The Role of Training and Support in the Implementation of Electronic Textbooks in Gauteng Public Schools
Keywords:electronic textbooks, TAM, tablets, smartboards, ICT integration
The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) is responsible for managing and administering public and registered private educational institutions within this South African province. The GDE has introduced a Paperless Classroom project where prioritised schools are provided with smartboards, laptops and tablets to teachers and learners in targeted grades. This study aims to add to the corpus of knowledge on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education by establishing whether schools in Gauteng are ready to adopt and implement electronic textbooks in their classrooms in terms of support and training. The focus of this study is on the training and support, as the GDE received an influx of requests from these teachers on receiving additional training and better support shortly after receiving the ICTs. The study followed a pragmatic approach using a parallel concurrent mixed-method design where quantitative and qualitative data were collected using an online questionnaire and an interview protocol. Purposively sampling was used to collect quantitative data and 55 responses were received, whereas both purposive and convenience sampling were used to collect qualitative data and 20 participants were interviewed. The study used the Technology Acceptance Model as a theoretical framework through which the study was conducted. The Perceived Usefulness construct focused on the usefulness of electronic textbooks, while the Perceived Ease of Use and the External Factors are constructs facilitating and enabling the use of electronic textbooks. Quantitative data analysis was done using SPSS. Interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed. Most respondents were not satisfied with the training they received. It was entry-level basic training and did not help schools use ICTs and address the technical glitches they experienced pedagogically. The quality of the devices was not up to standard. The e-textbooks had licensing issues, and only a limited number were available. Although technical support was provided, it was not adequate. Many systemic issues such as maintenance and replacement plans of the devices, safety, update, and the licensing of the electronic textbooks should still be addressed for successful implementation. The results of the study may offer some insights before the roll-out of electronic textbooks is done to the whole province. Furthermore, the study may also provide clues to the South African provinces that may envisage introducing ICT in education. Within the nine provinces in South Africa and in the education community worldwide, the information provided by this study can be of great significance for the envisaged training and the support needs of the schools on the use of ICTs in education.
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