Development of a model plan for the application of information communication technologies in distance education at the University of Zambia
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Although the University of Zambia had a strategic plan that advocated for the use of ICT in distance education and had acquired computers for this purpose, no effort had been made to develop a model for the application of the ICT in the development an delivery of distance education materials.Introducing an ICT model in distance education demanded examining the conditions and factors that may hamper or facilitate application of ICT.This study,therefore,examined the conditions that could contribute to a feasible application of ICT in the development and distribution of course materials for distance education students of the University of Zambia.The aim of this study was to design and recommend a feasible and appropriate ICT conceptual model plan for the development and delivery of course materials for the distance education students at the University of Zambia.A Survey methodology was utilised to collect the data on thye status of infrastracture,availability of the access to technologies,and attitudes of staff and students towards the usage of ICT.Questionnares and Interviews were used.The students taking distance education were 1,155 as of the 2004/2005 academic year.There were 54 lecturers involved in the delivery of courses offered in the programme.The simple random sampling technique was used to get a sample of 393 students.In addition to the students,all the 54 lecturers offering tuition by distance education and all the 9 Resident Tutors in the nine provinces were included in the sample.From the DDE, 5 administration staff and 4 academic staff were part of the sample.The total number of respondents,therefore, was 465.The quantitative data was subjected to statistical analysis using both SPSS and excel whereas the qualitative data was analysed thematically.The findings were:(a)The most accessible ICTs were radio cassette recorders,television,video cassette recorders(VCRs),computers and internet.(b)it was odserved that 66% of the the students did not have access to inetrnet due to distance to possible access points and the cost of using the internet.Unless the University of Zambia working through and with its regional offices or other agencies such as Teachers' Resource Centres provided access to inetrnet,it would not be feasible to provide course materials to all the students using internet(c)Generally students had positive attitudes towards the ICT and the ICT based formats of materials.However,students attitudes towards the Radio as a means disseminating course contents were negative.The lecturers'perceptions were that ICT could improve learning and,therefore,should be employed in the delivery of distance education.They indicated that their courses could be offered in the various formats and that the formats could complement each other.(e)Both Students and Lecturers needed training to use the ICT.Skills,however,did not influence the attitudes towards the ICTs as far as students were concerned.Since skill can be developed it would not be a major and hindering constraints towards the application of the model.The Conclusions were:(a)It was concluded,therefore,that the most feasible formats of course materials were print,audio recordings,CD-ROMs and Internet in that order(a)The order in which the lecturers' perceptions were positive were:internet.audiovisual,audio(but not to be delivered using the Radio)and lastly was the radio.The motivating factor was that ICT could improve learning.(c)Constraints against the use of the ICT were availability of the computers,some students did not have access to electricity and telephones in their homes,service provider coverage,inadquate infrastructure and skill to use the ICTs(d)The conceptual model that was developed has been found to be appropriate and capable of being applied at the University of Zambia.The integrated model that employs computers,audo recorders,audovisual equipment, video cameras and recorders,CD-ROM burners and internet has been recommended.The formats of course materials that have been recommended are print,audio,audiovisual,multimedia CD-ROMs and web.