Research Reports  

Technology integration of Cambodian higher education: emerging changes since COVID-19 and notable challenges

Published: 28-Sep-2023


The second decade of the 21st century marks the time the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) officially directs the nation’s public sector, economy, and society to accelerate technology adoption and digital transformation. This present study aims to observe developments of such direction in Cambodian higher education (HE) sub-sector before and in response to Covid-19 by (1) examining policies and interventions on technology integration of HE system and institutions and (2) analysing perceptions and behaviours of Cambodian faculty members towards technology integration in their instruction. At the system level, the study found that Covid-19 has driven active ICT-related responses of the whole education sector and pushed the Cambodian HE sub-sector to revisit some of its strategies and targets set in the ICT-in-Education policies and plans prior to Covid-19. For HE, emerging areas of concern are how to further innovate HEMIS to support ministerial and institutional monitoring of HEI performance and how to achieve the pre-Covid-19 target of the Cambodian Open and Distance Learning (ODL) platform for it can help Cambodia address the issue of low HE enrolment and limited quantity and quality of online education. Covid-19 also provides a context to accelerate ICT integration at Cambodian HEIs. At the institutional level, online teaching and learning become one of the most engaged aspects of ICT integration to respond to the crisis. Some Cambodian HEIs take the opportunity to advance their mobile-technology-based administrative practices (e.g., creating or using mobile apps for enrolment, payment, and communication). However, institutional-level data still showed some challenges of ICT integration, particularly the clear lack of full-fledged online education programs and platforms at most HEIs and the on-going pedagogical challenges in efficiently and effectively integrating technologies. In further analyses at the level of individual faculty members, the data indicated positive perceptions towards technology readiness in overall. Comparative analyses of the data collected in the early outbreak (2020) and that in the later phase (2022) of Covid-19 also showed a slight increase in Cambodian faculty members’ perceived innovativeness towards technology and a decrease in their perceived insecurity towards technology. Yet, the different sub-constructs of technology readiness (i.e., optimism, innovativeness, insecurity, and discomfort) may vary in magnitude by age (younger vs elder), teaching subject (IT-specialized vs non-IT-specialized), HEI orientation (public vs private), and/or HEI type (university-type HEIs vs post-secondary TVETIs) of the faculty members. Correlational analyses of our data detected further that individual agency-driven capabilities and institutional supports influence the faculty members’ technology application behaviour during Covid-19. That said, perceived ICT competence, ICT-supported teaching experience, perceived institutional support in terms of policy and leadership, and perceived institutional support in terms of infrastructure and finance statistically significantly influence technology application behaviour during the emergency. Overall, Covid-19 is a wake-up call for the system governing bodies, institutional leaders, and faculty members of Cambodian HE sub-sector to take uncertainties more seriously, and so these key actors have to plan and implement technology integration with a more transformative and consolidative approach within and across different HE levels (from system policies to instructional practices).

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