I have chosen to do my project on the use of ICT in RE, the title for my project is as follows how can ICT be used effectively in RE to develop knowledge and understanding? A critical evaluation. I wanted to do it on this because I was interested to find out how it is used in schools and whether this will help improve the status of religious education. QCDA state that 'ICT helps pupils learn in RE by enabling them to consolidate and deepen their knowledge, understanding and skills'. In my assignment I will include the following what will ICT bring to RE, will this raise standards, benefits and challenges of using RE in ICT and teachers can use ICT to improve management in RE which is to do with using databases to assess student progress in this lesson. Bowie (2005) p.14 state that 'Database and spreadsheet software can be used to log assessment data, monitor student progress and analyse certain kinds of results'. This is important because then the teacher can assess themselves on how well they are teaching and monitor the children progress in RE.
Rationale and aims
I have chosen to do my research on how ICT can be used in RE because I was interested in finding out whether this will improve and develop knowledge and understanding in RE. The main aims I would like this project to achieve are as follows What ICT will bring to RE and will it raise standards. How will ICT benefit children in RE? How will ICT benefit staff in RE such as planning and teaching?
I have used books, the internet and journals to collect my data. This method of researching is called secondary research. Secondary research is the use of material, which has been researched by someone else. The different research methods for secondary research are as follows: technology based and case studies. Technology based research is to do with researching from the computer to get your information, which has a lot of benefits such as the internet provides online libraries; e-books, journals and encyclopaedias. The main electronic databases I have used for my research were as follows Dawsonera and British Journal of Religious Education. The key read was based on, ICT in Religious Education and how the search found a few journals, but some were irrelevant, to what I was looking for this is because there's not much research in this field. You can download information off the Internet but make sure it is copyright free. Search engines help you through the mass of information on the Internet two most popular search engines are Bing and Google etc; also on the internet you can search for newspaper articles. Case studies published by other researchers can be used as secondary basis of data. There is a lot of ways you can use them such as identify differences and discuss comparisons.
I did not use primary research because this is to do with carrying out your own research. The different research methods for primary research are interviews, experiments, questionnaires and observations etc. I didn't use this method because I didn't have enough time to do this if I did I would have done questionnaires and observe RE lessons to get my findings.
The importance of religious education is that it will help children, to learn about different cultures e.g. what different people belief and their way of life. Learning about God, how he helps and the children's own perception on life. RE Non statutory framework, 2004, p.7) 'provokes challenging questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, beliefs about God, the self and the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. It develops pupils' knowledge and understanding of Christianity, other principal religions, other religious traditions and other world views that offer answers to questions such as these. It offers opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development. It enhances pupils awareness and understanding of religions and beliefs, teachings, practices and forms of expression, as well as of the influence of religion on individuals, families, communities and cultures'. All these values will make a person good and caring in society; know what is right and wrong such as; drug dealing is wrong. If people learn these values, it will benefit the society, by making it a safer place to live in, without crime.
ICT capability is to do with having the skills to use and access RE resources, also this allows people to communicate with one another through emails. This is vital in schools because children can have debates on issues in RE. DfES (2004) p.7 state that 'ICT capability involves technical and cognitive proficiency to access, use, develop, create and communicate information appropriately, using ICT tools. Learners demonstrate this capability by applying technology purposefully to solve problems, analyse and exchange information, develop ideas, create models and control devices. They are discriminating in their use of information and ICT tools, and systematic in reviewing and evaluating the contribution that ICT can make to their work as it progresses'. Another research that backs this suggestion is from NACCE which state that 'suggest that 'Information technology can also revolutionise forms of teaching and learning through providing easier and fuller access to information, ideas and people. Information technology is one of the easiest ways of encouraging the urge to learn in a child' NACCE (1999 p.109). This quote is good because children can be motivated to learn where by if children just in the class listening to the teacher may bore them but if children can explore by themselves they may learn more about RE issues.
The positive aspects of ICT in RE are that it will raise standards and it will give children new opportunities to learn in different ways. According to DFES (2004) p.15 state that 'ICT in Religious Education key stage 3 national strategy -: Use of ICT raises standards in RE because this will support teachers to improve lesson design, to transform teaching and learning; to engage and motivate pupils more effectively. Secondly it will provide opportunities for pupils to learn in alternative and challenging ways using a wide range of sources of information and techniques to support critical thinking'. I believe this quotation is important because some children may find researching not very exciting or boring, but if they use ICT to explore websites or other resources; this will stimulate children to want to learn about RE issues.
