The Impact of the Internet on Research and Instruction in Universities of East Africa
A Study of Makerere University, University of Dar-es-Salaam and Kenyatta University
Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation 2008 173 Pages
This study investigated the Impact of the Internet on Research and Instruction in the universities of East Africa. What is Impact? In more technical terms, impact is the reportable and verifiable difference that an intervention makes in the lives of citizens. It is the difference that an intervention, such as the use of the internet is making in people’s lives. According to Wilson (1998), there are two types of Impact: namely direct and indirect impacts. Direct impact is an immediate consequence of the introduction or use of the Internet. Introduction of the Internet in East Africa and other countries has some direct impact that is relatively easy to understand and measure, such as the reduction in communication costs for some uses. One can easily identify and quantify the reduced costs of sending e-mail versus a fax. There are other direct impacts that are easily identified, but somewhat less easily quantified such as the increasing ease of some communications and improved timeliness of communications.
Indirect impact is that which is not an immediate and exclusive results of the Internet. It may depend on who communicates what to whom and why. Indirect impact may also depend on changes that occur in programs and institutions as a result of the technological opportunities made available by the Internet.
Levels of Impact
Impacts of the Internet occur at several levels, including the individual, organizational and sectoral levels. An individual user of the Internet will feel personal impacts, in terms of greater access to information and people, the cost of acquiring information, time budgets, and so forth. But the cumulative impact on an organization is probably greater than the sum of the impact on individual users. That is, an organization is likely to change structure and process to take advantage of the new opportunities provided to individuals by the Internet. Thus, an analysis of the cumulative impact is difficult unless one is able to analyze individual impact together and look for resulting balance.
Indicators of Internet Impact
The indicators are intended as tools, with different indicators useful for different analyses. Thus, a development agency, an investor, or a local policymaker likely would each use different sets of indicators. Internet uses the rule of supply and demand. The supply side refers to the Internet service providers (ISPs) themselves and the services they offer. The supply side also refers to the environment in which ISPs operate. This environment includes governmental policies and regulations, the country’s telecommunications infrastructure, and the general environment that affects the offer and use of Internet services, such as economic conditions, level of education and literacy, and population characteristics.
The demand side includes those who use Internet services, for example, individuals and organizations, and the way in which Internet services are used and the factors that affect their use. The demand side also refers to impacts on formal organizations such as schools, government agencies, and private enterprises. Each of these organizations serve other societal goals ( e.g., improving the level and quality of education, governance, private development), which in turn can be affected by Internet use by the organizations.
In very simple terms, the relationship between the supply and demand factors can be shown as: Environment times Internet times Institution times Sector Impact.
Internet Impacts on Education
With the proper skills, technical support and financial resources, the Internet can become a catalyst for important changes in schools and universities. In the education sector, one would want to measure the impact on students, schools, and educators and the extent to which the Internet improves the learning environment, enriches curricula, and expands access to education. For example, a major contribution of the Internet is the availability of learning, teaching and research materials through digital libraries and networked learner support services.
Relevant indicators would include the:
- number of schools/universities with Internet access
- number of students with Internet access
- average time of students’ access to Internet
- number of teachers with Internet access
- number of training courses on the Internet offered to teachers
- quality of training courses on the Internet offered to teachers
- number of new courses offered since the Internet was introduced
- number of schools/universities utilizing distance education via the Internet
- number of courses that supplement conventional teaching methods with distance education or other Internet-dependent technologies
1.1.1 The internet and Culture
The revolution of the internet is well past its earliest phase and it is now a commonplace medium for communication and exchange within a globalized world community. The future extent of its influence is hard to estimate but most predictions are of massive intervention in all areas of life (Pearson & Cochrance, 1995). How rapidly this influence will grow is also difficult to estimate but here an analogy might be made with earlier communications technologies such as radio broadcasting. There, little more than two decades elapsed between the time when very few households possessed a radio and the time by which it had become a mundane, though extremely important medium of mass communication. The Internet is likely to pass into the general cultural arena just as quickly if not quicker, though what role it will play is as yet unclear. Broadcast media, being passively received are thus more likely to be the source of general cultural distribution such as news and popular entertainment. However, unlike broadcasting media, the Internet makes it easier to combine local and global systems and moreover, it permits individual and mass communication to be blended in a new and powerful way. This blending or convergence will be made easier as digital technology replaces analogue technology in broadcast media, as is presently happening.
