Ghanaian Senior High School students access to and experiences in the use of Information and Communication Technology

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1 Ghanaian Senior High School students access to and experiences in the use of Information and Communication Technology Sarfo F.K. 1, Ansong-Gyimah K. 2 1 Department of Educational Leadership, College of Technology Education, University of Education, Winneba, P.O. Box 1277, Kumasi Ashanti, Ghana 2 Department of Information Technology Education, College of Technology Education, University of Education,Winneba, P.O. Box 1277, Kumasi Ashanti, Ghana Three Hundred Senior High School (SHS) students in Ghana (average age 17 with SD of 1.5) were surveyed to explore their access to and the use of emerging ICT tools (such as computer, internet and mobile phone). The Global Citizenship Survey instruments were adapted to collect the data. distribution and chi square test were used to analyse the data. The results of the study show that all the SHS students have been using mobile phone, computer or internet. Furthermore, according to the results, majority of students have cell phones but mostly use it for social communication. In addition, the results demonstrate that quite a number of them have access to computer and often use it to acquire computer skills; and few of them have access to internet at internet cafe but mostly use it for social communication. The results were discussed in line with the literature. Key words: ICT use; access to ICT; senior high school; digital natives; mobile phone; ICT tools; Ghana 1. Introduction Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become an indispensable tool and therefore received unparalleled attention in recent years. Information and Communication technology has permeated all aspects of human life, be it health, politics, social, culture, entertainment, education, etc. [1] proposed that students in the 21 st century are Digital Natives. Thus it is assumed that students in the 21 st century are more technologically enlightened than their teachers. [1] also expressed concern that there is an apparent lack of technological literacy among teachers. He labelled lecturers in higher education as Digital Immigrants ; and that there is the need to bridge the gap between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants for a successful integration of ICT in (higher) education. This discussion has gained widespread attention especially in higher education circles in the developed nations [2, 3]. [4] and others indicate that the digital culture in which the Digital Natives have grown up has influenced their preferences and skills in a number of key areas related to education. In Ghana, there is a high influx of internet cafes in most cities and towns and the use of cell phones has become rampant. Most schools have computer laboratories and quite a number of students are seemed to be exposed to computers. However, in Ghana, unlike the developed countries, little or no empirical research has been conducted on the state of the art of access to and general experiences with ICT among SHS students. As such, one cannot make any academic contribution to bridging the gap between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants towards the successful integration of ICT in education. This study seeks to explore Senior High School students (in Ghana) access to, and use of emerging ICT tools, such as computer, internet and mobile phones. A thorough understanding of SHS students access to and experiences with ICT tools has important implications for the design of effective pedagogical innovative teaching in SHSs as well as in higher education. Furthermore, scientific knowledge of students experiences with emerging ICT tools will help in in-service training of teachers and equitable distribution of ICT facilities in Ghana. In addition, good understanding of students access to and use of ICT tools is important for effective planning and implementation of successful policies for integration of ICT in education. 2. Literature on access and use of information and communication technology tools As indicated by [5], undoubtedly the internet and other ICT tools in general constitute a valuable channel for knowledge dissemination and opportunities for development and growth among nations in the world (p. 49). Furthermore, [6] envisages that the effectiveness of the use of computers in education may be an important factor in determining which countries will succeed in the future. There is abundant evidence in the literature to support the proposition that the integration of ICT (e.g. computer, internet, mobile phone) effectively in teaching and instruction can facilitate acquisition of 21 st century skills. [7, 8] indicates that taking into consideration the processing capabilities of ICT tools, it must be argued that: 1) ICT may enable learners to elaborate their mental models and correct their misconceptions with the use of a macro world; 2) ICT can enable learners to connect their symbolic learning in school to real world situations; and 3) ICT can also enable learners share ideas across different cultures. [9] claim that a 216

