AJIC Issue 15, 2015

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There is already extensive scholarly publishing on informatics and ICT4D, charting the contours of early stage digital transformation in Africa. This issue of The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC) publishes a collection of articles developed from papers presented at the 44th Southern African Communications Lecturers Association (SACLA) Conference, held on 2 and 3 July 2015 at Open, Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg. The theme of the conference was “Renewing ICT teaching and learning: Building on the past to create new energies”. The emphasis on renewal offers an important message to academics and universities to push forward with change, in an era where change inertia has set in in many parts of the higher education environment and where a reminder is needed that, in the 21st century, change is the only constant. Digital technologies will only create value in the university experience when used for active innovation in teaching and learning, rather than passive availability. Investment in university Internet access, where most ICT spending has historically focused, offers only the foundation for educational informatics, not the digital learning experience. Educational futures require investment in the creative side of digital media use for teaching, learning and research. Issue 15 also publishes a range of unsolicited articles relevant to this thematic area, carefully reviewed, revised and edited. These articles illustrate the breadth of the field of informatics and its importance for future development, as well as the new research problems in the fields of informatics and ICT4D.


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Now showing 1 - 18 of 18
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    Editorial Note to AJIC Issue 15
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), 2015-12-15) Abrahams, Lucienne
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    Guest Editorial: Thematic Section: Informatics for Development
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), 2015-12-15) Pillay, Kiru
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    Guest Editorial: Thematic Section: Issues in Educational Informatics: Renewing our Human Resources for the Digital Economy
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), 2015-12-15) Cohen, Jason; Coleman, Emma
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    Briefing Note: People-Centered Internet Global Forum at Stanford: Beginning a Network of Networks
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), 2015-12-15) Abrahams, Lucienne; Hanna, Nagy
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    Book Review: Nagy Hanna and Rene Summer’s Insights into a Holistic ICT Driven Transformation
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-11-15) Ndemo, Bitange
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    Case Notes: Factors Influencing the Adoption of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Within the South African Banking Sector
    (2015-12-15) Sekwakwa, Matthews; Mokwena, Sello
    In the 21st century, portable computers and wide area networks are fast becoming the paradigm for computing presence in commercial and industrial settings. The concept of virtualisation in computing originated in the 1960s. Several virtualisation technologies have emerged over the past decade, with the most notable being VMWare, Citrix and Microsoft VDI solutions, including Azure RemoteApp. This paper explores factors influencing the adoption of VDI in the South African banking sector by implementing Rogers’ “perceived characteristics of innovations”. The study found that the relative advantage of VDI, as perceived in banking institutions, includes improved data security and staff working experience; reduced time to deploy devices; and reduced computer downtime. The findings on compatibility factors indicate that good VDI compatibility with legacy software and hardware has a direct relationship with users’ successful adoption. The findings on complexity of use show that other factors, such as the flexibility that comes with remote access, may be a greater influence on adoption than ease of use. Observability of reduced IT support time and increased productivity of remote access have a positive relationship with adoption.
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    Mobile Phone Technology and Reading Behaviour: Commentary on the FunDza Programme
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Louw, Johann; Louw-Potgieter, Joha
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    State of Internet of Things Deployment in Africa and its Future: The Nigerian Scenario
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Ndubuaku, Maryleen; Okereafor, David
    Internet of things (IoT) refers to an intelligent network of connected objects for the purpose of communication, actuation,data aggregation and information processing. Currently in Africa there is a slow rate of adoption of IoT compared with other continents. Nigeria, as the biggest mobile market and most populous African country, has enormous prospects in IoT, which if effectively implemented, is likely to bring about increased productivity across all economic sectors and an improved standard of living for the people. This paper looks at the current state of IoT deployment in Nigeria, the challenges faced and the opportunities that abound.
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    Nigeria’s Evolving Presence in Cyberspace
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Mbanaso, Uche; Chukwudebe, Gloria; Atimati, Ehinomen
    Cyberspace is now critical to every nation’s socio-economic, cultural and political activities. When it is disrupted or fails, a country may experience strong adverse effects. On the contrary, its correct functioning and pliability is transforming modern society with exceptional pecuniary and social benefits. With many activities increasingly moving to the Internet, cyberspace has become a new stage for innovations, enterprises, social networking, criminality and war. This paper presents a brief overview of a study on Nigeria’s presence in cyberspace. The Internet penetration growth and evolving Internet infrastructure provisioning in Nigeria were examined and a critical assessment of Nigerian presence in cyberspace was carried out between the months of August and September 2015, using the United Nations online presence index methodology. Web content, interactivity, the currency of information, downloadable documents and other data sets were used to compare various sectors of the Nigerian economy, including all tiers of government, academia and the organised private sector. The study revealed that the organised private sector and private educational institutions are doing better than government educational institutions and ministries.Actions for increasing presence in cyberspace and achieving e-governance for improved services and productivity in Nigeria and similar developing countries are recommended.