The exponential growth of the Internet is an index of the accelerating geopolitical compression of the late twentieth century and twenty first century. This compression is not only of space but also of time. On screens around the globe, a profusion of images from both the recent and distant past combine to depict a future that seems to arrive earlier than it used to. Havel (1 995) puts it:
“Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period... a mixing and blending... when cultures distant in time and space are discovered or rediscovered New meaning is gradually born from the encounter, or the intersection, of many different elements Today, this state of mind or of the human world is called postmodernism.” (pp.17)
The economic and political significance of the Internet is shown by the efforts in the US to make an “information highway” a matter of national economic policy, much as if it were part of the interstate highway system (Clinton & Gore, 1993). The European Commission takes a similar view even though it recomm ends that the highway be built by commercial intere sts (Bangermann, 1994).
New global communications technology fascinated educationists like Wells (1938) A collection of essays written during the 1930's entitled “World Brain”, conveys his image of it as the nervous system of world culture (Wells, 1938). The growing store of human knowledge was to be accumulated in and distributed through a system of global communications. On an even more visionary plane, Teilhard de Chardin (1973) too, felt that the growth of communications networks was a quasi organic process and that it participated in the evolution of human consciousness:
“What system of chromosomes would be as capable as our immense social inheritance, produced by the synthetic recording of human experience, of indefinitely storing and preserving the huge array of systematised knowledge which, steadily accumulating, represents the patrimony of mankind? What has really let loose the Machine in the world, and for good, is that both facilitates and indefinitely multiplies our activities. It fulfils the dream of all living creatures by satisfying our instinctive craving for the maximum of consciousness.” (pp. 25)
Although this celebration was written following the second world war, by then many historians were naturally inclined to a bleaker view of what technology meant for human culture. Mumfo rd (1968) is an illustrative case. His remarkable “Technics and Civilisation”, written in 1934, traced the geopolitical changes brought about by the rise of machines.
He concludes with hopeful prediction that the maturation of world culture would lead to human reduction in the use of technology: “... as social life becomes more mature, the social unemployment of machines will become as marked as the present technological unemployment of men” (Mum ford, 1968). The effects of contemporary technocratic culture on human experience show how far off the mark this prediction was. Indeed, in one of his last books, Mumford (1970) had abandoned this hope. Instead, echoing Eisenhower (1960) a decade earlier, he warned about the oppressive abuse of technology by the military-industrial complex (Mumford, 1970).
Now the Internet was designed to precisely, because of the needs of the military-industrial complex, to have a communications system capable of surviving all out nuclear war. Thus, from its inception, questions have been raised about its control, the interests it serves and how civil society will use it. Clearly, much of what is happening is far from the humanized and responsible use of technology for which Mumford (1968) originally hoped. However, claims are still made that the Internet will be a means of broadening and democratising the circulation of knowledge.
Indeed, even when the Internet was in its earlier stages, radical educationalists such as Illich (1970) were searching for something very like it as a means to reform education.
