Perceptions of Information and Communication Technology among Undergraduate Management Students in Barbados

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This exploratory study examined attitudes and usage of ICT among undergraduate management students in Barbados. Of the sample of 166 students, the majority indicated they had access to a computer, and had access and regularly used the Internet. In addition, more females than males had access to a computer off campus. Over 90% used the course-based WebCT, whereas only 30% used the Campus Pipeline. The study showed that students were generally favourable towards ICT. Males were more inclined to incorporate ICT in web-based instruction compared to other teaching activities. Older students were more interested in using ICT only as a supplement to teaching activities. The findings suggest high usage of and positive attitudes toward ICT among tertiary level students. University administrators need to address the gender and age differences regarding ICT usage as well as develop strategies to maintain positive student attitudes and high usage of ICT.

Keywords: Information and communication technology; WebCT; Internet; management students.

INTRODUCTION

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) encompasses the effective use of equipment and programs to access, retrieve, convert, store, organize, manipulate and present data and information (Gay and Blades, 2005). Å-learning, which is described as the use of ICT to enhance or support learning and teaching in education, has become increasingly important in tertiary education (OECD, 2005). ICT skills are currently of great interest to governments, businesses and individuals alike. Through the use of automation, ICT has become integrated in the management of knowledge and its accompanying ICT tools. Industry and commerce also depend on knowledge management, which has forced businesses to become ICT savvy (COM, 2003). More importantly, it is expected that ICT would be fully integrated into the academic curriculum in order to prepare students for the world of work.

Background

The University of the West Indies (UWI) is the major tertiary level institution in the West Indies and has three campuses in Barbados (Cave Hill Campus), Jamaica (Mona Campus) and Trinidad and Tobago (St. Augustine Campus). All three campuses have embraced ICT in their quest to enhance teaching and research to students and staff. This exploratory study looked at ICT at only one of the campuses, Cave Hill Campus. Students at UWI, Cave Hill Campus, have access, at minimal cost, to a variety of electronic information resources. These include:

- the Distance Education Centre (DEC), which was intended to explore the potential for using telecommunications technology across the three campuses,

- on-line registration of courses, and

-access to course material via web-based tools such as WebCT and Campus Pipeline.

Web Course Tools (WebCT) is an online virtual learning tool used by many educational institutions for the delivery of e-learning to students. This tool has numerous benefits for students and lecturers including effective communication of course material, email exchanges, online discussion and general course management. Campus Pipeline is another online system that caters to students, faculty and administration by providing centralised Web access to information and services. Some of the benefits of Campus Pipeline include reducing time on administrative tasks, distribution of information to students an faculty and extend communication beyond the classroom.

Objectives of the study

This study sought to explore the attitudes and usage of ICT among undergraduate management students at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in Barbados. The present study addressed four main research questions:

1) What are the attitudes of undergraduate students to ICT?

2) To what extent do students use ICT?

3) How does gender and age impact on the use of and attitudes to ICT?

4) What are the main reasons behind students' ICT usage? …