Saturday, February 19, 2011

Introduction to ICT

ICTs stand for information and communication technologies and are defined, for the purposes, as a “diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information.” These technologies include computers, the Internet, broad casting technologies (radio and television), and telephony.

The  Effectiveness  of ICTs in Education

ICTs are a potentially powerful tool for extending educational opportunities, both formal and non-for mal, to previously underserved constituencies—scattered and rural populations, groups traditionally excluded from education due to cultural or social reasons such as ethnic minorities, girls and women, persons with disabilities, and the elderly, as well as all others who for reasons of cost or because of time constraints are unable to enroll on campus.

  Anytime, anywhere.  One defining feature of ICTs is their ability to transcend time and space. ICTs make possible asynchronous learning, or learning characterized by a time lag between the delivery of instruction and its reception by learners. Online course materials, for example, may be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ICT-based educational delivery (e.g., educational programming broadcast over radio or television) also dispenses with the need for all learners and the instructor to be in one physical location. Additionally, certain types of ICTs, such as teleconferencing technologies, enable instruction to be received simultaneously by multiple, geographically dispersed learners (i.e., synchronous learning).

  Access to remote learning resources.  Teachers and learners no longer have to rely solely on printed books and other materials in physical media housed in libraries (and available in limited quantities) for their educational needs. With the Internet and the World Wide Web, a wealth of learning materials in almost every subject and in a variety of media can now be accessed from anywhere at anytime of the day and by an unlimited number of people. This is particularly significant for many schools in developing countries, and even some in developed countries, that have limited and outdated library resources. ICTs also facilitate access to resource persons, mentors, experts, researchers, professionals, business leaders, and peers—all over the world.

·         ICTs help prepare individuals for the workplace.
One of the most commonly cited reasons for using ICTs in the classroom has been to better prepare the current generation of students for a workplace where ICTs, particularly computers, the Internet and related technologies, are becoming more and more ubiquitous. Technological literacy, or the ability to use ICTs effectively and efficiently, is thus seen as representing a competitive edge in an increasingly globalizing job market.

 Benefits/Advantages  of ICT in Education

Here are some of the benefits which ICT brings to education according to recent research findings.

General benefits
·         Greater efficiency throughout the school.
·         Communication channels are increased through email, discussion groups and chat rooms
·         Regular use of ICT across different curriculum subjects can have a beneficial motivational influence on students’ learning.

Benefits for teachers
·         ICT facilitates sharing of resources, expertise and advice
·         Greater flexibility in when and where tasks are carried out
·         Gains in ICT literacy skills, confidence and enthusiasm.
·         Easier planning and preparation of lessons and designing materials
·         Access to up-to-date pupil and school data, any time and anywhere.
·         Enhancement of professional image projected to colleagues.
·         Students are generally more ‘on task’ and express more positive feelings when they use computers than when they are given other tasks to do.
·         Computer use during lessons motivated students to continue using learning outside school hours.

Benefits for students
·         Higher quality lessons through greater collaboration between teachers in planning and preparing resources .
·         More focused teaching, tailored to students’ strengths and weaknesses, through better analysis of attainment data
·         Improved pastoral care and behaviour management through better tracking of students
·         Gains in understanding and analytical skills, including improvements in reading
·         Comprehension.
·         Development of writing skills (including spelling, grammar, punctuation, editing and re-drafting), also fluency, originality and elaboration.
·         Encouragement of independent and active learning, and self-responsibility for learning.
·         Flexibility of ‘anytime, anywhere’ access (Jacobsen and Kremer, 2000)
·         Development of higher level learning styles.
·         Students who used educational technology in school felt more successful in school, were more motivated to learn and have increased self-confidence and self-esteem
·         Students found learning in a technology-enhanced setting more stimulating and student-centred than in a traditional classroom
·         Broadband technology supports the reliable and uninterrupted downloading of web-hosted educational multimedia resources
·         Opportunities to address their work to an external audience
·         Opportunities to collaborate on assignments with people outside or inside school

Benefits for parents
·         Easier communication with teachers
·         Higher quality student reports – more legible, more detailed, better presented
·         Greater access to more accurate attendance and attainment information
·         Increased involvement in education for parents and, in some cases, improved self-esteem
·         Increased knowledge of children’s learning and capabilities, owing to increase in learning activity being situated in the home
·         Parents are more likely to be engaged in the school community
·         You will see that ICT can have a positive impact across a very wide range of aspects of school life.

ICT and Raising Standards
Recent research also points to ICT as a significant contributory factor in the raising of standards of achievement in schools.
  • Schools judged by the school inspectors to have very good ICT resources achieved better results than schools with poor ICT.
  • Schools that made good use of ICT within a subject tended to have better achievement in that subject than other schools.
  • Socio-economic circumstances and prior performance of pupils were not found to be critical.
  • Secondary schools with very good ICT resources achieved, on average, better results in English, Mathematics and Science than those with poor ICT resources.

A range of research indicates the potential of ICT to support improvements in aspects of
literacy, numeracy and science.

  • Improved writing skills: grammar, presentation, spelling, word recognition and volume of work .
  • Age-gains in mental calculations and enhanced number skills, for example the use of decimals .
  • Better data handling skills and increased ability to read, interpret and sketch graphs Improvements in conceptual understanding of Mathematics (particularly problem solving) and Science (particularly through use of simulations)

The use of ICTs help improve the quality of education

ICTs can enhance the quality of education in several ways: by increasing learner motivation and engagement by facilitating the acquisition of basic skills, and by enhancing teacher training. ICTs are also transformational tools which, when used appropriately, can promote the shift to a learner-centered environment.