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    Internet Visibility and Cyberbullying: A Survey of Cape Town High School Students
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Scholtz, Brenda; Van Turha, Tracy; Johnston, Kevin
    The pervasive and open nature of the Internet in the everyday lives of South African children has facilitated benefits such as increased collaboration,learning opportunities and access to knowledge (A2K). However, the online environment’s increased visibility has at the same time provided new ways for children to bully each other, and the evidence in the available literature suggests that online bullying – “cyberbullying” – may result in more harmful consequences than offline variants of such behaviour. This article provides findings from an online survey of cyberbullying experiences among a sample of high school students aged 15 to 21 years in the city of Cape Town. The survey found clear evidence of cyberbullying, as reported by both victims and perpetrators, and it was found that social networking sites (SNSs) were the online spaces most-used for cyberbullying, followed by short message service (SMS) platforms. Among perpetrators, 19% reported that they cyberbullied once or twice a week and 10% said they cyberbullied every day or almost every day. The survey also uncovered gender differences in the length of time it took for victims of cyberbullying to put the incidents behind them, with more females than males taking a long time (i.e., a few weeks, or a month or two or more) to stop feeling “bothered” by the incident. The authors conclude that the findings show a need for improved efforts, in schools and in student households, towards building learners’,parents’ and teachers’ e-safety awareness and capacity for preventative action.
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    From Information to Engagement: Exploring Communication Platforms for the Government-Citizen Interface in South Africa
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Vivier, Elmé; Seabe, Dineo; Wentzel, Marie; Sanchez, Diana
    An effective communication interface between government and citizens can strengthen government responsiveness and deepen citizen engagement. Such communication and information exchange takes many formats, especially given the various platforms and technologies available. This article situates communication options and strategies in the context of: reported challenges around engagement practices; expressed public preferences for particular communication platforms; and existing barriers to ICTs and other infrastructures in South Africa. Using both qualitative and quantitative data, the research reported here explores two questions: What are the most suitable platforms to improve government-citizen communication in South Africa? How could ICTs and other platforms be better used to promote improved communication and more meaningful citizen engagement around public services? We argue for a differentiated approach to communicating with citizens that acknowledges social realities and preferences if technology is to benefit socio-economic processes in a democratic South Africa.
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    Experiences of Misfit as Cues for Sensemaking of ERPs
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Le Roux, Daniel B.
    The adoption of computer-based enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) has become an important feature of large organisations in both the public and private sectors. Successfully embedding ERP systems in organisational structures does, however, pose a significant array of technical and social (human) challenges. Chief among these is ensuring that ERP users successfully adapt to new/changed work processes and tasks post-adoption. In this study Karl Weick’s theory of Sensemaking is adopted to investigate the process by which users develop the meaningful understandings of ERPs. It is proposed that experiences of misfit, that result from user ignorance or organisation-artefact misalignment, act as triggers for sensemaking. Based on an integrated interpretive framework a case study of a South African Metropolitan Municipality is used to analyse 34 experiences of misfit and their consequences. Findings suggest that experiences of misfit trigger various types of response strategies during which users’ understanding of and beliefs about ERP technology are updated.
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    Critical Insights Into the Design of Big Data Analytics Research: How Twitter “Moods” Predict Stock Exchange Index Movement
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Maree, Stiaan; Johnston, Kevin
    The research explored whether one or more of the South African Twitter moods could be used to predict the movement of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) All Share Index (ALSI). This is a proof of principle study in the field of big data analytic research in South Africa, which is at a relatively early stage of development. The research methods used secondary data from Twitter’s application programming interfaces (APIs), and formulated a model to extract public mood data and search for a causal effect of the mood on the closing values of the JSE ALSI. Over three million tweets were gathered and analysed over a 55-day period, with data collected from the JSE for 39 weekdays, from which only one variable (mood states) was considered. Four of the South African Twitter mood states did not produce any correlation with the movement of the JSE ALSI. The mood Depression had a significant negative correlation with the same day’s JSE ALSI values. The major finding was that there was a highly significant positive correlation between the Fatigue mood and the next day’s closing value of the JSE ALSI, and a significant causality correlation from the Fatigue mood to the JSE ALSI values. The findings support the behavioural finance theory (Wang, Lin & Lin, 2012), which states that public mood can influence the stock market. Organisations and governments could use Twitter data to gauge public mood and to ascertain the influence of public mood on particular issues. However, very large data sets are required for analytical purposes, possibly five to ten years of data, without which predictability is likely to be low.
