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Journal Article

Familiarity with Technology among First‑Year Students in Rwandan Tertiary Education  pp30-45

Jean Claude Byungura, Henrik Hansson, Mugabe Muparasi, Ben Ruhinda

© Feb 2018 Volume 16 Issue 1, Editor: Rikke Ørngreen and Karin Levinsen, pp1 - 79

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Abstract

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

 

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