Integrating ICT in Higher Education: The Case of ITESM

Article excerpt

Abstract

The growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education is a global phenomenon. The possibility of using ICTs has major implications for the teaching and learning situation in higher education in both developed and developing countries. It constitutes a challenge to institutions worldwide to change aspects of their organization and operation. This paper reviews the specific case of the use of ICTs at the Monterrey Institute of Technologies (ITESM) in Mexico. It analyses the role of lecturers and students in the development of new models of teaching and learning through the use of ICTs. It compares the use of computers and information technologies in two instructional modes: face-to-face and hybrid online-teleconferencing. It further identifies critical factors that influence both lecturers and students in using ICTs.

Introduction

The possibility of using information and communication technologies (ICTs) has major implications for the teaching and learning situation in higher education. It constitutes a challenge to institutions to change aspects of their organization and operation. This paper reviews one such approach at the Monterrey Institute of Technologies (ITESM) in Mexico. Specifically, it analyses the role of lecturers and students in new modes of teaching and learning through the use of ICTs. It compares the use of computers and information technologies in two instructional modes: face-to-face and a hybrid online-teleconferencing one. It further identifies critical factors that influence both lecturers and students when using ICT.

ICT and education

The growth of ICTs in education is a global phenomenon. Countries in both the developed and developing worlds have expressed visions of participating in and shaping the global information society. Invariably these visions emphasize education as a primary sector for the utilization of ICTs to produce competent learners suitably qualified and skilled to contribute to economic growth.

Responses to ICTs can be analytically classified in two ways: At one extreme, a euphoric and visionary embrace of the potential benefits of ICTs (the optimistic view). At the other extreme those who are opposed to ICTs believing that it will further divide society, exacerbate inequity, and rule people's lives and the world (the pessimistic perspective). The optimistic perspective is motivated by a number of differing and contradictory rationales. There are the "inevitabilists" who maintain that ICTs are a fact and that societies and individuals need to be familiar with ICTs in order to avoid being "left-out". Pessimistic perspectives point out the inequities that are engendered by ICTs. Such perspectives highlight the divide between the technology rich countries (the developed world) and the technology poor countries (the developing world). Hamelink (1997) persuasively points out that the truth of these positions is a matter of policy choice. What is required is pro-active policies and conscious social choice, which take charge of ICTs to steer a socially responsible national development agenda.

With respect to their educational usage, ICT is exploding with unprecedented speed, generating educational intrigue and a fast-growing field of research and investigation. It should be stated at the outset that while experience of ICTs in education is increasing rapidly, witnessed by the growth of publication and research in the area, there is little evidence to suggest that ICTs do impact education either positively or negatively on learning and learners (UNESCO, 1997: 34). Much of the evidence or case studies have not yet spanned sufficient time to present a convincing argument for a positive or negative correlation between ICTs and learning. In this respect it is useful to note Haddad's caution about ICT in education:

   Technology is only a tool. Educational choices have to be made first in
   terms of objectives, methodologies, and roles of teachers and students
   before decisions on the appropriate technologies can be made. …