Application Of Information And Communications Technology In Schools Education Essay

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This chapter is designed to introduce the topic and it consists of background of study, statement of the problem, purposes of the study, research questions, significance of the study, limitations, delimitations and the organization of the study.

1.0 Background of the Study

The application of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in schools is perceived as a means for transforming teaching and learning process, and has thus been met with significant enthusiasm. The developing world also perceives ICT as a tool that will promote socio-economic, political, and sustainable development and as part of the core of education, alongside reading, writing and numeracy. This perception is emphasized in schools in Ghana. Students and pupils can do their homework on the internet, because such services and facilities exist on the internet. The internet can also facilitate high quality teaching in the classroom as well as enrich the teaching skills of teachers.

According to Griffiths (1999), in most developing countries, though information technology has been introduced, it is not fully incorporated. In Ghana, conscious efforts are being made by government to spread the use of information technology in all sectors. As a result, the government of Ghana has passed a policy (ICT for Accelerated Development) to champion the course in promoting information and communications technology in Ghana. In the ICT for Accelerated Development Policy, it stated that "policy efforts shall be directed at using ICTs to facilitate system of E-learning and E-education as well as life-long learning within the population at large".

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In order to achieve the objectives of the new educational reform (2007) and ICT4AD policy of the nation, tutors and students should be encouraged to develop interest in the use of ICT Tools such as Web Based Learning (WBL) Tools to enhance teaching and learning of the course. This is prime exampled by the way tutors and students of Konongo-Odumase Senior High School abandon the use of WBL Tools. The tutors and students are supposed to take advantage of WBL Tools to enhance teaching and learning yet as it is now, they don't. It is as a result of this problem that, the researcher seeks to use the WBL tools to improve teaching and learning.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to improve teaching and learning of ICT in Konongo-Odumase Senior High School. This purpose is intended to be achieved by investigating into the non utilisation of WBL Tools. The information gathered will help bring out interventions that would improve teaching and learning of ICT through the use of WBL.

Specifically, this study is aimed at:

Use appropriate methods to enhance students understanding during ICT lessons.

Use immediate feedback to students to motivate them to study the subject.

Monitoring student's performance through WBL Tools.

Maintaining the interest of both tutors and students in the teaching and learning process by using an easy way of accessing information.

1.4 Research Questions

How will you use WBL to help motivate students to become active in the study of ICT?

What method of teaching will best help to improve teaching and learning?

To what extent would the given of immediate feedback to students motivate them to study ICT?

Is it useful for teachers to use WBL Tools to teach?

How will the students develop interest in the course?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The outcome of this study would bring to bare the importance of WBL to schools and other affected institutions in general. It will help create a more efficient mechanisation for the contemporary tutor to student teaching and learning process. It is hoped that this study will bring to bare the need for WBL Tools and sharing of resources with the schools with connectivity.

1.6 Limitation of the Study

In spite of all the efforts put into the study by the researcher, the research was saddled with the following problems, which were potential setback that influenced the final result.

Not all the questionnaires administered were responded and returned.

Time constraints in terms of limited periods to submit the long essay and other extraneous factors facilitated the choosing of Konongo-Odumase Senior High School.

Some respondent deliberately or out ignorance gave inaccurate responses.

Some respondents were difficult to be interviewed due to their heavy schedules therefore the number interviewed was smaller than anticipated.

1.7 Delimitation of the Study

All students in all secondary schools in Ghana offer ICT as a subject. However, this study is narrowed down in scope to financial and time constraints. It therefore confined itself to only first year students and a few tutors.

Chapter Two

Literature Review

Definition of Web-Based Instruction

Khan (1997) defines Web-Based Instruction (WBI) as: "...a hypermedia-based instructional program which utilizes the attributes and resources of the World Wide Web to create a meaningful learning environment where learning is fostered and supported."

Relan and Gillami (1997a) define WBI as: "...the application of a repertoire of cognitively oriented instructional strategies within a constructivist and collaborative learning environment, utilizing the attributes and resources of the World Wide Web."