2 number of features of ICT tools are consistent with principles of the science of learning and hold promise for improving teaching and learning. However, [10] indicate that lack of pragmatic factors (e.g. lack of access of ICT) can inhibit full utilization of ICT (computer, mobile phone and internet) in teaching and learning. Access and use of ICT are variable assets in effective education, and hence the benefit of ICT in education can be realised if students have access to ICT tools and use them pedagogically. Since technology is financially expensive in developing countries, access to and use of technology in schools and institutions might be problematic as compared to developed nations. Access to and use of ICT tools in terms of ratio of teachers and students might differ significantly among developing countries and developed countries. In this regard, effective innovative pedagogical models developed from the perspective of ICT in developed countries might not directly work successfully in developing countries. Generally, [11] provides information on access to ICT in countries around the globe. According to the figures, in developed countries such as: UK per every hundred people have access to the internet and for every hundred people, there are mobile phones USA per every hundred people have access to the internet and for every hundred people, there are mobile phones Australia per every hundred people have access to the internet and for every hundred people, there are mobile phones Whereas in developing countries such as: Ghana 5.44 per every hundred people have access to the internet and for every hundred people, there are mobile phones Nigeria per every hundred people have access to the internet and for every hundred people, there are mobile phones. The use of ICT tools in African countries such as Ghana and Nigeria is generally increasing and dramatically growing [12]. But specifically, while there is a great deal of knowledge about availability of ICT and how they are being used in schools in developed countries, there is not much information in the literature on access and use of ICT among students in schools in Africa in general [13], and specifically Ghana. For instance, in a developed country, in a research study conducted by [2], 2000 Australian students were asked about their access to, use of and preferences for ICT tools. The results indicate that 85.5% of the students have unrestricted access to the computer, while only 0.6% have no access to computer; 99.4% of the students have unrestricted access to mobile phones and 72.9% of the students reported having unrestricted access to broadband connection. In terms of the use of computer, some students use computer for general study purposes, some use computer to create web pages but a large proportion of students (84.0%) are using computer to listen to music daily or weekly. With regard to the use of mobile phones, 80% of students were using mobile phones to call and text people and 57.2% of students use mobile phones to take pictures daily or weekly. For the use of internet, many students (62%) indicate that they have access to learning management systems on a daily basis. Majority of the students (85%) use the web for study purposes. Furthermore, in US, [14] surveyed 4374 freshmen and senior college students to explore their experience and use of ICT tools. The results indicate that the students were frequent users of , instant messaging, word processing and internet browsing. This use varied by student majors. In a follow up to this study, [15] present a broad and comprehensive report of the technological experiences of over 18,000 university students. The results show that ICT permeates all aspects of students lives. However, they also found that students are comfortable with a core set of technologies but are less comfortable with specialised technologies. Replicating Kvavik s earlier findings [14], they again found that high levels of use and skill did not necessarily translate into preferences for increased use of technology in the classroom and that students prefer technology to a moderate degree as a supplement in courses. Again, in a research study, [16] investigated ICT use among 122 Ukrainian high school students. The results show that 53.3% of the students use computer at school at least once per week but 33.5% responded that they never use computer at school. In addition, the results indicate that 84.4% of the students have a computer at home and 60% also have internet access at home. The results of the study indicate that majority of the Ukrainian students have access to computers and internet and they appear to use these ICT tools. However, the study does not indicate specifically what students use computer and internet for in schools and at home. In Nigeria, [12] surveyed the use of ICT tools among 700 teachers. The results show that 61% of the teachers have access to computers. However, according to the results none of them have access to the internet. The study was silent about the use of ICT tools among teachers and the access and use of ICT among students. As it has been indicated, it can be argued, based on the above literature, that there is knowledge base evidence about access and the use of ICT tools such as computer, mobile phone and internet in the developed countries. Therefore concrete pedagogical models can be designed (to match digital natives and digital immigrants) towards effective integration of ICT in education from the perspective of developed countries. In contrast, according to the literature, in developing countries (specifically in 217