In Deschooling Society, Illich (1970) sought to expose and cure the agenda of conformity and consumerism that he felt was smuggled in with compulsory education:
“I intent to show that the inverse of school is possible: that we can depend on self motivated learning instead of employing teachers to bribe or compel the student to find the time or the will to learn; that we can provide the learner with new links to the world instead of funneling all educational programs through the teacher... ‘Network’ is often used, unfortunately, to designate the channels reserved to materials selected by others for indoctrination, instruction or entertainment. But it can also be used for the telephone or the postal service, which are primarily accessible to individuals who want to send messages to each other. I wish we had another word to designate such reticular structures for mutual access, a word less evocative of entrapment, less degraded by current usage and more suggestive of the fact that any such arrangement includes legal organisation and technical aspects. Not having found a term, I will try to redeem the one which is available, using it as a synonym of ‘educational web’.” (Illich, 1970, pp. 54).
So, will the Internet be the liberating ‘educational web’ that Illich (1970) sought or the abuse of technocratic power that Mumford (1968) feared? It is too early to answer this question, since only a tiny proportion of the population use it. But it is not too early to raise it, and since it is growing so rapidly and since universities are among its major users, the effects it is having there may anticipate the role it will play in the wider cultural sphere. Something like the liberation that Illich (1970) envisaged may indeed be taking place. However, at the same time, and possibly in the longer term, there are also signs of the alienation about which Mumford (1968) was concerned.
Harvey (1970) considers similar matters in the closing sections of his book where he explores the ethical and aesthetic consequences of postmodernity. In doing so, he refers to an analysis of the cultural effects of technology by Benjamin (1968). Benjamin (1968) concluded that the effects of mechanical reproduction would be to detach works of art from the traditions which provided their emotional significance and cultural role (Benjamin, 1968). This, he foresaw, would lead both a desensitisation rather than democratisation is characteristic of the postmodern cultural condition. Images of destruction and suffering that formerly might have provoked action now do not. Baudrillard (1993) suggests this is because reality is blending what can be simulated. In the process, reality itself no longer elicits the responses it formerly would have done (Baudrillard, 1993).
Two themes emerge here. One, echoing the hopeful visions of Wells (1938), de Chardin (1973) and Illich (1970), is that the Internet will liberate knowledge and thus democratise education. The other, following the misgivings of Mumford (1968), Benjamin (1968) and Harvey (1970), is that the Internet is alienating and may help to conceal the damaging geopolitical effects of technocracy. We can now look at how the Internet is used in universities to see if either of these themes can be found.
1.1.2. The Internet and Human Development
It is noteworthy that in this study and in many others, researchers are cautious in their reference of the implications of Internet technology on development. In some cases, it is cautiously referred to as likely impact (Jeremy, 2001) because many attempts to analyze the implications of ICTs for Africa have tended to be based on a prior reasoning about the nature and expected impacts of the technologies and the skills needed to use them effectively (Adeya, 2001).
The cautious reference to the impact of ICTs is because the causal relationship is complex. Such complexity is based on the fact that impact of ICTs depends on users’ attitudes and expectations, as well as on institutions’ organization and management. It is also claimed that the inherent characteristics (DOI, 2001) of ICTs make it a potential enabler with far-reaching development implications. From the Conceptual Framework studied in the preceding section, the causal relationship remains elusive in such a complex adaptive system. The ICTs such as Internet technology operate differently and have unique effects based on the manner in which they are used and the environment in which they are applied.
The characteristics inherent in ICTs and, by extension, the internet are based on the laws and principles reviewed earlier under the Conceptual Framework. The socio-economic impact of the Internet is based on the principles of network economics and the efficiency gains. The impact of adoption has however been simplified as being due to its capacity to improve communication and the exchange (sharing) of information to strengthen and create new economic and social networks (DOI, Grace, Jeremy and UNDP HDR, 2001).
It has been argued that the technologically marginalised are also the income poor. This means that they cannot on their own acquire the tools necessary to escape poverty and the related information poverty (Kenny, 2001) . This relationship has led to calls for focused deliberate intervention to complement the role of the market as an engine of technological advancement (UNDP HDR 2001).
The need intervention suggests that ICTs in themselves can only be useful as a tool. In countries with high levels of penetration, Internet utilization is expected to be high and thus greater impact levels. Such Internet use cannot be isolated since other factors of socioeconomic development must be taken into account. The inherent potential of the Internet, if not appropriately tapped, will result in loss of opportunity.
