N.B.W. Mlitwa

University of Zululand (SOUTH AFRICA)
Whilst a wider adoption and integration of information technology into teaching and learning process have become widespread, the magnitude of use vary between environments across regions, and between institutions within countries. Research however, have shifted from the traditional e-Learning and learning management system (LMS) adoption, into how are converged technology solutions exploited in higher education (HE) spaces. Convergence anticipates information-society citizenry as defined by dependence on efficient technology solutions across all modern life faculties – be it work, learning or play. In the HE context, an always connected student, an IT literate, multimedia and network reliant leaner is assumed. Rigid e-Learning solutions can no longer meet the needs of this modern learner. For, mobility, synchronous access and independent enquiry are the defining characteristics – where interactive mobile technology solutions have become the basic requirements. In South Africa, many historically black universities remain behind in terms of infrastructure, IT resources and related skills sets. Rural universities in particular, remain on the periphery of the rural-and-urban geographic and development divides in terms readiness to integrate IT solutions into curricula and pedagogy. In the absence of basic insight, the readiness of these institutions to adopt mobile learning solutions for the 21st century student remains unclear. To this end, this paper explores mobile learning (m-Learning) readiness of the University of Zululand (UniZulu). We drew on the structuration theory (ST), in particular, the notions of structure, structuration, system, urgency, tools and resources - to unpack the status-quo. Methodologically, a qualitative approach – embedded on interviews of decision makers and personal observations by the researcher – was followed. In earlier m-Learning adoption attempts, resistance to change is never uncommon. For, unless a deliberate transformation of structure is enforced, comfortable social relations between actors will serve as a force of signification that reproduces regular social practices (the status-quo) over time and space. A lack of rules (policies & guides) and an enabling resources base, is clearly an impediment to m-Learning readiness efforts at UniZulu. Whilst UniZulu is committed to integrating educational technology into its curricula, adoption efforts are still at infancy. According to the ST insight, the institution has not applied changes to the basic conditions of structure (rules & resources), structuration and system needed to fast-track a transformation. That is, to sanction a reproduction of stale systems, and to significate new and desired social practices. As such, findings point to one conclusion - that the status of m-Learning readiness is minimal at best, and at worst – is bordering close to non-existent.