Web-Based Instruction, also called Web-Based Training, is defined by Clark (1996) as: "Individualized instruction delivered over public or private computer networks and displayed by a Web browser. WBT is not downloaded CBT, but rather on-demand training stored in a server and accessed across a network. Web-based training can be updated very rapidly, and access to training controlled by the training provider."

Though the above definitions are not identical, there is a common theme, which is that WBI takes advantage of the Internet and World Wide Web to deliver information.

Importance of Web-Based Instruction

WBI, which is an emerging field in education, is nevertheless, a part of the rapid growth that is the Internet. Reasons for the growth of WBI include: promotes growth of distance education economically (reliable and inexpensive source)as compared to computer based training, live broadcasts, video tapes, and so on, (Relan and Gillani, 1997b and Santi, 1997), enables learners who prefer or are required to learn outside traditional classrooms to attend classes at their homes or offices, (Bannan and Milheim, 1997), and provides delivery medium, content provider, and subject matter in one package, unlike other mediums, such as computer based training, that require a separate delivery mechanism (McManus, 1996).

Nichols (1995) predicts that: "The potential benefit from formulating evaluation methodologies for the Web [for instructional materials] depends on whether or not the Web will become a permanent medium or a passing fad? In fact, the Web will likely soon become the most popular medium for the delivery of distance education type materials."

The development of information technology has slowly changed the way people interact with computers. This change has also reached the learning process: distance learning, where student and teacher are connected by technology instead of a classroom, is becoming a viable option to traditional teaching methods, and is poised for major growth over the next several years. However, understanding how to use the World Wide Web (WWW) to support training and learning activities presents a substantial challenge for the designers and evaluators of this emerging technology. Particularly they have to understand how communication and interaction, two key features of the learning process, are changed by the computer technology. Moreover, they have to explore the possibilities of successfully instructing via networks while proving the learning and cost effectiveness of these innovative systems. Starting from the theoretical background presented in Chapter 2 and 3, we present a framework for the

development of web-based learning environments. These tools can be considered a particular form of hypermedia: computer-stored information, which is connected and retrieved via links. An interesting evolution of hypermedia analyzed by the text are shared hypermedia, new Internet tools in which different users, who are simultaneously browsing the same web site, can communicate with each other.

The use of computer technologies to enhance learning began in late '60s with the efforts of pioneers such as Atkinson and Suppes [1, 2]. Since that time the presence of computer technology in schools has increased dramatically, and predictions are that this trend will continue to accelerate. In particular, the appearance of Internet-based information and communication technologies is changing how training is being conducted in many colleges, universities and private companies. As noted by Federico [3] "we are in the midst of a paradigm shift in education and training from classroom centric to network centric" (p.653).

On one side the development of information technology has slowly changed the way people interact with computers. Technological advances have gradually shifted the focus away from computers as such, and toward what people actually do with them. The most evident sign of this change has been the creation of totally new interactive communication environments like Computer Mediated Communication and Computer Supported Collaborative Work made possible by the increasing power and flexibility of today's information technology [4].

In fact not only does the use of the World Wide Web not guarantee effective learning [6]. Inappropriate uses of technology may hinder learning. For example, it is well known that students can waste a lot of time surfing the Internet.

The first reports of Web-based Learning appear in the early 1990s building on 30 years of computer-assisted instruction. Proponents claimed computer-assisted instruction is superior to text-based, lecture, and traditional educational methods for reasons that include control by the learner over content, time, and place of learning; enhancement of learning, reasoning, and efficiency; and cost savings. Many studies that reported advantages contained methodological flaws and reported advantages unrelated to computer-specific features.

Web-based learning (WBL) represents a further evolution of computer-assisted instruction. Technical advantages of WBL include universal accessibility, ease in updating content, and hyperlink functions that permit cross-referencing to other resources. These technical advances, specifically hyperlink and searching capabilities, fit the constructivist learning theory, where learners search out and create their own knowledge bases. However, as was evident with computer-assisted instruction, potential advantages may not translate into significant improvements in educational outcomes.

