The role of icts in addressing challenges in higher education Essay


One of the most common jobs of utilizing Information and Communication Technologies ( ICTs ) in instruction is to establish picks on technological possibilities instead than educational demands. In developing states where higher instruction is fraught with serious challenges at multiple degrees, there is increasing force per unit area to guarantee that technological possibilities are viewed in the context of educational demands. This paper argues that a cardinal function of educational engineering is to supply extra schemes that can be used to turn to the serious environmental and educational challenges faced by pedagogues and pupils in higher instruction. The educational demands manifest in Indian universities include turn toing general deficiency of academic readiness, multilingual demands in English medium scenes, big category sizes and unequal course of study design. Using instance surveies from one higher educational establishment, this paper shows how specific and carefully considered intercessions utilizing ICTs can be used to turn to these instruction and acquisition concerns. These illustrations serve to show some ways in which instruction and acquisition may be enhanced when utilizations of educational engineering are driven by educational demands.

The paper concludes that design of educational engineering intercessions should be driven by educational demands within the context of a broader instruction and acquisition scheme which requires buy-in of both pedagogues and scholars.


It has been suggested that information and communicating engineerings ( ICTs ) can and make play a figure of functions in instruction. These include supplying a accelerator for rethinking learning pattern ( Flecknoe, 2002 ; McCormick & A ; Scrimshaw, 2001 ) ; developing the sort of alumnuss and citizens required in an information society ( Department of Education, 2001 ) ; bettering educational results ( particularly pass rates ) and heightening and bettering the quality of instruction and acquisition ( Wagner, 2001 ; Garrison & A ; Anderson, 2003 ) . While all of these suggest the possible impact of ICTs in instruction in general and India in peculiar, it is still hard to show the potency of engineerings in turn toing specific instruction and larning jobs faced by Indian higher instruction establishments. The thesis of this paper is that the potency of ICTs is sandwiched between increasing force per unit area on higher instruction establishments from authorities to run into the societal transmutation and accomplishments demands of India, and the variable pupil academic readiness, big category sizes and multilingualism presently experienced in these instruction and larning contexts. Our believing aligns with others ( such as Kirkup & A ; Kirkwood, 2005 ; Wagner, 2001 ) who argue that it is the contextualized instruction and acquisition demands that ought to drive the ICT intercession, instead than the engineering itself. In India, contextualization of instruction and acquisition requires a tightrope walk between higher instruction jussive moods and social-cultural context of the educational landscape. This paper illustrates by agencies of illustrations drawn from one higher instruction establishment how educational demands can drive design of larning environments and technological usage.

The inquiry driving this paper is: How may educational engineering intercessions address theteaching and larning challenges faced by Indian higher instruction establishments? We discuss the general and specific educational challenges. These challenges so provide a context for an ICT intercession model which is described and illustrations of the usage of this model in course of study undertakings are discussed.


General challenges

Presently, higher instruction in India is under increasing force per unit area to run into the societal transmutation and accomplishments demands of the new India ( Kistan, 2002 ) . At the same clip it is under huge external and internal force per unit area to better on its policy and bringing public presentation ( De Clercq, 2002 ) . One of the indexs of societal transmutation in instruction is increasing the demographic representation among alumnuss and cut downing the demographic difference between pupil consumption and alumnus throughput. The National Higher Education Plan ( 2001 ) outlines the function of higher instruction establishments in the new India: The key challenges confronting the Indian higher instruction system remain as outlined inthe White Paper: ‘to damages past inequalities and to transform the higher instruction systemto serve a new societal order, to run into urgent national demands, and to react to newrealities and chances ‘ ( White Paper: 1.1 ) . ( Department of Education India,2001. )

