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The advent of technology has transformed and changed the mode of our lives in all its aspects. People can learn in distant universities without having to travel there. They can access to various sources of information through the World Wide Web. Unlike the traditional schools where students' learning was only restricted to the school context, most schools today provide students with various contexts of learning through the use of digital technologies that facilitate their communication with their friends, teachers and people from other countries.
Digital technologies are increasingly used by schools to support learning and enable students to communicate with parents and provide access to school resources from home. Therefore, I believe that digital technologies consolidated the communication channels between the home and the school. This matter is of paramount importance as it increases parental engagement in children's learning. Consequently, parents can take informed decision regarding the future of their children and can participate with teachers in developing the level lf their children. Parental engagement in the learning process enhances children achievement at school.
The ever-increasing needs of individuals and society in the 21st century are constantly placing much pressure on the educational institutions. The traditional teaching methods are no longer capable of satisfying the requirements of our modern era. Therefore, we find that most schools in many nations around the world focus on the digital participations of students as an entitlement for them in the emerging digital media era. This entitlement includes knowledge, skills and understanding that are required to be involved socially, culturally, politically, and economically in everyday life.
This paper is meant to elaborate and identify what has been said about the use of the internet or other forms of webs-based learning in schools and indicate how these approaches would be applied in the context in which I'm teaching.
Participation in Digital Technology:-
The terms "digital technology" and "new media" are used to refer to a wide range of technologies which store and transmit information in digital form. This includes computers, the internet and e-mail, mobile phones and other mobile devices and cameras, video games and web 2.0 technologies the label commonly applied "participatory and interactive media (Hague, Cassie & Williamson, Ben, 2009. P.3) .
The digitization and computerization of many aspects of our lives places a heavy burden on established educational institutions. Alexey Semenov (2005) believes that life in the new knowledge society demands more independent and responsible behavior and much less routine execution of orders. In order to make responsible decisions in new and unexpected situations, people need to continue to learn throughout life. Therefore, information and communication technology are the most efficient tools for personal growth, creativity and joy, consumption and wealth. Students can learn the use of the internet in finding papers that are relevant to their curriculum. Through summarizing papers on the net and discussing their findings with their peers and teachers, students can feel that they are creative. Moreover, Their communication channels with their teachers, peers and other people are consolidated through the net. ICT prepares students to actively participate in a rapid changing world in which business nature and other activities are increasingly transformed due to the employment of the advanced and multiple technologies by using ICT tools to find, explore, analyze and present information in a responsible, creative and distinguished way. Thus, they learn how to employ information and communication technology ICT to get much literature and experiences from myriad individuals, communities and cultures. When their capabilities in using information and communication technologies are increased, initiative and independent learning are consolidated as students become more capable of taking responsible and informed decisions on when and where to use information technology to have the best result and to study the uses of ICT at home and work now and in the future.
According to Semenov Alexey, 2005 believes that Adams Douglas 1999 believes that using the computer enables us to combine things together to see how they work by emulating and imitating complex and interrelated processes, even life can be imitated. This is a modern era for discoveries and ICT is its gate .
Among the main objectives of the national curriculum of ICT in England for the key stages 1-4 are the following:
Information & Communication Technology (ICT) provides opportunities to consolidate:
- Thinking skills through helping pupils to determine relevant information sources, develop ideas and work collaboratively to solve problems.
- Project and initiative skills through encouraging students to design and implement solutions for real problems.
- Business related learning through providing students with opportunities to have a wide range of ICT applications.
- Learning for sustainable development through developing pupils' understanding of Information and Communication Technology in practical life, community and environment.
Digital Literacy and Schools School Subjects:-
Currently schools are striving hard to integrate the development of students' subject knowledge with the ability to use technology safely and effectively ((Hague, Cassie & Williamson, Ben, 2009. P. 7). Therefore, they focus on digital literacy and digital participation as a key to achieve this integration. Hague, Cassie and Williamson, Ben reported that there is a model which offers a conceptual framework for embedding digital literacy as an aim in the curriculum and for developing strategies to develop it through classroom activities.
This model delineates types of processes students need to go through in order to demonstrate digital literacy. Moreover, it is based on the notion that learners investigate questions and problems set by teachers, and that over time they should develop sufficient confidence and competence in the skills, knowledge and understanding of digital literacy to be able to define their own questions for enquiry.
The author suggests that digital literacy is an amalgamation of:
- Knowledge of digital tools: hardware/ software awareness and competence.
