One the many challenges facing developing countries today are preparing their societies and governments for globalization and the information and communication revolution. Policy makers, business executives, NGO activists, academics, and ordinary citizens are increasingly concerned with the need to make their societies competitive in the emergent information economy. Globalization and technological change is a process that has accelerated in tandem over the past fifteen years and has created a new global economy powered by technology, fuelled by information and driven by knowledge. The emergence of this new global economy has serious implications for the nature and purpose of educational institutions. As the half-life of information continues to become and access to information continues to grow more rapid, schools cannot remain mere venues for the transmission of a prescribed set of information from teacher to student over a fixed period of time. Rather, schools must promote learning, in an example the acquisition of knowledge and skills that make possible continuous learning over the lifetime. Concerns over educational relevance and quality coexist with the imperative of expanding educational opportunities to those made most vulnerable by globalization as an example, developing countries in general, low-income groups, girls and women, and low-skilled workers in particular.
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Information and communication technologies which include radio and television, as well as newer digital technologies such as computers and the Internet, have been touted as potentially powerful enabling tools for educational change and reform. When used appropriately, different ICT are said to help expand access to education, strengthen the relevance of education to the increasingly digital workplace, and raise educational quality by, among others, helping make teaching and learning into an engaging, active process connected to real life. However, the experience of introducing different ICT in the classroom and other educational settings all over the world over the past several decades suggests that the full realization of the potential educational benefits of ICT is not automatic. The effective integration of ICT into the educational system is a complex, multifaceted process that involves not just technology but indeed, given enough initial capital, getting the technology is the easiest part but also curriculum and pedagogy, institutional readiness, teacher competencies, and long-term financing, among others.
ICT stand for information and communication technologies and are defined, for the purposes of this primer, 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, broadcasting technologies, radio, television and telephony. In recent years there has been a ground swell of interest in how computers and the Internet can best be harnessed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of education at all levels and in both formal and non-formal settings. But ICT are more than just these technologies, but older technologies such as the telephone, radio and television, although now given less attention, have a longer and richer history as instructional tools. For instance, radio and television have for over forty years been used for open and distance learning, although print remains the cheapest, most accessible and therefore most dominant delivery mechanism in both developed and developing countries. The use of computers and the Internet is still in its infancy in developing countries, if these are used at all, due to limited infrastructure and the attendant high costs of access. Technology changes rapidly – and so do the specific tools available for education. As new technologies are introduced, it is critical that their cost and impact in various educational situations is thoroughly examined. While evidence shows that it is the actual application of the ICT tool that is the most important determinant of its effectiveness for educational purposes, the choice of tools is quite large, and each tool has its own advantages and disadvantages. Policy makers and donor groups are often bombarded with information and studies from vendors on the suitability of their particular products or services. As a result, there is a great need for independent research on the appropriateness of specific ICT tools to help meet educational goals. Radio and TV have been providing educational programming in some countries for many years. Many related new technologies, including satellite broadcasting and multi-channel learning, have the potential to greatly increase access to education. Today, the Internet is not widely available in most developing countries, but new Internet technologies and mobile Internet centre’s hold promise for connecting teachers, learners, and communities.
Moreover, education has largely contributed to an increase in developing knowledge, providing an enabling environment for innovation and in building human capital required for a potential future knowledge economy. Global reforms in education and challenging ICT demands have made a remarkable shift in the structure of the enabling ICT environment and the utilization of ICT technologies in education. Such technologies have become the key driver of the digital network in an era of technology-driven education. More schools and communities now have access to ICT resources to join the global economy with knowledge workers who have 21st century skills and are inspired by life-long learning. ICT have great potential for knowledge dissemination, effective learning and the development of more efficient education services. Much effort has been made towards the advancement of education and multi-literacies. However, it is generally believed that ICT can empower teachers and learners, making significant contributions to learning and achievement. Current research on the impacts of ICT on student achievement yields few conclusive statements, pro or con, about the use of ICTs in education. Studies have shown that even in the most advanced schools in industrialized countries, ICT are generally not considered central to the teaching and learning process. Moreover, there appears to be a mismatch between methods used to measure effects and the type of learning promoted. Standardized testing, for example, tends to measure the results of traditional teaching practices, rather than new knowledge and skills related to the use of ICT. It is clear that more research needs to be conducted to understand the complex links between ICT, learning, and achievement.
Many of the issues and challenges associated with ICT in education initiatives are known by policy makers, donor staff, and educators. However, data on the nature and complexity of these issues remains limited because of the lack of good monitoring and evaluation tools and processes. Where evaluation data is available much of the work is seen to suffer from important biases. Another problem in this area is the lack of a common set of indicators for ICT in education. And, where data has been collected, it is often quantitative data related to infrastructure, for example, number of computers, rather than data that can help policy makers gauge the impact of ICT interventions on student learning. If ICT are to become effective and integral tools in education, and if accountability is to be demonstrated to donors and stakeholders, monitoring and evaluation must be a priority area of focus. It is clear that there are equity issues related to the uses of ICT in education. There is a real danger that uses of ICT can further marginalize groups already excluded or on the edge of educational practices and innovations. On the other hand, with supportive policies and careful planning and monitoring, ICTs hold out the promise of facilitating greater inclusion of such groups. While there is much research on the impact of ICTs and marginalized groups in industrialized countries, there has been limited research into these issues in developing countries. There seems to be little questioning, however, that ICTs generally give preference to schools and learners in urban areas and in areas where existing infrastructure is the best. Research related to equity and ICT to date has focused primarily on access to particular technologies. Much less attention has been given to how specific types and uses of ICTs are related to equity issues.