Furthermore, recent authorities policy has added force per unit area on higher instruction establishments by associating support to throughput. In other words, unlike in the yesteryear when establishments were funded on the figure of registered first twelvemonth pupils, support is now linked to graduate throughput. Bettering efficiency and turn toing the equity needs of the state raises conflicting challenges for higher instruction establishments ( Scott, 2004: 1 ) . These challenges are exacerbated by the fact that most pupils enter university under-prepared and hence necessitate more support to bridge the spreads in the needed cognition and accomplishments ( Paras, 2001 ) . Furthermore, in 2005 quality confidence audits1 concentrating on the institutional direction of nucleus maps of instruction and acquisition, research and community battle were conducted at Indian higher instruction establishments. The challenge for higher instruction establishments is hence non merely about increasing throughput in footings of Numberss and the diverseness of its pupil population but besides involves guaranting quality educational proviso.

The Indian authorities has identified the usage of ICTs for learning and larning as an of import precedence. For illustration, the e-Education policy provinces: Every Indian director, instructor and scholar in the general and farther instruction andtraining sets will be ICT capable ( that is, usage ICTs confidently and creatively to helpdevelop the accomplishments and cognition they need as womb-to-tomb scholars to accomplish personal goalsand to be full participants in the planetary community ) by 2013. ( Department of EducationIndia, 2004: 17 )

Therefore, the ultimate end of the policy is the realisation of ICT-capable directors, pedagogues and scholars by 2013. Read together with the National Higher Education Plan, these two policies have branchings for instructional interior decorators, pedagogues, pupils and research workers. The implicit in statement of this paper is that the realisation of the policy ‘s ends mostly depends on the extent to which current educational challenges are re-conceptualised in the context of the function that ICT can play in instruction and acquisition. The current focal point on instruction and larning coupled with growing in educational engineering in Indian higher instruction establishments ( Czerniewicz et al. , 2005: The function of ICTs in higher instruction in India61 ) requires that we begin to inquire inquiries about the ways in which educational engineering contributes to turn toing the educational challenges in the new India. As is the instance in higher instruction globally, Indian higher instruction is under force per unit area to increase engagement from diverse groups of pupils and to bring forth the accomplishments required for a quickly altering society. In the UK, for illustration, engagement in higher instruction has increased since the 1940s but engagement of higher socio-economic groups still exceeds that of lower socio-economic groups ( DFES study, 2004 ) . While similar, these challenges take peculiar signifiers given India ‘s alone history. For illustration, planetary disparities are defined in footings of category ; in India the educational disparities are manifested along racial lines due to the political, economic and societal policies of the pre-1994 epoch. Redress of marginalised groups and societal transmutation is hence cardinal to the policies of post-1994. The Indian authorities has made it clear that one of its purposes is to accomplish just entree to higher instruction for antecedently disadvantaged scholars, with diverse educational backgrounds ( Hardman & A ; Ngambi, 2003 ) .

Education is viewed as one of the cardinal mechanisms of accomplishing societal transmutation.

It is in this educational context that new chances for educational engineering have arisen.

Although we are cognizant that educational challenges demand multi-pronged attacks, which may include both traditional instruction attacks and advanced non- digital instructional designs, it is the function of educational engineering that is the focal point of this paper.

Specific instruction and acquisition challenges

The major instruction and acquisition challenges confronting higher instruction revolve around pupil diverseness, which includes, amongst others, diverseness in pupils ‘ academic readiness, linguistic communication and schooling background. Teaching and acquisition in higher instruction in general can mostly be characterised as follows:

[ … ] direction that is excessively didactic, a deficiency of personal contact between instructors andstudents and among pupils, assessment methods that are unequal to measuresophisticated learning ends and excessively small chance for pupils to incorporate knowledgefrom different Fieldss and use what they learn to the solution of real-world jobs. ( Knapper, 2001: 94 )

Teaching and larning in Indian higher instruction fits the above description but in add-on it has to postulate with deep-seated complex issues and jobs stemming chiefly from a antecedently racially divided and unequal instruction system. In add-on, big categories are an endemic characteristic of most university classs presenting an extra challenge in the instruction of a diverse pupil population.

