The status of usage of information technology systems within campuses of the KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing
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Background The rapid growth in information and communication technology (ICT) in the 21st century has impacted all spheres of human activity, including the health sector. The change introduced by ICT requires educational institutions to relook at the way in which they develop and implement their education programmes. In contemporary clinical practice environments, ICT skills are providing benefits for nurses as well as for the patients they care for. Aim The aim of the study was to investigate the status of usage of ICT by academic staff, students and administrators within campuses of the KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing which consists of 11 main campuses and 14 sub-campuses. Methodology A quantitative, cross sectional study was conducted which included academic staff, administrative staff, and students (R425 and R212) of the KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing. A random sample of 576 individuals participated in the study consisting of academic staff (176); administrative staff (30) and students (340). Participants completed a questionnaire that established their demographic data and ICT usage. Results The questionnaire response rate was academic staff (80%), students (89%) and administrative staff (93%). The findings showed that while respondents were able to manage work related activities; they experienced poor access to computer training with 66% indicating they had access to computer training. The access to computer training for the administrative staff was 50%, with 8% of rural and 1% of urban students having access to training. The majority of academic staff have access to desktop computers with there still being a divide in terms of rural access as compared to urban access p=0.24. Significantly more administrative staff had access to desktop computers than those who do not p<.0005. The access to desktop computers for students was low, with 22% of respondents in both rural and urban campuses indicating that they have access. Access to the internet was low for all respondent groups with a significant difference between those who have access compared to those who do not have access p=<.0005, for both the academic and student groups. There is a low use of ICT for the purposes of teaching and learning with the majority of respondents (60%) indicating that they do not use ICT for teaching compared to those who do p=.0007. All respondent groups have experienced poor ICT support with the majority indicating that they do not receive ICT support p=<.0005. The usage of the online library was low for all groups, with 61% of academic staff, not accessing the online library for reasons of access, or knowledge about the library, 23% of urban students and 20% of rural students have indicated ever using the online library. Conclusion The study highlights the need for the KZNCN to be on par with higher education institutions globally in access to and usage of ICT. Benchmarking with higher education institutions in the health and other sectors is essential, in order for the KZNCN to benefit from the trend in incorporating technology into the teaching and learning process. Strong collaboration is necessary between the KZNCN as an academic institution and clinical health facilities to ensure that the developments in ICT within both sectors are reflected in the teaching and learning process, so that graduating nurses are able to function effectively. Clear policy documents and guidelines are required for the KZNCN which reflect the norms required for both ICT equipment and systems to enable functioning of the institution within an increasingly technological environment.