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«VOLUM E 1 1, N UM B E R 1 I S SN 2 1 6 8 - 0 6 1 2 F L ASH DR I V E I S SN 1 9 4 1 - 9 5 8 9 ON L I N E T h e In s t it ut e f o r Bu s i n e s s an ...»

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Even though the University had initiated a programme intended to provide computers to each lecturer, for better quality teaching, the programme was still in its infancy stage, as many departments were yet to realize universal access to modern and efficient computers. Regarding the quality of computers, the results show that most workplace computers were of the Pentium IV generation, which was among the latest models at the time of the study. In this regard, 41 (27.0%) participants indicated that their computers were in ‘excellent condition’, 56 (36.8%) stated condition to be ‘good’. However, 43 (28.3%) respondents noted that the condition was ‘poor’, while 12 (7.9%) described the condition as ‘very poor’. The results further revealed lack of significant association between lecturer’s preparedness for eLearning and perceived quality of workplace computers, leading to rejection of the null hypothesis (H02) stating that the relationship between quality of computers and lecturers’ preparedness for eLearning is not statistically significant, due to insufficiency of empirical evidence to warrant such action.

These findings are consistent with those reported by Blankenship (1998), who notes that successful integration of eLearning depends on the quality of computers available, particularly in terms of power to process information and navigate through resourceful websites. Hitt and Hartman (2002) also reported that computers of the right specifications are fundamental in supporting the integration of eLearning activities, including course development, delivery and evaluation. In Singapore, a study conducted by Gulbahar (2005) indicated that access to up-to-date hardware, software and network resources is fundamental for successful integration of ICT in the teaching process.

Availability and reliability of Internet connectivity Of the 194 participants having access to computers at the workplace, 185 (95.4%) were connected to the internet. The results presented in Table 4 show that among those having Internet connection, 21 (11.3%) GCBF ♦ Vol. 11 ♦ No. 1 ♦ 2016 ♦ ISSN 1941-9589 ONLINE & ISSN 2168-0612 USB Flash Drive 490 Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings ♦ Volume 11 ♦ Number 1 indicated that it was ‘very reliable’, while 103 (55.7%) stated that it was ‘reliable’. Contrastingly, 52 (28.1%) participants hinted that Internet connectivity was ‘unreliable’, while 9 (4.9%) hinted that it was ‘very unreliable’. Based on this pattern, the analysis obtained a computed χ2 value of 9.052, with 3 degrees of freedom and a p-value of 0.030, which is significant at 0.05 error margin; suggesting up to 95% chance that lecturer’s preparedness for eLearning significantly associated with perceived reliability of Internet connectivity. The analysis further indicated that participants perceiving Internet reliability to be ‘very reliable’ had about 6.8 times the odds of being prepared for eLearning as those indicating that Internet connectivity was ‘very unreliable’.

Variation between the two groups was significant at 0.05 error margin, again suggesting a probability of up to 95% that the reliability of workplace internet connectivity significantly influenced the odds than an individual was prepared for eLearning or not. Furthermore, results suggest that the more reliable the internet connectivity, the better the odds that an individual was prepared for eLearning. Weak or unreliable Internet connectivity is not only time-consuming but also frustrating to users; thus, discouraging consistent utilization to support academic activities.

Table 4: Availability and reliability of internet connectivity

–  –  –

Furthermore, the study found that University Internet was unreliable and unstable in some campuses. Based on this challenge, sometimes it takes as long as five minutes to open certain URL links, which demoralizes and discourages consistent use by academic staff. In addition, key informants pointed out that the University’s webpage for eLearning is too shallow and some URL links are permanently inaccessible.

Studies conducted in various contexts have also noted that Internet reliability is critical for lecturers’ preparedness for eLearning. More specifically, Mercado (2008) reported that although a stable Internet connectivity and a dependable computer are critical requirements for eLearning, these factors remain a key challenge to the adoption of eLearning in developing countries. In their study, Ndume et al. (2008) assessed the challenges of adaptive eLearning in institutions of higher learning in Tanzania and noted that the availability of reliable Internet connectivity was a critical part of preparation for eLearning; however, unreliability of connectivity was linked to unreliability of internet service provision in Tanzania. Slow and unreliability connectivity makes internet access too expensive and difficult to access information.

Availability and timeliness of technical support: Participants were requested to indicate their knowledge about the availability of an ICT technical support programme for enabling lecturers to overcome ICTrelated challenges. The results presented in Table 5 show that out of 212 respondents, 125 (59.0%) affirmed that a support programme was in place, which included 61 (59.7%) participants prepared for eLearning and 64 (58.7%) who were unprepared. However, 81 (38.2%) participants reported lack of knowledge on whether such programme existed or not. Notably, most participants affirming the availability of a technical support programme were those who had access to functional computers at the workplace. Based on this finding, the Chi square test obtained a computed χ2 value of 0.878, with 2 degrees of freedom and a p-value of 0.645, which was not significant; suggesting lack of significant association between lecturers’ preparedness for eLearning and awareness about the availability of an ICT support programme.





GCBF ♦ Vol. 11 ♦ No. 1 ♦ 2016 ♦ ISSN 1941-9589 ONLINE & ISSN 2168-0612 USB Flash Drive 491 Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings ♦ Volume 11 ♦ Number 1 Another important dimension of technical support for lecturers is its timeliness. How soon the technical team is able to respond to issues raised by lecturers is a critical determinant of positive attitude towards eLearning. Inadequacy or untimely access to technical support is likely to encourage detachment between lecturers and their ICT facilities, including computers. Similarly, Butler and Sellbom (2002) found that lack of or delay in providing technical services by the University was often stressful to lecturers, leading to low acceptance of technology for teaching. In this study, 63 (50.4%) participants stated that the support provided was ‘timely’, 43 (34.4%) felt that the support was ‘untimely’, while 12 (9.6%) indicated that it was ‘very untimely’. In addition, Table 5 shows that 42 (68.9%) participants who were prepared for eLearning compared to 28 (43.8%) who were unprepared expressed satisfaction about the timeliness of technical support provided by the University.