Indian higher instruction establishments are faced with a myriad instruction and acquisition challenges. In this paper we focus on a few of these: academic readiness, multilingulism in a first linguistic communication context, big categories and unequal course of study design. In the following subdivision, we look at ways in which ICTs have been used to react to these challenges at one Indian higher instruction establishment.

Academic readiness

Students from disadvantaged educational backgrounds every bit good pupils from privileged backgrounds by and large enter higher instruction with spreads in the cognition and accomplishments required for analyzing peculiarly in cardinal countries such as mathematics ( Paras, 2001, Howie & A ; Pietersen, 2001 ) and scientific discipline.

Given the force per unit area to increase the diverseness of the pupil population of Indian higher instruction, measuring pupils ‘ potency for success in higher instruction has gained increasing importance, peculiarly since the school-leaving certification is presently viewed as an unequal step of a pupil ‘s possible for success in higher instruction. In a state such as India, for case, school-leaving enfranchisement has had aparticularly undependable relationship with higher instruction academic public presentation especiallyin instances where this enfranchisement intersects with factors such as female parent lingua versusmedium-of direction differences, unequal school backgrounds and demographicvariables such as race and socio-economic position ( Yeld, 2001 ; Badha, et Al, 1986 ; Scochet, 1986 ; Potter & A ; Jamotte, 1985 ) . ( Cliff et al. , 2003 )

Alternate arrangement trials have hence been used in concurrence with school-leaving certifications to acknowledge pupils with possible into higher instruction surveies ( Cliff et al. , 2003 ) . Consequently, many of these pupils may be under-prepared in that they may non possess the necessary linguistic communication or mathematical proficiencies required for higher instruction or may hold spreads in the foundational disciplinary cognition. Furthermore, university undertakings present challenges for under-prepared pupils ( Hardman & A ; Ng’ambi, 2003 ) . Although support programmes to turn to academic under-preparedness of pupils from both advantaged every bit good as disadvantaged groups are offered at many Indian higher instruction establishments, they are resource intensive. It is hence deserving paying attending to extra resources and expertness offered by educational engineering.

Multilingualism in a first linguistic communication environment

India is a multilingual society with 11 functionary linguistic communications. This diverseness is reflected in the pupil population of Indian higher instruction establishments. A recent survey by Czerniewicz & A ; Brown ( 2005 ) on higher instruction pupils ‘ and academic staff ‘s entree to and usage of computing machines in five Indian universities found that 39 % of respondents spoke English as a place linguistic communication and 54 % spoke other linguistic communications. At the University of Cape Town, on mean 65 % of the pupil population declared English as their first linguistic communication while 35 % have home linguistic communications in the other Indian functionary linguistic communications and other international linguistic communications ( Spiegel et al. , 2003 ) .

English is hence a 2nd or foreign linguistic communication for many Indian higher instruction pupils. In most black Indian schools, English as a topic is taught as a 2nd linguistic communication. Higher instruction pupils from disadvantaged educational backgrounds hence have to larn in their 2nd or 3rd linguistic communication. A considerable organic structure of research ( Cummins, 1996 ; Gee, 1990 ) has shown that linguistic communication and academic success are closely related and that academic linguistic communication proficiency is far more hard to get in a 2nd linguistic communication. Students larning in their 2nd or 3rd linguistic communication are hence at a disadvantage which is compounded by hapless schooling background.

The relationship between linguistic communication and academic success is reflected in the throughput rates of English 2nd linguistic communication pupils when compared to the throughput rates of English first linguistic communication pupils. At the University of Cape Town, for illustration, the difference in throughput rates between English first linguistic communication and 2nd linguistic communication pupils in 2002 was more than 20 % in several degrees/programmes ( Spiegel et al. , 2003 ) .

Large categories

The growing of mass higher instruction has made big categories an endemic characteristic of several classs at higher instruction establishments. Large category sizes make it hard for instructors to use synergistic instruction schemes ( Nicol & A ; Boyle, 2003 ) or to derive penetration into the troubles experienced by pupils. Large categories pose jobs for all pupils but pupils who are under-prepared are peculiarly affected. It is these contexts that provide utile chances for educational engineerings.