3 Ghana) there is limited or no information about access to and use of ICT tools (Internet, Computer and mobile phones) among students and teachers in schools. In this regard, in Ghana, it is difficult to make concrete decisions about effective pedagogical models to fit students (digital natives) and teachers (digital immigrants) towards effective integration of ICT into education in this technological era. Within this context the present study is aimed at exploring the access to and the use of emerging ICT tools among Senior High School students in Ghana. More specifically, the main research questions are: 1.which ICT tools have students used before? 2.where do students have access to ICT tools? 3.where do students access internet often? 4.how often do students use ICT tools? 5.what do students use ICT tools for? 6.what resources do students use most in their studies? 3. Methodology 3.1 Participants Participants for this study were Senior High School (SHS) male and female students. These students, with an average age of 17 (the range was with SD of 1.5), were chosen from four SHSs in Ghana. Random Sampling was used to select 4 schools. In each school selected, a simple random sampling method (lottery) was used to select 75 students to form the sample. The students were not compelled to take part in the survey, and could opt out if they so wished. In all, 300 students were selected for the survey. 3.2 Materials To achieve the purpose of the present study, a 22-items survey questionnaire was adapted from the Global Citizenship Survey instrument [5] to determine the access and the uses to which Senior High School students in Ghana put ICT tools. The survey was in two main parts. The first part was made up of five (5) items of general demographic nature (such as age, gender, class, etc.). The second part of the questionnaire that sought to determine access and what students use ICT tools for were grouped into three main areas: the types of ICT tools (such as computer, internet, mobile phone) available and the ones students have had experienced with; where students usually get access to such ICT tools and frequency of use (6 items); and what the students usually use such tools for (10 items,). 3.3 Procedure Pilot study was conducted to enable the researchers adapt the Global Citizenship Survey instruments [5] to suit the situation of SHSs in Ghana. The adapted or reviewed questionnaires were administered to the participants in the various schools during the normal class periods. In each school, the researchers first sought permission from the headteacher of the school, after which the students were selected and grouped together in one hall. After a brief explanation of the purpose of the study, the questionnaires were administered to the students. They were instructed to do independent work and they were supervised by the researchers. The average time for responding to the questions was 30 minutes. The return rate for this questionnaire was 96.33%. 3.4 Analysis The answered questionnaires were scrutinized to identify mistakes. The data was analysed using the statistical analysis software, SPSS 16. Chi Square and Descriptive Statistics were used to analyse the data. 4. Results The focus of the study was to explore access and ICT use among Senior High School students in Ghana. The following results in line with the research questions were found. 218

4 Education in a technological world: communicating current and emerging research and technological efforts 4.1 Research question 1: ICT tools that students have used before Forty-two percent of the participants (N=120) use mobile phones; 30% use computers and 3% use internet. Fourteen percent of the participants use computers and mobile phones; 1% use computers and internet and 10% use computers, internet and mobile phones. Table 1 shows the frequencies and percentages of students experiences with various ICT tools. Table 1 Frequencies and percentages of ICT tools that students have had experience with ICT Tools Computers 88 Percentage 30.4 Internet Mobile Phones Computers and Internet Computers and Mobile Phones Computers, Mobile Phones and Internet Total Research question 2: Where students have access to ICT tools Approximately 60% (N=172) of the participants have access to computer at home, while 40% of the participants do not have computer access at home. Chi Square analysis x2 (1, N = 288) = 10.89, p = indicates that a significant number of participants have access to computer at home. Only 22% (N=62) of the participants have internet access at home. A large number of students (65.3%) indicated that they have access to computers at school. The rest of them (34.7%) however, do not have access to computers at school. Chi Square analysis x2 (1, N = 288) = 26.88, p < 0.05 indicates that a significant number of participants have access to computer at school. 