Web-based learning environments can serve as motivational, instructional, modeling, feedback, and assessment tools. These environments also can impact the cognitive and social behaviors of students (Mayer 2001; Wallace 2001).

What is web-based learning?

Web-based learning encompasses all educational interventions that make use of the internet (or a local intranet). There are currently three broad classifications or configurations within WBL: tutorials, online discussion groups, and virtual classrooms. The distinctions between these configurations are often blurred, and in fact a given WBL intervention might use a combination of two or three, but the implications for teaching warrant a conceptual, albeit at times arbitrary, separation. Online tutorials are similar to face-to-face lectures. They generally consist of information structured by the teacher in a way that will (hopefully) facilitate learning. Tutorials are often enhanced by features such as multimedia (sound, pictures, movies, and animations), links to online resources (full-text journal articles or related websites) and other areas within the course, and self-assessment tools. Effective online tutorials often also make use of classroom cases. Online discussion is similar to the face-to-face small group session. As with any small group, there may be an element of didactic teaching from the instructor (eg a brief tutorial) but the heart of the teaching lies in group discussion. Teachers take on the role of facilitators - defining the scope of the discussion, monitoring and guiding the discussion as needed, and providing or helping students to find additional resources. Communication among group members can be asynchronous (delay between sending a message and receiving the response) or synchronous (live). Virtual classrooms are computer-based simulations of classroom encounters. It is also worth noting what WBL is not. The internet has found many functions in ICT education in which the primary intent is not an educational intervention designed for web-based delivery. These include archives of face-to-face lectures (eg Power- Point slides or videotaped lectures) and course syllabi, online administration of tests and course evaluations, and administrative communications. While certainly useful, these functions do not constitute WBL.

The Role of WBLTs

Web-based learning tools (WBLTs), also referred to as learning objects in the literature, are defined

in this study as "interactive web-based tools that support learning by enhancing, amplifying,

and guiding the cognitive processes of learners" (Agostinho, Bennett, Lockyer, & Harper, 2004;

Butson, 2003; McGreal, 2004; Parrish, 2004; Wiley, et al. 2004). WBLTs offer two noteworthy

features that can reduce the impact of potential obstacles teachers face when using technology.

First, typical WBLTs are designed to focus on specific concepts, making them easy to learn, easy

to use, and more attractive to busy educators who have little time to learn more complex, advanced

software packages (Gadanidis, Gadanidis, & Schindler, 2003). Ease of use also makes

WBLTs more palatable to teachers who are apprehensive about using technology (Kay, Knaack,

& Muirhead, in press).

Second, a wide range of WBLTs exist including drill-and-practice assessment tools (Adams, Lubega,

Walmsley, & Williams, 2004) or tutorials (Nurmi & Jaakkola, 2006), video case studies or

supports (Kenny, Andrews, Vignola, Schilz, & Covert, 1999; MacDonald et al., 2005), general

web-based multimedia resources (Van Zele, Vandaele, Botteldooren, & Lenaerts, 2003), and selfcontained

interactive tools in a specific content area (Bradley & Boyle, 2004; Cochrane, 2005).

Furthermore, in contrast to other learning technologies burdened with implementation challenges

and costs, WBLTs are readily accessible over the Internet and teachers need not worry about excessive

costs or not having the latest version (Wiley, 2000). It is speculated that the broad selection

of readily accessible WBLTs will make it easier for teachers to integrate WBLTs into a classroom


In summary, barriers to using technology reported by teachers such as time, limited skill, fear of

technology, and limited access to technology are partially addressed by easy-to-use WBLTs that

are readily accessible in a wide variety of pedagogical formats.

