TRANSFORMING LEARNING AND TEACHING
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT)
1. A global revolution is taking place in education and training. It is driven by the changing nature of work, the realities of the information age, new global partnerships and an awareness of the need for equal distribution of educational opportunities. Education systems have an obligation to deliver on public expectations of quality education for economic growth and social development. Quality improvement and the enhancement of excellence are often perceived to be antithetical to increased access to equity and redress. In the context of developing countries, in particular, efforts to achieve the former are thwarted by, among others, fiscal constraints, spatial barriers and other capacity-related limitations to delivery. Information and communication technology (ICT) has the potential and capacity to overcome most of these barriers.
2. The expansion of ICT is driving significant changes in many aspects of human endeavour throughout the world. At both micro and national levels, ICT will increase the effectiveness and reach of development interventions, enhancing good governance and lowering the cost of delivering basic social services.
3. As in other spheres of social and economic development, ICT will improve the quality of education and training. The ICT revolution has had an impact on curriculum development and delivery and continues to pose new challenges for education and training systems around the world. These challenges can be summarized into three broad areas, namely:
(a) Participation in the information society.
(b) How ICT impacts on access, cost effectiveness and quality of education
(c) The way ICT is integrated into the learning and teaching process.
4. The aim of this paper is to highlight and bring out the significance of e Education through information and communication technology (ICT).
What is e-Education
5. The concept of e-Education revolves around the use of ICT to accelerate the achievement of national education goals. The e-Education is about connecting learners to other learners, teachers to professional support services and providing platforms for learning. The e-Education will connect learners and teachers to better information, ideas and one another via effective combinations of pedagogy and technology.
6. The challenge is to transcend the mere exchange of information and to transform e-Education into a range of learning activities that meet educational objectives. e-Education is more than developing computer literacy and the skills necessary to operate various types of information and communication technology. It is the ability to:
(a) Apply ICT skills to access, analyze, evaluate, integrate, present and communicate information.
(b) Create knowledge and new information by adapting, applying, designing, inventing and authoring information.
(c) Enhance teaching and learning through communication and collaboration by using ICT.
(d) Function in a knowledge society by using appropriate technology and mastering communication and collaboration skills.
7. e-Education views ICT as a resource for reorganizing schooling and as a tool for whole-school development. It includes ICT as:
(a) A tool for management and administration.
(b) A resource for curriculum integration.
(c) A communication tool.
(d) A collaborative tool for teachers and learners.
(e) A learning environment that advances creativity, communication, collaboration and engagement.
8. Information technology (IT) is a term used to describe the items of equipment (hardware) and computer programme (software) that allow us to access, retrieve, store, organize, manipulate and present information by electronic means. Personal computers, scanners and digital cameras fit into the hardware category; database programme and multi-media programme fit into the software category.
9. Communication technology (CT) is a term used to describe telecommunications equipment through which information can be sought, sent and accessed. For eg phones, faxes, modems and computers.
10. Information and communication technology (ICT) represents the convergence of information technology and communication technology. ICT is the combination of networks, hardware and software as well as the means of communication, collaboration and engagement that enable the processing, management and exchange of data, information and knowledge.
11. The e-learning is flexible learning using ICT resources, tools and applications and focusing on interaction among teachers, learners and the online environment and on collaborative learning. The e-learning usually refers to structured and managed learning experiences and involves the use of Internet, CD-ROM, software, other media and telecommunications.
12. Online learning refers more specifically to the context of using the Internet and associated web-based applications as the delivery medium for the learning experience.
The Significance of e-Education
13. New models of learning are radically changing our conception of education. Education for human development in the learning society requires collaborative learning and involves focusing on building knowledge. These changes arise from shifts in educational goals and from new concepts in learning and knowledge creation.
14. Education through ICT create access to learning opportunities, redress inequalities, improve the quality of learning and teaching and deliver for lifelong learning. ICT can accommodate differences in learning styles and remove barriers to learning by providing expanded opportunities and individualized learning experiences. Experience worldwide suggests that ICT does play a role in the transformation of education and training. ICT can enhance educational reform by enabling teachers and learners to move away from traditional approaches to teaching and learning. In a transformed teaching and learning environment, there is a shift from teacher-centered, task-oriented, memory-based education (with technology at the periphery), to an inclusive and integrated practice where learners work collaboratively, develop shared practices, engage in meaningful contexts and develop creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
15. Furthermore, the use of ICT has demonstrated improved inventive thinking skills, such as creativity, problem solving, higher-order thinking skills and sound reasoning, along with improved effective communication. Improvement in interpersonal skills, such as writing, public speaking, teamwork and collaboration and improved productivity skills, including creating high-quality products is the significance of ICT.