4.3 Research question 3: where students have access to internet most Table 2 shows where students have access to internet most. Approximately twenty-two per cent of the students (N=62) have access to internet at home. Few of them (10%) access the internet at school. Majority of the students (62%) have access to the internet at Internet Cafés; 1% of the students have access to the internet at the library and 2.1% of the students access the internet at their friends house. Approximately 3% of the students have access to the internet at other places. Table 2 Frequencies and percentages on where students have access to internet most Location Home 62 Percentage 21.5 School Internet café Library Friend s house Other places Total Research question 4: how often students use ICT tools Table 3 shows the frequencies and percentages of how often students use ICT tools (computer, internet and mobile phone) at school. Very few students (5.9%) use computer at school every day; minority (24.2%) of the students use the computer at least three days in a week; however, the majority of the students (69.5%) use the computer at least one day 219

5 Education in a technological world: communicating current and emerging research and technological efforts A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed.) or do not use the computer at school. Chi Square analysis x2 (2, N = 288) = 26.34, p< 0.05 indicates that most of the participants use the computer at least once in a week or do not use it at all. A small number of the students (5.2%) use the internet at school every day; 2.4% use the internet at school at least three days a week; 6.6% of the students use the internet at school at least one day in a week; and almost all of them (85.1%) never use the internet at school. Very few students (6.6%) use a mobile phone at school every day; a small number (1.4%) use mobile phones at least three days a week; 5.2% of the students use mobile phones at least one day in a week and the vast majority of students (86.5%) do not use mobile phones at school. Table 3 frequencies and percentages on how often students use ICT tools Response Computer Internet Mobile Phone Everyday 17 Per cent Per cent Percentage 6.6 At least three days At least one day Never Total Twenty five percent of the students use computer out of school every day; quite a good number of the students (24.1%) use computer out of school at least three days a week; 24.7% of the students use computer out of school at least one day a week and 25.4% of the students do not use the computer out of school. Chi Square analysis x2 (2, N = 287) = 36.63, p < 0.05 shows that most of the participants use computer out of school at least one day in a week or not at all. Very few students (10.2%) use internet out of school every day; good number of students (25.7%) use the internet out of school at least three days; 25% use the internet out of school at least one day in a week; and majority (39.1%) never use the internet out of school. Chi Square analysis x2 (3, N = 284) = 47.43, p < 0.05 indicates that a significant number of participants never use internet out of school. Almost all the students (96.8%) use mobile phones everyday out of school; only few (2.4%) of students use mobile phones at least three days in a week out of school, and a very small number (.8%) either use mobile phones out of school once a week, or never at all. 4.5 Research question 5: what students use ICT tools for At home, few students (11.8%) use computers for learning (e.g. to do their homework, to acquire knowledge and skills in a certain domain or to access information related to domain of interest). Quite a good number of students (22.5%) use computer at home for entertainment; Majority of the students (38.7%) use computers at home to acquire computer skills (e.g., word processing, typing tutorial, master some concepts related to computer use). Chi Square analysis x2 (4, N = 288) = 72.83, p < 0.05 suggests that a significant number of the participants use computer at home to acquire computer skills. At school, most of the students (50.9%) use computer for learning. Few of them (5.9%) use computer for entertainment; and 24.2% use computers at school to acquire computer skills. Outside school, some students (22.9%) use internet for learning (e.g. to submit homework, research for academic work, etc.); other students (11.6%) use internet outside school for entertainment; others (21.8%) use internet outside school for social communication (e.g. Facebook, chatting with friends, twitter, etc.); and majority of the students (39.3) do not use internet outside the school. At school, 23.2% of students use internet for learning. Few of them (1.5%) use internet for entertainment; and % use internet at school for social communication. Majority (61.8) of students do not use internet at school. Outside school few students (7.5%) use mobile phone for learning (e.g. contact their teachers, exchange academic ideas with others, etc.); others (6.9%) use mobile phones for entertainment; but majority of students (81.7%) use mobile phones for social communication. Chi Square analysis x2 (3, N = 279) = 479.8, p < 0.05 indicates that a significant number of participants use mobile phones for social communication. Table 4 shows frequencies and percentages of what students use mobile phone for. 220