WBLT Research in Middle and Secondary School Classrooms

Existing WBLT or learning object research is limited to the domain of higher education. Out of

the 41 empirical studies reviewed for this paper, 29 (70%) focussed on WBLT use in higher education,

whereas only eight (20%) examined WBLT use in middle or secondary school classrooms

(Brush & Saye, 2001; Ilomäki, Lakkala, & Paavola, 2006; Kay & Knaack, 2007a; Kong & Kwok,

2005; Liu & Bera, 2005; Lopez-Morteo & Lopez, 2007; McCormick & Li, 2006; Nurmi & Jaakkola,


Four studies examined middle school students' use of WBLTs. Kong & Kwok (2005) looked at

nine-year-old students' independent use of WBLTs for 15-20 hours while attempting to learn

about fractions. Students who used WBLTs significantly outperformed students who did not use

WBLTs. Ilomäki et al. (2006) examined 11 and 12 year old students using WBLTs to study eating

habits. Teachers and students did not assess the effectiveness of the five week, WBLT unit,

but the pedagogical strategies used by the instructors were described in detail. Liu & Bera (2005)

examined middle school students' use patterns with respect to a range of WBLTs. Eighty-two

percent of the students generated successful solutions using WBLTs. Finally, Nurmi & Jaakkola

(2006) reported that interactive, simulation-based WBLTs produced significantly better results

than drill-and practice WBLTs.

Five studies looked at the use of WBLTs in the secondary school classroom. Brush & Saye

(2001) reported that students tended to look at superficial content in a WBLT when left to their

own devices and that more active guidance and structure was needed when using information

based WBLTs. Ilomäki et al. (2006) explored the pedagogical affordances of WBLTs in three

areas: nutrition, sense of the brain, and multiple intelligences. Kay & Knaack (2007b) used a

comprehensive assessment tool to evaluate the use of WBLTs and found that overall usefulness,

clear instructions, organized layout, and good theme/motivation were particularly important to

students. Lopez-Morteo & Lopez (2007) reported that students perceived interactive, recreationbased,

collaborative WBLTs positively.

Finally, McCormick & Li (2006) completed an extensive study examining the attitudes of 770

secondary schools teachers from six different European countries toward using WBLTs from the

CELEBRATE collection. Overall, 70% of the teachers thought WBLTs were useful. Just over

half the teachers felt WBLTs were well designed, although this was clearly dependent on the type

of WBLT chosen. Over 50% of teachers experienced Internet problems while using WBLTs. In

addition, roughly 60% of all instructors thought WBLTs improved their teaching and felt that

students were more engaged.

Overall, WBLT-use research is positive, albeit somewhat ad hoc and inconsistent in data collection

strategies. Two studies gathered user performance data, (Kong & Kwok, 2005; Nurmi &

Jaakkola, 2006), four studies collected descriptive data (Brush & Saye, 2001; Ilomäki et al., 2006;

Liu & Bera, 2005; McCormick & Li, 2006), one study implemented a formal survey (Kay &

Knaack, 2007a, 2007b), and one study accumulated anecdotal reports (Lopez-Morteo & Lopez,

2007). With the exception of McCormick and Li's (2006) paper, all eight previous studies looked

at student perceptions exclusively; teacher impressions of how well the WBLTs worked were not


Feedback in web-based learning applications

Testing and assessment are widely used in web-based learning applications, and e-learning

Systems. Computer-based testing has a number of advantages, namely:

facilitation of data analysis

generation of quick or sometimes even immediate results

reduction of time for tests development

increase in user motivation in the case of frequent assessing

possibilities of testing at any time

appeal to a great number of users/respondents with a large variety of preferences, characteristics, education, goals, etc.

Generally, there exist many types of problems of testing and assessment in web-based learning systems, including both more technical ones such as user identity verification and security issues and more general aspects such as personalisation and adaptation of assessment process.

Lack of interaction between students and teachers is one of the main problems in web-based learning applications (Mory, 2003). During the learning process a student performs a number of actions where feedback is crucial, for example in assessments or in feedback mainly consists of information about the tests results presented to a user.

