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Improving IT Integration for Higher Education Institutional Performance: Towards a Contextualised IT-Institutional Alignment Model
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences. (Technology Enhanced Learning, ICT in Education)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9614-7936
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The integration of information technology (IT) into service delivery is currently seen as an innovative strategy to support the modernising of universities worldwide. However, in some institutions in developing countries, including Rwanda, IT has failed to add the intended value to university services, despite huge associated investments in IT. Consequently, IT-organisational alignment continues to be a primary concern for university managers. This alignment is viewed in terms of its strategic, socio-cultural, and technological dimensions. For effective IT-institutional alignment, several antecedents (alignment practices) for creating an appropriate fit between IT and organisations have been suggested in the literature. However, several studies exploring IT alignment focused mainly on general business companies, and similar research with an emphasis on higher education institutions is still scarce. Therefore, the aim of this research was twofold: firstly, it attempted to understand the process of IT integration into universities; and secondly, to propose a contextual model for IT-institutional alignment within a higher education context. A design science research methodology (DSRM) was applied in this research, using surveys and case studies as research strategies. Preliminary findings at the exploration phase of this research indicated a strong misalignment between IT and the university services caused by the lack of clearly defined alignment practices. Furthermore, as the research main outcome, an IT-Institutional Alignment Model (ITIAM) was proposed after reaching an understanding of the current state and challenges related to IT integration into teaching, learning, research and university administration. This model includes 44 alignment practices, related to both technical and non-technical dimensions. These alignment practices were clustered under six categories: (1) Communication, (2) Structure/Governance, (3) Technology Scope, (4) Competence/Value Measurement, (5) Skills, and (6) Partnership. Alignment practices related to institutional structure and governance, skills and communication were found to have a strong positive influence on the institutional performance, as compared to those related to competence and value measurement, partnership, and technology scope. Based on the research findings, the proposed ITIAM, which was iteratively tested and evaluated using case study institutions, was found to be a relevant tool for guiding the implementation of IT systems towards the improvement of institutional performance. Hence, this thesis makes a theoretical contribution by applying the concept of IT alignment within a higher education context and by documenting the empirically tested contextual alignment practices as conveyed in the ITIAM Model. Additionally, as a practical implication, the results can serve as a reference for an effective IT integration process in university services and for how to improve performance through effective use of IT in teaching, learning, research and educational management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University , 2019. , p. 131
Series
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 19-008
Keywords [en]
IT integration, IT alignment, Alignment practices, Design science research, Innovation diffusion, Technology adoption, Institutional performance, Higher education, Artefact Evaluation
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences Information Systems Learning Information Systems, Social aspects Human Aspects of ICT
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168811ISBN: 978-91-7797-741-4 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7797-742-1 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-168811DiVA, id: diva2:1314620
Public defence
2019-09-06, L70, NOD-huset, Borgarfjordsgatan 12, Kista, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation AgencyAvailable from: 2019-08-14 Created: 2019-05-09 Last updated: 2019-08-06Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. ICT Capacity Building: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Rwandan Policies from Higher Education Perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>ICT Capacity Building: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Rwandan Policies from Higher Education Perspective
2016 (English)In: European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, ISSN 1027-5207, Vol. 19, no 2, p. 46-62Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

With the development of technology in the 21st Century, education systems attempt to integrate technology-based tools to improve experiences in pedagogy and administration. It is becoming increasingly prominent to build human and ICT infrastructure capacities at universities from policy to implementation level. Using a critical discourse analysis, this study investigates the articulation of ICT capacity building strategies from both national and institutional ICT policies in Rwanda, focusing on the higher education. Eleven policy documents were collected and deeply analyzed to understand which claims of ICT capacity building are made. The analysis shows that strategies for building ICT capacities are evidently observed from national level policies and only in two institutional policies (KIST and NUR). Among 25 components of ICT capacity building used, the ones related to human capacity are not plainly described. Additionally, neither national nor institutional policy documents include the creation of financial schemes for students to acquire ICT tools whilst learners are key stakeholders. Although there is some translation of ICT capacity building strategies from national to some institutional policies, planning for motivation and provision of incentives to innovators is not stated in any of the institutional policies and this is a key to effective technology integration.

