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This paper sheds light on a method of designing an ICT policy to integrate ICT in classroom learning using statistical information from rural areas in Nigeria. The study uses survey data from Fufore Local Government Area in Adamawa State to determine the factors influencing effective and efficient learning in the class room and the ICT tools that can be used to improve the classroom learning experience. The basic hypothesis in the study was that the lack of social amenities like electricity, roads and transportation etc made it either not conducive or impossible for them to learn in the classroom. The unavailability of technology prevents access to ICT tools. This basic hypothesis was addressed using data from a statistical survey administered to 100 individuals from the Fufore LGA. The study concludes by suggesting the need for government to improve the social amenities in the rural areas so as to facilitate access to the classroom and to combine ICT in educating students especially in the classroom because of the many potential long term benefits.
Classroom learning is the most important part of the learning experience in school because it is after this and only after this any other form of further knowledge can be efficiently and effectively acquired. Without the experience of classroom learning an integral part of education is missed out as research has shown that students tend to learn better in a classroom atmosphere. The use of ICT in teaching practice in schools remains marginal. (Young, 2006).
By incorporating Information and Communications Technology, classroom learning will be very effective and efficient as well this, is because ICT takes classroom learning to a whole new level. It makes learning more interesting, motivating, stimulating, and meaningful to the students. It is also imperative to note that all three branches of ICT i.e. Computer Technology, Communication Technology and Information Management Technology play a crucial role in the integration of ICT into classroom learning in rural Nigeria.
ICT in education specifically classroom learning is promoted all over the world but the main goal is the same, which is to provide a more effective, efficient and competitive manpower. The rural areas in Nigeria are far left behind in almost all aspects and more importantly education and technology. Although it might be difficult to incorporate ICT into education especially classroom learning in rural Nigeria, it is the long term benefits at the end of the day that really matters.
The methodology employed in this study is very descriptive. The case study of Fufore was used to examine a particular unit at a certain time in depth and detail. Statistical data such as the sample of the 100 locals and their respective opinions was also included. The researcher conducted interviews with teachers and students in classrooms as well as the school site. The data-collection methods and tools for this study included telephone interviews, a questionnaire, online data collection, activity observations, and quantitative data analysis of the projects by various groups. Questionnaires background information and requesting personal of the teachers and students (demographical data such as sex, age, computer skills, and Internet use if any) were administered to the participants at the beginning of the study. Collection of electronic data from journals, chats, discussions, and email exchanges on the Internet was also conducted.
Study Design, Findings and Discussion
The study conducted consisted of questionnaires. Questions were asked to the locals of Fufore Local Government Area, basically students and teachers. 100 of the locals participated in the survey. The main question asked was, what influence learning in the classroom most? The following are a list of responses received from the students and teachers in Fufore:
Lack of ICT Tools
Out of the total asked 30 responded by saying they lacked the ICT tools used to facilitate the learning process. The locals knew about the computer by word-of-mouth. Some had even heard how it assisted in the learning process but most of them had never even seen a computer let alone use one in a classroom setting.
Poor Electricity Supply
27 said that there was little electricity and in a worse case no electricity. They suggested that even if they did have the IT tools, it would be of no use as they would constantly require power which they lacked. They also made mention that there were times they wanted to use light to study in the classrooms but there was never electricity to power the bulbs.
Lack of Roads and Transportation
About 20 others complained that lack of good roads and an efficient transportation means that led to the schools prevented some of them from learning in a classroom with or without the tools. The lack of an appropriate transport system especially roads with active buses from the homes of the students and teachers deprived them the benefit of learning in a classroom.
15 more further complained about insufficient classrooms. They said that there were few classrooms in the schools available. They complained about how the government had abandoned projects to start the construction of few classrooms. This did not permit everyone in the Fufore LGA to learn in the classroom even if they wanted to.
Factors such as early marriages and early teen pregnancies that prevented students from going to the classrooms to learn with peers were little. Insufficient teachers in the areas were not mentioned much as a result of few classrooms although a few said the available instructors were incompetent.
The diagram below shows the factors affecting class room learning in Fufore
Although not every single factor mentioned in the survey pointed towards social amenities, most of them did. With lack of IT tools and poor electricity, the most noticeable implication at end it all pointed towards lack of social amenities in the rural area. This leads me to the hypothesis deduced from the research in Fufore which is lack of basic social amenities especially electricity, ICT tools, lack of an efficient transport system and insufficient classrooms prevent the effective and efficient learning process of students in a classroom setting.
ICT Tools Used to Facilitate Classroom Learning
Internet and e-mail: The use of web based lessons on the internet is one of the ICT tools that can facilitate learning in the classroom setting. In this way the topic is identified from the lesson or unit, and then sites related to the topic are found, followed by the plan task and lastly lesson plan and external material. The email then comes in handy when the assignments need to submitted to the instructor after the classroom activity. Email being a great alternative to the telephone can also be used to practice written communication skills as well as receiving updates such as syllabuses etc.
Blogs: Using blogs in a classroom setting allows students to post their thoughts there about a topic the class could be discussing and the teacher monitors the posts. Teachers use certain tools to create and manage their own class blogs.
Podcasts: These come in very handy in classroom learning because they are pre-recorded and can be later viewed or listened in the classroom, they can be in sound and video, a lot of option of topics to meet almost any need after being easily downloaded, and finally because they are a fun way to learn when used in the classroom.
PowerPoint's and CD's: During lectures power points that summarize chapters and are usually displayed using a projectors make it faster and quite easier to get a basic knowledge of the class discussion in the classroom until further study of the text book. Class works can be given to students in CD's.
