The influence of information and communication technology infrastructure and competence of lecturers on their preparedness for electronic learning: the case of the University of Nairobi, Kenya
This study was conducted to identity infrastructural and skill gaps, as well as training 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. More specifically, the study sought answers to the following questions: what is the effect of access to computers at work, quality of computers and internet reliability on lecturers' preparedness for eLearning? How do the ICT training programme and timeliness of technical support affect lecturers' preparedness for eLearning? What is the effect of technical staff and annual budget on lecturers' preparedness for eLearning? How does lecturers' competence in word processing, spreadsheet, database management, presentation, statistical analysis and internet tools affect their preparedness for eLearning? To address these questions, a cross-sectional survey design was applied to source data from 213 academic staff and 108 administrative staff at the University of Nairobi. 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 (i) statistic, while Binary Logistic Regression was used to determine factors influencing lecturers' preparedness for eLearning. The study found that the timeliness of technical support was the most important factor influencing lecturers' preparedness for eLearning by accounting for 10.1% of variance; this is followed by access to computers at the workplace (8.2%), competence in word processing tools (7.0%), internet reliability (6.7%), competence in presentation tools (6.4%), the adequacy of budgetary allocations (5.4%) and competence in spreadsheets (3.2%). Consequently, ensuring adequate and timely access to technical support is likely to discourage apprehensiveness to use ICT facilities, while enhancing access to computers at the workplace is likely to help lecturers improve skills and, overcome fears and anxiety associated with computer use. Whereas reliable internet connectivity remains a key requirement for eLearning, harmonising the- ICT training programme with academic semesters at the University should enable academic staff acquire necessary ICT skills. Given the importance of eLearning in equipping lecturers and learners with necessary competencies, the University of Nairobi has no option but to integrate technology to cope with the increasing demand for modernisation of higher education. In view of this, the study recommends the need to: strengthen the lCT training programme, enhance access to relevant resource materials on eLearning, strengthen technical support as well as improve infrastructural facilities by acquiring modern computers and fast-tracking the universal computerisation initiative. The study further advocates for an el.earning strategy as well as strong linkages with public and private sector organisations 'to create avenue for sharing information and resources. For further research, the study recommends the need for similar studies in other public universities, focusing on the preparedness of both lecturers and learners for eLearning.