1.1.3 The Internet and University Education
Education reflects the culture that surrounds it. As its etymology reveals, it is a leading out, an introduction to the cultural tools that equip us to lead our lives together. Formal education is continuous with that more subtle education that occurs incidentally in parallel with other cultural practices. Thus, as the Internet becomes part of everyday life, education will need to assimilate and use this new cultural force. The effects of the Internet along with video, broadcast TV and multimedia in general, forming what has been called “screen culture”, are felt a long before students arrive at university.
Although screen culture is decades old now, many university teachers will have noted a change in the past few years. Ten years or so ago, many students, perhaps the majority, had little basic computer experience and also tended to be computer phobic. Now, most have experience and many have Internet skills. This change tracks the rapid cultural spread of the Internet. Computing and networking skills are rapidly moving to earlier and earlier stages of the educational agenda as it becomes clear that they are a gateway into a very large space of resources and opportunities. This is sometimes represented as not only the acquisition of useful commercial or academic skills but also as a basic responsibility of those who live in a technological culture. As enthusiasts claim: “...computer-infused communications technologies and the digital media that ride atop them hold tremendous potential to enrich our collective cultural, political and social lives and to enhance democratic values in our society.” (Kapor & Weitzner, 1993)
Thus getting the skills required to participate in screen culture is moving from being an educational option towards a civic duty.
Getting the skills will have interesting consequences in universities where many teachers are wary of the Internet and do not have enough time to become as competent with it as they might wish. Students are now arriving at university used to the Internet and to fast-paced and richly illustrated educational TV programs on quite advanced topics. Lecturers who prefer ink on paper to screens as a medium for text and who like to have their audience actually in front of them may soon begin to seem pass . As the bandwidth of the Internet increases, there will be other lecturers available, whose style and packaging, having been adapted for distribution on the Internet, will be more attractive to those reared in screen culture. It may, of course, go the other way. Students tired of screen culture may relish real-time, demanding lectures which allow interaction with the lecturer! However, it may be and whatever university teachers do about the Internet, they cannot ignore it.
More positively, the Internet may help to bring about the change for which Illich (1970) hoped- education based on more participatory and less authoritarian practices. If the Internet becomes as accessible and natural as its advocates predict, then the emergence of informal, subject oriented groups of learners/teachers can be expected. This part of what many see as one of the fundamental benefits of the Internet: radically bottom-up modes of cultural production, whether in politics, economics or education.
Being distributed, the Internet allows access to significant educational resources to be more radically decoupled from where students live than ever before. Distance learning programmes are bound to use the Internet and in doing so, may change the geographical sense of “being at university”. Many people who do not continue or resume their education because of having to go to university might act differently if university came to them.
Moreover, distance learning programmes have in general been regarded as of poorer quality than more conventional residential programmes. If both types use the Internet, this unwelcome distinction may disappear. The Internet is widely being used to provide distance educational resources that are user friendly, co-operative and affordable ( Laurillard, 200 3).
This is where the Internet appears to answer Illich’s plea. His suggestion that the appropriate place to learn is a library rather than a class room is beginning to come true. He did not literally mean library in the conventional sense, but a collective cultural resource in which users were free to browse, use and appreciate what they needed or what took their fancy. This seems to have an echo in recent surveys showing that radically new educational practices spontaneously arise from the unique properties of the Internet (Riel, 2002; Lemke, 2003).
