The integration of technology into the classroom

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Nowadays, students are coming to class with more skills. Whether the teacher requires it or not, most students are using technology for communication, learning, entertainment etc, i.e. in almost all sphere of their life. They are the one who are keeping track with the technological advancement. As for teachers, even if it is difficult to keep up and adapt to the advancement in both their personal and professional lives, they have a very important role to play in the technological advancement. Since technology can be a learning tool for the student as well as a teaching tool for the instructor.

As well, the integration of technology in the classroom is a great way to increase the student's interest in learning. This approach is more student-centred; as they tend to work more together while they use computers for their daily lessons. The dynamic and interactive environment created by the use of computers motivates the students as well they have a greater sense of control over what they can access, read, comprehend and create. The reading skills also are being enhanced with the use of electronic books coupled with pronunciation hyperlinks. The viva voce of their work using any presentation tool or any other multimedia tool helps the oral diction of their ideas. The internet is an unlimited resource that can be use to prompt and inspire higher order thinking skills in the students.

The above seems to be a bright picture of what can be achieved if technology is taken to the classroom; however it should be taken into account that today's students' can be considered as the 'Digital Natives' as they are growing and are being brewed and nurtured in a technological rich environment, which represent a high order challenge for the 'Digital Immigrants' who are the teachers of today as they are being forced to adopt a new attitude and to live in this environment. This digital clash of culture is one of the most important barriers that need to be pull down for the integration of ICT tools takes an important part in the dissemination of the content of the curriculum. Also the paradigm shift of the way the teachers themselves were taught and the new technique that they are being asked to use is a major change of culture to which the teachers must be prepared to face and take up as a challenge.

There are many factors that might hinder the technology integration. They can be culture change, training, motivation, the climate, the support, the infrastructure, etc. Thus a thorough investigation is needed to have a picture where the problem stands. It has to be considered also that the problems can vary from places and schools. For this study the problem is limited to a single school, found in a rural area. The objectives set are also precise and the study will give a picture of the integration of ICT tools in that context only. The study will focus on three main issues, which are:

The availability of the resources and facilities for the integration to take place.

The degree of usability of those facilities and the resources by the teachers

And lastly the barriers that might hinder the Integration of Technology in teaching.

These issues are considered as the basis on which plans for the integration of technology can be built up so as to maximise the on the facilities and resources and to reduce the barriers to a minimum.

1.2 Research title

Computers have become the most sought after, electronic devices in both homes and schools. They have captured the interest of everyone and many parents believe they will improve their children's chances for success in school and in life. Computers connected to communication networks provide convenient access to vast amounts of data from essentially any field of study. The idea of computer technology dramatically changed the nature of schooling. It simply will not be possible for schools to resist the increasing influence of computer technology in our society. The marketplace will grow increasingly insistent that schools prepare students to be the workers and consumers of a networked society.

Technology is recognised nowadays in schools as an instructional tool rather than a subject of instruction. Still many educators are less familiar and less comfortable with technology than their student and are also struggling to seamlessly integrate a growing list of technology tools in their regular curriculum.

And such to have a panoramic picture of the situation, this study focuses on a private secondary college in the southern part of Mauritius and is titled as

Educational Technology Integration:

Accessibility, Use and Barriers in Teaching;

A case study, in a rural private college.

1.3 Objectives of Research

The research was conducted to with the aim of positioning the educators of the institution as to the quality of their delivery of the content in class. It is without prejudice that it can be said that the quality of teaching increases with the quality of delivery of the content as well as the way the information is presented to be digested by the students. Educational technologies are on top of the list of the teaching aids that can be used to enhance the quality of teaching. Thus to be able to project bird's eye view of where the educators of the institution stand in the use of educational technologies in their class, it was imperative to direct the study from the three areas so that the end result converge to the positioning of educational technologies in the institution.

The main objectives are:

(a) Accessibility: exposure to body of Knowledge

Are the teachers adequately exposed to facilities and resources to integrate ICT in their teaching?

Do teachers have the right ICT skills to integrate ICT in their teaching?

(b) Use: application of body of knowledge to subject

What is the penetration quantum of ICT in teaching?

(c) Barriers: Restriction to application of body of knowledge to subject

What teachers perceive as barriers to the integration of ICT into their teaching?

1.4 Background of the School

Keats College, a private secondary school registered with the PSSA, named after the great English poet John Keats started its operation 1964 at Chemin-Grenier, a small village in the south of the island.

It started with population of 35 students and 5 teachers. The Driving philosophy of the institution reflects its motto: "Virtute et Industria" which means "courage and hard work". The school has nowadays become the leading college, in terms of student capacity, and academic results of that part of the island. It caters for some 2000 students and 170 members of teaching and non-teaching staff housed in two separate blocks for the Boys' and Girls' departments. The college has a passing rate of 83.3% at the Cambridge HSC exams in 2009. Based on the statistics of the last three years the college has positioned itself with not less than 13 students classified as Best candidates at Cambridge SC exams and 6 students classified as Best candidates at Cambridge HSC exams. Keats College meets all the favourable conditions for the blooming of the students on the academic level, human and citizenship values as well as in sports.

Achievements are synonymous to hard work done with courage to attain the set objectives through a quality culture. As any other educational institution, Keats College is has a hierarchically organized structure split in to two Management Levels. The Top Management consists of the Manager, the Rector and two Deputy Rectors. The Middle Management team consists of the Head of departments and the Section Leaders who reports to the rector but is supervised by the Deputy Rectors.

The Educators do report to their respective HoD's as per the subject they are teaching; however some of them are assigned the responsibility of being Form Teacher as such they are responsible for their respective classes and do report for the same to the Section Leaders.

As for the Non-Teaching Staff, they report to the Manager but are headed by the College Clerk. They are the support team to the College and are divided into different groups which are the Office Clerks and Secretaries, the Attendants and the Auxiliary staff.

The students' council and the sports' council of the school have elected members from each class. The class captains and their vice form the College Student Council; as well each class has their sports captains who are grouped together for the sports council. Also students can be part of the different clubs which are in operation in the college; they are the National Award Achievement Teams, Civic Action Teams, The 'we r one' Quire, the First Aid Team, the KC Music Band etc.

As for the infrastructure Keats College is dotted with many sports facilities such as a Tennis court, some 13 Volley Ball pitch, a Basket Ball pitch, 2 Badminton Courts, a Gymnasium, 10 Table Tennis, a mini Football Pitch etc. As well for the Academic Development there are some 4 Libraries, 2 Physics Labs, 2 Chemistry labs, 2 Biology Labs, 2 Computer labs, 2 CDT labs, 1 Agriculture Lab, 2 Junior labs, 4 Audio Visual Rooms, 2 Food and nutrition Labs, etc… it can be noted that all these facilities are graded as 'Grade A' amenities by the PSSA .