- Critical Skills: evaluation and contextualization.
- Social awareness: Understanding your identity, collaborating, and communicating to audiences in context.
Guidelines for successful implementation:-
The internet is not intended as a technology that should be imposed on the educational system. Educators should have at least a fair knowledge of the use and benefits of technology in delivering their message. Internet technology for schools is intended to provide a source of comprehensible, accessible information for educators about using the power of the internet within the K-12 academic environment (Mambretti, Catherine, 1999) .
In order to create web-based learning at schools and achieve the maximum benefit of the internet as a promising medium for learning, schools should conduct long-range planning not only of their technology infrastructure but of their curricula and educational technologies and strategies (ibid).
Since most communities and organizations believe the importance of technology for education, several corporations have established non-profit organizations to assist schools in their technology projects or have announced plans to make major donations to school technology projects.
The ICT shouldn't be a closed or self -contained subject to be taught and learned independently from other subjects. However, according to Semenov Alexey (2005) it should be treated as interdisciplinary, integrative, and cross curricular. Using ICT in teaching and learning will help both teachers and students become more conscious of their capabilities and responsibilities. However, it is of paramount importance to support learning by an immediate application of technology that is meaningful and relevant to students. Children should be taught at an early age the skill touch typing which is basically for communicating between human beings and computers. Microworld-like environments allow children from the age of 3 upwards to learn and use ICT for usual applications (graphics and text-editing) and for modeling the real world and multimedia implementation of virtual realities.
Semenov Alexey ( 2005) believes that number of students per computer is a common indicator of ICT development at schools. There is also another quantitative factor which is more relevant: the number of hours a week that computers are available for use.
Advantages and disadvantages of using the web for learning:-
Web-based learning has many benefits for students. Students can have an easy access to a huge library of training and information whether they are working from home or any other place. It is also easy to track students. As students can complete their training while they are connected to the network, it is easy to track them. Unlike with CD-ROMs that require students to print reports or save scores to disk, WBT enables the data to be automatically tracked on the server-computer . Additionally, in web-based learning, the content can be easily updated.
However, there are also some disadvantages and barriers that make it difficult to implement ICT at some schools. The most significant disadvantage is that the content of the internet which includes both safe and unsafe materials. Thus, unsafe materials such as porno movies may represent a threat to the students.
There are also some barriers to the implementation of ICT at some schools such as :
- The cost of ICT hardware, software and maintenance.
- The often unconscious resistance of many educators to the intrusion of still obscure technological newcomers that threaten to alter drastically long-established and time-honored practices and customs; and
- The lack of teachers who are trained to exploit ICT proficiently .
How ICT could be applied to the context in which I'm teaching:-
ICT could be applied in my context of teaching through establishing a network for the school and creating a computer lab. Each student shall be assigned a computer. Teachers shall be trained adequately on the use of ICT tools to deliver their message efficiently. Students also shall be trained on the use of the web resources through the guidance of their teachers. They will be encourage to be creative and critical in their thinking by processing all kinds of information and creating a new version of their own.
Through answering assignments and receiving feedback on their e-mail, students can feel a sense of independent learning. Thus, they can take a responsible decision and depend upon themselves in searching for information and generating relevant theories.
To conclude, I believe that the advent of technology make it inevitable to apply ICT at all schools to create universal students who care for sustainable learning and global development. In other words, ICT should be properly implemented as it qualifies students for the increasing and fast changing requirements of the outside world. Schools shouldn't be isolated from the outside world. However, it should be a mirror for the outside world. All the conflicts and changes in the outside world should be analyzed at the school to connect students with their home and community.
ICT represent an excellent communication channel between the school, home and the community as a whole. Moreover, it encourages students to be creative and independent learners. The use of ICT limits the role of the teacher to an outside observer and a guide for students. They will learn what they want to learn by themselves. Although ICT is still facing some obstacles represented by the expensive tools and equipments, its' a necessity for all schools to adapt with the changing requirements and changes of our age.
- Hague, Cassie & Williamson, Ben, Digital Participation, Digital Literacy, and School Subjects ( A review of the Policies, literature and evidence, August 2009 www.futurelab.org.uk/projects/digital-participation.
- Semenov Alexey, Information and Communication Technologies in Schools, a hand book for teachers, Unisco 2005.
- ICT, National Curriculum For England, Key Stages 1-4, Crown House Publishing 1999. www.qca.org.uk/nc/
- Mambretti, Catherine, Internet Technology for Schools, McFarland & Company, North Carolina, 1999.