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Dr. Charles M. Rambo is a Senior Lecturer and coordinator of Postgraduate programs at the Department of Extra Mural Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya. His academic interests include financial management, small and medium enterprises, small-scale farming and education financing. His previous work appears in journals such as Journal of Continuing, Open and Distance Education, International Journal of Disaster Management and Risk Reduction and the Fountain: Journal of Education Research, African Journal of Business and Management, African Journal of Business and Economics, as well as International Journal of Business and Finance Research. He is reachable at the University of Nairobi through telephone number, +254 020 318 262; Mobile numbers +254 0721 276 663 or + 254 0733 711 255.
Dr. Joyce K. Mbwesa is a Senior Lecturer University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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GCBF ♦ Vol. 11 ♦ No. 1 ♦ 2016 ♦ ISSN 1941-9589 ONLINE & ISSN 2168-0612 USB Flash Drive 480 Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings ♦ Volume 11 ♦ Number 1 Van Braak, G. (2004). “Academic staff development in online learning and teaching: developing online pedagogies”, AusWeb05, Gold Coast, Australia.
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This study was conducted to identify infrastructural gaps and support needs among lecturers at the University of Nairobi, which should be addressed to improve their preparedness to function in an electronic learning (eLearning) environment. A cross-sectional survey design was applied to source data from 212 lecturers and 108 administrative staff. Both quantitative and qualitative techniques were applied to process, analyse and interpret the data. Quantitative analysis was done at the univariate, bivariate and multivariate levels. Hypotheses were tested using cross tabulations with Chi square (χ2) statistic, while Binary Logistic Regression was used to determine the influence of access to workplace computers, reliability of internet connectivity and timeliness of technical support on the preparedness for eLearning. The study found that participants having access to computers at their workplace were likely to be more competent in computing;
thus, better prepared to function in an eLearning environment than those who lacked such access. More specifically, participants having access to computers at the workplace were about 2.8 times more likely to be competent and better prepared for eLearning than their colleagues lacking such access. Participants having reliable internet connectivity were likely to have better computing skills, which put them at a better position for eLearning. More still, those who indicated that workplace internet connectivity was very reliable were about 6.8 times more likely to be prepared for eLearning than their colleagues reporting that internet connectivity was very unreliable. Preparedness for eLearning was significantly associated with the timeliness of technical support. Consequently, enhancing access to computers at the workplace is likely to help lecturers improve skills and overcome fears and anxiety associated with computer use; ensuring adequate and timely access to technical support is likely to discourage apprehensiveness to technology facilities, while reliable internet connectivity remains a key requirement for eLearning.
KEYWORDS: Workplace, Infrastructure, eLearning, Preparedness, Access, Internet reliability, Technical support
INTRODUCTIONELearning is a mode of instruction that involves the application of electronic media, including the Internet, Intranet, satellite broadcast, audio or video tapes, interactive television or CD-ROMs (Trombley & Lee, 2002; Tavangarian, Leypold, Nölting & Röser, 2004). ELearning improves teaching and learning processes by encouraging the use of modern instructional methods supported by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools (Selim, 2007). As part of preparedness for eLearning, institutions of higher learning must put in place appropriate ICT infrastructure and develop human resource (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005).
This makes its necessary for all lecturers to build their computing skills in order to function effectively in an eLearning environment.
Various terminologies are often used in place of eLearning; for instance, online learning, virtual learning, distributed learning, network or web-based learning. Whatever the terminology used, the primary connotation is the application of ICT tools, including the Internet to mediate asynchronous as well as synchronous teaching GCBF ♦ Vol. 11 ♦ No. 1 ♦ 2016 ♦ ISSN 1941-9589 ONLINE & ISSN 2168-0612 USB Flash Drive 482 Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings ♦ Volume 11 ♦ Number 1 and learning activities (Naidu, 2006). Instruction over the Internet is perceived by many education scholars to be a significant breakthrough in teaching and learning, particularly at the institutions of higher learning (Keller & Cernerud, 2002; Abbad, Morris & Nahlik, 2009). Being a mode that is Internet-driven, the stability and reliability of internet connectivity is a crucial part of infrastructural requirement for the adoption of eLearning.
ELearning has four distinct modalities; namely, individualised self-paced online, individualised self-paced offline, group-based synchronously and group-based asynchronously (Romiszowski, 2004; Naidu, 2006).
Under the individualised self-paced online modality, a learner accesses learning resources through the Internet or Intranet. The modality is appropriate for learners in contexts where Internet infrastructure is reliable. A typical example is a learner studying alone or conducting some research through the Internet or a local network (Naidu, 2006). Contrastingly, the individualised self-paced offline modality refers to situations where an individual learner accesses learning resources without connection to the Internet or Intranet. The modality is suited for learners in contexts where Internet infrastructure is unreliable or nonexistent, with an example being a learner working alone off a hard drive, a CD or DVD (Romiszowski, 2004; Naidu, 2006).