ANALYSIS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY READINESS AMONG URMIA HIGH SCHOOLS

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1 ANALYSIS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY READINESS AMONG URMIA HIGH SCHOOLS Abstract Roghayeh Hoseinpour Faculty of Humanities, University of Urmia, Iran The effective use of computer technology has been touted as an important skill for the future. Vast sums of money have been spent by the governments, local schools districts, individual schools and parent s groups to purchase computer hardware and software for schools. For this technology to be used most effectively, it needs to be properly supported, both technically and curricularly. Progress toward computer literacy and integration, like any other initiative, will be limited without proper support. In the other word, it is not enough to purchase the technology without staff and students knowing what to do with it. This study tries to examine information technology readiness among Urmia high schools from teacher s points of view. The research was conducted among 85 Urmia high schools teacher s, using a questionnaire comprised of 29 items based on (Mutula & van Brakel, 2006) paper. We used two methods for data analysis includes TOPSIS method to prioritize importance of indicators and then current situation analysis to find position of indicators in sample schools. Based on our results, three indicators identified as critical factors and have to be in the priority for improvement toward IT readiness development: Capacity building strategies incorporating information management, Adequacy of budgets for ICT and information management functions, Policy on information centralization or decentralization. Keywords: Information Technology Readiness, High schools, TOPSIS method Introduction Technology plays an integral role in the people way of life and technological tools and required infrastructure have become essential for the effective operation of business and are a primary means for information acquisition (Kong, 2007). Students at all levels, who decide to adopt IT, cannot do so without adequate infrastructure and support. Therefore, an educator s decision to adopt information technologies is contingent upon administration supplying the necessary equipment, training and support that allows educators the opportunity to implement information COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 915

2 technologies into the classroom (Selwyn et al, 2009). Though adoption of IT affects all level of education, this study aims to prioritize IT readiness factors among high schools. Various external sources (e.g., state legislatures, parent organizations) exert significant pressures on high schools to prepare new teachers to effectively use technology (Ely, 1996). State and local governments hope to increase technology implementation and integration by adding new certification standards and accreditation standards for schools and education, in addition to other efforts to reform and upgrade teacher education (Gudmundsdottir, 2010). Ultimately, education institutions must integrate technology seamlessly throughout the curriculum allowing students and faculty to become more efficient and productive. Schools however, face major challenges in their attempts to build infrastructure, train faculty and staff to integrate technology into their professional life and model technology integration in daily school classroom instruction (Ravert, 2002). Technological change is occurring in high schools. Student arrives at schools expecting to use information technologies. Students expect network access for their personal computers. Recent research (Hogan et al, 2008) reports that institutions of high schools are not prepared for change at the pace being experienced from the mid s to the early 21 st century. Systems of governance and financial management. Faculty work of lone nature and teaching practices that have not changed in hundreds of year s present barriers to change. The current change mode that expects knowledge to move rapidly and receivers, not deliverers, to be in control of outcomes is especially inconsistent with traditional education models. The last but not least is that additional competition now comes from corporate world where training departments are blossoming into educational ventures that use technology to offer substantial numbers of courses at a distance and in some cases, to generate new revenues (Tannenbaum & Brown-Welty, 2006). As society changes, institutions of education must change in order to enable the next generation to function in the work place and in all social interactions. Students must learn to use technology in research, business application, communication, data and information management and myriad other ways. These are only the areas of use arrived at in this early stage of the technological transformation, and more change is to be expected. So, examination of IT readiness is the first step to accelerate use of IT in schools. COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 916