Using ICT effectively in RE can help children to explore and be creative when designing posters or doing power point presentations. BECTA (2009) p.2 states that 'ICT allow pupils to investigate or be creative in ways not possible otherwise'. The child can speak to children online. BECTA (2009) p.2 suggests that 'ICT can facilitate safe communication with peers and other communities, locally, nationally and globally'. Child can critically evaluate resources found via the computer. BECTA (2009) p.2 state that 'engage pupils in the selection, critical use and interpretation of a wide range of information'. This will also help children to understand new facts on RE issues. BECTA (2009) p.2 says that 'ICT can help pupils to understand important, and complex, ideas. ICT will help children tell the class about their research and what they have learnt and share it with the children. BECTA (2009) p.2 suggests that 'support pupils in organising, recording, reporting and communicating findings'.
The strengths that ICT will bring to RE, it will allow children to work well and they gather more information from resources online, CD-ROMs and from videos such as teachers TV or you tube to help their studies. This will give children information on historical and recent events in RE than other resources such as books or stories. QCDA state that 'ICT enable pupils to work effectively and to access much more information than non-ICT sources can allow'. This will also allow children to talk to other children online about issues in RE. Broadbent and Brown (2002) p. 162 state that 'pupils in essentially monocultural and monofaith communities can exchange emails and digital photographs with pupils in the multicultural and multi faith communities'. Another quote related to this topic is QCDA state that 'the interactive way in which information is stored, processed and presented enables pupils to explore models and to communicate effectively with others'. Teachers can edit information to meet the needs of the children such as when creating power points. QCDA state that 'the provisional nature of information stored, processed and presented using ICT allows work to be changed easily to meet the needs of different audiences'.
There are lot of approaches in which ICT can help children understand issues in RE. Children can have access to online resources and CD ROMs which can help to critically evaluate these sources. Children can communicate with other children through emails and forum setup by teachers with issues on topics learnt in schools. BECTA (2000) p. 2 suggests that 'There are many ways in which ICT supports the development of pupils' knowledge, skills and understanding in RE. These include: asking and answering questions to promote knowledge and understanding. Exploring decisions on religious, social or moral issues and their consequences. Assessing and evaluating sources. Understanding, analysing and evaluating interpretations and arguments. Organising and communicating information and ideas. Communicating with faith communities, organisations and experts'.
The benefits of the virtual world for children these are having the opportunities for learning, for play, for Communication, for skill development, for creativity and for having fun. Livingstone and Haddon (2009, p.71) state that 'the main opportunities classified into four categorises: education, learning and digital literacy; participation and civic engagement; creativity and self expression; identity and social connection'. The internet is important for the child because they will be able to communicate to people in the virtual world and they can do their homework on the internet for research and revision. DCSF (2010, p.8) state that 'The internet and software packages were a source of information for teachers. The internet was also important as a vehicle for delivering lessons, through access to websites and software, and particularly through teachers' own power point presentations. The presence of ICT facilities in the classroom opened up many possibilities for resourcing RE and made much varied material (e.g. video clips) readily available, enhancing teachers' independence in selecting materials. In addition, teachers wanted to encourage the development of ICT skills in RE lessons. This could simply be through the use of laptops for presentations, but could be more complex'. Year 6 teacher used the interactive whiteboard to share Sikh and Muslim stories, sourced from different websites'. This is good because the teachers can get up to date information on changes on RE issues. Children will learn more if they are visual learner because power point presentation can help them understand the issues.
There are number of ways in which teachers can use ICT in religious education such as power point presentation this is very popular method in teaching because teachers can create these in relation to the needs of the children in their class. The teachers can use email or forums to help children debate on issues discussed in class which can develop children's understanding. They can use the internet and CD ROMs to find out and develop information on different religions. Using Microsoft word in RE will enhance children knowledge on a topic. Seed state that 'Giving greater scope to written RE work through the power of word-processing or desktop publishing, e.g., reports, posters or leaflets which use illustrations, photos, religious symbols and facts captured from CD-ROM or websites'. This is good because children can work in groups or individually to create power point presentations and posters on issues they have learnt in class.