Curriculum design

Curriculum design is a comparatively under-engaged country within higher instruction argument, policy preparation and patterns ( Barnett & A ; Coate, 2005 ) . Pressure to transform course of study at a macrolevel to the demands of industry and the economic system in India is reflected in the National committee on higher instruction ‘s policy model ( 1996 ) for higher instruction transmutation. There is a strong disposition towards closed-system disciplinary attacks andprogrammes that has led to inadequately contextualised instruction and research. Thecontent of the cognition produced and disseminated is insufficiently antiphonal to theproblems and demands of the African continent, the southern African part, or the vastnumbers of hapless and rural people in our society.In response to policy purposes, Indian higher instruction has implemented a course of study restructuring policy aimed at the development of inter- or multidisciplinary grade programmes ( Moore, 2003 ) . While policy has resulted in curriculum displacements on a macro degree, course of study contents at a micro-level are driven by disciplinary specializers. Undergraduate course of study remain preponderantly theoretical but require that pupils have some cognition of the contexts to do sense of theory. In this paper, we are concerned with the manner in which ICTs can play a function in determining course of study design at the micro-level. ICTs open up new ways of accessing information thereby altering the relationships between pupils and between pupils and their instructors. Access to primary beginnings in the signifier of picture, sound and exposure which may be contained in digital archives have the possible to act upon the content of course of study because it makes antecedently unaccessible information available. In add-on, ICTs enable lectors to transform their instruction patterns by easing student-student treatment and coaction or by imitating ‘real-world ‘ jobs therefore supplying pupils with reliable acquisition experiences. In this subdivision, we discussed some of the instruction and acquisition challenges experienced by pedagogues and pupils in higher instruction. In the following subdivision, we examine the function of educational engineering in reacting to these challenges and supply some illustrations.


Since the instruction and acquisition challenges are multi-faceted, multi-pronged attacks are needed in order to try to work out some of these jobs. Dede ( 1998 ) postulates: [ … ] information engineering is a cost-efficient investing merely in the context of a systemicreform. Unless other coincident inventions in teaching method, course of study, appraisal, andschool organisation are coupled to the use of instructional engineering, the clip and effortexpended on implementing these devices produces few betterments in educationaloutcomes – and reinforces many pedagogues ‘ cynicism about crazes based on magicalmachines.

We infer from Dede that there are several inter-related factors that influence betterments in educational results. Therefore together, teaching method, course of study, appraisal and administration contribute to conveying about betterments in the educational procedure. Although educational engineering is non the Panacea for educational challenges, it does purchase and extend traditional instruction and acquisition activities in certain fortunes and hence has the possible to impact on larning results. Knapper ( 2001 ) argues that:

[ … ] engineering may be a good solution for some instructional jobs, and in some casesit may be a partial solution. But in other cases engineering does little to turn to thefundamental instruction and learning issue or – even worse – provides a glitzy butinappropriate solution to a job that has merely been misconstrued. ( Knapper, 2001:94 )

The fast one is to place state of affairss where educational engineering will be appropriate and when and how to utilize educational engineering in these state of affairss. There are times where engineering may non be utile and may so be counter-productive. However, there are many times when educational engineering offers a solution for jobs that would be hard, cumbersome or impossible to decide in a face-to-face environment.