Motivating to learn. ICTs such as videos, television and multimedia computer software that combine text, sound, and colorful, moving images can be used to provide challenging and authentic content that will engage the student in the learning process. Interactive radio likewise makes use of sound effects, songs, dramatizations, comic skits, and other performance conventions to compel the students to listen and become involved in the lessons being delivered. More so than any other type of ICT, networked computers with Internet connectivity can increase learner motivation as it combines the media richness and interactivity of other ICTs with the opportunity to connect with real people and to participate in real world events.

Facilitating the acquisition of basic skills. The transmission of basic skills and concepts that are the foundation of higher order thinking skills and creativity can be facilitated by ICTs through drill and practice. Educational television programs such as Sesame Street use repetition and reinforcement to teach the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes and other basic concepts. Most of the early uses of computers were for computer-based learning (also called computer-assisted instruction) that focused on mastery of skills and content through repetition and reinforcement.

Enhancing teacher training. ICTs have also been used to improve access to and the quality of teacher training. For example, At Indira Gandhi National Open University, satellite-based one-way video- and two-way audio-conferencing was held in 1996, supplemented by print-materials and recorded video, to train 910 primaryschool teachers and facilitators from 20 district training institutes in Karnataka State. The teachers interacted with remote lecturers by telephone and fax

Examples of ICT-based activities
What kind of classroom activities are suited to the use of ICT? The following is a brief guide to some of the most common uses of ICT in teaching and learning.

Finding out
Students can use ICT to find out information and to gain new knowledge in several ways. They may find information on the Internet or by using an ICT-based encyclopedia such as Microsoft Encarta. They may find information by extracting it from a document prepared by the teacher and made available to them via ICT, such as document created using Microsoft Word or a Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow. They may find out information by communicating with people elsewhere using email, such as students in a different school or even in a different country.

Processing knowledge
Students can use ICT as part of a creative process where they have to consider more carefully the information which they have about a given subject. They may need to carry out calculations (eg. by using Microsoft Excel), or to check grammar and spelling in a piece of writing (perhaps using Microsoft Word), or they may need to re-sequence a series of events (for example by re-ordering a series of Microsoft PowerPoint slides).

Sharing knowledge
Students can use ICT to present their work in a highly professional format. They can create documents and slideshows to demonstrate what they have learned, and then share this with other students, with their teacher, and even via email with people all around the world.

Computers and the Internet use for teaching and learning

There are three general approaches to the instructional use of computers and the Internet, namely:
1)  Learning about computers and the Internet, in which technological literacy is the end goal;
2) Learning with computers and the Internet, in which the technology facilitates learning across the curriculum; and
3) Learning through computers and the Internet, integrating technological skills development with curriculum applications.

Learn about computers and the Internet

Learning about computers and the Internet focuses on developing technological literacy. It typically includes:
        Fundamentals: basic terms, concepts and operations
        Use of the keyboard and mouse
        Use of productivity tools such as word processing, spreadsheets, data base and graphics programs
        Use of research and collaboration tools such as search engines and email
        Basic skills in using programming and authoring applications such as Logo or HyperStudio
        Developing an awareness of the social impact of technological change.
Learning with computers and the Internet

Learning with the technology means focusing on how the technology can be the means to learning ends across the curriculum. It includes:
•Presentation, demonstration, and the manipulation of data using productivity tools
•Use of curriculum-specific applications types such as educational games, drill and practice, simulations, tutorials, virtual laboratories, visualizations and graphical representations of abstract concepts, musical composition, and expert systems
•Use of information and resources on CD-ROM or online such as encyclopedia, interactive mapsand atlases, electronic journals and other references.
Technological literacy is required for learning with technologies to be possible, implying a two-step process in which students learn about the technologies before they can actually use them to learn.

Learning through computers and the Internet mean

Learning through computers and the Internet combines learning about them with learning with them. It involves learning the technological skills “just-in-time” or when the learner needs to learn them as he or she engages in a curriculum-related activity.

Computers and the Internet used in distance education

Many higher educational institutions offering distance education courses have started to leverage the Internet to improve their programme’s reach and quality.

Disadvantages of ICT
                One of the major barriers for the cause of ICT not reaching its full potential in the foundation stage is teacher’s attitude. According to Hara (2004), within the early years education attitudes towards ICT can vary considerably. Some see it as a potential tool to aid learning whereas others seem to disagree with the use of technology in early year settings. Blatchford and Whitebread (2003:16), suggests that the use of ICT in the foundation stage is “unhealthy and hinders learning”. Other early years educators who are opposed to offering ICT experiences within the educational settings take a less extreme view than this and suggest that ICT is fine, but there are other more vital experiences that young children will benefit from, (Blatchford and Whitebread, 2003). In theory some people may have the opinion that the teachers who had not experienced ICT throughout their learning tend to have a negative attitude towards it, as they may lack the training in that area of the curriculum.

              Another important drawback to using ICT in schools is the fact that computers are expensive. According to the IT learning exchange (2001), in most schools ICT will be the single largest curriculum budget cost. This may be seen as a good thing but on the other hand there will be little money left over for other significant costs.