Digital technology acceptance in transformation of university libraries and higher education institutions in Kenya.

Author:Makori, Elisha O., Mauti, Norah Osebe

Introduction and background information

Digital revolution is powering and creating a wide array of information and knowledge products and services in organizations depend upon the state of the art of information communication technology systems. Development in digital systems has provided technological solutions for academic institutions and information management organizations to access education and knowledge in virtual environments. Higher education and learning institutions across the globe have developed digital technology platforms so as to realize and achieve the goals of the millennium culture and social value. This development affects university libraries because of their perceived role in creation, management, diffusion and utilization of information and knowledge (Makori, 2012). Applications of digital technologies and social computing are fundamental electronic planning solutions not only in institutions of higher learning but also information and knowledge based organizations. Modern digital information environment and global internet access are transforming and changing the role of higher education and learning and information management institutions through institutional repositories for capturing and preserving the intellectual knowledge (Ezema, 2013, Shukla & Poluru, 2012, Zaman et al, 2011).

Popularity of the digital environment and internet of things (IoT) or internet of everything (IoE) are impacting on all aspects of academic and educational practices because of their central responsibility and significant role in supporting research, learning, information and knowledge activities in universities and libraries. In the contemporary world, digital technologies has transformed and changed the role of information professionals, although university libraries face immense challenges of big or gigantic data repositories (Lu et al, 2011) and inadequate innovative new information technologies (Ezema, 2013). Modern information communication technology provides digital components and systems that support information organizations rather than inhibit the use of social computing and electronic resources, although institutions of higher learning have been grappling with management of intellectual output such as theses, dissertations, teaching materials, research and journal articles (Radojicic & Jeremic, 2012). Academic and research institutions, and information management organizations as mass centers of intellectual and scholarly communication are involved in creation and dissemination of knowledge through global digital initiatives that are embedded and supported by libraries (Chimezie, 2012). Ultimately, the purpose of this study was to determine the preparedness of university libraries and information professionals in the modern digital revolution and transformation, and provide knowledge on how to be compliant. The study examined digital technologies and its applications, popularity of the digital environment, modern information environment, and information professional responsibilities and accountability.

Research context

This empirical study was conducted in five selected higher education and learning representing three public and two private university libraries. In Kenya, the Commission for University Education is in the process of harmonizing the two sectors into one, although public universities are well funded and supported. In the latest web ranking of higher education institutions, Kenyan public universities emerged among the top (Webometrics Ranking, 2015). In addition, the university libraries have developed effective digital repositories that enhance the global visibility and attention of the academic and research outputs. The libraries provide information and knowledge that support the goals and objectives of the academic institutions.

Statement of the problem

In the modern digital environment, institutions of higher learning are supposed to provide the necessary informational and technological facilities and tools to support research, teaching and learning practices. The pervasiveness of the digital revolution in university libraries and knowledge centers makes information professionals the core and focus of research, teaching, learning and academic activities. With the applications of digital technologies and internet resources transforming the nature and role of university libraries, information professionals need to provide systems that are compliant in offering quality services to the customers. Central to the debate of digital revolution and transformation in university libraries is the quality of information services and return on investment and technology acceptance. In this context, university libraries and information professionals are concerned with socio-economic, political and moral responsibility with respect to the development and applications of digital technologies. Modern university libraries need to provide innovative digital systems to enable the institutions and customers access timely and relevant information and knowledge resources. If for any reason, the huge investments made in the development and installation of modern digital technologies are not well utilized then the resources will just be wasted. In other words, the digital transformation represents the modern technological requirements that are necessary in universities and libraries, although the extent to which this is achieved is of great importance in academic institutions. With digital technologies available in variety of formats including mobile computer devices it becomes quite challenging for university libraries and information professionals to provide quality services.

Purpose and objectives of the study

The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which universities libraries expose a variety of cutting edge digital technology systems to support the development of higher education and learning practices in Kenya. The study was guided by the following objectives to:

i. Investigate the applications of digital technologies used in university libraries to support education, research and learning practices.

ii. Determine the types of digital technologies and information resources available in university libraries.

iii. Examine the changing nature of university libraries in institutions of higher learning.

iv. Determine fundamental skills and competencies needed by information professionals in the modern digital environment.

Research questions

i. Which applications of digital technologies are provided by university libraries to support education, research and learning practices?

ii. What types of digital technologies and information resources available in university libraries?

iii. Which are the indicators of digital technologies and systems in university library and information centers?

iv. How does the digital revolution transform and change the nature of university libraries in institutions of higher learning?

v. What are fundamental skills and competencies needed by information professionals in the modern digital environment?

Literature review

Focus of the literature review is organized on four domain areas within the digital transformation and the changing nature of university libraries in: digital revolution and transformation, modern education and learning, applications of digital technologies, and higher education and information organizations. The review highlights intertwined aspects of modern technological and social computing systems, exploring such themes as digital technologies, e-Learning, webometrics ranking, electronic resource planning systems, social media interfaces and innovative practices associated with new electronic revolution.

Digital revolution and transformation in higher education Modern developments of digital education and learning

The information revolution has exponentially brought modern emerging trends in the field of education as exemplified through use of digital technologies, internet of things and mobile computer devices such as smartphones and tables. Development of e-learning is relatively new aspect of academic and educational system in the curriculum implementation whose main purpose is to ensure sustainable practice of higher education and learning. Practice of e-learning is achieved through applications of digital technologies and social computing that promote and enhance effective pedagogy and teaching methods. The curriculum content, teaching and learning practices are presented through social computing systems. E-learning is the provision of education and teaching using the integration of information communication technology, internet and enterprise cloud computing systems. With technology moving out of the lab and into classroom, digital technologies is immensely affecting teaching and learning practices with techn tools such as websites, educational games, simulations, ipads, Chromebooks, GAFE and other geeky devises (Jacqui, 2015 & West & Bleiberg, 2013). Modern digital education and learning practices presents variety of information and knowledge resources including canva educational, iPad in education, skype, YouTube edu and Google for education (Atsalaki, 2015, Ferriter, 2015, Markton, 2014, Wilson, 2014). These digital technologies have changed the face of teaching and learning environments in universities and libraries promoting and providing unlimited opportunities to education among students and lecturers. Consequently, the lecturers and students are able to access information and knowledge resources from the comfort of the available digital technologies.

Practice of e-learning practice includes a wide range of ICT applications and strategies for exchanging information and gaining knowledge such as video conferencing, mobile computer devices, internet and web and electronic resources (Zaman et al, 2011). For effective and sustainable development of e-learning in higher education, the lecturers must be...

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