ZPD Incidence Development Strategy for Demand of ICTs in Higher Education Institutes of Pakistan

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Higher education institutes (HEIs) are believed as
catalyst for the economic progress of any country particularly
and for the whole world generally. This study analyses ICT
(Information and communication technology) –based teaching
and learning issues at Pakistani higher education (HE) level
and efforts to devise a strategy as solution to those issues as a
result. Using normative Delphi method which spanned to two
rounds, a comprehensive questionnaire was developed through
which panelists were asked to rate, select, and add (if
necessary) from the list of diverse set of issues along-with their
best available solutions in the dimension of ICT strategic
framework for tertiary education. Panelists not only discussed
ICT-based issues and their proposed solutions but also
stratified a ZPD incidence development strategy which chalks
out measures HE authorities should take in order to properly
integrate ICTs in their HEIs. It was determined that ICT integration in HE need to be in lined with proper strategy in
order to get their true benefits.

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ZPD Incidence Development Strategy for Demand of ICTs in Higher Education Institutes of Pakistan

  1. 1. ZPD Incidence Development Strategy for Demand of ICTs in Higher Education Institutes of Pakistan Zaffar Ahmed Shaikh Department of Computer Science IQRA University, Main Campus Karachi, Pakistan gemzaf@iqra.edu.pkAbstract—Higher education institutes (HEIs) are believed as ICT use in academic institutions has become a standardcatalyst for the economic progress of any country particularly by which they define their worth. Universities are the highestand for the whole world generally. This study analyses ICT pillar of research and innovations; therefore teachers and(Information and communication technology) –based teaching support staff at HE level are among the first targets in theand learning issues at Pakistani higher education (HE) level market for adopting any technological change andand efforts to devise a strategy as solution to those issues as a innovation. Today ICT has changed the whole phenomenonresult. Using normative Delphi method which spanned to two of teaching and learning and teachers now-a-days are morerounds, a comprehensive questionnaire was developed through informed and interactive. It is perceived that while more andwhich panelists were asked to rate, select, and add (if more ICT pushed-in in academia with time passed; ournecessary) from the list of diverse set of issues along-with their teachers will become more confident in using a variety ofbest available solutions in the dimension of ICT strategic hardware/software to motivate and challenge their studentsframework for tertiary education. Panelists not only discussed within varied teaching & learning styles [4].ICT-based issues and their proposed solutions but also Sometimes unfortunately, teachers hang behind instratified a ZPD incidence development strategy which chalks adopting ICT innovations and hence unsuccessfully resistingout measures HE authorities should take in order to properly the expected; [3] argue in their study that for teachers,integrate ICTs in their HEIs. It was determined that ICT change either in ICT innovations, pedagogical practices or inintegration in HE need to be in lined with proper strategy in domain area is unavoidable; such change is predictable andorder to get their true benefits. manageable process and requires teachers to change their teaching tools/methods in timely fashion. They further alarm Keywords-ZPD incidence development strategy; information that any form of resistance to such change could lead toand communication technology; higher education; Delphi; professional death.Pakistan A. ZPD gap I. INTRODUCTION The concept of Zone of proximal development (ZPD) was coined by [5], which states that when a child at certain At HE level, universities are believed as catalyst for the age level solve problems with help or guidance; but once heeconomic progress of any country particularly and for the internalize these problem solving techniques, he can tacklewhole world generally. A HEI is a place where more and solve same nature of problems independently. ZPD gapinterdisciplinary work being carried out; hence ICT systems is the difference between future/maximum and current stateby which exchange of ideas and information is facilitated are of any development/use of ICT (the value forneeded [1]. Many researchers recognize this that result- maximum/future use is kept as 5 in this case). In thisoriented and informed use of ICT tools and applications is an research, teaching/learning with and without the help/use ofimportant life-skill for any worker. In [2], it is argued that ICTs at HE level is explored and their ZPD gaps areICT usage at home and at educational institute provides recorded, so that a strategy that can reduce these gaps to astudents the opportunity to extend their learning beyond the minimum can be devised.classroom and therefore they have become able to continuetheir learning experiences out with the education B. ZPD incidence development strategyenvironment. It