Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Role of ICT Infrastructure in Its Application to Classrooms: A Large Scale Survey for Middle and Primary Schools in China

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

The Role of ICT Infrastructure in Its Application to Classrooms: A Large Scale Survey for Middle and Primary Schools in China

Article excerpt


The development of ICT in education

The rapid development of ICT has brought both challenges and opportunities to middle and primary schools, particularly as one of the important factors that innovates education by providing equal learning opportunities. Developed countries have always attached great importance to the application of ICT in education. For example, in the United Kingdom, the government spent 2.5 billion [pounds sterling] on educational ICT in 2008 to 2009 (Yilmaz, 2011). Several surveys have been carried out to investigate the factors related to the use of ICT in teaching and learning by teachers (Baek, Jung, & Kim, 2008; Turel, 2011). Integrating computer technologies into education requires successful development of ICT infrastructure (Sadegul, 2006). Depending on the context such as national ICT policy, the implementation process proves to be complex as it is influenced by various agents at different levels and scales. In addition, the schools' infrastructure and application of ICT have become more visible when examining the development of ICT in education.

ICT development in China

China is currently experiencing rapid economic growth, while the government is trying to eliminate the education divide between rural and urban areas during the process of urbanization and industrialization. It has been found that disparities in access to education between rural and urban areas are the major cause of educational inequality in China (Qian & Smyth, 2008). The Chinese government has consistently given priority to education development, adapting to the international trend of educational reform and ICT application in education (Zhang, Fang, & Ma, 2010). The central government should increase educational transfer payments to undeveloped provinces, and establish a financial system governed by a provincial institution (Yang, Huang, & Liu, 2014).

In China, middle and primary schools are divided into city schools, county schools, and schools in rural areas according to the administrative division. For local or national education administrative departments, in order to equitably and reasonably distribute the funding for ICT infrastructure, they need to compare different demands for ICT infrastructure in different regions (cities, counties and rural areas). Most city schools could offer ICT courses for all students. At least half of the classrooms are equipped with multimedia projectors to support and promote the utilization of digital technologies for learning and teaching, while some of them provide various digital instruction facilities. Besides, various courses can utilize information technology tools to assist teaching in city schools. However, county schools offer ICT courses for the third or higher grade students. The equipment for teachers to use consists mainly of multimedia classrooms, but some teachers of subsidiary courses, such as physics, chemistry, geography and history, cannot use information technology for teaching yet because of the lack of multi -media classrooms and digital instruction facilities. Only some schools in rural areas could offer ICT courses, and only a fraction of schools have multi-media classrooms, and these tend to have a poor operating environment and low utilization rates. Due to the lack of a network environment and hardware facilities, the equipment is not frequently applied in everyday teaching.

Previous research on ICT infrastructure

In the past, the relationship between infrastructure and application has been examined in some studies. ICT infrastructure measures the perceived availability and suitability of the ICT tools such as hardware, software and peripheral equipment provided in the school (Vanderlinde & Van Braak, 2010). It also refers to the availability of equipment, software, Internet access and other similar resources in the school (Pelgrum, 2001). A model has been built and tailored to the characteristics of public schools in a developing country (Solar, Sabattin, & Parada, 2013). …

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