their teaching and learning (Macchiusi & Trinidad, 2000; Trinidad, 2000).
A variety of instruments were used through out the study which in combination, provided a comprehensive picture of the case study sample. The Curtin University Information Technology survey (CUIT survey) was sent to all full time staff who were actively teaching in Semester One, 1999 at Curtin University of Technology (N=715). This instrument was specifically designed to establish baseline data about teaching staff at Curtin University with regards to the use of ICT in their teaching and learning. The survey was also designed to identify individual and group profiles of ICT attitude, awareness and uptake, and from this information a stratified sample was selected for in depth case study utilising the profiles of staff based on Roger's (1995) classification of innovation uptake.
A semi structured interview schedule was designed to allow the researcher to gain a deeper awareness of the ICT culture of each participant (N=37). Each interviewee was asked to participate in the following phase which involved identifying individual ICT changes which occurred over a 12 month period, on a monthly basis (N=32). The TracIT Report was used as a guide or proforma to help the case study participants focus on certain ICT issues: Teaching; Students; Training; ICT Support and ICT Facilities.
This longitudinal data collection period allowed the researcher to note changes in the behaviour and attitudes of specific individuals and to explore the origins of these changes. Figure 1 graphically depicts the relationship between each of the samples and the corresponding instrument.
Figure 1: Sample population used for the study
Table 1 presents the staff profile derived from the CUIT survey data for each sample group identified above. Even though this paper focuses on the case study sample, Table 1 provides an accurate picture of how representative the case study sample (N=32) were of the larger completed survey sample (N=384).
|Background information||CUIT survey|
|Age||20 - 29||3.1%||8.1%||6.25%|
|30 - 39||25.0%||21.6%||21.9%|
|40 - 49||33.9%||35.1%||31.3%|
|50 - 59||32.3%||24.3%||28.1%|
|60 - over||5.5%||10.8%||12.5%|
|Years at the|
|0 - 5 years||41.7%||48.6%||46.9%|
|6 - 10 years||24.7%||24.3%||25.0%|
|11 - 15 years||15.4%||10.8%||9.4%|
|16 - over||18.0%||16.2%||18.8%|
|Position||Senior Research Fellow||4.7%||0.0%||0.0%|
|Assoc/Prof & Professor||15.1%||5.4%||6.2%|
|IT Training||None/Self taught||70.3%||70.6%||71.9%|
|Lecture and tutorial (workshop or lab.)||86.7%||91.9%||90.6%|
|Tutorial (workshop or laboratory)||10.2%||5.4%||6.3%|
|External and distance||0.5%||0.0%||0.0%|
|Web based units within the above structures||4.7%||8.1%||6.3%|
A synthesis of the data from each of the instruments produced a comprehensive ICT profile for each individual case. This profile, which reflected each individual's working regime and environment for a period of 16 months, was used to compare and relate their level of integration to the level of integration of the others in the case study sample - enabling the researcher to assign them a 'University Rating'. Table 2 identifies the level of integration for the various samples according to the survey data and the 'University Rating' assigned to the case study sample by the researcher.
|Level of integration||CUIT survey sample (N=384)||Interview subsample (N=37)||Case study Survey (N=32)||University rating case study sample|
Figure 2 graphically reflects the individual self rating (survey data) and the university rating for the case study sample.
Figure 2: Case study individual rating and university rating
In attempting to identify the impact of ICT at Curtin University it is important to note that individuals within the University have not felt this impact uniformly. Rogers' categories enable us to make some generalisations about the rate of adoption. Table 3 identifies common attributes demonstrated by the majority of the case study individuals assigned to each level of integration (university wide rating).
|Very low||Very limited use:
Word processing, email and Internet.
No home Internet access.
|Feel very uncomfortable with technology itself.
See very limited benefits.
Frustrated with the lack of ICT skill, yet don't make any effort to attend training or improve.
|Extremely low ICT skill level.|
Very little, if any email use with students.
Word processing (class handouts, outlines), email and Internet use.
No Internet access at home.
|Are able to identify the benefits of ICT in teaching and learning.
However, many aren't convinced that it is relevant to their discipline.
|Low ICT skill level.|
Students are not encouraged to communicate via email.
|Medium||A variety of applications:
Email and Internet use
Internet access at home.
|Are able to identify the benefits of ICT in teaching and learning for themselves and their students.
Fairly comfortable with ICT.
Seek help through colleagues.
|Medium level skills.|
Producing some Web based material for delivery of resources.
Communicate with students electronically.
Set Web based assessment tasks.
|High||A large variety of software.
Specialist software use in their discipline.
|High interest level.
Experiment 'play' with software.
Resourceful - seek help from a variety of sources.
|High level of ICT skills.|
Producing Web based teaching material (delivery and interactive).
Expects extensive use by students.
|Very high||Create and modify software to suit their teaching and learning needs.||Extremely high level of interest.
Explores & Experiments with ICT.
ICT 'a way of life'.
|Very high level of ICT skills.|
Innovative use of ICT in T&L.
Exhibit strong leadership skills - agent for change.
Attending professional development courses relating to ICT was noted as real change. Over the 12 months 59.4% attended ICT professional development courses. The majority of the courses were Student One and Web based training sessions. The concept of 'self training' also featured in the TracIT reports for 31.2% of the case study sample. In total 75% of the case study sample identified themselves as either participating in formal training or were involved with 'self training'.
