UBC Theses and Dissertations
Computing in higher education in the Dominican Republic García S., Thomas C.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the current status of educational computing in higher education in the Dominican Republic by describing the computing resources available, and how they are utilized. The computing environment of seven universities was studied, with particular attention to respondents' perception of the availability and quality of physical, human, and logical resources for computing. In addition, the general disposition toward computing on the part of administrators and professors was examined, as well as the uses of computers in the areas of information, instruction, and productivity. A review of the literature on educational computing was conducted, including aspects such as computer literacy, the roles of computers in education, characteristics of educational computing, and attitudes toward computers. Particular attention was paid to those aspects of major relevance for the Latin American context, such as transfer of technology and computing issues unique to that region. Seven private universities were selected for the study, based on the size of their student population and location within the country. A total of 194 professors from all faculties and departments of these universities completed a questionnaire concerning the physical, human, and logical aspects of computing, as well as their knowledge about, and attitudes toward computing. Technical and administrative information was gathered by interviewing a total of 12 individuals who were able to provide accurate information about universities' policies on computing, as well as the hardware and software technologies currently in use. Patterns of particular interest among the universities surveyed were identified, and the following conclusions were drawn about the current status of educational computing and the use of computers in the universities surveyed, the two focus questions of the study: 1. Dominican educational computing is geared mostly to the areas of administration and computer science; other aspects of the field are relatively neglected. Although some progress is evident, economic limitations and problems such as the poor electrical infrastructure of the country are slowing the evolution of computing in education. Training of professors in educational computing is almost non-existent; and, although computing is considered very important by both professors and administrators, few training, and support programs are in place. In general, Dominican educational computing presents all of the characteristics mentioned in the literature as typical of developed countries: lack of planning, inequitable access to computing, inadequate software, need for integrating computers into the curriculum, and need for training. 2. Dominican universities are well-developed in the use of computers for the management of administrative information, although use of computers for research and communication is very limited. The use of computers for personal productivity is increasing, but the cost of this technology is a major impediment to progress in this area. Instructional uses of computers are only common for computer literacy and computer science courses; but, they are virtually unknown for courses in which the computer is a medium of instruction, rather than the subject of instruction. Both computer-using and non-using professors showed highly positive attitudes toward learning about and working with computers. University officials also favor a change toward a more widespread use of computers in most universities, and seem to regard them as important tools for the development of individuals from all areas in society today. Based on these results, three basic recommendations were made. First, Dominican universities should develop local educational computing policies to help in planning and implementing culturally appropriate uses of computers in educational settings. Second, Dominican universities should improve the availability and quality of the human element of computing, especially their teaching staff, through training on educational computing. Finally, universities should optimize the available physical resources, which appear to be under-utilized in many areas.
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