Table 5: Availability and timeliness of ICT technical support to lecturers

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Contrastingly, majority [36 (56.3%)] of those unsatisfied with the timeliness of technical support were unprepared for eLearning. The analysis indicated up to 99% chance that lecturer’s preparedness for eLearning significantly associated with their perceptions about the timeliness of technical support provided by the University (computed χ2 = 18.572, df = 3 and p-value = 0.000). Based on this finding, the null hypothesis (H03) stating that there is no significant relationship between the timeliness of technical support and lecturers’ preparedness for eLearning was rejected for being inconsistent with empirical data.

Multivariate analysis indicated that participants perceiving that technical support was ‘very timely’ had about 5 times the odds of being prepared for eLearning as those not indicating that support was ‘very untimely’. Given that variation between the two groups was significant at 0.05 error margin, it consequently implies that timeliness of technical support significantly influenced the chances of an individual being prepared for eLearning or not. Better still, more punctual the technical support the better the chances that an individual was prepared to work in an eLearning setting. Discussions with key informants revealed that the timeliness of technical support to academic staff was unpredictable; sometimes technical staff respond to reported issues in a matter of minutes, while other times they delay for as long as a week. Besides, technical support teams seemed to be faster in responding to issues affecting departmental administrative units than to issues reported by lecturers. Participants advocated for the decentralisation of ICT support centres to each department for timely response to issues affecting lecturers.

The adequacy of technical staff links to the timeliness of technical support provided to academic staff. In view of this, participants were requested to indicate their opinion on the adequacy of technical support staff at the University. In response, 49 (39.2%) participants stated that such staff were ‘adequate’, 42 (33.6%) believed that technical support staff were ‘inadequate’, 26 (20.8%) were of the view that they were ‘very inadequate’. In addition, more than half of those prepared for eLearning [33 (54.8%)] believed that technical GCBF ♦ Vol. 11 ♦ No. 1 ♦ 2016 ♦ ISSN 1941-9589 ONLINE & ISSN 2168-0612 USB Flash Drive 492 Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings ♦ Volume 11 ♦ Number 1 staff were either ‘adequate’ or ‘very adequate’; while 41 (64.1%) who were unprepared for eLearning hinted that technical staff were either ‘inadequate’ or ‘very inadequate’. This implies that opinion about the adequacy of technical staff was divided among the participants; thus, suggesting that some departments were better served by the ICT technical staff than others. Based on the perceived adequacy of technical support staff, bivariate analysis obtained up to 90% chance that lecturers’ preparedness for eLearning significantly related to the perceived adequacy of technical support staff (computed χ2 = 6.628, df = 3 and p-value = 0.085), leading to rejection of the null hypothesis (H04) stating that there is no significant relationship between the adequacy of technical staff and lecturers’ preparedness for eLearning for not being correct.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

The objective of this study was to determine the influence of workplace ICT infrastructure on lecturers’ preparedness for eLearning, focusing on access to computers at the workplace, adequacy and quality of workplace computers; availability and reliability of Internet connectivity; as well as availability and timeliness of ICT technical support. 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 (χ2=9.380; df=1; p-value=0.036). 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. Modern and efficient computers make work easier, less stressful and timesaving. Based on this, efficient computers are encouraging and motivating to users.

Access to computers at the workplace is one of the factors significantly associated with preparedness for eLearning. This gives academic staff ample time to practice and improve their computing skills, which in turn, is crucial for them to become familiar with computers; thus, help them overcome fears, anxiety and negative attitudes associated with computer use.

In view of this, ensuring that each academic staff is able to access at least a functional computer at their workstations remains one of the most important undertakings for any institution of higher learning committed to helping academic staff to prepare for eLearning. Even though the University had earlier initiated an ambitious project to ensure universal computerisation, many departments and academic staff were yet to benefit from the initiative. Some academic staff coped with the challenge by using their own computers to undertake University work, but at their own risk and cost of maintenance. Nevertheless, universal computerisation should be fast-tracked to reinforce University’s infrastructural requirements for eLearning. Fast tracking is also necessitated by the fact that technology is changing rapidly and may overtake the computerisation initiative.

The quality of computers assigned to academic staff did not necessarily influence their preparedness for eLearning (χ2=3.303; df=3; p-value=0.347). Although the quality of computers was not significantly associated with lecturers’ preparedness for eLearning, logically speaking, working with obsolete machines is not only time wasting but also frustrating and may have far-reaching health implications. Such machines also reinforce fear and anxiety about their ability to cope with teaching and learning challenges that are likely to accompany the eLearning system. Modern and efficient computers make work easier, less stressful and timesaving. Based on this, efficient computers are encouraging and motivating to users.

Access to computers at the workplace is one of the factors significantly associated with preparedness for eLearning. This gives academic staff ample time to practice and improve their computing skills, which in turn, is crucial for them to become familiar with computers; thus, help them overcome fears, anxiety and negative attitudes associated with computer use. Although the quality of computers was not significantly associated with lecturers’ preparedness for eLearning, logically speaking, working with obsolete machines is not only time wasting but also frustrating and may have far-reaching health implications. Such machines GCBF ♦ Vol. 11 ♦ No. 1 ♦ 2016 ♦ ISSN 1941-9589 ONLINE & ISSN 2168-0612 USB Flash Drive 493 Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings ♦ Volume 11 ♦ Number 1 also reinforce fear and anxiety about their ability to cope with teaching and learning challenges that are likely to accompany the eLearning system.



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