6 Table 4 Frequencies and percentages of what students use mobile phones for Outside school Response Per cent Learning Entertainment Social Communication Others (do not use mobile phones) Total Research question 6: resources students use mostly in their studies Table 5 shows frequencies and percentages of resources mostly used by students. Almost all the students (98.6%) use books mostly for their school work; few students (1.1%) use computer mostly to do their work; and a very small number (0.3%) use the internet to do their school work. No (0%) students use mobile phones to do their school work. Table 5 Frequencies and percentages of resources mostly used by students for their studies Resource Percentage Books Computer Internet 1.3 Mobile Phone 0 0 Total Discussion and conclusion In the present study, 300 SHS students in Ghana were surveyed. The purpose was to explore their access to and the use of the emerging ICT tools (such as computer, internet and mobile phone). The results of the study show that all SHS students in Ghana have been using mobile phones, computer or internet. But the results seem to be interpreted as most of the SHS students in Ghana use mobile phones. This finding on students use of mobile phones is similar to [2] finding that Australian students unrestricted access to mobile phones is almost universal. Generally, the results on Ghanaian SHS students access to computer, internet, and mobile phones portray that the students are technological savvy. This finding is in line with [1] proposition that students in the 21 st Century are Digital Natives. However, according to the results, while most of the students have access to computer at home, others (about 40%) do not have computers at home. An even worse situation is that only 22% of the students have access to internet at home indicating that a great number of students do not have access to internet at home. Most of the students access internet at internet cafe. This particular situation on Ghanaian students access to internet at home is significantly different from the other developed countries [2], and even poorer than some of the developing countries [16]. The absence of internet at homes of most of Ghanaian SHS students is a basic problem in most developing countries; and this can be explained in line with the notion of Digital Divide and more specifically in line with the proposition by [5] that Undoubtedly, the internet and other ICT in general constitute a valuable channel for knowledge dissemination and opportunities for development and growth among nations in the world. But since technology is financially expensive, developing countries are facing a dilemma that is aggravated by their economic issues, the need of people to possess adequate and accurate information in order to feel included in the society (p.49.). In addition, the results of the study demonstrate that the Ghanaian SHS students hardly use the emerging ICT tools (computer, internet, mobile phone) in schools; also majority of the students do not use internet out of school. However, a large number of students have mobile phones and use them outside school. Inadequate computer facilities (for each of the student) and woefully inadequate internet facilities at schools might be the reasons why students rarely use computers and internet at school. Another reason might be that, as indicated by [17] and [1], most of the teachers are digital immigrants, and therefore wouldn t want to make any attempt to help students to interact with the few emerging 221

7 Education in a technological world: communicating current and emerging research and technological efforts A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed.) ICT tools in the classrooms. In connection with this teachers may not motivate students to use ICT tools on their own to facilitate learning at school. Since students might not use their mobile phones appropriately and pedagogically, they might not be encouraged to use mobile phones at school. It could also be argued that students do not use mobile phones at school because they do not know how to use them for effective pedagogical purposes. On the other hand, most of the students do not use internet outside school simply because internet facilities are not available at their homes and they might not have money to go to internet cafes. Many students use mobile phones outside the school, maybe because it is cheaper to afford mobile phones as compared to computer and internet. Furthermore, the results of the study show that when students use computer at home and at school, most of the students use them for acquiring computer skills; few of them use computer for acquiring knowledge; and others use them for entertainment. And when students use internet outside school, majority of the students use them for social communication purposes; and at school, some students use internet for education purposes. According to the results of the study almost all of the students use mobile phone outside school for social communication and entertainment; only few of them use it for learning. This finding is consistent with the findings of [2]. In addition, the findings of the study indicate that almost all of the students use books the most for their school work. The basic reason for this is