Abstract [fr]

Avec le développement et la prolifération des nouvelles technologies de l’information au 21eme siècle, beaucoup des systèmes éducatifs tentent d’intégrer ces nouveaux instruments dans l’amélioration de l’enseignement-apprentissage et l’administration. Dans des universités, Il devient de plus en plus important de renforcer les capacités humaines et de l’infrastructure en terme des TIC, du niveau de la politique ainsi que de la mise en œuvre. Basée sur une analyse critique de discours, cet article examine l’articulation entre les stratégies nationales de développement des nouvelles technologies de l’information et les politiques subséquentes développées par les institutions d’enseignement supérieurs au Rwanda. Douze documents de politique guidant le développement des nouvelles technologies de l’information ont été analysés pour en inférer les capacités institutionnelles visées. L’étude montre que les capacités de base en nouvelles technologies de communication et de l’information sont clairement mises en évidence dans les politiques nationales, mais ne transparaissent que dans deux documents institutionnelles analysées (KIST et UNR). Parmi les 25 composantes clés du développement des nouvelles technologies de l’information, celles en rapport avec le développement des capacités humaines ne sont pas suffisamment mis en évidence dans les documents analysés. On remarque également que ni les politiques nationales, ni celles développées à l’échelle institutionnelle ne mentionnent la création d’un système de financement permettant aux étudiants d’accéder plus facilement aux outils informatiques leur permettant d’utiliser ces nouvelles technologies. En outre, on remarque qu’aucun de ces documents guides ne font référence à des mesures incitatives encourageant des personnes innovantes à s’impliquer à fond dans la promotion de nouvelles technologies de la communication et de l’information dans l’enseignement supérieur. 

Keywords
ICT Capacity building, ICT policies, Higher education system, Technology integration, Critical Discourse Analysis
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-136624 (URN)
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Available from: 2016-12-12 Created: 2016-12-12 Last updated: 2019-05-09Bibliographically approved
2. User Perceptions on Relevance of a Learning Management System: An Evaluation of Behavioral Intention and Usage of SciPro System at University of Rwanda
Open this publication in new window or tab >>User Perceptions on Relevance of a Learning Management System: An Evaluation of Behavioral Intention and Usage of SciPro System at University of Rwanda
2015 (English)In: Expanding Learning Scenarios - Opening Out the Educational Landscape: Book of Abstracts / [ed] António Moreira Teixeira, András Szűcs, Ildikó Mázár, European Distance and E-Learning Network , 2015, p. 64-64Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
European Distance and E-Learning Network, 2015
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-123983 (URN)978-615-5511-02-8 (ISBN)
Conference
European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN), Barcelona, Spain, 9-12 June, 2015
Available from: 2015-12-09 Created: 2015-12-09 Last updated: 2019-05-14Bibliographically approved
3. Exploring Teacher Adoption and Use of an Upgraded eLearning Platform for ICT Capacity Building at University of Rwanda
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring Teacher Adoption and Use of an Upgraded eLearning Platform for ICT Capacity Building at University of Rwanda
2016 (English)In: IST-Africa 2016 Conference: Proceedings / [ed] Paul Cunningham, Miriam Cunningham, IEEE Computer Society, 2016Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Integrating technology in pedagogy is a step for ICT capacity building for higher education to meet its current demands. Therefore, the integration of eLearning systems has been problematic, albeit huge investments in ICT infrastructure. This study investigates teacher adoption of a new upgraded eLearning platform being integrated at University of Rwanda. A six-constructs model related to technology adoption was used to design questionnaire and interviews. Closed and open-ended questions seeking perceptions on the UR eLearning environment were used on 87 respondents who were purposively selected. Findings indicate that although participants find the system useful, easy and trustworthy, the intention for adopting and using it is very low due managerial support and technical support. Gaps in policy synergy, incentives, basic infrastructure, managerial and technical support were among the identified bottlenecks contributing negatively to the low degree of teacher intention. The study concludes by proposing some remedies to address the above challenges.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE Computer Society, 2016
Keywords
Teacher perceptions, eLearning platform, Technology adoption, ICT integration, Teacher intention
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-136623 (URN)10.1109/ISTAFRICA.2016.7530697 (DOI)978-1-905824-55-7 (ISBN)
Conference
IST-Africa Week Conference, Durban, South Africa, 11-13 May 2016
Available from: 2016-12-12 Created: 2016-12-12 Last updated: 2019-05-09Bibliographically approved
4. Familiarity with Technology among First-Year Students in Rwandan Tertiary Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Familiarity with Technology among First-Year Students in Rwandan Tertiary Education
2018 (English)In: Electronic Journal of e-Learning, ISSN 1479-4403, E-ISSN 1479-4403, Vol. 16, no 1, p. 30-45Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The more the students get experienced with technologies, the more the need for tertiary education systems to adopt innovative pedagogical strategies for accommodating different learning needs. Depending on students' prior experience with computer-based tools, they may have different degrees of familiarity with new technologies. At University of Rwanda (UR), for example, the familiarity and experience with technology for incoming students is not clearly known. Universities need to understand this phenomenon for efficient education planning and management. Therefore, this study aims to understand the degree of familiarity with technology for first-year students at the University of Rwanda. Accessibility, ownership, usage and previous computer-based training are used in this study' conceptual framework as factors that determine the degree of familiarity with technology. Firstly, results indicate that the majority of participants are not familiar with technology and never had any previous exposure to eLearning systems. Secondly, regarding the digital tools, while smartphones are the most accessed, owned and used tools by respondents, they rarely or never used them for learning activities. Thirdly, findings portrayed a heterogeneous technology experience with a substantial variation of access, use, ownership and previous training on new technologies among the sample. Strategies for improving experience and confidence with technology, for first-year students, are recommended for this institution. This will prepare new students for early technology uptake and readiness while empowering them to develop appropriate competencies and skills for the digital age. Further studies in the area of experience with technology are also proposed.