3 Literature Review This literature review includes studies which address the research problem. A literature review helps to show how the study relates to and complements the overall fields. This review validated that this research is warranted and identified possible contributions to the field of study. The use of titles in computer education is an evolving one. Edwards and Morton s (1996) study, which used the term Computing Coordinator, found that in their schools, 39% of the participants filling a computer role in the schools responded that they occupied a position titled Computing Coordinator. However, 29% indicated that they either held a number of different titles in relation to their work with computers; had no specific title, role or job description, or their title was not one of those indicated in the survey. According to Green (1996), 90 percent of all higher education institutions surveyed are connected to the internet with 76% of the faculty and 60% of the students having access to the internet. Green s survey, Campus computing 1995, focuses on higher education academic computing, the use of computing as well as information technology to support and enhance instruction along with scholarship. Similarly, (Schnackenberg et al, 1999) identified the needs for professional development, pedagogical support and technical support in the use of technology. There is also a need to educate teachers in the use of technology and to oversee, coordinate and manage computer activities at the school level. The role of computer contact teacher (CCT) was established to fill several of these needs, and has been shown to be the key in promoting educational computer use (Bonnette, 2006). While this position has developed informally, the role of CCT is now paramount in the curricular and technical support of the technology. Moreover, Ely (1995) found that the factors that contributed to the successful use of technology in elementary schools were: the availability of computers in the classroom, the support and sharing of resources, a supportive district and principal, a strong computer coordinator, early and thorough teacher training and user friendly systems. Similarly Lebens et al (2009) suggested that leadership and commitment at all levels in the educational hierarchy were more important for providing computer access for students that the demographic or financial characteristics of the school districts and that the leadership at the school level was more critical that at the upper levels. Karal et al (2009) made other recommendations improving educational computer skills after a study in Turkey. They recommended that there should be: statewide planning for the use of technology, clarification of roles of computer coordinators, employment of building level computer specialists, a reduction in the inequities of computer use within the COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 917

4 district, greater preparation of teachers for computers use in the curriculum, the acquisition of financial resources and state level leadership, and the inclusion of computers in school improvement efforts. Rather than sharing this point o view, many remain optimistic about chances for improvement within the school system. In the process of articulating a new vision of educational change, commentators have examined the causes of the failure of past reform efforts. Dufour & Eaker (1998) identify five factors: 1- The complexity of the task of change. 2- The lack of focus on effective strategies for change. 3- The lack of shared vision on what schools should improve. 4- The lack of perseverance. 5- Failure to understand the process of change. Fullan (1991) summarizes three lessons to be learned about educational change. First, change is multidimensional: it is perceived differently by different members within a group. Second, educational reform involves people s basic beliefs of the purpose of education and of the skills necessary to practice it. Lastly, change involves a dynamic interplay between beliefs, practices and resources. Despite the absence of hard and fast rules to product educational change, there are a number of factors that have been identified as key to making successful innovation. In keeping with his view of change as a process not an event, Altun (2007) outlines three phases of educational change: initiation, implementation and continuation. There are factors associated with each phase that have a substantial influence on the process of change. During the stages, the factors that most influence the pursuit of change are: the existence and quality of innovation as perceived by educators, teacher advocacy, particularly in the form of mutual support and information sharing, external change agent who stimulate and support change, community involvement that provides support to change, new policy and funds that provides impetus and a problem solving rather than a bureaucratic orientation. COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 918

5 Research Methodology & Results The first questionnaire was distributed to get a clear picture of current state of information technology readiness in Urmia high schools. Our questionnaire was based on (Mutula & van Brakel, 2006) paper with 29 indicators that measure e-readiness factors in school level. The questionnaire was introduced at a staff meeting, at which time the voluntary aspect of participation was conveyed. Additionally, the questionnaire included a clearly laid out preamble that described the ethical considerations of the questionnaire and the reporting of results. In order to facilitate honesty and candor, confidentiality was assured. All participants were given the option of respectfully declining to fill out the questionnaire. In all 100 questionnaires were handed out and 89 were returned. 4 of these were not completed making for a sample size of 85 and this yields a staff response rate of 85%. The questionnaire was designed to gather information in several different areas. The first aim of the questionnaire was to obtain some biographical information about each respondent that include gender and length of employment. This information would be used to get a general profile of the teachers. Table 1: Biographical Information of Sample Respondents Length of employment Gender 2-7 Years 3 Female Years 25 Male Years Years 29 More than 25 Years 6 For the first phase we try to prioritize importance of indicators using TOPSIS method. Technique for order preference by similarity to ideal solution (TOPSIS) is an MADM method developed by Hwang and Yoon (1981). TOPSIS is based upon the concept that the best alternative should have the (shortest distance) from the positive ideal solution and the (farthest distance) from the negative ideal solution. The positive ideal solution is composed of the best attribute values attainable. Similarly, the negative ideal solution is composed of the worst attributes value attainable. TOPSIS considers both the distance of each alternative from the ideal solution and the negative ideal COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 919