Teleconferencing: Whether audio conferencing or video conferencing, formal or informal classroom setting it is used to facilitate teacher and learner discussions. The type of teleconferencing whether audio conferencing or audio graphic conferencing, video conferencing and web based conferencing all depend on the way the information is conveyed between the student and the instructor.
Web Quests: These are applications which allow student choice in the exploration of teacher chosen sites for learning new topics. They include some form of product that reflects the student's learning progress in the classroom. Students are able to gather information by clicking on the links. Once done the student can then choose his own product based on the scoring "rubric" that was included in the web quest.
Benefits of Implementing a Policy that Integrates ICT with Classroom Learning
First and foremost the implementation of ICT in classroom learning has the potential of reducing the digital divide. The widening gap between the rich with effective access to digital and information technology and the poor with limited or no access at all in the rural areas in Nigeria is massively reduced. This can only happen if properly utilized in a short period of time.
An additional benefit is the professional development of staff. According to an article on the role of ICT on learning "Some staff members are inflexible or unwilling learners, so systems to support and develop teachers are paramount. New teachers coming out of training institutions should be equipped to exploit the new technologies. The success of the implementation of ICT in a school is at risk unless teachers are trained so they can take responsibility to guide and support the learners and integrate the learning experience with ICT tools."(ICP, 2010)
Globalization is yet another potential benefit of integrating ICT into classroom learning.
Increased information access via the Internet will present global challenges of language, commerce, context and integrity. Already, information transfer and the Internet have significant social, financial and political implications. Threats to language, traditions and cultural and value systems as the students assimilate global ways and become global citizens through contact with other cultures using the communication features associated with ICT. These same communication channels allow the pervasive reach of big business to infiltrate an even larger percentage of the market. The role played by big business, such as Microsoft, Cisco, HP, Sun Microsystems, Intel, etc., who wield budgets in excess of numerous countries, could have a huge impact in trying to shape education. They have a responsibility to declare their social and moral obligations to the societies they sell their products to; but educational leaders will need to be proactive in moderating their influence. (ICP, 2010)
ICT makes teaching sessions very interactive and motivating. People tend to remember better from an interactive classroom discussion. Today primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities in the urban areas are equipped with ICT tools such as Interactive Whiteboards, response system, projectors and educational software. A lot of difficult subject matter can be taught better and in more detail with ICT teaching aids (Singh, 2009). When instructors integrate various types of ICT tools such as the ones mentioned above to interact with students it is more captivating and motivating.
The many benefits to students according icponline.org are access to enormous information quickly; working at self pace, offer of course material simultaneously in different languages, access to quality material irrespective of geographic location, asynchronous offer of academic courses, readily acceptance of technology by young students in the classroom and many others (2003).
An audio visual content gives the learners a better learning environment as they can visually watch the actual phenomena and processes (Singh, 2009). Incorporating an audio-visual technique in classroom learning leads to an increase of interest and memory of students
Development of the rural areas is another benefit of incorporating this policy. Rural areas can use any form development they can get and so technological is definitely not left out. Especially since government and NGO's might assist in this development too. The ICT tools used in the classrooms develop the classrooms in schools and as a result of this the rural area begins to gradually develop too.
It is imperative to note that the government play a very vital role in the implementation of the policy that will enforce the policy and hence the emphasis on the government. Role of Government: Should state a policy that will enforce school's implementation of the policy whether private or public. The policy should enforce that school's should incorporate different possible means of integrating ICT in classroom learning.
Before this policy can be effectively enforced in schools in the rural areas and later nationwide, government should ensure that they play their own roles too. Local Government Chairmen in the rural areas should make available the basic social amenities mentioned above. The study showed that lack of these amenities prevented effective learning in classrooms as well as access to classrooms.
The first thing the government should do is provide additional classrooms, then ensure that there the rural areas are supplied with electricity. It will be reasonable to provide alternative sources of electricity as there is no constant supply of electricity in Nigeria even in the urban areas. Government can make available alterative sources available to these school's classrooms whether solar, hydro or mechanical (especially generators).
After electricity is provided, the roads should be worked on i.e. the main roads that lead from the little towns all up and until the schools. But of what use will the roads be if there are no buses to transport them daily? Government can make bus donations to the rural areas and the buses transport the passengers at subsidized rates. The implementation of the buses will even provide employment as drivers and conductors will be needed. The bus fare should be subsidized since it is issued by the government to allow as many people the opportunity to go to school and learn in the classroom.
Government should also construct more classrooms in the rural areas. There are only a few Local Government schools in these rural areas and no Federal Schools in the rural areas. Abandoned classrooms projects found in the rural areas should be completed with immediate effect. Construction of more of these classrooms will give other more interested candidates the opportunity to learn in a classroom setting using state-of-the-art ICT tools.
Government can encourage NGO's to support these local government areas with charity donations as well. The donations will be used to maintain these ICT tools and equipments as well as acquiring more of these tools. Also free donations in the form of these ICT tools by these organizations should be encouraged.
They should make available these facilities and features whether available at subsidized rates to teachers in the rural areas. This will enable them gain more access to ICT tools as much as much as they can. Free access to some of these tools should be done by the government. The government can make available free computer laboratories.
The power of integrating ICT into classroom learning cannot be overemphasized enough but if all the above recommendations mentioned are carried out properly by the government of Nigeria whether Federal and State as well as the Local Government authorities, the rural areas will partake in the numerous benefits and eventually the country as a whole.