Empowering Students To Achieve Higher Academic Performances Through The Tools Of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) In Classrooms.

Joshua Lott for The Chronicle

Nowadays, schools are more and more providing support to improve teaching and learning through the process of integrating and using meaningful educational technologies. Several studies and surveys conducted over past years have tried to determine student roles in their learning environments and have described how the students should be perceived in these learning environments.

With the integration of technologies in classroom, specifically the use of PCs, Tablets, and other hand devices what should be college students’ roles for an effective and successful learning environment? How do college students perceive themselves in those roles to achieve high academic performances?

Successful curricula designs are more and more relating to the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM). The TQM concept that has revolutionized businesses and is seen as a use case of best business practices from the customer satisfaction point of view. Instructional curricula designs and implementations based on TQM principles are making waves into educational institutions.

Higher education institutions such as colleges and universities are adopting fundamental principles of TQM approaches to design students learning curricula in which students themselves are at a higher degree partaking.

In this context, and to determine how students should be perceived in the process of designing and implementing higher education curricula based on students’ learning experiences, Susan Helms and Coretta H. Key asked the following question in their article titled “Are Students More Than Customers in the Classroom?”

The article was published in “Quality Progress” a Milwaukee based publication. Other source materials touched on the same question and were more categorical in their approach. As example, Mark Eddie in an article published in the “College Student Journal Fall2013, Vol. 47 Issue 3” asserted that students should not be perceived as “products” of institutional educations but rather students should be viewed in a role of “customers.”

In his article titled “Students Are Not Products. They Are Customers”, Mark Eddie challenges the assumptions which prevail in educational institutions and for which “post-secondary students are products of higher education” because students are “shaped and molded for the benefit of future employers.” For mark, this perception of students’ roles in the process of developing and implementing their learning curricula is belittling and assimilates students as objects “passive in their consumption of educational services”. This assumption negates the “importance of students’ own educational identity and the broad repertoire of existing knowledge that they bring with them and build upon during the guided learning experience” he adds.

To arrive to the conclusion that students are not products of educational systems but rather they are customers, Mark presents two arguments to us. In the first argument based on a student-product approach in which he draws the conclusion that despite conflicting claims that students as customers could reduce the quality of learning experiences delivered by teachers, students in higher education behave more like “sophisticated student-customers who, along with the educational institution, engage in a process of collaboration and co-production of the education they receive” (Kotze & du Plessis, 2003).

The author’s second point is built around the notion of “The customer focus”. In this point Mr. Mark questions whether the critics based on the idea that a “student-customer model in higher education leads to an erosion of education quality and forces professors to pander to students has never been fully substantiated with empirical evidence.” Through extensive references of authors (Eagle & Brennan, 2007; Mark, 2013; Emery et al 2001) whom favored his position claiming that students “fit the profile of customers in the modern sense and would benefit from being treated as such” because they pay for their learning and set expectations required to “successfully earn their credentials.” In view of this second point, one could argue that the students depicted in this setting are more than customers.

This argument is echoed by Susan Helms and Coretta H. Key in their article “Are Students More Than Customers in the Classroom?” took a different approach.

Rather than just agreeing with Mark Eddie’s analysis, they came to their own conclusion that “Students are more than customers.”

Based on the application of Total Quality Management (TQM) principles in higher education, they defined students’ role in classroom. Their approach in defining this role is to assimilate students to employees, then to customers. This comparison allowed the authors to strike similarities and differences between students and employees, students and customers, and employees and customers. Here are few examples of the comparison: “Students are not passive consumers of services but must be actively engaged in the learning process, just as employees must be actively engaged in their jobs” and “Customers and students are concerned with getting their money’s worth” however “Customers are not concerned about feeling isolated.” Helms and Key also based their arguments on multiple studies and surveys conducted at Wright State University. They concluded that even though TQM implementation presents challenges in classroom settings, it is beneficial to educational institutions, and “must go beyond the simple view of the student as a customer” in order to be effective. For Helms and Key, there should be an “expanded perspective” because higher education students are “more than customers in the classroom,” therefore “improving classroom teaching in higher education must examine features from traditional TQM implementations dealing with both customers and employees to find those that hold the most promise for the classroom.” and see students as stakeholders of their learning.

The arguments in the articles cited above are compelling evidence that the role of college students in the process of developing learning curricula should be one that is engaging and empowering. College students should feel like they are part of the processes of their learning experiences.

In addition, the perspective in which college students need to own their learning experiences collaborates and solidifies recent studies and survey results claiming that “post-secondary educators can arrive at entirely new paradigms growing from the conventional TQM experience to the expanded model of the role of the student.”


The question then becomes what is TQM? And how does it related to educational institutions and college students learning environments in general?

According to ASQ-The Global Voice of Quality, an online quality revue organization, Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management approach for “long–term success through customer satisfaction”. Viewed from this angle “all members of an organization need to buy in and participate in improving processes, products, services, and the culture in which they work.”

Eight (8) elements are deemed fundamental principles of TQM. These elements include the following concepts: Customer-focused, Total employee involvement, process-centered, integrated system, strategic and systematic approach, continual improvement, Fact-based decision making, and Communications. For the Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence Handbook pages 291–292, these elements are so essential to TQM that many organizations define them as a set of core values and principles on which organizations are to operate” Philip B. Crosby, W. Edwards Deming, Armand V. Feigenbaum, Kaoru Ishikawa, and Joseph M. Juran.”

