10 months ago


808 R. Chitiyo, S. W.

808 R. Chitiyo, S. W. Harmon knowledge and literature on instructional technology integration in ‘‘developing’’ and/or low-income countries like Zimbabwe. Keywords Instructional technology Educational technology Technology integration Constraints/barriers to integration Teacher education Professional development Background for the study The Africa University [a pan-African institution located in Zimbabwe] Strategic Development Plan 2001–2008, (2002) in its executive summary, asserts that, ‘‘The development and application of information and communication technology (ICT) to African higher education is crucial and urgent if the continent is going to be able to reduce the knowledge, technological and economic gap between itself and the rest of the world’’ (p. 4). It also observes that institutions in Africa need to prepare themselves to meet technology integration issues and other challenges and demands of the twenty-first century. The strategic plan also cautions that African tertiary institutions ‘‘need to run very fast to avoid falling very far behind’’ (p. 4). Explaining this looming gap, Naidoo and Schutte (1999) acknowledge that there are fundamental differences in the way in which technology integration is approached and implemented between the more developed countries and the developing countries. They point out that for developing countries; the main focus is always on acquiring basic utilities such as telecommunication infrastructure, hardware, software and networks. It is only when these are easily accessible that attention can be given to serious educational and training issues like pre-service teacher education. Oyelaran-Oyeyinka and Lal (2003), in a cross-country analysis of Internet diffusion in Sub-Sahara Africa, confirm that estimates show that Internet use in Africa lags behind that of other regions. In the first quarter of 2002, they point out, there were only 6.31 million users in Africa—about 1% of the world total. In Zimbabwe, this scenario is compounded by a dearth of research and published literature on the integration of technology in both school classrooms and teacher education programs. Given this situation in Zimbabwe and on the African continent in general, the Association of African Universities (AAU) has called for the development and use of ICT in revitalizing African Universities in the twenty-first century. The AAU also urges African universities to study ICT status in their institutions as well as to study the integration of technology into their curricula (Association of African Universities 2000). Addressing the situation in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Africa, Naidoo and Schutte (1999) point out most often technology integration activities are limited to the experimentation level or are in the initial stages of implementation because of infrastructure problems, which are a result of ‘‘lack of funds and expertise and, in some cases, political instability’’ (p. 89). Discussing differential (ICT) implementation progress in Africa, Farrell and Isaacs (2007), note that there are countries ‘‘emerging from a period of conflict and authoritarian rule,’’ and unfortunately, ‘‘a group of countries that are plagued with internal conflict and political instability that make progress on ICT for education impossible’’ (p. 1). The latter explanation would be a classic characterization of the situation in Zimbabwe, where more than 10 years of political instability have not only impeded progress, but resulted in a backward slide in terms of the country’s ICT capabilities. A close analysis of the available literature on IT integration in Sub-Sahara Africa shows an acknowledgement of the political nature of some of the problems, but also shows 123

An analysis of the integration of instructional technology 809 the literature, for reasons which could be political, deliberately avoids engaging this sensitive area. Readiness for technology integration at the national level The executive summary of the Zimbabwe e-Readiness Survey Report (Information and Communication Technologies in Zimbabwe Project 2005) starts by pointing out that, ‘‘Zimbabwe does not have an integrated and coherent national ICTs policy. The absence of a coherent ICT policy invariably inhibits coordination, harmonization, full utilization of the existing infrastructure and its capacity, and initiatives to implement ICTs by various sectors of the economy’’ (p. 14). While acknowledging that there is considerable access to computers and the Internet at universities in Zimbabwe, the report concludes that bandwidth capacity is still low, ranging from a high of 1.5 Mbps at the University of Zimbabwe to 64 Kbps at 50% of the universities. The report points out that this bandwidth access should be viewed against an average access of 4 Mbps for South African universities and against the bandwidth indicated by the universities as required. According to the same report, the cost of the bandwidth was said to be high, ranging from US $17.64 per Kbps at one university, to US $1.29 at another. This is against a background where the average cost of bandwidth in Southern Africa was US $4.70 per Kbps whilst in East Africa it was US $4.38 per Kbps and the cost to a university in the USA was US $0.12 per Kbps, according to the Africa Tertiary Institution Connectivity Survey Report (Steiner et al. 2004). The report suggests that the very high cost to some universities was probably due to their use of leased lines. Research questions Integrating technology into education is not just a matter of having the necessary infrastructure however. To be successful, technology integration plans must insure that faculty are prepared to use the technology effectively. While it is fairly easy to determine the state of a country’s infrastructure, it is more difficult to determine faculty readiness. Thus, the main research question guiding this study is: What is the state of integration of instructional technology by university lecturers in pre-service secondary school teacher education programs in Zimbabwe? The sub-questions used to address this central question are: 1. How do the lecturers integrate IT in their instruction? 2. What are the constraints faced by the lecturers in integrating IT? Theoretical framework Context of IT integration in Zimbabwe and Africa Discussing the issues relevant to IT integration in the context of African higher education, Nwuke (2003), among several clusters of factors, includes cost and financing, infrastructure, capacity building (staff development) and content. The other crucial cluster to emerge from the literature review is leadership and policy framework formulation. Each issue is briefly examined below. 123

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