In web-based learning systems feedback presented by computer is usually aimed to replace feedback given to the student by the teacher and to improve student performance (Mory, 2003). The main role of feedback in web-based systems is to inform and to motivate the user to increase his or her effort and attention.

In web-based learning systems feedback plays a crucial role in interaction. The feedback is especially important in testing and assessment that is organised within the learning process. According to Brusilovsky and Miller (1999) testing components are the best developed interactive components in web-based education. Nevertheless, we consider these components as being poorly designed still. Most of the current testing components in e-learning and other web-based applications do not support feedback adaptation.

They do not give information about the user's performance in the most suitable time and form for him or her.

In traditional distance learning (external, but not computer-based learning) feedback has been examined from a number of different perspectives (Hyland, 2001). The studies have shown that students especially wanted detailed feedback and comments.

The feedback was expected to provide positive comments on strengths, not vague generalisations. It is recommended that criticism in feedback be constructive and that students should have a chance to respond to comments (Hyland, 2001).

According to Mory (2003) the feedback mechanisms that are used by students have changed with the advances and growth of web-based learning systems. The use of student-centred and constructivist approach in learning system supposes the use of learner-to-learner interaction and provides meaningful peer and instructor feedback (Dabbagh,2002).

According to Bischoff (2000) students need regular feedback in order to know how their performance was evaluated, how they could improve it, and how their grades are calculated. The effective elements of online teaching include frequent and consistent online feedback, diplomatic online feedback, and evaluative online feedback.

Based on qualities of online feedback (multidimensional, nonevaluative, supportive, student controlled, timely, and specific) outlined by Schwartz and White (2000) and Mory (2003) has suggested that feedback in the web-based learning system should have the following qualities:

prompt, timely, and thorough online feedback

ongoing formative feedback about online group discussions

ongoing summative feedback about grades

constructive, supportive, and substantive online feedback

specific, objective, and individual online feedback

consistent online feedback.

In web-based learning applications the main functions of the testing component are to evaluate the users, to give the user information about his or her performance, to motivate the user, and to focus the user's attention on further interaction with the system. Feedback differs from evaluation, where the main goal is to grade and record the result of the testing for the purpose of assessing the user. There are several main problems with feedback in web-based applications. First of all, there is the problem of feedback representation. It is widely argued in favour of explicit presentation of feedback, but there are too few ideas about what should be included into feedback and what kind of structure it should have. Naturally, the feedback should correspond to the tasks and to the individual characteristics of the user.

The effectiveness of different types of feedback in web-based learning system has been experimentally studied by Mandernach (2005), who evaluated the educational impact of presenting various levels of computer-based, online feedback (no-feedback, knowledge-of-response, knowledge-of-correct-response, topic-contingent, and response contingent). The results of this study have shown that the type of computer-based feedback did not have any influence on student learning, but at the same time the students reported distinct preferences for knowledge-of-response and response-contingent computer-based feedback. This allowed to conclude that the students prefer feedback that is direct and clearly addresses the correctness of their response. The other problem of feedback is the time of its presentation. The user could be provided either with immediate or with delayed feedback. According to Mathan (2003) the problem of feedback timing is of crucial importance for tutoring systems. He argued about the trade-off between the benefits of immediate and delayed feedback: while immediate feedback is more effective, delayed feedback supports better transfer and retention. The advantages and disadvantages of immediate and delayed feedback can change with different learning goals and settings. The important question of feedback is that it can draw attention away from the tasks increasing the time required to execute them. According to Oulasvirta and Saariluoma (2004) interrupting messages such as feedback in human-computer interaction influence the extent and type of errors in remembering. We argue that the problems of feedback discussed could be partially solved by adaptation of feedback to the tasks and to the characteristics of an individual user. Feedback adaptation in web based applications can provide a user with feedback that is the most appropriate for his or her personal characteristics, actual mood, behaviour, and attentiveness (Choe et al., 2004).