is observed that many students at HE levelembrace new technologies with enthusiasm; so it does not ZPD gaps can be reduced with some proper mechanismsuit teachers to lag behind their students. Dynamic ICT- or strategy. In this study, university personnel, the realskilled teachers adopt right pedagogical practices and tools in stakeholders of institutes of HE are asked to devise ZPDtheir teaching by themselves and consequently enable their incidence development strategy with the help of normativestudents to excel in these new technologies. Researchers [3] Delphi technique (a best available method by which expertargue in their study that a teacher at HE level is a person who opinion is measured in a distributed environment).adopts new ideas of research, innovation, and pedagogical The vision of ZPD incidence development strategy is topractices with time and hence as a result, fulfills the role of improve teacher/learner experiences by the smart use of ICTleadership which institutes of HE have sought historically. in ICT-based HE. It further guides and coordinates ICT
  2. 2. investment towards government’s vision of improved TABLE I. ZPD GAPS (SOURCE: [6])learning outcomes at HE level. ZPD # ISSUES gap II. METHODOLOGY 1. Planning/Developing/Organizing Instruction 2.07 Data showing ZPD gaps obtained through normative 2. Housekeeping & Record keeping Tasks 1.93Delphi study initially conducted in [6] has been taken as 3. Managing Students Conduct 1.93input in this study as shown in Table 1. Further extending 4. Presenting Subject Material/Teaching 1.87that study, the same group of panelists was asked to devise a 5. Assessing Student’s Learning 2.03ZPD incidence development strategy which may chalk out 6. Academic Research 2.10measures HE authorities should take in order to properly 7. Administrative Support 1.90integrate ICTs in their HEIs. 8. Social Networking 1.97 III. ANALYSIS 9. Library Research & Information 1.80 10. Group Discussion/Supervision/Training 2.79 Please refer Table 1 for issues and Fig. 1 for their 11. Use of Common ICT tools/applications 0.03graphical representation. 12. Use of Educational/Research ICT tools 1.901. A teacher plans/develops class lecture by reading online 13. Rely on ICTs in HEIs 0.93 books, searching informative content from internet 14. Use of ICTs HEIs 0.93 (using ICT tools and applications) much before finally 15. Help by ICTs in HEIs 1.00 delivering his lecture in the classroom. A significant 16. ICT Demand in HEIs 1.88 ZPD gap (2.07) is recorded which shows confidence 17. ICT Supply in HEIs 2.69 level of teachers of HEIs of Pakistan in using ICT tools 18. Problem of Attitude in HEIs 0.47 and applications for this area of teacher tasks.2. Recording grades, taking attendance, and performing 11. For use of common ICT tools such as MS Office, necessary recordkeeping tasks take a lot of teachers’ search engines, e-mailing, web browsers etc; very small time. ZPD gap measured regarding status of this task at ZPD gap (0.03) is recorded. Pakistani HE level is 1.93. 12. For research and educational ICT tools such as3. For the task of designing time table, attendance Encyclopedia, ACM, IEEE, online mapping, demo and policies, and managing student conduct (with the help scenario tools, web meeting/conferencing tools, and of ICT tools), ZPD gap status at Pakistani HE level is course management tools etc; a ZPD gap of 1.90 is 1.93. recorded.4. For developing course material, delivering and sharing Figure 1. ZPD gaps. educational content, communication between learners/ 3 teachers and outside world, distance learning, video conferencing, creation and delivery of presentations 2.5 using ICT tools and applications; 1.87 ZPD gap is 2 measured.5. Task of checking exam papers and announcing results 1.5 using ICT tools and applications obtained a significant (2.03) ZPD gap. 16. Finding information of research centers, communicating with researchers and sharing ideas and 0.5 new developments with peer groups; a significant ZPD gap of 2.10 is measured in this study. 07. For administrative tasks such as students enrolment, 13. ZPD gap 3 of4 0.93 6is 7measured regarding how much 1 2 5 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 keeping students records, issuing books, and supporting should students/faculty/staff of HEIs rely on ICT tools students with ICT tools and applications in their and applications. studies; a ZPD gap of 1.90 is recorded. 14. ZPD gap of 0.93 is calculated regarding how much8. For teacher task of using professional blogs/social should students/faculty/staff of HEIs use ICT tools and networks/learner forums and research sites in quest of applications. information/knowledge; a ZPD gap of 1.97 is recorded. 15. ZPD gap of 1.00 is measured regarding how much help9. In web-based and database/library research and students/faculty/staff of HEIs get while using ICT tools information task, ZPD gap of 1.80 is recorded. and applications.10. Very high ZPD gap of 2.79 is recorded for the task: 16. ZPD gap for the issue of demand of ICTs in HEIs of Group discussion, workshop supervision, and training Pakistan recorded is 1.88. (live supervision by video cameras, conducting training 17. ZPD gap for ICT supply in response to its demand in workshops/teleconferencing). HEIs recorded is 2.69.