Numerous manuals, web sites and articles have been devoted to proposing, explicating and patterning the ways that educational engineering can be used to back up instruction and acquisition. We agree with Laurillard ( 2001 ) that it is of import that educational technology-based resources be suitably matched to both learning and learning activities. Table 1 adapted from Laurillard ( 2001 ) usefully explains how educational engineering can be integrated into the course of study. Laurillard ‘s guidelines are utile in that they provide a model which relates ICT-based resources to particular instruction and acquisition activities. The guidelines hence suggest peculiar utilizations of ICT for peculiar instruction and learning state of affairss. The effectivity of ICTs for learning and acquisition, nevertheless, is mostly dependent on how much the context is understood. Therefore, there is a demand to associate educational engineering to existent challenges experienced by both pupils and lectors in the Indian educational context. O’Hagan ( 1999 ) suggests that educational engineering can be used to show and supply content, assess pupils larning, supply feedback, scaffold pupil acquisition and enable peer-to-peer collaborative acquisition. The pick of appropriate instruction and acquisition activities is dependent on a scope of factors such as the course of study or class aims ; i.e. the intent of the instruction and acquisition, the pedagogue ‘s preferable instruction attack, the acquisition manners of the pupil and the nature of the course of study content. Although we advocate that instructors should utilize the instruction attack that suits their paradigm of instruction and acquisition, we believe that the usage of educational engineering provides instructors with chances for tracking an full continuum of possibilities as may be appropriate to their instruction demands. Educational engineering creates affordances for a scope of different instruction and acquisition activities which the instructor may non hold used or considered.

Table 1: Teaching and larning events and associated media signifiers

Reacting to the challenges: illustrations from course of study undertakings

The affordances of educational engineerings provide ways of being sensitive to wide-ranging and differing acquisition demands. In this subdivision, we describe some course of study undertakings that have attempted to react to some of the educational challenges faced by pupils at the University of Cape Town ( UCT ) . For the interest of brevity merely overviews are provided.

Using synergistic spreadsheets to develop mathematical literacy accomplishments

As discussed above, many under-prepared pupils come ining university have possible but do non possess the relevant mathematical literacy accomplishments required for certain classs ( Frith et al. , 2004 ) . These pupils are frequently expected to prosecute an drawn-out undergraduate grade programme that offers extra support to turn to mathematical literacy accomplishments. In this instance, the instruction challenge is that of happening ways of developing pupils ‘ mathematical literacy accomplishments. Selfcontained synergistic spreadsheet-based tutorials were developed for usage on the mathematical literacy support classs at UCT and were used in concurrence with face-to-face talks. A typical tutorial consisted of synergistic presentation of relevant mathematics content, illustrations and exercisings. Students were able to work at their ain gait and receive immediate feedback. Frith et Al. ( 2004: 163 ) found that ‘while the talk room tutorial taught pupils how to cipher the assorted statistics, the computing machine tutorial was more effectual in giving them an apprehension of the constructs and they retained better what they had learned. ‘ This consequence, they argue, is possible due to the displacement in accent in the computer-based tutorials off from mechanical computations to showing conceptual apprehension. This course of study undertaking illustrates how educational engineering was used to complement instruction and acquisition and to back up the development of pupils ‘ mathematical literacy accomplishments.

Using educational engineering to develop academic literacy in an economic sciences class

Economicss at university degree poses peculiar troubles for pupils since lectors assume anterior cognition of the economic system. Unfortunately, many pupils from antecedently disadvantaged communities have really limited cognition of the economic system at the start of their university callings. Under-prepared first twelvemonth pupils encounter farther troubles due to a deficiency of academic literacy accomplishments. The Industry Research Project ( Carr et al. , 2002 ) was designed to turn to economic literacy while at the same time covering with linguistic communication and communicating accomplishments of UCT economic pupils. Synergistic excel spreadsheets in concurrence with short composing undertakings in the signifier of on-line treatments, short essays, studies and presentations were used in academic development economic sciences classs at UCT. These undertakings or activities provided a scope of chances for pupils to develop apprehension of economic discourses through authorship in economic sciences. Although Carr et Al. ( 2002: 5 ) found it hard to mensurate the impact of these tutorials, which formed a little portion of the first twelvemonth economic sciences curriculum, they observed that the synergistic spreadsheets were effectual instruction tools in that coachs were able to concentrate pupils ‘ attending on economic sciences issues instead than procedural issues and that the quality of articles produced by pupils improved due to the on-line feedback provided during the procedure of outlining articles online. This course of study undertaking demonstrates the usage of educational engineering in concurrence with face-to-face activities in turn toing pupils ‘ academic literacy accomplishments.