There is also the possibility that the Internet will address Illich’s (1970) concern with authoritarianism and conformity by helping to move p ostmode rn educational practice beyond the curriculum to the catalogue. The catalogue offers everything that a curriculum does, but without the authoritarian overtones of sequence, value and assessment. ‘Catalogue’ here is not merely the commodity brochure, but a structured list of educational resources within which learners can browse rather than follow a prescribed course. Such self-paced and self-directed learning packages are appearing from many directions, such as CD- ROM additions to conventional books and as distance learning courses on the Internet. Presently, they still bear the trace of conventional paper text, but this is changing as more materials appear in the form of densely inter-c onnec ted hypertexts with minimal sequence guides. Such materials are inherently less prescriptive than conventional methods. Alternative and accessory texts are provided as are audio-visual images, demonstrations and ways to contact teachers and other learners.
Such materials can change educational practice. What is used and the way it is used is structured by both the learner and the teacher. Indeed these roles may change. Teachers change from instructor to guides while learners change from pupils to “scouts”. What learners acquire is less under the control of the teacher. There is still a curriculum, but the teacher does not expect to find it exactly reproduced in what the learner offers by way of demonstrating that they have learned something.
Under the impact of screen culture, university education is gradually being transformed. The skills of electronic scholarship that students are bringing with them mean that work is increasingly prepared electronically and may also arrive in electronic form. Written work now has the benefit of such automated writing tools as spelling checkers, syntax checkers, automated footnoting systems, list sorting and so on. This means that the quality of presentation can be a marked improvement on non-electronically prepared materials.
This applies to content tool. Automated searches of the literature can mean that lecturers find students using references unknown to them. In a culture of teaching where lecturers are supposed to know it all, this can be threatening. In a culture of learning more like that which Illich (1970) proposed, this is just what needs to happen. Learning and keeping courses up to date becomes a more collective and less authoritarian enterprise. In the process, teachers will have to relinquish some of the control they presently have over the curriculum.
The focus of this project is on the impact of Information Communications and Technologies (ICT) on the higher educational sector, particularly, the impact of the Internet. In universities and other institutions world wide, ICT is currently used for research, for networking and for teaching and learning purposes. The issue of relevant content and access to Internet is a crucial one, and central to this project.
ICT is expected to further internationalise higher education. In the words of van der Wende (1998), reporting on a research project on new technologies and the internationalisation of higher education: “A totally new form of international education is now emerging. ICT will expand the possibilities for co-operation between institutions of higher education, and give students and staff members who are not able to travel extensively an opportunity to benefit from all that the partner institutions have to offer. At the same time, this new form of international higher education will enhance competition between institutions and systems, as new players arrive on the scene. ICT options facilitate the large-sc ale delivery of higher education abroad... (1998, italics in original).
Relatively, little is known about the impact of ICT on the higher education sector of the so-called developing world. Does ICT also enhance internationalisation, cooperation and competition of the higher education sector in Africa? Utopian claims, similar to the one quoted above, on the potentials of ICT on education can be heard in China and Indonesia. For example, in a book on the Internet, Wen (2001) writes:
We have always said that education is the most important matter for the future. I believe education is the most important matter today. We must let everyone have access to the Internet and let them realise their potentials. (p. 45)
Here ICT is linked to education, both are inscribed into a strong utopian and modernist narrative of progress and prosperity. Such claims on ICT and education are anything but new. In 1922, Thomas Edison predicted that “the motion picture is destined to revolutionise our educational system and ... in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of text-books.” Dreyfus (2001) claims that the potential of ICT for education and development need critical scrutiny. But before that is possible, more in-depth knowledge of how ICT is currently being used by academics in Africa is required. After all, how would Africa we imagine a future if we fail to grasp the present? This research set out to make this first empirical step.