6 solutions simultaneously by computing the relative closeness to the ideal solution. This yields a preference order of the solution. Algorithm for TOPSIS evaluation is as below: Step 1: Quantify all qualitative data using scaling techniques. Step 2: Normalize the decision matrix. rij n ij m 2 rij i1 Step 3: Determine weights for all attributes. Step 4: Multiply elements of the decision matrix by the attribute weights to obtain a weighted matrix. Step 5: Determine the ideal and negative ideal solution. A max V ij j J, i 1,2,..., m V1, V2,..., i A min V ij j J, i 1,2,..., m V1, V2,..., i Step 6: Calculate separation measures. Step 7: Determine the relative closeness to the ideal solution. 0 / 5 2 V V ; i 1,2, m n di ij j..., j1 0 / 5 2 V V ; i 1,2, m n di ij j..., j1 Step 8: Determine importance of factors and prioritization. V V n n c i Relative closeness to negative ideal Relative closeness to negative ideal Relative closeness to positiveideal Based on this procedure, table 2 shows prioritization of IT readiness importance in Urmia high schools according to teacher s points of view. COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 920

7 Table 2: Indicators prioritization using TOPSIS method Indicators Alternatives. C i Importance d+ d- Capacity building strategies incorporating information management A Adequacy of budgets for ICT and information management functions A Policy on information centralization or decentralization A E-readiness strategy A Online business transactions implementation in the organization A Enterprise status of e-readiness to participate in global internet age A Compliance with quality ICT international standards A Number of expert employees A Potential for exporting ICT services and products A Information security and disaster recovery plans A Adequacy of electricity power supply A Management initiatives to promote ICT use A Methods for promoting ICT products and services A Responsibilities and functions of senior information management post A Mechanism for information systems analysis, design and implementation A Level of information management post A Readiness to partake in the internet age A Impact of use of ICT on for example productivity, profitability, and cost reduction A Existence of separate information management unit A Market share of company A Chief executive ICT educational qualifications and prior ICT experience A Information /ICT strategy revision plans A Lifelong education and training program A Integration of ICTs throughout business of the enterprise A Comparison of senior information management post with similar posts in the enterprise A Information value perception for productivity and profitability A ICT enterprise core business A Presence of information management post as part of organization structure A ICT and information strategy/policy A COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 921

8 Now, we have priority of indicators. But if we had an improvement program in schools, we have to determine current situation of indicators based on teachers points of view. Table 3 shows current situation as a mean between 1 to 5 and Lickert spectrum. If we subtract from and divide this value to 2, we can get Now we need to ( ) = It means that all of indicators with importance more than 0.570, have high priority (Gray color rows) and other have low priority. Table 3: Current situation of prioritized indicators based on Mean (1 to 5) Indicators Current Situation Alternatives. Mean Capacity building strategies incorporating information management A Adequacy of budgets for ICT and information management functions A Policy on information centralization or decentralization A E-readiness strategy A3 1.9 Online business transactions implementation in the organization A Enterprise status of e-readiness to participate in global internet age A Compliance with quality ICT international standards A6 2.9 Number of expert employees A1 1.8 Potential for exporting ICT services and products A4 1.2 Information security and disaster recovery plans A Adequacy of electricity power supply A Management initiatives to promote ICT use A Methods for promoting ICT products and services A Responsibilities and functions of senior information management post A Mechanism for information systems analysis, design and implementation A Level of information management post A9 1.7 Readiness to partake in the internet age A Impact of use of ICT on for example productivity, profitability, and cost reduction A Existence of separate information management unit A Market share of company A5 2.4 Chief executive ICT educational qualifications and prior ICT experience A Information /ICT strategy revision plans A Lifelong education and training program A Integration of ICTs throughout business of the enterprise A Comparison of senior information management post with similar posts in the enterprise A Information value perception for productivity and profitability A7 1.7 ICT enterprise core business A2 2.8 Presence of information management post as part of organization structure A8 3.4 ICT and information strategy/policy A COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 922

9 In this table we can divide indicators into two groups: First one includes indicators with situation more than mean 2.5 that are Idealistic group. The second group includes indicators with situation less than mean 2.5 that are Undesirable group. We can design a diagram to show four groups of importance-situation based on tables 2 & 3. High Importance Diagram 1: Four groups of indicators based on Importance & Situation According to diagram 1, Urmia schools managers have to improve seven indicators at the first stage include: Low Importance 1- Capacity building strategies incorporating information management (A17) 2- Adequacy of budgets for ICT and information management functions (A19) Situati on COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 923

