Monday, November 12, 2012

No Learning Online

Just like the windmill!

These are my views on information technology and electronic resources at UPNG. Many who work and study at UPNG have frustrating moments when it comes to information technology. The IT services UPNG provides is a lethargic experience without administrative intervention in fixing the situation.

The registration process of all students for the 2012 academic year took more than two weeks.  It was a woeful experience for the officials who had to deal with the poor Information Technology legacy UPNG has managed to create for itself over the years.

UPNG’s IT system is poorly managed without excellerated development that the image promoted on the internet is so outdated and irrelevant. The home page of UPNG is not updated. Visitors to UPNG’s home page are disappointed with the electronic image. No daily updates and official live activities that announce public events, public lectures, seminars, and new developments at UPNG.

Many universities I worked with provide services for downloading and uploading of important information, official forms, and lecture notes for courses and for student lecturer interactions.

Teaching with the aid of electronic technology makes the learning experience exciting, innovative, and rewarding. Information technology excellerates learning and increases value in knowledge acquisition if all classrooms, whether big or small in size, are fitted with USB ports or computer technology to teach.

In the last twenty odd years I have been teaching at UPNG I had to deal with many of the same shortcomings of UPNG. New innovative ways of teaching with IT cannot be put to good use because there are no IT resources for us to do so.  UPNG has not developed its IT facilities to the international standards that universities are dependent on. Both ALT and SLT lecture theatres are not even connected to the internet making it difficult to teach using electronic resources such as Googles, Yahoo, You Tube, or Blogs with educational values.

Universities sell, market, and promote their images nowadays on how they develop and manage their homepages on the internet. International colleagues have expressed dismay at viewing the UPNG site on the internet.

Email addresses do not seem to work. Viruses attack computers. Updated contact addresses of staff and schools need to be kept. Some offices and staff do not have access to email or internet facilities. Some of the information on schools, programs, and staff profiles appears out of date. Course handbook, timetables, class schedules, job vacancies, and staff movement need to be online. Course registration and grade submission need to be done online. Right now it is done the way it has been done—manually with delays in grade postings and class lists. When would UPNG wake up to this inefficient system?

On July 1st 2011 UPNG launched the new APEC IT center, a collaborative initiative between UPNG and the Taiwan-China Association in PNG. The APEC IT center is hosted by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The computer center, it turns out, is a training center for both UPNG and the public on the use of information technology. By the end of last year the APEC IT center has become another establishment wrought with obscurity and poor development.

The staff and students of UPNG are deprived of a world class learning environment using IT technologies. Many staff and schools or programs of UPNG have no homepages, blogs, and Facebook programs. Many of our researches and publications are not available online. Many developments are not reported online for its members and others to know. How can stimulating discussions and notes sharing of innovative educational developments be generated and widely circulated? UPNG has limited subsciptions to electronic journals, but with most humanities and social sciences missing out on this resource. Staff and students do not have access to internet resources and online video streaming programs for use in our teaching programs. The UPNG Open College system does not have online learning programs that link up the many Open College centers around the country and overseas such as the Solomon Islands campus.  How can UPNG promote itself as a premier university in the South Pacific when its Information Technology anything, but a poor sample of what could be possible.

I acknowledge the recent developments in the Open Colleage with the appointment of the new Director, Dr. Samuel Haihuie at the helm; it has openned its Facebook page. Well done, Open College in taking the lead in this direction. Maybe the rest of UPNG can follow your leadership in making sure the advantage of IT is taken full advantage of.

How comes only a few of the total population of UPNG have access to these IT facilities? My guess is that they must be using non-UPNG IT facilities and resources. Why would they have the privilege than others at UPNG? UPNG cannot live in the doldrums of yesteryears. If it wants to excellerate its growth it must change all these mediocrity and get on with the business of becoming a leader of providing easy and free access to IT facilities to its staff and students.

I think UPNG must invest in its IT development.  It can begin by hiring someone with the best training with a Master degree or better and knowledge of IT development to manage the IT programs at UPNG. Most of the current IT staff members are handicapped by institutional constraints and general complacency of their immediate supervisors.

The ambivalence in the tone of my views stems from the experienceS that I have had in teaching and research in top universities in USA and New Zealand, who take advantage of the changing information and electronic technology in innovative ways to increase the value of education for their staff, students, and associates.

Without excellent IT or electronic resources UPNG will continue to struggle to meet that changing needs in education at this information and technology age.

Electronic versions of all Steven’s Window appears on My students and other followers are already using this site for their research and educational pursuits, even on their mobile phones.



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