Keywords
familiarity with technology, net generation, tertiary education, digital tools, digital skills, first-year students
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences Educational Sciences
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-156002 (URN)000429270200003 ()
Available from: 2018-05-11 Created: 2018-05-11 Last updated: 2019-05-14Bibliographically approved
5. Integrated computer-based management information systems: The complexity and diffusion in Rwandan higher education institutions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Integrated computer-based management information systems: The complexity and diffusion in Rwandan higher education institutions
2019 (English)In: ijEDict - International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, ISSN 1814-0556, E-ISSN 1814-0556, Vol. 15, no 1, p. 55-75Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The current trend in universities is marked by integrating information technologies into their service delivery. Particularly in administration and management, processes are being modernized, although not successfully in some institutions. This study aims first to understand the complexity of an integrated educational management information system (UR-IEMIS) at the University of Rwanda and then to evaluate the degree of its diffusion in university services. Complex Adaptive System and Innovation Diffusion theories were used as a conceptual framework for this study. Document survey, observations, and interviews were used for data collection. Findings indicate that complexity features characterize the UR-IEMIS, as it is composed of several different subsystems (Organism, Roles, Objects, Method, and Concept) which emerge, interact, co-evolve, and re-organize to adapt to the disruptive institutional structures. It was also revealed that the UR-IEMIS integration is still at the abstraction level for all subsystems while for only few university functions, the system is diffused at knowledge, persuasion, and decision stages. Concerns related to the current unsatisfactory state of UR-IEMIS integration and proposals for improvement are discussed. Further studies should explore the complexity and diffusion levels for E-learning systems that support pedagogical activities in a similar case study context.