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    Attributes Contributing to Students’ Use of Quality Software Development Practices
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Nel, Guillaume; Nel, Liezel; Cronje, Johannes
    In 2001 the “McCracken group”, through a multi-institutional study, concluded that many students finishing their introductory programming courses could not program due to a lack of problem solving skills. In 2004 Lister established that students have a fragile grasp of skills to read and interpret code. Humphrey suggests that educators must shift their focus from the programs that the students create to the data of the processes the students use. This paper addresses the problem of poor performing students through an investigation of their quality appraisal techniques (QATs) and development processes. Firstly, a survey was conducted to determine the current software development practices used by a group of undergraduate Computer Science students. Numeric data collected revealed that the current practices used by the majority of students would not be sufficient to produce quality programs. Secondly, a case study was conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the various factors that are likely to influence students’ intention to use QATs. Analysis of numeric data collected through a survey revealed that students’ intentions to use QATs are driven by ease of use, compatibility, usefulness, result demonstrability, subjective norm and career consequences. Thirdly, an experiment was conducted to determine students’ perceptions on the use of process measurement data to improve their current software development practices. Analysis of numeric and narrative data revealed that performance measurement data could provide students with useful information to adopt proper development practices.
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    Postgraduate Dissertation Assessment: Exploring Extant Use and Potential Efficacy of Visualisations
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Van Biljon, Judy; Renaud, Karen
    In the context of assessment, two specific challenges face South African academics. The first is that their universities have experienced an unprecedented increase in postgraduate students without a concomitant increase in supervision capacity. The second challenge is that many South African students are studying in a second or third language and struggle to express themselves in English. It is notoriously difficult to write text that is easy to read. Examiners are thus finding it challenging to maintain their own existing high standards of consistency, accuracy and fairness. This paper focuses on identifying a way of making the assessment of dissertations more efficient, while retaining rigour and fairness. In so doing, we want to provide students with a tool that will help them to communicate their research more effectively. In seeking an intervention, we noted the emerging use of visualisation as a communication facilitator in other areas of academia. Given the innate human ability to understand and remember visual representations, and the deep level of cognitive processing required to produce such visualisations, the considered inclusion of visualisations could be the means we are seeking. In this paper we report on an investigation into the extant use and potential usefulness of visualisation in a number of dissertations. We also explore supervisor expectations with respect to the use of visualisation in research reporting. Based on our findings, we propose that a discourse be opened into the deliberate use of visualisation in postgraduate research reporting.
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    An Ecological Model to Understand the Variety in Undergraduate Students’ Personal Information Systems
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Backhouse, Judy; Hughes, Mitchell
    A first-year undergraduate course in Information Systems in a South African university includes an opportunity for students to reflect on their own use of information and personal information systems. Their reflections provide data about the technologies and tools that they use to find and manage everyday life information, as well as academic information, and about the sources of information they draw on. This paper analyses data collected over three years and reports on the dominant technologies and information sources that students use. We then adapt the ecological model of information seeking and use developed by Williamson (1998) to make sense of the diversity of information sources and students’ choices in engaging with them. The results show that students rely to a very small degree on traditional university information sources. The study offers insights into the information contexts and behaviour of students and argues for the importance of a flexible range of information sources to support students in the complex process of managing information for academic success. The results will be of interest to those involved in designing and delivering undergraduate programmes, as well as those providing information services and infrastructures.
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    Evaluating Mobile-Centric Readiness of Higher Education Institutions: The Case of Institutional Policies and Information Systems Students
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2015-12-15) Chipangura, Baldreck; Van Biljon, Judy; Botha, Adele
    Many higher education students live and operate in mobile-centric environments. The question is whether the policies of higher education institutions (HEI) are aligned with students’ readiness for mobile technology information access and interaction. To investigate this question from a policy perspective, nine policies from the open and distance learning (ODL) university in South Africa were analysed for providing institutional mobile-centric support. Policy document analysis was used to evaluate five information and communication technology (ICT) polices and four teaching and learning policies. The analysis focused on how the policies support the provision of mobile infrastructure, technical support and learning resources. To investigate from the students’ perspective, quantitative data was captured on Information Systems students’ readiness through a survey of a total of 129 respondents from the same university. The mobile-centric readiness of students was evaluated based on factors that could affect the readiness of students in accessing and interacting with mobile-centric services. The factors investigated were infrastructure ownership, knowledge of mobile phone features and mobile phone Internet activities. The findings revealed that Information Systems students are ready to use mobile phones as tools for information access and interaction, but some inadequacies were observed in the way the policies support the students’ needs. This study proposes some recommendations on how the policies could better support students’ mobile phone information access and interaction.
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    AJIC Issue 15, 2015 - Full Issue
    AJIC thematic issue focused on "Informatics and ICT for Development".