that books are cheaper and they are more available at schools as compared to other ICT tools such as computer and internet. But most of the students have access to mobile phones and do not use them for school work. Why? It can be argued from the findings of this study that SHS students in Ghana are Digital Natives ; and they usually use ICT tools (e.g., mobile phone) that they can easily access for social communication purposes but not for learning or pedagogical purposes. In addition, those who manage to access internet at internet cafe also use internet for social communication purposes but not for learning purposes. However, students mostly use computer at home and at school for acquiring computer skills rather than for learning or pedagogical purposes. It can be concluded based on the results of the present study that Digital Natives in developing countries (such as Ghana) more often use the emerging ICT tools (such as mobile phones, internet) for other purposes rather than for education or learning purposes. They often use computer to acquire computer skills rather than for acquisition of integrated set of knowledge and skills. The study provides vital information for educational policy makers for effective planning towards successful integration of ICT into teaching and learning. Essentially, based on the findings of the present study that majority of the students have access to mobile phones but do not use them for education or learning purposes, it is suggested that instructional designers/technologists and educational practitioners (in Ghana) should research on the pedagogical potentials of mobile phones; and find a better means of designing motivating innovative teaching methods that make use of these instructional potentials to facilitate teaching and learning. Moreover, for effective integration of ICT into teaching and learning in SHS (in Ghana), there is a need to conduct more research to have more explicit and extensive knowledge about SHS students access to and use of the emerging ICT tools at school to validate or challenge the present findings. Based on the weaknesses of the present study, it is suggested that the further research within this context should expand the sample size and consider factors such as gender and geographical location (urban and rural SHS students). References [1] Prensky M. Digital native, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 2001; 9(5) Accessed October 13, [2] Kennedy EG, Judd ST, Churchward AG, Grey K. First year students experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives? Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 2008; 24(1): [3] Rodley C. Meeting the demands of the Net Gen. UniNews, The University of Sydney, Accessed February 18, [4] Gibbons S. Redefining the roles of information professionals in higher education to engage the Net generation. Keynote Paper presented at Educause Australasia Accessed October23, [5] Lima CO. It s not all about access: A comparative study of global citizenship and ICT use between Brazilian and American students utilizing a social inclusion framework. Doctoral dissertation, University of Connecticut, 2006 [6] Harvey W B. Educational technology and Third World development, Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 1993; 11(3): [7] Kozma RB. Learning with media. Review of Educational Research, 1991; 61: [8] Kozma RB. Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development,1994; 42(2): [9] Bransford JD, Brown AL, Cocking R. How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press: 1999 [10] Land SM, Hannafin MJ.. Student-cantered learning environments. In Jonassen DH, Land SM, eds, Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environment. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erbaum, 2000:1-23 [11] International Telecommunications Union, ICT Statistics Database, Accessed September 5, 2010 [12] Tella A, Tella A, Toyobo OM, Adika LO, Adeyinka A A. An Assessment of Secondary School Teachers Uses of ICTs: Implications for further Development of ICT s Use in Nigerian Secondary Schools, Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 2007; 6(3): Accessed September 7,

8 [13] Beukes-Amiss CM, Chiware ERT..The impact of diffusion of ICTs into educational practices, how good or how bad? A review of the Namibia situation. February 10, 2007 [14] Kvavik RB. Convenience, communications and control; How students us technology. In Blinger D, Oblinger J eds, Educating the Net Generation 2005: EDUCAUSE. Htt://www.educause.edu/educatingthenetgen, Accessed May [15] Caruso JB, Kvavik R. ECAR study of students and information technology 2005: Convenience, connection, control and learning. DUCAUSE.http://connect.educause.edu/Library/ECAR/ECARstudyofstudentsInf/ Accessed May 8, 2010 [16] Yukhymenko MA, Brown S. Promoting global citizenship through ICT: Ukrainian High School Students, US-China Education Review, 2009; 6(8): [17] Sarfo FK, Ansong-Gyimah K. The Perceptions of Students, Teachers, and Educational Officers in Ghana on the Role of Computer and the Teacher in Promoting the First Five Principles of Instruction, Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 2010; 9(3): Accessed August 30.,

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