10 3- Policy on information centralization or decentralization (A16) 4- E-readiness strategy (A3) 5- Number of expert employees (A1) 6- Potential for exporting ICT services and products (A4) 7- Management initiatives to promote ICT use (A22) Discussion & Conclusion When it comes to planning professional development activities in information technology, a similar process to technology planning must be organized with participation at both the district and school level. Based upon the research and the results from the Urmia schools study, authors would like to make a number of recommendations for improvement of IT professional development programs. First, information technology professional development should emphasize local delivery and local needs. Some professional development activities would still be conducted on a district-wide basis, but only in response to the expressions of a group of schools. Districts and teacher associations would provide additional support in terms of funds and grants to support local initiatives, facilitate training opportunities to increase individual schools capacity to provide professional development in house, and reach contractual agreements that provide schools with the ability to explore flexible time-tabling options. Giving increased responsibility to schools to lead their own professional development activities will make these activities more closely match with the needs of the school, but only if the prevailing reliance on (event-based) professional development is ended. Professional development activities in the school should emphasize collaborative inquiry. Within the school an effort should be made to identify groups with common needs and interests and provide them with ongoing support as they pursue action research projects, common learning activities, or other forms of professional development. Schools should pursue alternative scheduling option and funding sources to support these efforts. Technology leaders should be trained to facilitate collaboration, maintain suitable learning environments, provide learning materials, offer feedback and give emotional support. Departments within school should take ownership for identifying common needs and working with technology leaders on collaborative projects. COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 924

11 References: Altun, T., (2007). Information And Communications Technology (ICT) In Initial Teacher Education: What Can Turkey Learn From Range Of International Perspectives?, Journal of Turkish Science Education, 4, pp Bonnette, R. (2006). Out of the classroom and into the community: Service learning reinforces classroom instruction. The Technology Teacher, 65 (5), pp Dufour, R & Eaker, R (1998). Professional learning communities at work: Best practices for enhancing student achievement. National Education Service, Bloomington, Indiana. Edwards, S. & Morton, A (1996). Profiling computing coordinators in learning technologies: prospects and pathways. Selected papers from EdTech 96 Biennial Conference of the Australian Society for Educational Technology, Melbourne, Australia. Ely, D. P (1995). Technology is the answer. But what was the question? Paper presented at the James P. Curtis Distinguished Lecture, Capstone College of Education Society, University of Alabama, AL. Ely, D. P (1996). Trends in educational technology. Syracuse, NY: ERIC clearinghouse on Information & Technology. Fullan, M (1991). The new meaning of educational change. Teacher s College Press, New York. Green, Kenneth. C (1996). Campus computing 1996, The campus computing project, Encino, CA. USA. Gudmundsdottir, G.B.. (2010). From digital divide to digital equity: Learners ICT competence in four primary schools in Cape Town, South Africa. International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, 10 (2), pp Hogan, J., Flanagan, B., & Marshall, S. (2008). What facilitation skills are required to assist students learning when using a patient simulator in the pause and discuss mode? Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 10 (2), pp Hwang, C. L. & Yoon, K (1981). Multiple attribute decision making Methods and Applications, Springer- Verlag, New York, pp Karal, H., Aydin, Y., Ursava, Ö.F. (2009). Struggles for Integration of the Technologies into Learning Environment in Turkey. International Journal of Human and Social Sciences, 4 (2), pp Kong, S. C. (2007). The development and validation of an information literacy model for Hong Kong students: Key issues in the professional development of teachers for capacity building. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 16 (1), pp Lebens, M., Graff, M., Mayer, P. (2009). Access, attitudes and the digital divide: children s attitudes towards computers in a technology-rich environment. Educational Media International, 46 (3), pp Mutula, Stephen M & van Brakel, Pieter (2006). An evaluation of e-readiness assessment tools with respect to information access: Towards an integrated information rich tool, International Journal of Information Management, 26, pp Ravert, P. (2002). An integrative review of the computer-based simulation in education process. CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 20 (5), pp Schnackenberg, H. L., Luik, K., Nisan & Servant, C (1999). Teacher in service training, technology and front-end analysis. Paper presented at the annual convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Houston, TX. Selwyn, N., Potter, J., Cranmer, S. (2009). Primary pupils use of information and communication technologies at school and home. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40 (5), pp Tannenbaum, S. C., & Brown-Welty, S. (2006). Tandem pedagogy: Embedding service-learning into an after-school program. Journal of Experiential Education, 29 (2), pp COPY RIGHT 2012 Institute of Interdisciplinary Business Research 925

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