With the proper skills, technical support and financial resources, the Internet can become a catalyst for important changes at schools and universities. In terms of sectoral goals, one would want to measure the impacts on students, schools, and educators and the extent to which the Internet improves the learning environment, enriches curricula, and expands access to education. For example, a major contribution of the Internet is the availability of learning and teaching materials through digital libraries and networked learner support services. Relevant indicators would include the following features:
- number of universities with Internet access
- number of students with Internet access
- average time of student Internet access
- number of teachers with Internet access
- number of training courses on the Internet offered to teachers
- quality of training courses on the Internet offered to teachers
- number of new courses offered since the the Internet was introduced
- number of universities utilizing distance education via the Internet
- number of courses that supplement conventional teaching methods with distance education or other Internet-dependent technologies
- number of students enrolled in distance education
1.1.4 Universities Should Lead Internet’s Intellectual Development
Calling the emergence of the Internet a “moment of real transformation” for higher education, President Neil L. Rudenstine reached back to the 19th century creation of the modern research university to emphasize the magnitude of the changes and to exhort higher education to take a leading role in shaping the medium. Rudenstine’s talk was given at Harvard Conference on the Internet and Society (Vegh, 1996).
I believe that universities have a special responsibility to exert real leadership in this sphere, not in the development of the technology itself, but in the imaginative and thoughtful uses of the technology for learning. The Internet will not tell us what to do about individuals and societies that cannot afford to be on the Net. It will not tell us how to pay attention to those who are left out of the race. It will not show us any more than our libraries full of books -- how to create a just society. (p. 133)
Still Harvard’s, and other universities’ role may be less one of providing leading-edge software or hardware development than exerting moral influence in how the technology is used. Rudenstine asked participants to question the effect they wanted to have on society and to proceed thoughtfully, particularly in considering how the Internet will change the lives of individuals.
The message hit a chord with some participants.
I taught at Dorchester High School in Boston,” said attendee John Scollins of Financial Times in Boston. “What they need is the fundamentals of using computers, never mind the advanced functions. He tied it to something very relevant. (p. 134))
Rudenstine as quoted by Vegh (1996) described how he believes the Internet will qualitatively change education in a way that earlier technology did not, while cautioning that the expenditures required - at least $ 125 million at Harvard over the next five years alone, meaning that investments must reap a real return.
The stakes are high and so are the costs. The last time universities experienced such far reaching change in information processing, along with exponential expenditure growth, was [when] the huge information systems that we call university research libraries reached their point of takeoff. When that moment arrived, universities were forced to confront problems - including information overload, similar to problems we now face. There is a close fit - a critical interlock between the Internet and university teaching and learning. Students can carry forward their work in ways that are tightly intertwined with the traditional ways they study and learn in libraries, classrooms, lecture halls, information discussion groups, and laboratories. (Vegh, 1996, p. 136)
Rudenstine focused on several critical uses of the Internet as an educational tool: source of unlimited information - an electronic library with a worldwide collection. The Internet as a provider of infinitely detailed, interactive course materials will help teachers and students to have access to instructional materials. The Internet as a facilitator of dialogue between teachers and students and among groups of students, even across international borders.
And the Internet as the supporter of Socratic learning - educational inquiry propelled by the student.
The emerging theories of education have stressed not so much on the authority of the faculty member as teacher, but the role of the student as an active agent, someone who searches for information. The Internet virtually requires, or even demands that the user be an engaged agent, solving problems, buttressing arguments, and exploring unknown terrain. The Internet has distinctive powers to complement many of our most powerful traditional approaches to learning and teaching. (Vegh, 1996, p. 142)
While not announcing new initiatives, the speech, like the multi-disciplinary Internet Conference itself, is a step in defining the role that universities can play in guiding rapidly changing technology and a firm acknowledgment that the Internet is here to stay as an integral part of higher education.
Experiences from development of ICT within the technical faculties imply recognition of techno and research politics deeply rooted in understandings of knowledge and technology production as processes, which occur in distributed systems. In other words, knowledge creation takes place on the boundaries between universities, private sector, public sector and the political spheres. Hence the role of the university and its (dis)ability of transformation come into sharp focus.
We can furthermore recognize ICT as one of the technological science fields most evidently provoking the borders between academic research and politics/society (Gulbrandesen 2000) and experience how the ‘negotiations’ (Aas 1999) about the character of academic research takes place in society. Experiences from Tanzania and the role of the main university of the country will elaborate these “negotiation” processes.
