User-Based Perspective on Cost as a Limiting Factor to Conference Call Technology Use in Higher Education: The University of Cape Coast Experience

User-Based Perspective on Cost as a Limiting Factor to Conference Call Technology Use in Higher Education: The University of Cape Coast Experience

Francis Xavier Kofi Akotoye (Department of Computer Science and Information Technology, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJESMA.2017070104
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The use of ICTs in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana, has been described as transformational. However, there is paucity of research on user perspectives on ICTs in institutions of higher learning. This cross-sectional study assessed the perception of students at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana regarding cost as a limiting factor to the use of conference call technology. The complementary log-log regression model was based on a sample of 62 students surveyed in April and May 2015; which sixty-nine percent indicated that cost was a limiting factor. Though Chi-square statistic failed to reject the hypothesis, at the bivariate level, some relationships were statistically significant. Most of these relationships were not robust and disappeared completely when other factors were controlled in the multivariate model. Also, some relationships were absent at the bivariate level and only appeared at the multivariate level indicating that the connection between students' perception of cost and compositional and organisational factors is complex.
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The advent of the 21st century has been marked by the permeation of technology in every aspect of human life. This phenomenon has been aptly termed the “Technological Revolution” (Archibald & Feldman, 2010). The field of education is one such area where the influx of technology as an integrative model is gaining prominence. Although in the world's developed countries there has been an extensive integration of technology in higher education (Altbach, Reisberg, & Rumbley, 2009; Makoelle, 2012); same cannot be said of developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa including Ghana. The adoption of technologies by institutions of higher learning in Ghana is pertinent to their long-term sustainability for a plethora of reasons. First, it develops the capability of higher education institutions to compete favorably with analogous institutions. Second, it empowers such institutions to function on an international scale. Furthermore, technologies afford a cost-effective way for universities to showcase their academic programmes, launch new programmes, improve communications, gather information, and find potential partners of allied interests (Akour, 2009; Braimoh & Osiki, 2008). Notwithstanding the opportunities and benefits that technology can provide to higher education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa, it has been demonstrated that Ghanaian universities are comparatively slow in adopting them. For instance, anecdotal evidence suggests that Ghana could be rated as a late adopter of technologies of relevance to higher education, falling behind other developing countries on the African continent. Hence, there is the need to encourage the early adoption of these technologies to enhance the teaching and learning experiences of academics and students’ higher education institutions.

One of the technologies that holds promise in the delivery of quality tertiary education is the ubiquitous conference call feature of most mobile telephony services. It refers to the ability to bring together three or more participants into a productive multiparty voice conversation, which has enjoyed a long history of steady growth, from its initial days of operator-assisted services through the adoption of automated, reservation-less conferencing services. Gradually, conference call has become a mainstream tool for communication and collaboration in many tertiary academic institutions. It has advanced to become a routine tool for setting up virtual meetings. Even so, the underpinning technology for audio conferencing has remained unchanged for years. The vast majority of calls involves participants that connect to the conference using the traditional telephony network, which by its nature limits the reliability and clarity of their connection to narrowband audio hence restraining the baseline quality of their call to what can be achieved on the legacy public switched telephone network (PSTN) (Nilssen & Greenberg, 2013). Though this technology holds a great potential of pooling together people from diverse locations, its widespread adoption has become increasingly driven more by price than anything else, which can mar customer retention and churn a challenge for service providers.

Basically, there are three mechanisms for conference calling. First of all, an individual can use the Internet as a medium to connect; that is people attend conferences by using PCs (Web conferencing). Secondly, people can use mobile phone lines with conference capability typically arranged by telephone companies (Audio conferencing). Thirdly, customers can use both Internet and phone lines as a medium (Internet conferencing) for communication. In this study, the author focuses on the second option where subscribers of a service provider (MTN) use the provided conference call feature.

MTN (operated by Scancom) accounts for 46.43% of the mobile voice subscription market share in Ghana, with a collection of other providers – Vodafone, Tigo, Airtel, Glo, Expresso – accounting for the remainder of the voice subscription market segement (“MTN Ghana Leads Market with 46.43% Share - NCA,” 2016).

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