Adoption of information and communication technologies for educational purposes in Malawian secondary schools

  The adoption of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in
Least Developed Countries (LDCs) has often been motivated by ideas of bridging
the digital divide and promoting socio-economic progress within these
countries. For example, many LDCs within sub-Saharan Africa and development
practitioners alike are enthusiastic about the prospects of socio-economic
progress through the adoption and use of ICTs. In Malawi, this belief in ICT
potential is widespread and it is presumed that the adoption of ICTs will provide
a sufficient condition for socio-economic progress and will offer Malawi
the opportunity to leapfrog stages of development and accelerate her progress
in socio-economic spheres. In particular, the adoption of computer based ICTs
for educational purposes in Malawian secondary schools is being widely promoted.
However, in many LDCs particularly those within sub-Saharan Africa, the
realisation of such over-hyped technological gains has always remained elusive
and literature suggests that the use of computer based ICTs in LDCs is
constrained by a cross section of critical challenges (Mansell and Wehn, 1998;
Kawooya, 2002; Heeks, 2002). Wade (2004) further explains that ICT initiatives
in LDCs are "... biased towards the supply side and give scant attention
to demand" (Wade, 2004, pl9l) and that the alleged stories of ICT adoptions
within the region are generalised with "little attention to scaling up problems"
(p. 186). This suggests that ICT adoption processes can not be understood and
explained by simply focusing on the perceived potential of ICTs and disregarding
complex socio-technical influences which shape and are shaped by those
adoption processes in LDC contexts.
This research focussed on the development of a socio-technical conceptualisation
of ICT adoption processes in Malawian secondary schools based on
empirical evidence. Methodologically, it uses both qualitative and quantitative
approaches and focuses on three main notions of ICT choice, ICT use and ICT
value in order to investigate ICT adoption processes. Socio-Technical Interaction
Networks (STINs) technique is used in order to analyse research data. In
particular, analytical affordances provided by the Social Actor Model (Lamb,
2006) are used to gain rich insights into ICT adoption processes in Malawian
secondary schools and to generate an evidence based theoretical conceptualisation
which appreciates the inextricable interrelationship between ICTs and
the context within which they are embedded.
The developed framework illustrates the significance of a context specific
socio-technical approach when implementing ICT initiatives in Malawian secondary
schools and the researcher argues that it deepens our theoretical understanding
of the socio-technical nature of technologies and can facilitate the implementation of ICT solutions that are aligned and valuable to the adopting context in LDCs like Malawi.

  • Dates:

    2004 to 2009

  • Qualification:

    Doctorate (PhD)

Project Team