ICT can also benefit teacher's not just children because it can be helpful resource for teacher to use to develop their understanding of the latest RE issues and they can use online resources to use religious scriptures from the Guru Granth Sahib. BECTA (2000, p.3) states that 'ICT provides access to people and materials that can offer advice and expertise in the teaching of RE. Personal research and access to religious texts and information can be easier and more flexible using the Internet. Once found, a wide range of resources including pictures/photos can be downloaded for teacher and pupil use'. ICT can be used in schools for discussions and giving children opportunities to share information. BECTA (2000, p.3) state that 'Teaching and learning - ICT can be used to stimulate discussion, brainstorm ideas and work collaboratively and is an extremely powerful tool for presenting information and sharing responses'. The teachers can use ICT to record data on how well the children are progressing in RE classes. BECTA (2000, p.3) 'Assessment, recording, reporting - There is a range of ICT-based administrative systems used to support teachers in record keeping, the analysis of data, target setting and reporting'. Another factor that can benefit teachers because it is easier for teachers to contact parents, write letters to parents about visits to places of worship instead of writing 30+ hand written letters. BECTA (2000,p.3) state that 'Administration and policy development - ICT makes writing and maintaining policies and schemes of work and writing a range of letters to parents and other people more effective. Using ICT for cataloguing and budgeting enables more effective planning, searching and maintenance of information'.
Creativity has a number of definitions and I will state a view of these meanings. The NACCE (1999) define creativity as 'imaginative activity fashioned so as to produce outcomes that are both original and of value'. Another meaning of creativity is from Bruce (2004) whom he defines has 'Doing something different, new and original is central to creativity. Creativity is about having ideas and ways of doing things, need personal space and feeling emotionally safe enough to create'. Creativity can be effective in the use ICT in RE because it will help children develop understanding and use this creatively when creating presentations or posters through publisher or word. Another research example of this is from Ofsted (2002) p.7 state that 'pupils use presentation software effectively to select and summarise key points and to bring together visual, audio and written stimuli to create informative and interpretative presentations'. All our futures (1999) p.22 state that 'New technologies offer unprecedented opportunities for young people to broaden their horizons; to find new modes of creativity and to deepen their understanding of the world around them. Schools also have resources available through these technologies to transform methods of teaching and learning'.
Teachers can use ICT effectively by planning lessons well this is important because then teachers can assess websites, videos and can relevant CD ROMs to help them teach the lesson. BECTA (2000, p.3) states that 'Planning - Software and the Internet provide tools and resources to help in the identification of learning objectives for pupils and preparation of well presented and interesting teaching materials. For example, schemes of work are easy to store and reproduce and lesson plans and activity sheets can easily be updated or differentiated'. Making sure children have good ICT skills and they must ensure that the resources are available. The teacher must know about the resources they use so that they can adapt for their needs of teaching. The teacher should get support in developing their confidence with the equipment. DFES (2004) P.16 state that 'To ensure the effective use of ICT in RE, teachers should: plan the use of ICT by pupils in collaboration with the ICT department, to ensure that pupils have appropriate ICT skills; analyse how to build on prior learning in RE and ICT to inform planning of schemes of work and design of lessons; be sure that ICT resources are available for the lesson'. This is vital because teachers need to do good planning for an effective lesson to be taught if the lesson plan isn't good then children will not as much as a good lesson planned.
But on the other hand the negative aspects of ICT in RE are that teachers and children need to develop their understanding on ICT. RE handbook state that 'QCDA points out that ICT capability is fundamental to participation and engagement in modern society and few would dispute that pupils and their teachers need to develop their skills and understanding to keep apace with developments. Another criticism of the use of ICT in RE is from Ofsted and QCA which has categorised the use of ICT in RE as inappropriate. RE handbook suggest that 'Both Ofsted and QCA have observed that ICT has been a major issue and weakness in the subject, with inappropriate use of ICT identified as the most frequent weakness'.
Other factors that affect the use of computers in RE are teachers unable to book computers to undertake the activity this may be due to lack of time available. