Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Enhancing Students' Skills through Technology (ESST): A Case Study Conducted for a Policy Concept on One to One Computer Solution at Fiji National University

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Enhancing Students' Skills through Technology (ESST): A Case Study Conducted for a Policy Concept on One to One Computer Solution at Fiji National University

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Fiji National University (FNU) is one of the fastest growing universities in the Oceania region. Its EFTS (equivalent Full Time Student population) has grown from 12,255 in 2010 to 13,439 by 2012. The number of courses offered also has grown from 198 in 2010 to 548 in 2013. In the day and age that FNU is functioning today, it is facing dynamic and challenging environments with increasing severity every day. In present day the political, social, economic and technological changes are as such where most systems are rendered obsolete within the first year of their very implementation. In the said conditions and situations, the university student faces challenges of unprecedented nature. It becomes the paramount role of university policy maker to equip the student with skills and competencies that are capable of accepting the challenges and facing them successfully in order to emerge a victor. Also, it is vital to promote the appropriate use of technology to assist all students so that they can become more independent, selfconfident, and productive learners.

The teacher and student are responsible for taking charge of their own learning. Technology allows the opportunity to rethink how teaching and learning is done in educational institutions. One of the significant highpoints seen in FNU curriculum is promoting Self-Directed Learning (SDL) by which the students select, manage, and assess their own learning activities, which can be pursued at any time, in any place, as a core aspect of its curriculum. The integration of ICT in learning and teaching helps to create environments which enable all students to become confident and self-directed learners. When used well, ICT enriches learning and enhances teaching. It is a powerful motivational tool for students and it increases the scope and opportunities for learners in the knowledge era. This is a learner-centered model, based on the individual preconditions and needs of each student facilitating learners to go with different pathways of selfdirected learning. Work and knowledge in the rapidly developing 21st century call for self-directed learners (SDL) with Higher Order Thinking (HOT)1 and Information Literacy skills to face for the indispensable requisites of the new knowledge era to be abled citizens..

While increasing the ICT facilities which can catalyze the paradigmatic shift in SDL, it is important to develop information literacy skills of students because it is a critical academic component which leads to Higher Order Thinking (HOT) that in turn becomes lifelong learning, transferable across all educational disciplines and applies to all avenues of life. Information literacy is a basic requirement and an essential skill for the modern day academicians. In the absence of such, the said academicians will be left behind in the ever competitive environment. Paradoxically, the large volume of information on the Web made selfdirected learning harder and awkward. This is one of the findings of Project Information Literacy - a project which studied the challenges that real users face when conducting both school-related and "everyday life" research. Based on examining research habits of thousands of students, it was able to distill several prominent components that learners consistently find laborious when conducting independent learning and research. This includes understanding what is important to know about a particular topic in the first place, what are the important questions to ask, and where to begin. Another group of researchers (Butcher & Sumner, 2011) refer to this challenge as the "sense making paradox". Self-directed learners face a sense making paradox: they must employ deep-level thinking skills in order to process information sources meaningfully, but they often lack the requisite domain knowledge needed to deeply analyze information sources and to successfully integrate incoming information with their own existing knowledge.

Thus, it is apparent that the universities must have common goal to build students' higher-order thinking skills through information literacy with the provision of ICT enabled SDL, yet many institutions fail to merge the necessary resources and expertise into a cohesive strategy. …

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