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ICT Integration in Higher Education: The Case of Developing Countries

Chapter 2: Review of Literature

2.4 ICT Integration in Higher Education: The Case of Developing Countries

students to study, enabling students to study short and manageable amounts of educational content, and regulating students’ study by sending them educational content regularly and at scheduled times (Lu, 2008; Cavus & Ibrahim, 2009; Kert, 2011).

However, not all countries are able to fully use new ICT in higher education.

Many developing countries still have several barriers to the use of ICT in their educational systems (Khan, Hasan & Clement, 2012). Examples of these barriers include the lack of the required infrastructure and issues related to the awareness of, and attitude toward, ICTs (Sife et al., 2007; Alturise & Alojaiman, 2013). Developing countries may not have the resources for other forms of ICT but they do have mobiles phones.

Institutions of higher education in developing countries can take advantage of the use of SMS technology to support teaching and learning. SMS has been found to support educational purposes in developing countries, including African countries (Traxler &

Dearden, 2005; Kaleebu et al, 2013). The following section discusses ICT integration in higher education, focusing on developing countries and the status of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

2.4 ICT Integration in Higher Education: The Case of Developing Countries

(e.g., faculty members and institutions and higher education administrators) (Buabeng-Andoh, 2012) a lack of clear institutional strategy and policy in relation to ICT integration in higher education (Lwoga, 2012), and limited research in the area of emerging technology integration in education in developing countries (e.g. in Arab countries) (Al-Omari, 2014).

Furthermore, Touray, Salminen and Mursu (2013) conducted a study that examined the barriers to ICT use in developing countries through the review of several research studies. The findings showed that among the main barriers ICT in developing countries were technical barriers such as low rates of internet connection, socio-cultural barriers such as fear of technology, infrastructural barriers such as a lack of software and hardware, and educational and skills-related barriers such as lack of ICT skills.

In a recent study, Tarus, Gichoya and Muumbo (2015) examined the barriers to e-learning use in Kenyan universities. The researchers collected data through a questionnaire involving 148 faculty members and administrators regarding the barriers to e-learning use in Kenyan universities. The findings showed that most participants reported that the main challenges of learning use in Kenyan higher education were inadequate ICT and e-learning infrastructure, a shortage of inexpensive and adequate internet bandwidth, lack of technical skills on e-learning and financial constraints.

The above studies suggest that developing countries have increasing interest in ICT integration in higher education. However, several constraints are hindering the

implementation of ICT. The use of mobile phone services such as SMS in education does not require special infrastructure. Students already have the required software and hardware in their hands all the time. Communication using mobile phones takes place via existing mobile systems, which are maintained by mobile service providers (Nwagwu, 2013). The current study took place in Kuwait. Kuwait is part of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The following section discusses the situation in the Arab (GCC) countries in relation to ICT integration in higher education.

2.4.1 ICT integration in higher education: The case of (GCC) countries. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman) are characterised by high technology access (ITU, 2012); however, this high access has not translated to high technology integration in higher education (Bounabat, 2009).

Statistics have shown that the people of these countries have higher rates of technology adoption than other developing countries. The mobile penetration in gulf countries stood at 173%, which is higher than the developed world average of 114% (ITU, 2012). The

percentage of internet users in the gulf countries stood at 50.6%. This is significantly higher than the world average of 28.7%, the Arab states’ average of 24.9%, and developing

countries’ average of 21%, but it is lower than the developed countries’ average of 71%

(ITU, 2012). These statics suggest high rates of adoption of different technologies by the people in gulf countries. Such high adoption of these technologies can be taken advantage of in higher education institutions.

The integration of ICTs in the educational system has received attention from the governments of GCC countries as a means of advancing their socio-political and

economic agendas (Wiseman & Anderson, 2012). This is reflected in the creation of policies and national projects establishing ICT in higher education. For example, in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Higher Education has launched the National Centre for

E-Learning and Distance Education )NCEL( with the vision of “establishing a

complementary educational system in a form of a national centre that utilizes the most recent advanced technologies in e-learning and distance learning” )NCEL, 2009, p. 1(.

Bahrain University has established the Zain e-Learning Centre with a mission of allowing faculty members to implement different technologies to achieve excellence and high quality education (Zain e-Learning Centre, 2009).

The availability of technologies, as well as the increasing institutional interest in ICT integration in higher education, has led academics in GCC countries to adopt different types of ICT in their educational practice. However, the GCC institutions of higher

education are still faced with some barriers to using ICTs. Alturise and Alojaiman (2013) found that the main barriers of the use of ICTs in universities in Saudi Arabia are the lack of infrastructure, the resistance from faculty members, and students’ limited access to ICTs.

They explained that “University barriers often result from not having the correct ICT infrastructure such as smart buildings, proper equipment, servers, networus, etc.” )p. 46(. In addition, they stated that “Many faculty members lacu confidence when using ICT for many reasons such as feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and fear of failure” )p. 46). In relation to reading students’ access to ICT, Alturise and Alojaiman, )2013( explained that:

Students usually do not have enough income to purchase or hire rapidly changing hardware and software technology and therefore how much money is spent on a university ICT system is a critical issue. Many students who do not have much technical knowledge about ICT may experience ICT-related problems (p. 46).

Research has examined the uses of different ICTs in higher education in these countries.

However, a great majority of these studies have focused on computer and internet technologies (Al-Khalifa, 2010; Hussein, 2011; Alkhalaf, Drew, AlGhamdi & Alfarraj, 2012; Sultan, van de Bunt-Kokhuis, Davidson, Sentini & Weir, 2012). The investigation of the integration of mobile phone technologies in general and SMS technology in particular in the higher education institutions in GCC countries is still limited (Nassuora, 2012; Khan, Al-Shihi, Al-khanjari & Sarrab, 2015).

Tamim (2013) presented a discussion involving five mobile learning stakeholders about the status of mobile learning in GCC higher education. The stakeholders included a university administrator, a faculty member, an educational researcher, an information technology employee and an undergraduate student. In regard to the issues and gaps in mobile learning in GCC, some of the interviewees believed that there is a need for a training program for instructors in relation to the integration of mobile technologies in education as well as a need for a training program for students in relation to the ethical use of technology. Some participants felt it was necessary to evaluate the impact of mobile devices on students’ performance when they are integrated into teaching and learning. The stakeholders said that assessing students' reactions to the use of SMS as an educational tool should inform the future use of mobile phones in education.

Kuwait, a GCC country, is looking to increase the integration of ICTs in different government sectors. However, such integration is faced with some barriers related to human skills, infrastructure and resources, and policy and support (Alwani & Soomro, 2010; Wiseman & Anderson, 2012). The current study took place in Kuwaiti higher education; the following section discusses the status of ICT integration in Kuwait, specifically focusing on higher education.