  3. 3. 18. Problem of attitude/vision such as grabbing resources must be made available for curriculum and management and misusing them did not obtain significant ZPD gap purposes. (0.47) as was expected before calculating these gaps. B. ICT for gaining proper attainment of students IV. DISCUSSION ICT is used to improve the course/class attainment of Teachers have to perform a number of tasks before students through training events, educational websites,beginning any lesson. If a teacher is effective at planning his quizzes and ICT-assisted monitoring of students. Somelessons, he will find that his day-to-day teaching tasks are actions that our panelists suggest in this regard are: (1)much easier. Recordkeeping requires a teacher to spend time enabling teachers to record and evaluate studentstaking attendance, recording grades and other housekeeping class/course attainment at the classroom level by providingtasks. Managing student conduct in a classroom requires an them relevant ICT tools and applications, (2) studentseffective classroom and course management policy. There progress between key stages may be measured throughare many ICT tools and applications that all teachers must management information system (MIS), (3) database ofuse while teaching regardless of how they deliver their students/staff records and data warehouse for data analysislecture. As instruction is considered the meat of any course services should be designed to increase the current level ofmaterial, hence assessments are the measure of success; data sharing, (5) relevant database tools integrated withtherefore, teachers must spend time for developing suitable database and data warehouse should be provided toassessments for students [7]. universities for tracking students class/course progress, and (6) a policy regarding use of available software/hardware Significant ZPD gaps are calculated in almost all while delivering a lecture or performing somedimensions while relating these teaching/learning issues with accounting/admin task should be developed.HEIs of Pakistan. Such big gaps show confidence level ofstudents/faculty/staff in using and getting benefits from these C. ICT for improving teaching skillstechnologies in their everyday routine tasks. Lack of ICT-based training, unavailability of resources, under funding, To work effectively and efficiently, HE teachers need tolack of vision/creativity/attitude, ICT-based curriculum be proficient users of ICT tools and applications. Thisissues, and lack of political will, are some the main causes of strategy suggests ( 1) design of a persistent training programsuch big ZPD gaps that this study suggests. for students/faculty/staff that address weak areas in the use While the dissemination of ICT tools and applications is of ICT, (2) a mechanism should be devised by whichoften perceived as a necessity for HEIs of less developed university teaching/support staff receive regularcountries so that they can cope with pedagogical and ICT- technological and curriculum related updates throughbased challenges posed by latest developments in the internet, education portal, intranet, and other sources, (3)technological world; it was found while reviewing current workshops for top management and decision makingICT status in less developed countries that there is no such authorities of HEIs should be arranged through which theystrategy in existence at any state in the developing countries receive information about best practices and strategic data(also Pakistan) that provide persistent solution to this global management advice to maintain effectiveness of data, (4) HEissue. authorities should provide their faculty the best available educational software/hardware in the market, (5) HE Hence, by this study, we have tried to devise a strategy teaching/support staff should get opportunities of studyingthat discuss some best practices and recommend measures to and gaining higher qualifications throughthe authorities of HEIs of Pakistan for ICT enhancement. scholarships/fellowships, and attending research oriented V. CONCLUSIONS events worldwide. ZPD incidence development strategy as suggested by D. ICT for managing, sharing, and using informationDelphi participants is comprised of six dimensions, each of Accurate and timely information is a key resource for anywhich focuses on a distinct area of development. A 21st century company to succeed. This study gives followingconsolidated list of recommendations is given below. recommendations in this area: (1) mechanism for secureA. ICT for teaching, learning, and development electronic