Image credit to laurasapiens.com

A close look at Information, Communication and technology (ICT) deployment in classrooms shows straight and positive correlation with Total Quality Management processes (TQM). The question to ask then is: What should be college students’ roles for an effective and successful ICT use in classrooms environment?

To examine students’ roles for an effective and successful learning environment in classroom we will refer to the following two research papers published as case studies. The first article titled “Empowering Student Learning Through Tablet PCs: A Case Study” was written by Sandy C. Li, Jacky W. C. Pow, Emily M. L. Wong, and Alex C. W. Fung. The second article: “Student’s Opinions for Using Tablet PCs in Education: A Case Study” published by Ilhan Varank, Sahiha Yeni, and Zeynep Gecu. Both articles portray the use and benefits of Information, Communication and Technology commonly known as (ICT) in student learning environment.

The authors of the first article quote (Hew and Brush 2007) to explain how “educators had been intrigued with the potential of technology introduction of computers in learning environment.” It is exposed early to the readers that the reason behind “integrating information technology into teaching and learning is the belief that it supports students in exploring and articulating thoughts, knowledge construction and theory building.” (Scardamalia and Berieter 1991).

From this paper it is also presented to the reader that despite all potential benefits, the introduction of ICT in schools should not be considered as a magic wand that is supposed to eradicate all challenges presented by traditional learning environment.

There are several factors to take into account for a successful implementation of ICT in modern learning environment. These factors include classroom architecture and curriculum designs, as well as “teachers’ attitudes and beliefs, skills and pedagogies, assessment, resources, school culture, professional development and leadership” say Li, Pow, et al.

In addition, the ways educators implement ICT integration, conceptualize students’ learning and expected outcomes will affect the methodologies they employ to empower college students in classrooms. Their findings were as follow: 1-School should have a clear vision about IT in education. 2- Staff, parents and students should be involve in the process in order for ICT integration to be successful and become tools to empower student learning. For example computers (Tablet-PC) use in classroom enabled students to achieve significant level of IT competency and literacy. It was also determined through this case study that the “use of Tablet-PCs enhanced students’ motivation” Students collaborated more and shared resources efficiently and became more aware of their learning abilities.

The second article was more of a survey study in which students’ opinions were asked. The methodology adopted by the researchers was to divide teachers enrolled in a course as students into groups by gender and asked them to describe their experiences with the use of Tablet-PC in the course. The study concluded that “tablet PCs should not be used during the whole lesson because they alone cannot make lessons more efficient and effective” (Gupta, 2009), that the use of tablet PCs should be limited to specific activities such as “presenting supporting instructional materials, sharing content, working on sample questions”


Even though the results of both studies may be arguable, it is my understanding that the use of computers alone in classroom should not be the essence of teachers’ course content presentation. Course content rendering should be interactive between students and teachers as well as between students themselves. Computers in general should only be tools or means by which educators and students achieve their learning objectives. In addition to Tablet-PC use in classroom, educators should motivated students through their attitudes and interactions

From Helen Mackenzie’s article “Creating Community Empowerment with Football — Procurement News”, empowerment can be facilitated and achieved on any levels by determining and using common vectors of interests for the community through sport activities such Football (Soccer). It is her belief, and ours as well, that “getting communities more involved in what public money should be spent on and, more importantly, why, will lead to improved outcomes for people”, and also alleviate the task of procurement managers because scarce resources spent on public services “can be deployed in a much more effective way”.

Similarly to Mackenzie’s soccer example, if ICT integration is well planned and deployed, it can empower college students to achieve their learning objectives. Students will have the feelings of being part of their own learning experiences instead of being just considered like simple customers or products of educational institutions. Students in such interactive learning environment will consider themselves as stakeholders and own more the outcomes of their educational experiences.

Google scholars image

It is to hope that college students will understand and perceive their roles as stakeholders of their own learning experiences and more importantly embrace these roles with an effective and efficient use of technologies in classroom because the 22nd Century classrooms, or should I say the 22nd Century schools will be designed and built without WALLS.

Works Cited

Helms, Susan, and Coretta H. Key. “Are Students More than Customers in the Classroom?” Quality Progress, vol. 27, no. 9, 1994, pp. 97, ProQuest Central; Research Library, http://proxygw.wrlc.org/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/214787979?accountid=11243. Web 16 Sep. 2017

Mark, Eddie. Students Are Not Products. They Are Customers.” College Student Journal, vol. 47, no. 3, Fall2013, pp. 489–493. EBSCOhost, proxygw.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=90516446&site=ehost-live. Web 16 Sep. 2017

Li, Sandy C, Jacky W. C. Pow, Emily M. L. Wong, and Alex C. W. Fung. “Empowering student learning through Tablet PCs: A case study”Education and Information Technologies, 2010, Volume 15, Number 3, Page 171


VARANK, Ilhan, Yeni, Sabiha, Gecu-Parmaksiz, Zeynep “Studen’s Opinions for Using Tablet PCs in Education: A Case Study”


Mackenzie, Helen. “Creating Community Empowerment with Football” Procurement News 05 Nov. 2016. Web. 02 Sep. 2017


ASQ-The Global Voice of Quality, an online quality revue organization http://asq.org/learn-about-quality/total-quality-management/overview/overview.html, Web 8 Oct.2017