THE EXTENT OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) INTEGRATION AND UTILIZATION IN BASIC NURSING EDUCATION IN ENUGU STATE

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CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
Information and communication technology (ICT) is an indispensable part of the contemporary world as a result of globalization, changing economy and technological development (Carmen, 2003). ICT emerged from the concept of information technology (IT), but it is a more specific term that stresses the role of unified communication and integration of technologies to communications. ICT which includes radio, television and newer digital technologies such as computers hardware and software, e- blackboard, mobile phones, visualizers and satellite systems and so on, are potentially powerful tools that enable users to access, store, transmit and manipulate information. It is used for global communication and productivity (Gesci, 2009; Gloyal, purohit & Bhagat, 2010). The development of electronic and communication theory led to the development of technologies that were able to transmit several signals on the same wire simultaneously (Carmen, 2003).

Generally, the functions of ICT will vary slightly depending on the environment they are being used in. Their functions can be considered as speed and automation, capacity and range, provisionality and connectivity. Speed and automatic functions of ICT include copy and paste, spell check, graphing and formulae (Collis, 2002). All these allow users to complete more at a faster pace. Capacity and range functions are search techniques, selecting, reading and knowing what to use. These allow users to make informed decisions about finding the data that are most relevant to their work (European Commission, 2004). Provisionality functions include adding or replacing text and images, saving drafts and changing font size or colour. While, connectivity / interactivity functions of ICT refers to responding to other people’s work, sound and images through the internet e.g. e mail (Oliver, 2000).

Thus, advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the need to share information globally have led to the evolution of the internet. The availability of the internet has given rise to an electronic approach to many aspects of our lives. The impact of ICT in fields such as education, medicine, banking, tourism, travel, business and law to mention but a few, in the past three decades has been enormous. The way these fields operate today is vastly different from the way they operated in the past (Duffy & Cunningham, 2008). Furthermore, various ICT devices have emerged to enhance the speed and quality of services delivery and how services are handled worldwide. For example, ICT integration into banking has resulted to e-banking and cashless society (Central Bank of Nigeria, 2011). While in tourism and transport ICT has replaced or modified travel and movement of goods by applications such as teleworking, e – commerce and electronic service delivery and other electronically mediated activities (Gloyal, Purohit, & Bhagat, 2010). Similarly, integration of ICT in education is a potentially powerful tool for extending educational opportunities. It provides opportunities to deploy innovative teaching methodologies and interesting materials that create interest in students learning process thereby increasing students’ learning competence (Banyard & Underwood, 2007).


Therefore, information and communication technology is playing a major role in the acquisition and diffusion of knowledge which are fundamental to the educational process. It is offering increasing possibilities for synchronous learning (Larsen & Vincent – lacrin, 2005).  ICT is not only the back bone of the information society but also an important catalyst and tool for inducing educational reforms that change students into productive knowledgeableworker. In concrete terms, it enhances teaching and learning through its dynamic interactive and engaging content.  Undoubtedly, ICTs have impacted on the quality and quantity of teaching and learning, research, library services, administration and management of students and staff information in traditional and distance education (kirschnner & Woperies, 2003).

The availability of ICT has given rise toan electronic approach to the education system called e- learning, for example, videoconferencing, web-based training and Internet learning. E-Learning is becoming prominent in tertiary education. It is delivered on the platform of ICT infrastructures (Otelini, 2010).These technologies are being widely used to support teaching, learning and research activities in tertiary education, and have become standard instructional tools (Otelini, 2010). Each technology potential varies according to how it is used in the teaching – learning processes which include demonstration, presentation, drill and practice, interaction and collaboration (Hadded & Draxler, 2010). These technologies are expected to impact on all fields of learning including nursing.
Information and communication technology integration in nursing education is very important as a result of progression of the forces of globalization, the pace of technological change, the ever increasing centrality of information and knowledge in the health care industry and the complexity of skills  required to give safe and hazard free care (Butcher, 2003). Nursing education is aimed at raising the standard of nursing to levels needed to meet the increasing scientific and ever changing needs of the society. Thus, nurses with broad educational background, intellectual ability, technical dexterity and emotional stability are needed to meet the challenges not only of the present but the future (N&MCN, 2008). To meet up with these challenges, information and communication technology in basic nursing education is especially important in that it enables students and workers/ teachers to learn to search, select process and use information in this digital age. It can also enhance the quality of teaching – learning process with advanced teaching methods, improve learning outcome and enable reform or better management of educational systems (Butcher, 2003).

However, basic nursing education in Nigeria is still predominated by traditional methods of teaching and learning, administration and library services. In traditional methods of teaching, the teacher transfers knowledge to the learner, while the learner remains a passive receiver of information. Education cannot keep on focusing on the transfer of knowledge any longer, instead, it becomes imperative that students learn how to search, select,process, update and use information through ICT in education. This is important because information is increasingly available in this present society and is changing rapidly. The increasing importance of ICT in the global information society both creates new challenges and provides solutions to old educational problems (Jager & Lokman, 2009).


In the light of the profound changes going on in the educational system, health care industry and the society in general, if information and communication technology is neither integrated nor utilized in basic nursing education in Nigeria, graduate nurses from these schools will not be able to compete in the global job market. They will lack the necessaryskill and literacy to access and use both the new technologies and information effectively (Umoetteh, 2007). Therefore, it is important to incorporate ICT into all areas of basic nursing schools and ensure its use as this will help future nurses in quality care provision through assessing evidence for practice.Besides, updating self professionally improves practice; it is possible to update oneself by means of continuous education through online, where study leave becomes difficult....... 

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