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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 103 (2013) 963 – 969

13th International Educational Technology Conference

The Application of Information Technology among Trainee


Counselors
Hamidah Sulaiman*, Megat Ahmad Kamaluddin Megat Daud, PhD
Faculty of Education, University of Malaya

Abstract

The study seeks to establish the requirement for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) competency among
counselors in the effort to assist clients that is in need of guidance and counseling. A total of twenty students from the
Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya that is currently
undergoing professional training in various organizations have been selected as respondents in this study. The study
establishes whether or not the knowledge in ICT benefits the trainers in their professional training and facilitates their
counseling activities at the respective organizations. Data collected through a combination of interactive observation,
documentary analysis and recording sessions of structured interviews are analyzed utilizing a qualitative data analysis
approach. Initial findings show that the knowledge and skills in ICT assist the trainers in assessing the needs requirements of
the clients based on four areas identified as problematic to the client namely; (1) personal (2) social (3) education and (4)
career. The findings also hoped to be able to further assist trainee counselors at institutions of higher educations to augment
their skills in counseling and ICT in the pursuit to become competent counselors of the future.

©
© 2013 The Authors.
2013 The Authors.Published
Publishedbyby Elsevier
Elsevier Ltd.Ltd.
Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and peer-review
Selection and peer-reviewunder
under responsibility
responsibility of The
of The Association
Association of Science,
of Science, Education
Education and Technology-TASET,
and Technology-TASET, Sakarya Sakarya
Universitesi, Turkey.
Universitesi, Turkey.

Keywords: ICT Competency – Professional Training – Trainee counselors – Needs Assessment – Qualitative Approach

Introduction

The global advancement of technology today is also affecting counselors. Competent


counselors must now possess skills in the ICT and adapt themselves to keep abreast with
contemporary technology.

*
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: hamidah4804@yahoo.com

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Selection and peer-review under responsibility of The Association of Science, Education and Technology-TASET, Sakarya
Universitesi, Turkey.
doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.419
964 Hamidah Sulaiman and Megat Ahmad Kamaluddin Megat Daud / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 103 (2013) 963 – 969

Research Background

Counseling is a process of assisting an individual carried out by the counselor through


various number service approaches. These approaches have expanded and transcend the
temporal and spatial limitations. Counseling process no longer is confined to a face-to-face
approach. Rather it had gone beyond the usual use of available media and information
technology. The Use of ICT in counseling processes is intended to provide a more efficient,
interesting, interactive counseling service that is not confined to mere space. Despite that, the
counseling process is still rooted in the counseling codes of ethics.

The Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, Faculty of Education University


of Malaya offers this program in the objective to prepare professional counselors that have the skills to
function in a variety of organizational settings both public and private. All trainee counselors must
complete132 credit hours and professional training (PPEC 3172) which is also known as practicum
undertaken in Semester 8 for the duration of 3 months. The main objective of the practicum is to
ensure that trainee counselors would be able to apply all the skills and knowledge gained throughout
the duration of the study in real time environments. In addition the practicum also serves as mediator to
gauge the knowledge, skills and competency of trainee counselors in real time environment.

The objective of this research is to identify the effectiveness of the ICT application to trainee
counselors in undertaking the practicum in the effort to prepare them for employment. In addition the
findings of the research are integral in informing the institutions with regard to enhanced effectiveness
of the delivery of the counseling programs here in the University of Malaya. It is further expected that
the trainee counselors at this faculty would become a competent and confident counselor.

The research questions are as follows:

a. What are the expectations of the trainee counselors when undergoing practicum?

b. How would a trainee counselor apply the ICT in preparing counseling materials during the
practicum?

Research Method

This research is qualitative in nature in the effort to investigate in detail the perceptions of trainee
counselors of their own expectations when undergoing practicum. As such, data are collected from a
Hamidah Sulaiman and Megat Ahmad Kamaluddin Megat Daud / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 103 (2013) 963 – 969 965

combination of methods such as interactive observation, structured interviews and review of


documents in order to verify the collected data.

Data Analysis

Data obtained from interactive observation, structured interviews and review of documents are based
on the discussions of earlier mentioned research objectives, that is:

a. What are the expectations of the trainee counselors when undergoing practicum?

b. How would a trainee counselor apply the ICT in preparing counseling materials during the
practicum?

Expectations of trainee counselors undergoing practicum

Trainee counselors are required to answer a questionnaire on “what are your expectations in
undergoing the professional practicum at your current training organization?” The response to this
question is dependent upon their environment (public, private or school sectors) which provides for
amenities during their stay as interns.