16. ICT encourages a teaching and learning milieu that recognizes that people operate differently, have different learning styles and have culturally diverse perspectives. ICT embraces inclusive education by providing opportunities, alternative methods of instruction and flexible assessments for learners who experience barriers to learning. Benefits to the broader society include increased opportunities for lifelong learning, communication and exchange essential to democratic living and the creation of a pool of globally competitive human resources.
17. In such schools, teachers and learners will be able to think about what is worth knowing about education and new technologies along three dimensions, namely, operational, cultural and critical.
(a) The operational dimension attends to the skills that are necessary for the use of new information and communication technology. Demonstrated acquisition of these skills is as important as the process by which they are acquired.
(b) The cultural dimension involves stepping into the culture that supports the practice of using ICT for educational purposes, regardless of one??™s level of expertise. This requires teachers to move beyond a purely instrumental role that views ICT as an educational add-on, to regarding technology as something that poses interesting and important questions for administration, curriculum and pedagogy.
(c) The critical dimension invites teachers and learners to step outside the culture and ask questions about the taken-for-granted assumptions that are embedded in the success stories about ICT inside and outside of schools. This requires a critical dialogue, analysis among teachers and research resources to provoke and expand teachers??™ perspectives on the benefits of ICT.
The Use of ICT in Education
18. The e-learning is about learning and teaching philosophies and methodologies within the context of outcomes-based education, using ICT in the learning environment. Enriching the learning environment through the use of ICT is a continuum, a process that takes learners and teachers through learning about ICT (exploring what can be done with ICT), learning with ICT (using ICT to supplement normal processes or resources) and learning through the use of ICT (using ICT to support new ways of teaching and learning).
19. e-learning will not replace teachers, but it will enhance the quality and reach of their teaching and reduce the time spent on administrative chores. In introducing e-learning, it must be ensured that we balance it with other teaching and learning methods. e-learning should recognize that its value is linked to its suitability to individual learning and teaching styles and strategies.
20. In particular, the use of ICT for learning encourages:
(a) Learner-centered learning.
(b) Active, exploratory, inquiry-based learning.
(c) Collaborative work among learners and teachers and
(d) Creativity, analytical skills, critical thinking and informed decision making.
21. The introduction of learning through the use of ICT is not about creating interesting tasks for learners, but to deepen their understanding requiring the use of higher-order thinking skills, and taking learners beyond recall, recognition and reproduction of information to evaluation, analysis, synthesis and production of arguments, ideas and performance.
Educational Management And Administration
22. ICT is increasingly allowing schools and school systems greater access to timely, relevant and detailed information on many of the functions of schools. More complex information can now be collected, analysed and used at both school and system levels. The rapid development of ICT, the increased pressure for effective management of organizational performance and a preference for self-managing schools have resulted in the development of powerful management information systems. As with all types of organizations, schools and school systems are increasingly using management information systems for planning, monitoring, improvement and accountability purposes. ICT has the capacity to automate processes and save time, thereby freeing school managers to focus on instructional leadership.
23. If managerial functions at school and other levels of the education system are to be carried out efficiently and effectively, it is necessary that information of high quality is available at all times to inform decision-making. This points to the need for a reliable information system that provides defined objectives and the right information to the right people, at the right time and in the right way.
24. In order to increase administrative efficiency through the use of computerized information systems, the Department will have to develop standardized templates for management, statistical analysis, record keeping and reporting.
25. ICT, when successfully integrated into teaching and learning, can ensure the meaningful interaction of learners with information. ICT can advance cognitive skills such as comprehension, reasoning, problem-solving and creative thinking. Success in the infusion of ICT into teaching and learning will ensure that all learners will be equipped for full participation in the knowledge society before they leave a further education and training institution.
26. Moreover, these learners are likely to utilize e-Government processes, not only to acquire and use information, but also to implement public sector reforms that can enhance transparency in government operations. These learners will use ICT to enhance interaction between citizens, governmental organizations and public and elected officials.
27. The challenge facing our education and training system is to create a learning culture that keeps pace with these changes and equips people with the knowledge, skills, ideas and values needed for lifelong learning. Our education system must create graduates who use information effectively and constantly keep abreast of technological advances. Thus this concept will provide teachers and learners to access the:
(a) High quality, relevant and diverse resources, beyond what current school libraries are providing,
(b) Means of communicating and collaborating with other learners and teachers and
(c) Opportunities of creating and presenting new knowledge.