1.1.5 Experiences of Tanzania
The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) was born out of a decision taken on March 25th, 1970, by the East African Authority, to split the then University of East Africa into three independent universities for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The University of Dar es Salaam consists of six faculties, five institutes and two colleges. It is the main University out of the three in the country and the only university of holding a technical faculty and in a situation where the total number of university students in Tanzania are less than 15,000. The population in Tanzania is 34.5 million people.
Relevance and Transformation
The challenge for the university as an actor of societal development is huge. High expectations are placed on the implementation of ICT, which can be recognized in strategic documents of UDSM like “As part of the ongoing transformation programme, the UDSM has initiated a number of reforms aimed at improving its main outputs (teaching, research and services to the society) through ICT. The improvement of ICT aims to suit the needs of the students and the staff, the working environment and establish linkages with both industry and government.
The new ICT developments are also expected to contribute to income generation in order to complement government and other funding sources to ensure sustainable academic programmes (www .sida-sarec.ud sm.ac.tz)
The University of Dar es Salaam vice chancellor emphasizes that within the larger transformation activities of the university the issue of relevance becomes central to the mission of teaching, research and service to the communities. As far as possible a public university in a very poor country must aim to be able to be relevant to the developmental aspiration of the people. Addressing development concerns means that the university must have an impact in whatever area.
The transformation should go deeper in the academic culture, the vice chancellor argues. Out of the 16 objectives in the strategic plan of UDSM, one concerns the change of the organization culture withing the university. “I must say it is not easy. If you want to bend a fish you bend it while it is still alive, before it is dry. If dry, you crack it. We have come to learn that it is a bit difficult. We are still struggling with it.” (Vice chancellor, 2003)
Resources for Society and Government
The experience of approving ICT at the university started in 1993. The beginning of the 90s was the time of the Internet entrance. What happened was that the UDSM brought Internet to the Tanzania telephone company (TTCL) and not the other way around. In many countries the telephone company gives access to the Internet to the university. Internet powered the headquarter of the telephone company. But from the beginning they didn’t know much about Internet. Responsible people at the UDSM put in a wireless line to the university campus, a 2 Mbite wireless link. The start was to give free access to Internet to the managing directors, who did not know much either. At the moment, Tanzania has Internet backbone in every region. The present challenge for the university should be to lookout on how to transfer the technology to the industry and society. As a result of this tough process and the role of the university, experts from UDSM are now mangers at TTCL.
The role of the university supporting access to Internet and digital interconnections did not stop with TTCL. The university tried to get the government to use the Internet. The government could not pay the telephone bill at the time for the introduction. When TTLC started disconnecting the government, the university decided to take the eight ministries out of the telephone network for Internet access and connected them with the wireless line at UDSM.
After a few years, the prices came down for Internet access and several Internet Service Providers (ISP) entered the scene. When the university started to raise money for the services there was no licence system. Now there is and the university competes with the other ISPs. There are still about 13 government bodies connected through the university link. The impact of the initiative coming from the university was an enhancement of the motivation for the university staff to keep on with ICT development.
1.1.6 The Statement of Research Problem
Education has been regarded as both the antecedent to and pre-requisite for development. A knowledgeable society ameliorates the rational decision making directed at innovative development plans and implementations. A university should be a haven for intellectual activity. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have impacted the education sector in the world, though it is accepted that the rate of deployment of new technologies has been slow and lower in dev eloping countries, especially those of sub -Saharan Africa. Naidoo and Schutte (1999) state that there have been fundamental differences in the way educational change towards technology has been approached and implemented between developed and developing countries. For the latter, emphasis has largely been on the physical infrastructure, such as, telecommunications sector development, purchase of hardware, developing electronic networks and so on. There has been less emphasis on training of educators, the development of appropriate content and even less on the maintenance of the educational technology infra structure.
