Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

New Technologies for Teaching and Learning: Challenges for Higher Learning Institutions in Developing Countries

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

New Technologies for Teaching and Learning: Challenges for Higher Learning Institutions in Developing Countries

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is already changing the organization and delivery of higher education. The pedagogical and socio-economic forces that have driven the higher learning institutions to adopt and incorporate ICTs in teaching and learning include greater information access; greater communication; synchronous and asynchronous learning; increased cooperation and collaboration, cost-effectiveness and pedagogical improvement. However, ICTs have not permeated to a great extent in many higher learning institutions in most developing countries due to many socio-economic and technological circumstances. This paper discusses new learning and training technologies considering their pedagogical, cost and technical implications. It also discusses challenges for integrating these technologies in higher learning institutions with examples from Tanzania, and giving best practice approaches for addressing each of the challenges.

Keywords: information and communication technology, e-learning, teaching and learning technologies, higher learning institutions, developing countries

INTRODUCTION

Developments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have impacted all sectors of society, including the education sector. In higher education, application of ICTs in form of elearning is already changing teaching and learning processes. There are many pedagogical1 and socio-economic factors that have driven higher learning institutions to adopt e-learning. These include greater information access; greater communication via electronic facilities; synchronous learning; increased cooperation and collaboration, cost-effectiveness (e.g. by reaching different students and in greater numbers) and pedagogical improvement through simulations, virtual experiences, and graphic representations. Both trainers and learners can choose more appropriate applications which are flexible in time, in place, personalized, reusable, adapted to specific domains and more cost-efficient (Fisser, 2001; Pelliccione, 2001).

On the other hand, there are a number of challenges that face universities in developing countries as they seek to implement the e-learning systems. AAU (2001) asserts that African universities which should be in the forefront of ensuring Africa's participation in the ICT revolution, they are themselves unable and ill-prepared to play such a leadership role. This is because of the information infrastructure of African universities which is poorly developed and inequitably distributed.

This paper discusses the application of ICTs in teaching and learning by reviewing the e-learning context, and then focuses on the pedagogical, cost and technical implications of different ICTs that can be used for e-learning purposes. Few examples are also picked from some universities in Tanzania. Challenges for integrating these technologies in higher learning institutions in developing countries are discussed, giving best practice approaches for addressing each of the challenges.

E-LEARNING IN CONTEXT

E-learning refers to the use of ICTs to enhance and support teaching and learning processes. It is the instructional content or learning experiences delivered or enabled by electronic technologies and it incorporates a wide variety of learning strategies and technologies. Elearning ranges from the way students use e-mail and accessing course work online while following a course on campus to programmes offered entirely online (Commission on Technology and Adult Learning, 2001; OECD 2005). It is thus an alternative solution, which enlarges accessibility to training and becomes essential to complement the traditional way of teaching (i.e. face-to-face).

E-learning encompasses a continuum of integrated educational technologies. At one end are applications like PowerPoint, which have little impact on learning and teaching strategies or the organization. …

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