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

Information Systems Education in Kenya: Students' Specialization Choice Trends (a Case Study of Kenya Polytechnic University College)

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

Information Systems Education in Kenya: Students' Specialization Choice Trends (a Case Study of Kenya Polytechnic University College)

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The objective of this study was to determine the time and level of Information Systems (IS) awareness among Kenyan university students and the choice of IS as a field of specialization. The study posited that the choice of a field of specialization is dependent upon a student's awareness of its existence, its utilization in the real world, its career opportunities, and its strategic importance to the country's economic development agenda. It posited further that early IS awareness could have a positive impact on the choice of IS as a field of specialization. The underlying assumptions were that the time of IS awareness as a field of specialization among Kenyan university business students was late and levels low, leading to possible low levels of choice of IS as a field of specialization. Using the survey method, the case study found late and low levels of IS awareness as a field of specialization among university business students. Future studies linking time and levels of IS awareness with choice of IS as a filed of specialization and with existence of requisite IS skills in the country (or lack thereof) are suggested.

Keywords: Specialization, Awareness, Systems Analytical Skills, Joint Admissions Board, Public Universities, University Colleges, Parallel Programmes.

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 The History of Information Systems

Although the history of Information Systems (IS) as a subject of study only spans six decades, it is among disciplines that have done much towards advancing development of the human race (Jorgenson and Vu, 2009). Today, this fact is evident in the roles played by the Internet, the Local Area Networks within enterprises, and the Wide Area Networks that connect multinational corporations throughout the globe. By the mid 1960s IS was already forging its way into the business mainstream. At that time a number of business schools began to develop Management Information System (MIS) programs to meet the perceived growing needs of IS managers. By the 1970s, upper level management was recognizing the importance of IS to both business operations and business management and the flexibility it was able to bring to the entire organization. Telex became the standard for information transfer, while the mainframe computer became the standard for database implementation (Laudon & Laudon, 1987b; Lyytinen & Newman, 2008). By the mid 1980s most manufacturing companies had embraced IS for much of their operations such as forecasting sales, taking orders, and managing distribution of their products. By the mid 1990s, it was evident that a corporation could not effectively and efficiently do business without a solid functioning IS setup, both inside its own walls as well as connecting it with its supply-chain stakeholders such as vendors and distributors. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), previously known as Electronic Data Processing (EDP), brought profit margins low to the extent that any business that did not use it found itself out of business within only a short period of time. Today, the internet, the moral fiber of IS, has enabled expansion of both business and industry into global markets. As a result, the globe has become the market place for many enterprises, both big and small (Haag & Cummings, 2012).

1.2 Definition of Information Systems

Information Systems is a technology driven system that can be defined technically as a set of interrelated components that collect, retrieve, process, store and distribute information to support decision making in an organization (Alter, 1999). It has also been defined as a system that assembles, stores, processes, and delivers information relevant to an organization (or to a society), in such a way that the information is accessible and useful to those who wish to use it, including managers, staff, clients, and citizens (McCleod, 1990; Armstrong, 2001). It is a social (human activity) system that may or may not involve the use of computer systems (Thompson, 2005; Baltzan, In addition to supporting decision-making, information systems help managers and other workers analyze complex problems, develop new products, and integrate various modules both within and across departments (Alter, 2001; Haag & Cummings, 2012). …

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