Diffusion of ICT Innovations in UAE Public Schools and The Role of Stakeholder Engagement

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
ICT innovations played a vital role in driving last century developments characterised as the digital revolution introducing unprecedented opportunities across different life sectors. This digital revolution is expected to further evolve to encompass the fourth industrial revolution that was characterized by a fusion of technology. Internationally there is consensus on the need for a paradigm shift in education reforms to meet these future developments where it is fundamentally believed that ICT innovations will play vital role in redefining learning and the overall educational experience. The traditional model of education is losing its former binding character as ICT extended learning opportunities and access to knowledge is not bounded by time, place or pace. The challenge is that introducing ICT innovations into traditional schools requires high investments and considered complex process due to the complexities around changes related to education. To achieve the enhanced educational objectives, the literature emphasised that diffusing ICT into schools shall not be considered an abstract technology deployment rather than an educational change process that shall be effectively planned and managed. This research attempts to fill this gap by focusing on an actual ICT innovation diffusion project that is taking place in UAE public schools. The first objective is to understand the ICT innovations diffusion in education. The second objective is to extract from literature main dimensions to explore the ICT innovations diffusion process and status in UAE public schools. Third objective is to explore the status of the ICT innovations diffusion in UAE public schools. Fourth objective is to explore the process of the ICT innovations diffusion in UAE public schools. The fifth objective is to study the interactions between the stakeholders over the ICT innovation diffusion project lifecycle activities. Finally, the sixth research objective is to develop a framework to support effective diffusion of ICT innovations in UAE public schools that address the changing stakeholder dynamics over project lifecycle. This explorative research adopted qualitative research methods to gain insights into the process and status of ICT diffusion in UAE public schools. A list six constructs composed of 26 dimensions were identified by combining literature from innovation theory, stakeholder theory, technology acceptance and project management. These dimensions were used to develop the research framework and guide the explorative study based on the semi-structured interviews. a total of 55 interviews conducted with stakeholders from different levels, from MoE, local education authority, MBRSLP, schools and suppliers related to this project in UAE. The review examined four years of ICT innovations deployment phases in UAE public schools and the findings were analysed using Dependency Structure Matrix (DSM), heat maps, and Social Network Analysis (SNA) techniques. The research contributed to the body of knowledge by developing and an understanding for the phenomenon of ICT innovation diffusion project in UAE public school. The research provided rich findings extracted through qualitative investigation providing details on the process and status of the ICT in UAE public schools. In addition, the research provided a contribution the theory by developing a holistic approach based on framework composed of 26 dimensions to explore the process and status of ICT innovation diffusion in UAE public schools. Another contribution to theory is the use of DSM, heat maps and SNA techniques for data analysis within project management which support the viability of these new techniques in research. Moreover, the research findings provided contribution to practice specific to the UAE project and some conclusions applicable to similar projects beyond UAE. On the other hand, no research without limitations, this research has some limitations including the geographical limitation in UAE schools as Abu Dhabi schools were not since they are not falling under the federal MoE of UAE, parents and students were excluded from interviews although they are considered a key stakeholder educationally and in the context of ICT in education, and successful ICT diffusion was not linked to academic performance.
ICT innovations, United Arab Emirates (UAE), stakeholder engagement, digital revolution, education reforms