transfer of information among all institutes of HE, (2) devise a mechanism for secure and efficient data flow Some of the recommendations suggested by our panelists through video-conferencing and video streaming, (3)in this dimension are: (1) education portal populated with supporting students/faculty/support staff to use intranet inrelevant teaching and learning resources for curriculum their routine tasks, (4) enable high speed internet access forpurposes needs to be developed, (2) provide ongoing training management, faculty and administrative staff, (5) all HEIsto teaching/support staff so that they can get maximum should have an established information management strategybenefit from this portal, (3) teaching/support staff should be to be shared with parents, top authorities and other relatedsupported/encouraged to use innovative methods of stakeholders, (6) design of a mechanism that provide accessteaching/learning in their routine work, (4) teams, to appropriate and secure information using portalcomprising of teachers, educational advisors, and library technology to parents, higher authorities, and other relatedstaff need to be developed which develop course-based stakeholders, (7) design a class/course management systemeducational content in local/regional and in English supporting students attendance policies, timetabling, grading,language, (5) curriculum-based local intranet in each HEI conduct, and other student and teacher related policies.needs to be developed which may be linked with educationportal, (6) video-conferencing and video streaming facility
  4. 4. E. ICT for partnership, training/community learning be established via “thin-client technology” between HEIs that enable multiple-access to shared data/data warehouse. Some recommendations in this dimension are: (1) allinstitutes of HE should establish ICT training centers that not REFERENCESonly fulfill local training needs of staff but also provide such [1] “Information and Communication Technology Strategic Plan, 2005-services to communities of nearby area, (2) training 06 to 2009-10,” University of Oxford, Retrieved August 2009, from:programs that develop skills of ICT tutors should be http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/strategy/plan/ICT_Strategic_Plan_March200designed by every HEI to enable them to train 7.pdffaculty/support staff with major developmental and [2] “Argyll and Bute Community Services: ICT Strategy for Education,” Retrieved August 2009, from: http://www.argyll-technological changes occur with time in the world of ICT, bute.gov.uk/pdffilesstore/infotechnologystrategy(3) Develop a countrywide e-learning program which [3] S. Gillard, D. Bailey, and E. Nolan, “Ten reasons for IT educators toprovide high quality education services to remote students on be early adopters of IT innovations,” Journal of Informationanywhere and anytime learning pattern. Technology Education, vol. 7, 2008, pp. 21-33.F. ICT for connectivity and access [4] P. Deshpande, “Connected – where next?: A strategy for the next phase in the development of education ICT in Bournemouth,” ICT should be used to develop an effective and efficient Retrieved August 2009, from:communications infrastructure that may enable http://www.bournemouth.gov.uk/Library/PDF/Education/Education_Iteachers/support staff to get maximum benefit from CT_Strategy_2004_to_2009.pdfeducational material and technologies. Some actions this [5] L. S. Vygotsky, “Mind in Society: The development of higherstudy recommends in this dimension are: (1) all institutes of psychological processes,” Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: USA, 1978.HE should have computer levels at or in excess of 3:1students-computer ratio by the end of 2019. 50% of teaching [6] Z. A. Shaikh, “Usage, acceptance, adoption, and diffusion of information & communication technologies in higher education: afaculty should have access to laptops by the end of 2019, (3) measurement of critical factors,” Journal of Information TechnologyDevise a mechanism for access of high speed Impact vol. 9(2), July 2009, pp. 63-80.broadband/internet connection to all universities, (4) all [7] M. Kelly, “Top 6 teacher tasks – what teachers do,” Retrieved Augustinstitutions of HE should have access to wireless 2009, from:technologies to achieve ‘mobile/anywhere’ access, (5) use of http://712educators.about.com/od/teachingstrategies/tp/teaching_tasksvideo conferencing and video streaming should be extended .htmbetween HE institutes, (6) Secure and efficient links should

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