The ICT Competencies of Part-Time Students at a Tertiary Institution in Barbados
AbstractMany schools and institutions worldwide have integrated ICT competencies into their curricula because it is argued that ICT competence is necessary for economic development and social change. In developing nations such as the Caribbean, however, due to the digital divide, it is questionable whether citizens possess the ICT competencies necessary for economic growth. This paper describes a study which investigated whether students at a tertiary institution in Barbados possessed some of the important ICT competencies necessary for the development of the country’s economy. One hundred and five part-time students were asked to self-report their perceived ICT competencies on a survey instrument which queried their abilities in the use of productivity tools (word processor, spreadsheet and presentation) and their computer maintenance and security skills. The results showed that both males and females were most highly skilled in the use of word processing software, although females were more competent. Females were also more competent than males in the use of presentation software. Alternatively, females’ weakest competence was computer maintenance, while males’ weakest was the use of presentation software. Furthermore, there were significant differences in: the computer maintenance and security skills of males and females; the use of word processors and spreadsheets based on age; and all the productivity tools skills based on students’ self-rated overall computer skills. Although it appears from this study that students possess some of the basic ICT skills such as word processing, there are significant gender and age differences in skill levels which may affect Barbados’ ICT development.
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