Keywords
Complex adaptive systems, Higher education, Educational Management, Information systems, Technology integration, Diffusion of innovation, University administration
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168710 (URN)
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Available from: 2019-05-06 Created: 2019-05-06 Last updated: 2019-05-09Bibliographically approved
6. An exploratory study on the practices of IT-institutional alignment for effective ICT integration in university services
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An exploratory study on the practices of IT-institutional alignment for effective ICT integration in university services
2019 (English)In: ijEDict - International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, ISSN 1814-0556, E-ISSN 1814-0556, Vol. 15, no 1, p. 76-98Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The misalignment between information technology (IT) and institutions continues to be a major problem, more particularly in higher education institutions. This state leads to a lack of technology value addition and poor institutional performance. Prior studies proposed models and frameworks with various organizational practices of IT-Business alignment. However, similar research, considering higher education institutions, is scarce. Therefore, this study explores and identifies the dimensions and practices of IT-institutional alignment from a higher education context. An exploratory embedded multiple-case study strategy was used on the two largest universities in Rwanda and Mozambique. Document survey and interviews were used for data collection. The literature and 14 interviews were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach to identify patterns related to the alignment practices. This study identified 45 IT-alignment practices reflected from both institutions, and they were classified into six metrics as presented in the framework. Of these alignment practices, 27 reflect exceptionally the higher education context of teaching, learning, and research. The identified alignment practices can serve as a frame of reference for creating and assessing the alignment between technology and university activities in the case study of institutions or similar contexts. A statistical test and validation of these alignment practices are recommended.

Keywords
Technology integration, Higher education, IT-institutional alignment, Alignment practices, Information Technology, Developing countries
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168713 (URN)
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Note

Ulf Olsson is also affiliated to the Centre for the Advancement of University Teaching at Stockholm University.

Available from: 2019-05-07 Created: 2019-05-07 Last updated: 2019-05-09Bibliographically approved
7. Development and validation of a holistic IT-institutional alignment model for higher education institutional performance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Development and validation of a holistic IT-institutional alignment model for higher education institutional performance
2019 (English)In: Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference / [ed] Kevin Graziano, Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, 2019, Vol. 1, p. 1279-1290, article id 207809Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This study aims to develop a contextual model with the practices of IT-institutional alignment for university performance. Based on the prior studies and an extended literature review, six hypotheses were put forward. With a survey research strategy, data were collected from 166 university and government institutions’ staff in Rwanda. Findings indicate a significant positive influence of the six categories of IT-institutional alignment practices on institutional performance. The mostly correlated alignment practices with a more significant positive effect were those related to “Structure/Governance,” “Skills,” and “Communication.” Moreover, an IT-Institutional Alignment Model (ITIAM) for the university performance was proposed with 44 practices. This study suggests that for improving the institutional performance through the integration of IT in service delivery, decision makers, and the university managers can primarily prioritize these alignments practices with greater positive influence. Further research could evaluate the ITIAM model for its acceptability and relevance in Rwandan universities or similar contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, 2019
Keywords
Higher Education, Information Technology, Alignment practices, Technology integration, IT-alignment, Institutional performance
National Category
Computer and Information Sciences
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168215 (URN)978-1-939797-37-7 (ISBN)
Conference
Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, Las Vegas, NV, United States, March 18-22, 2019
Projects
PhD Research in Computer and Systems Sciences
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Available from: 2019-04-25 Created: 2019-04-25 Last updated: 2019-05-09Bibliographically approved
8. Evaluating the Model of IT-Institutional Alignment Practices for Higher Education Institutional Performance. Stakeholders’ insights
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evaluating the Model of IT-Institutional Alignment Practices for Higher Education Institutional Performance. Stakeholders’ insights
(English)In: Information Technology for Development, ISSN 0268-1102, E-ISSN 1554-0170Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Effective alignment between IT and institutional activities has to be created to improve performance in the university service delivery. A specific IT-Institutional Alignment Model (ITIAM) with practices for improving institutional performance was earlier suggested. This study aims to evaluate the earlier developed model and provide an outline of the evaluation outcomes. Using a seven-evaluation criteria framework, 11 case study institutions from Rwanda were explored. Data from questionnaires and in-depth interviews were analyzed to understand the model relevance and acceptability level. Findings indicated a high degree of the model relevance to support in creating IT alignment with university services. Likewise, the evaluation showed a high degree of model acceptability per all the seven evaluation criteria. Version 2 of this model was proposed based on the stakeholders’ opinions. Practical evaluation of the ITIAM model along with a real-time IT system implementation in university services is left for further endeavors of this research. 

Keywords
IT alignment practices, institutional performance, higher education, information technology, evaluation criteria, artefact
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168716 (URN)
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Note

Ulf Olsson is also affiliated to the Centre for the Advancement of University Teaching at Stockholm University.

Available from: 2019-05-07 Created: 2019-05-07 Last updated: 2019-05-09Bibliographically approved

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