The changes in the ICT support structure found within the individual Departments/ Schools/ Divisions contributed to many of the real changes identified over the 12 month period, while the level of the support also drew much attention and appeared to cause many of the changes.
There were many comments which surfaced during the TracIT report expressing concern about the lack of facilities - these comments were coded as related to an 'existing pattern of environment' as they were describing the individual's current situation and in most cases the situation hadn't changed. Many of the real changes noted regarding facilities referred to hardware and software upgrades and the leasing of new equipment. Table 4 provides a summary of the case study sample who demonstrated a 'real change' in their ICT use or their ICT infrastructure, in the focus areas for the period of 12 months.
|Focus||Case study sample (N=32)|
The researcher is by no means attempting to quantify the degree or amount of real change which occurred over the 12 months. One change in a particular pattern of behaviour does not constitute a constant change in attitude or behaviour, what it does say however, is that those case study participants are more receptive to change by attempting something new.
Over the 12 month period the majority of the case study sample indicated that they used electronic communication extensively with their students (communication, email lists, WebCT bulletin board, WebCT internal email system, acceptance and marking of assignments).
The TracIT reports revealed that existing work practices of teaching staff in this University were definitely changing to meet the needs of the University. With this changing face of academic life certain professional attributes came to the forefront:
|Flexible||Being able to work anywhere and anytime. 84.4% of the respondents had email and Internet access at home and identified that they worked at home.|
|Committed and resourceful||There appeared to be a real commitment from a large group of the case study sample to improving their ICT skills, through formal training and 'self training'.|
|Reflective practitioners||The majority of the case study sample were reflective about their use of ICT for teaching & learning (Bromley, 1998; Neal, 1998; Ramsden, 1998).|
|Collaborative||Many of the case study participants called upon their colleagues for help, with the reverse also occurring, case study participants helping their colleagues.|
|Over worked||The references to the heavy work load (teaching, research & committees) and lack of time experienced by the teaching staff was evident through out all of the instruments used over the 16 month time period (CUIT survey, Interviews, & TracIT).|
|Overloaded by information||Information overload was certainly felt by the case study sample over the 12 months (Baldwin, 1998).|
|Stressed||There were many examples through out the TracIT report specifically relating to stress which appeared to be from having to do more tasks with less help and less time and with not so familiar tools (Simpson, 1998).|
|Pressure from students||There appeared to be an increase in pressure from students for teaching staff to adopt ICT in teaching & learning (McNaught, Phillips, Rossiter & Winn, 1999).|
|Requiring a variety of support needs||All of the case study respondents, regardless of their level of integration acknowledged the importance of ICT support, what differed was the degree of support and the type of support they required to effectively adopt or continue utilising ICT.|
I will not be using the web again - it is too stressful, time consuming, not worth the effort and there is inadequate support at all levels (ID:375January2000).In response, academic staff will need to:
Bromley, H. (1998). How to tell if you really need the latest technology. Thought and Action, 14(1), 21-28.
DETYA (2000). Learning for the knowledge society: An education and training action plan for the information economy. Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Fullan, M. (1991). The New Meaning of Educational Change, 2nd Edition. Teachers College Press: New York.
Curtin University of Technology (2000). Curtin University of Technology Strategic Plan 2000 - 2005. http://www.curtin.edu.au/curtin/dept/planstats/plan/
Curtin University of Technology (2000). Key Strategic Priorities 1999 - 2001. Attachment 3. http://www.curtin.edu.au/curtin/dept/planstats/plan/attachment3/
Geoghegan, W. (1996). The diffusion of innovation and information technology: In response. Change, March/April, p30.
Green, K. (1996). The coming ubiquity of information technology. Change, 28(2), 24-28.
Macchiusi, L. and Trinidad, S. (2000). Implementing IT at an Australian university: Implications for university leaders. In A. Herrmann and M. M. Kulski (Eds), Flexible Futures in Tertiary Teaching. Proceedings of the 9th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 2-4 February 2000. Perth: Curtin University of Technology. http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/confs/tlf/tlf2000/macchiusi.html
McNaught, C., Phillips, R., Rossiter, D., & Winn, J. (1999). Developing a framework for a useable and useful inventory of computer facilitated learning and support materials in Australian universities. Evaluations and Investigations Program Report. Canberra: Higher Education Division, Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs.
Neal, E. (1998). Using technology in teaching: We need to exercise healthy scepticism. Chronicle of Higher Education, June 19, B4-B5.
Rogers, E. (1995). Diffusion of Innovations, 4th Edition. The Free Press: USA.
Simpson, R. (1998). The overwhelming nature of higher education. Innovative Higher Education, 22(4), 267-269.
Trinidad, S. (2000). Where are we now? Where do we go? Technology education for the 21st Century. In Fisher, D. & Jong-Hsiang, Y. (Eds), Proceedings for the 2nd International Science, Mathematics and Technology Conference, 10-13 January, Taipai, Taiwan. p193-200.
|Please cite as: Macchiusi, L. and Trinidad, S. (2001). Information and communication technologies: The adoption by an Australian university. In A. Herrmann and M. M. Kulski (Eds), Expanding Horizons in Teaching and Learning. Proceedings of the 10th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 7-9 February 2001. Perth: Curtin University of Technology. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2001/macchiusi.html|