Designing Infrastructures for Learning: Technology and Human Praxis - a Sociotechnical and Sociocultural Perspective to Designing IT Infrastructures in a Resource Constrained Settings
By Geoffrey Tabo
This thesis investigated the process of introducing Problem Based Learning (PBL) pedagogical model strengthened by ICT enhanced learning. The thesis conceptualized the process as a design of infrastructure for learning with emphasis on the complexity in the changing pedagogical model mediating teaching and learning activities.
Results show gaps in teacher readiness, perception to introducing digital learning and that such gaps require scaffolding. Institutional readiness to adopt ICT supported learning is reportedly low. The Learning management system introduced has to afford pedagogical principles and user interactivity. The methodological approach promoted a bottom up approach and democratic principles in designing sustainable IT infrastructure and structures.
The study provides a theoretical and pragmatic approach to designing infrastructure for learning in resource limiting situations. Application of participatory methods in ICT supported learning provides for a sustainable IT system and as such, it extends the network and grows organically in use. For example, implementing a learning management system should include simple to-use modules and interfaces while users adapt to the system. To achieve this, mostly staff will require incentives and well planned scaffolding programmes.
Integrating IT infrastructures requires institutional policies and supporting structures to handle contradictions and tensions in workflow processes. However, these must be informed by pedagogical approach at the higher education institution. While introducing blended learning, a systematic approach guided by user experiences, policies and workflow processes are important.
However, the study presents an interesting case of application of participatory design in a Ugandan context where there is a mix of staff with varying ICT knowledge and skills. The introduction of the PBL pedagogy blends the variation between staff. IT Infrastructure has been understood singly from a technical perspective disregarding the social and cultural perspective which address the user understanding of how to design and interact with ICT tools and services in education domain. IT is further perceived as expensive to implement in resource constrained settings and yet it can be developed in a progressive stepwise model that is suitable and sustainable, thus making learning inclusive. A simple example is demonstrated with the current Covid-19 situation where higher institution of learning closed since March 2020 in Uganda.
The study proposes some design principles, user engagement processes and recommends a participatory approach to designing infrastructures for learning at higher education institution to achieve sustainable ICT systems. This enables the user experiences and network to grow naturally with a multiplier effect just like social media services.