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

The Importance of Introducing a Course on Information and Communication Technologies for Development into the Information Technology Curriculum

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

The Importance of Introducing a Course on Information and Communication Technologies for Development into the Information Technology Curriculum

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper studies the role and the importance of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) education in Information Technology (IT) programs. The research included the students who attended an ICT4D course at NYiT Amman Campus in the academic years of 2006 to 2009. Data were collected through two questionnaires developed by the researcher responsible for teaching the course. The first questionnaire was administered in the first lecture of the academic semester, and the second questionnaire was administered in the last lecture. The study shows that the students have expressed that an ICT4D course was an important ingredient in the IT curriculum. Of the students, 98.8% expressed that ICT4D had an important role in IT practices and education, 97.1% stated that they were satisfied with the course, 96.7% expressed that the course met the objectives. As a result, it was suggested that the ICT4D course be included in Bachelor of Information Technology curriculum.

Keywords: ICT4D, IT Curriculum, Academic Program Requirements

INTRODUCTION

Many of the initiatives addressing the issues of socio-economic development rely on bringing modern technologies, such as cell phones, computers, and Internet access, to populations in need. These initiatives are helping to bridge the digital divide and are often referred to as ICT4D. The digital divide is the gap between those who can effectively use new information and communication tools, such as the Internet, and those who cannot. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are used either directly by the disadvantaged population in some manner, or can be used to assist aid organizations and NGOs to improve socio-economic conditions (such as employment, poverty, education, healthcare, etc.) in developing countries. For aid organizations and NGOs, ICTs provide a useful tool for prioritization of assistance among countries and help them to determine what type of support is most needed in any specific country.

ICT4D is concerned with the whether or not, as well as with how much ICTs can contribute to economic growth and sustainable development (Fillip 2003). ICT is now receiving mounting interest from aid and international agencies and is seen as one of the best development catalysis. Many of these organizations believe that ICT offers an inimitable prospect to establish contact and relations as well as being a source for knowledge exchange and innovation to the poor communities (Göransson and Sòderberg 2003). Many studies have shown that the production and utilization of ICTs can play a key role in the context of development and act as a powerful tool for capacity building in human resources and poverty reduction (Jussawalla 2001, Rabayah 2008, Wilson and Heeks 2000).

However, there is a lack of capacity in third world countries in general to build, maintain, and utilize the ICT resources to address socio-economic needs. As an example, none of the more than twenty five universities (both private and public) in Jordan teaches a course on ICT4D in the IT related programs they offer such as Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, and Management Information Systems. This is in spite of the fact that Jordan is active in implementing ICT4D initiatives (Mofleh and Wanous 2008).

Many studies have shown that IT project failure is very high. A comprehensive study (Sunden and Wicander 2006) has been carried out to identify root causes for IT project failure in developing countries. Another study (Van Reijswoud 2009) argues that ICT projects in developing countries become successful when adapted to local conditions and introduced the concept of appropriate technology to increase the success of such projects. The author believes that introducing a course on ICT4D in IT education will be an important element to improve the success rate of ICT projects and ICT4D initiatives.

Therefore, it is believed that IT undergraduates should be exposed to ICT4D knowledge and skills during their education so that they can play a role in the development process. …

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