Using educational engineering to pull off tutorials in big categories

Commercial-Off-The-Shelf ( COTS ) based tutorials system called MOVES were developed around

Excel and Word to learn computing machine literacy to first twelvemonth Information System pupils at UCT.

MOVES incorporated computer-assisted marker techniques and provided feedback to lectors and pupils. The significance of this undertaking is that it typifies the jobs of learning a big and diverse category. The computing machine literacy degrees of these pupils are diverse, with some pupils non havingtouched a computing machine before to pupils who have had home computing machine and cyberspace facilitiessince the age of five. The immediate challenge this diverseness poses on instruction is that it isnot practical to flip the talk at an appropriate degree to run into all pupils at their degree ofknowledge. The other challenge is in supplying feedback messages that are relevant anduseful to single pupils. ( Ng’ambi & A ; Seymour, 2004: 255 ) .

Ng’ambi and Seymour ( 2004: 257 ) study that the MOVES tutorials saved clip for coachs since tutorials were marked and consequences captured electronically, lectors had entree to student public presentation and pupils found the immediate feedback utile in that misconceptions could be dealt with instantly. The significance of this undertaking is that it illustrates how educational engineering is used to ease instruction and acquisition in big categories.

Influencing course of study design

Many university classs are theory driven and presume that pupils have knowledge or existent universe experience and can therefore do the links between theory and pattern. Students frequently have limited experience or practical cognition and hence have trouble in understanding theory. Deacon et Al. ( 2005 ) study on the usage of educational engineering to imitate movie redacting. The Director ‘s Cut was produced and used in a Film and Media class at UCT to supply pupils with penetrations into the practical procedures involved in filmmaking without prosecuting in the existent procedure of redacting. Exposing pupils to existent redaction is expensive and impractical in a big class. The intercession provided single pupils with an reliable acquisition environment through a simulation. Students sequenced movie cartridge holders, therefore imitating the function of an editor through a simplified version of the redacting procedure. In this manner, the focal point is on cardinal larning facets of movie narrative and spectatorship and linked theory to the ‘practice ‘ of movie redacting. Similarly, Carr et Al. ( 2004 ) study on an International Trade dickering simulation developed for an economic sciences class where pupils assumed the function of national trade negotiants stand foring specific states. Lectors and coachs assumed the function of World Trade Organisation ( WTO ) functionaries in a semi-authentic procedure designed to learn pupils dialogue and bargaining accomplishments similar to those required by professional trade negotiants. The two undertakings reported here exemplify ways in which educational engineering was used to impact on the design of the several course of study by supplying pupils with experiences which are hard to supply in face-to-face environments.


Indian universities face increasing force per unit area from authorities to run into the demands of societal transmutation in instruction. Indian authorities policy on societal transmutation in instruction requires increasing the representation of Black Indians and adult females among pupils and alumnuss and significantly bettering the graduation rates and throughput of Black Indian pupils. Given the social-historical context of India, run intoing the educational challenges associated with this baronial end requires re-conceptualisation of how educational engineerings are applied so as to do an impact. The paper has proposed a theoretical account for learning and larning activities that are associated with media signifiers. The theoretical account has been substantiated with illustrations of the application of educational engineerings to learning mathematical literacy, academic literacy, direction of big categories, and ways of act uponing course of study design. Our statement is that engineering entirely is non a solution to the educational challenges faced in India. The challenges lie in identifying and gestating ways that educational engineering can usefully lend to student larning experiences, course of study and pedagogical designs. The paper demonstrates and argues that educational engineering has a cardinal function to play in Indian higher instruction as one of the schemes for turn toing instruction and acquisition concerns. This challenges larning interior decorators to rethink the function of educational engineering within broader educational intercessions that are shaped by educational demands instead than being technologically driven.