Economic Impact of Information and Communication Technology in Higher Education

Economic Impact of Information and Communication Technology in Higher Education

Carol A. Brown (East Carolina University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch020
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Abstract

Developed nations are experiencing economic growth through the advantages associated with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Digital resources along with Massive Open Online Courses provide educational opportunities to an ever-expanding population of students. Some areas, however, lack Internet connectivity and are unable to take advantage of ICTs needed to support the demands of global economies. Cloud computing is growing in usefulness as universities are able to work with remote applications and store data on cloud servers. Along with the ubiquitous Web and ICT resources, there is also the risk of too much information, which can negatively impact job performance and satisfaction. Even with reports of faculty concerns in disproportionate amount time needed to offer online courses, the university is experiencing growth in online education, extended opportunities for global education, and a challenge to manage an incessant flow of digital information.
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Introduction

To understand the term Information and Communication Technology, one must identify a specific category in which ICTs are applied. Generally ICT can be defined as any transfer of information through the use of digital means (Zuppo, 2012, p. 13). A review of the literature by Zuppo (2012) reveals a more complex definition with references to overlapping ideas, tools, and environments. For example, the global economy has benefited from the growth of applied ICTs in business and industry According to Angeleski, Mitrevski, and Janeska, (as cited in Danco & Gomez, 2010), a level of e-business readiness can be correlated with ICT readiness and applied uses of ICT in certain business sectors.

Businesses benefit through networked communication and products exchange. The impact of ICT on the socioeconomic level also is of importance. Doong and Ho (2012) used several different indices to show the relationship between uses of ICT and economic growth in countries. According to International Telecommunication Union (Katz, 2012) wealth of a country could be equated with access to digital resources through broadband connectivity. In addition to economic growth, global agencies monitor and track use of ICTs in education. ICT in educationincludes hardware, software, and competencies related to necessary tools used for digital literacy (Educational Testing Service, 2007). However, there are regions of the world that lack training and tools needed to achieve ICT competency. In colleges and universities use of cloud computing has elevated access to open (or free) resources and increased enrollment in online courses, including the Massive Online College Course (Educause, 2013). However, there are cautions to be observed when engaged in the nonstop, 24/7 flow of information. A phenomenon known as Information Overload (infogineering, 2013) is causing reduction in job satisfaction and level of performance in both education and business, yet online course offerings continue to grow. This is evident through the consistent movement from classroom to virtual environment over the past decade (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2013). With increased access to online courses and availability of digital technologies come the potential for economic and social change expanding to a global scale.

Key Terms in this Chapter

MOOCs: An acronym for Massively Open Online Course which are designed for distance delivered instructional content offered free to the student and designed by experts in a particular topic or field of study. Originally offered through MIT and Harvard University for gathering research data in online learning, MOOC's have seen explosive growth in all languages and cultures. Courses are typically offered without college credit but suffer from low rates of course completion.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT): The study and applied use of technological tools, digital resources, networks, and human resources for the purpose of communication, economic growth, and sharing of knowledge. ICT competencies have been included in the European K12 school curriculum for over two decades and most recently emphasized in the U.S. due to collaborative efforts of 21st Century Skills Consortium (p21.org).

Crowdsourcing: As it relates to digital literacy, crowdsourcing is a type of online dialog in which contributors bring together varied backgrounds, experiences, and levels of expertise related to a defined topic. The crowd contributes to the discussion with the understanding that a common goal will be reached for the benefit of all contributors.

Information Overload: The state in which a huge influx of information interferes with understanding an issue, making good decisions, and performance on the job. It is known to contribute to job dissatisfaction and high levels of stress.

Common Crowd: Refers to participants engaged in some form of digital communication. An example would be back channeling or continuously communicating through Twitter or similar social media. The crowd shares comments and questions while the main speaker continues with presentation. Group dynamics would apply but extended to large numbers such as an online discussion forum managed through a MOOC.

Cloud Computing: Computer users may access application store data, and communicate using the services of a distant server. Email, productivity software, music, video, and text files can be archived on the cloud computer. This replaces the more traditional client/server model of computing.

Massification: The term applied to global exponential growth of enrollment in tertiary education.

Infotention: A term coined by Harold Reingold refers to the use of appropriate tools to work efficiently within a digital environment. Use of digital tools becomes automatized resulting in a higher level of productivity.

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