However, all 20 trainee counselors agree that they expected to be able to apply all the learned skills
both in theory and practice at the faculty to their internship organizations. They responded that all the
knowledge and skills obtained are very useful and assisted in their in their practicum. In addition, the
mastery of counseling techniques in subjects PPEC2132, PPEC2133 and PPEC 3170 increased their
level of confidence and competency in handling counseling sessions effectively.

Reports from field supervisors are also in agreement that ICT-savvy trainee counselors are able to
master counseling techniques better that those who lack ICT competency.

ICT Assistance in preparing counseling materials

Respondents list the reasons for the need of ICT skills, among others:

a. Understand and able to apply ICT

b. Skilled in ICT

c. Able to vary the use of ICT in counseling process


966 Hamidah Sulaiman and Megat Ahmad Kamaluddin Megat Daud / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 103 (2013) 963 – 969

d. Able to create, innovate and evaluate an interactive program

e. Able to use technology as a counseling tool

The benefits of utilizing ICT

The use of ICT would be able to facilitate the counseling works in matters such as:

a. Facilitate counselors in arranging, finding and using data

b. Ensure data confidentiality through encrypting and secured access

c. Facilitate communication among individuals and groups with ease and relatively lower costs

d. Allow for non F2F communication with clients

e. Transforming the ICT as enhancement tools in counseling programs

In undergoing the practicum, all trainee counselors utilize ICT in preparing counseling materials
through needs assessment questionnaire forms. In this respect there are 4 emerging themes of
clients’ requirements; individual problems, social problems, academic problems and career
problems. All programs are designed to overcome the problems are prepared in ICT assisted
material such as poster, modules, booklets, pictures and comics.

Guidance and counseling activities that are assisted by electronic media are, among others:

Audio recording (role playing)

- Psychodrama

- Sociodrama

Video recording , Multimedia, Interactive CD and films

- Psychodrama

- Sociodrama

- Games
Hamidah Sulaiman and Megat Ahmad Kamaluddin Megat Daud / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 103 (2013) 963 – 969 967

Proposals to enhance ICT in counseling

Findings of this research prove that the need for trainee counselors to master ICT skills would assist
them in discharging the counseling functions effectively. Competencies in ICT have become a critical
need for a counselor. In the digital age, this would mean that the competency would facilitate the
works of a counselor saving precious time in accessing counseling materials and latest information.
Counselors are becoming more creative, enhanced knowledge and are able to vary teaching and
learning techniques to be more creative and effective. Learning is no longer a dull process when ICT is
utilized optimally.

Counselors that are ICT competent would benefit, among others:

a. Access to information, electronic documents and information from the internet

b. The use of email, webpage and others

c. Online counseling process

d. Software of interactive counseling program delivery

e. Enhanced counseling materials with interesting visuals and graphics

f. E-learning media platform, a new teaching and learning platform that uses the internet

Summary

In line with the advancement of ICT, the relevant skills and competency has become
indispensable in the curriculum of counseling at institutions of higher learning. The spatial and
temporal limitations of and individual need for counseling is obviated with the use of ICT. Counselors
are now accessible with on-line sessions, emails and internet.

Proposals to enhance ICT in counseling

Findings of this research prove that the need for trainee counselors to master ICT skills would
assist them in discharging the counseling functions effectively. Competencies in ICT have become a
critical need for a counselor. In the digital age, this would mean that the competency would facilitate
968 Hamidah Sulaiman and Megat Ahmad Kamaluddin Megat Daud / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 103 (2013) 963 – 969

the works of a counselor saving precious time in accessing counseling materials and latest information.
Counselors are becoming more creative, enhanced knowledge and are able to vary teaching and
learning techniques to be more creative and effective. Learning is no longer a dull process when ICT is
utilized optimally.

Counselors that are ICT competent would benefit, among others:

a. Access to information, electronic documents and information from the internet

b. The use of email, webpage and others

c. Online counseling process

d. Software of interactive counseling program delivery

e. Enhanced counseling materials with interesting visuals and graphics

f. E-learning media platform, a new teaching and learning platform that uses the internet

Summary

In line with the advancement of ICT, the relevant skills and competency has become
indispensable in the curriculum of counseling at institutions of higher learning. The spatial and
temporal limitations of and individual need for counseling is obviated with the use of ICT. Counselors
are now accessible with on-line sessions, emails and internet.

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