A growing challenge in the universities is establishing whether the staff members in those universities are using the internet as an instructional and a research tool.
There are three different ways in which the Internet might affect teaching and research in universities, these are:
- provide greater student access to education,
- improve curriculum and quality of instruction, and
- increase productivity of academic publications.
It is however unclear how African universities will respond to the potential of the Internet given the great difficulties they faced as a result of reduced funding and severe pressures of lowering teacher/student ratios brought by “brain drain” and increased demand for education.
New technologies, while holding the promise of creative ways of improving higher education, exert pressure on the university systems in Africa to produce better graduates in ICT. This pressure is unlikely to diminish in the coming years and the need to utilize the Internet and other ICTs to raise campus-wide quality of teaching and instructional infrastructure remains a challenge. The possibilities are enormous, from digitalizing libraries, to providing high-speed Internet connectivity to all faculty members and students, to computerizing and networking and simplifying administrative processes.
The Internet has changed the way information is published, stored and disseminated and opened a huge opportunity to scholars from developing world.
It was, therefore, of essence to investigate how university fraternity was using this instructional technology in both instruction and research.
It is important for African universities and research organizations to view their current status in comparison to the rest of the world. It is only with this all-encompassing view that their level of effectiveness and development in this information age would be objectively gauged.
1.1.7 The Purpose of the Study
The research set the following aims:
1. To find out how universities in East Africa use the internet facilities.
2. To identify the main initiatives used by universities that utilize the Internet as a tool for the dissemination and communication of research and as a tool for education.
The following were the research assumptions:
1. It was assumed that the internet had not fully permeated in the institutions of higher learning in developing countries.
2. The level of connectivity and access of the internet in the institutions of higher learning in East Africa was still low.
3. University faculty staff and/or researchers are not potentially using the internet for instruction and/or research.
1.1.9 Research Questions
The research addressed the following key research questions:
1. How have respondents divided their teaching and research time?
2. How well connected were the respondents of the study?
3. What were the uses of the e-mail and the Internet among the respondents?
4. How frequent do the respondents use the e-mail and the Internet?
5. How are the e-mail and Internet cost and who pays for them?
6. Where do the respondents of this study access both the Internet and the e-mail?
7. What content of the Internet was desired by the respondents?
8. What formal training on the use of the Internet is available to respondents?
9. What were the constraints of the use of the Internet among the respondents?
10. How do the respondents assess the Internet?
11. What was the envisioned future role of the Internet according to the respondents of the research?
1.2.0 Significance of the Study
Although studies have been conducted on the use of the Internet, these studies have covered Africa as a whole. There is very little on the Impact the Internet has on instruction and research in East African Universities. The following reasons support why this study is important:
1. A study of the impact of the Internet in research and instruction among the universities in East Africa was chosen because of the need to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the Internet in those institutions.
2. There is evidently need for more research on education and training issues as the development of human capital for African countries to be competitive in the global information society.
3. It was useful to investigate how those instrumental to shaping the minds of the future leaders of East Africa - the lecturers/researchers were using the internet.
4. Researchers at universities are under pressure to ensure that universities become more self-sufficient through income generating mechanisms.
5. Researchers and lectures in East African universities should contribute to the development of the global knowledge base. It is by so doing that they will improve on their research skills through peer interaction and exchange of knowledge through the internet.
6. It is important for East African universities’ teachers and researchers to view their current use of the internet in comparison with the rest of the world.
1.2.1 Scope and Limitations of the Study
This study focused on the Impact of the Internet in Research and Instruction in Universities of East Africa. The study covered three universities in East Africa; Dar-es-salaam in Tanzania, Makerere University in Uganda and Kenyatta University, in Kenya.
The research sought to investigate, among other reasons;
1. How well connected were the respondents
2. The uses of the Internet among the respondents
3. The constraints of the use of the Internet
4. The envisioned future role of the Internet.
It was however, not possible to cover all the universities in East Africa due to the time and cost involved.