Besides than that, about the true costs of ICT in education, there have been few rigorous costs studies, particularly in developing countries. Given current budgetary and resource constraints, a widespread investment in ICT in education is probably not possible in most developing countries. It is, therefore, critically important to better understand the costs and benefits associated with ICT types and uses in various educational situations in order to effectively target scarce resources. There is some evidence, for instance, that computers may be most cost-effective when placed in common areas such as libraries and teacher-training institutes. One of the most cost effective uses of ICT in education may be their role in improving organizational and systemic efficiencies, including combating corruption. Distance education is often cited as a cost saving investment. Indeed, economics of scale are achievable in distance education, although such programs typically require large up-front investments. Some of these costs may be shifted from the public sector to the individual users, but this in itself raises significant equity and access issues. Again, a thorough examination of the true costs and benefits of distance education is required. Financing mechanisms for ICT in education initiatives are quite varied. Due to the high up-front costs and large recurrent costs, countries and communities typically employ a great variety of financing and cost recovery mechanisms. Public private partnerships and user fees are important components of financing ICTs in education in many countries, although more research is needed to determine the impact and effectiveness of these mechanisms.
Even the use of ICT in the classroom or in distance education does not diminish the role of the teacher; neither does it automatically change teaching practices. Experience has shown that a variety of support and enabling mechanisms must be implemented to optimize teacher use of ICT. While traditional teacher leadership skills and practices are still important, teachers must also have access to relevant, timely, and on-going professional development. They must have the time and resources to explore this new knowledge base and develop new skills. Support of school administrators and, in some cases, the community, is critical if ICTs are to be used effectively. In addition, teachers must have adequate access to functioning computers or other technologies and sufficient technical support. Accessing information is the main use of ICTs in education. While ICT, and the Internet in particular, provide access to a world of educational resources, those resources are rarely in a format that makes them easily accessible and relevant to most teachers and learners in developing countries. Simply importing educational content through ICT is fraught with difficulties, as well as questions of relevance to local needs. Experience shows that unless electronic educational resources are directly related to the curriculum, and to the assessment methods used to evaluate educational outcomes, ICT interventions may not have positive educational impacts.
Furthermore, ICT can be important drivers for educational reform. They can help in anti-corruption efforts, aid in decentralization, and play a key role in data collection and analysis. Still, there are many policy questions around the use of ICTs in education, not the least of which revolves around which part of the government is responsible for such policies. Some of the key policy questions revolve around access, equity, finance, and best practices in scaling-up. As a relatively new field, there is no standard repository for existing ICTs in education-related national policies. And, it is clear that successful policy formulation requires consultation with a diverse group of stakeholders, many of which may be outside of the traditional educational system. Innovations in technology and new products are introduced in the global marketplace at a much faster pace than most educational systems are able to use them effectively. This issue of timing is an important one as educators and policymakers operate with an eye to longer term educational goals.
The advantages and disadvantages of ICT in education include a range of elements such as –
• Giving to teacher chance to plan short, timed, tightly focused activities.
• Planning activities across a number of sessions to allow sufficient time for all pupils to take parts.
• Up to date and real world technology…prepares the children for the modern world!
• Helps pupils research topics they are studying using a wide range of sources other than just book from their school library,
• Aids the pupils to get an insight into technologies that they may later rely on in future life.
• Using word documents it gives the pupils a chance to present their work in a style that suits them.
• Word and publishing documents available for display work purposes.
There is also a high advantage of ICT equipment aiding pupils with learning difficulties. By clicking on the word case study the following link will take you to a case study on podcasts and the advantages of working with children that have learning difficulties and also shown on the secondary education page.
The following disadvantages give a list of objectives that staff and facilitators may be required to deal with should problems occur throughout using the ICT equipment.
• Resources (or lack of)
As you can see I have already listed disadvantages of ICT in education and all seem costly. The initial equipment even though would be an investment and learning aid is expensive. After the initial cost there is the fact of training the staff/ facilitators to use the equipment correctly as bad usage can cause incorrect teaching to pupils. Also coming under cost is damage, as, if the equipment gets damages then the damage repair fees are required to get the equipment back up and running. Distractions such as the internet, computer games and email are also a big disadvantage. Then we come onto safety and hacking that is discussed on the safety page.
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In conclusions, the modern generation schoolchildren are growing up in an environment where information and communication technologies are encompassing almost all area of their lives. It is the responsibility of government to prepare students with the skills and knowledge they will need to take control of their digital futures. Therefore, it is of upmost importance for teachers to integrate ICT into the curriculum. This essay will discuss the great benefits ICT have on child learning and also explore the current direction in which teachers can integrate ICTs into the classroom.
Using ICTs in education develops the needed skills a child needs to use computers and other technologies. However, ICT provide a teaching strategy that engages the learner. ICT can create an exciting way to present information to students and due to the fact that ICTs engages the learner it allows the student to learn more. Another great positive of using ICTs in primary schooling is that it addresses the fact that each student has different learning abilities. ICT allows students to excel in their area of ‘intelligence, for example a child who has spatial intelligence but has difficulty in written expression can show their learning process through sound and pictures. The use of ICT is also beneficial to a child’s learning because it covers the four fundamental teaching areas which are active engagement, group, interaction and connection with the real world. As i mentioned earlier ICTs engage the learner, however, they can also involve extensive group work and interaction with both students and ICT equipment. ICTs play a central use in society; therefore, they give children a real world connection. This also gives students purpose in learner because they are using technologies that they will need to.
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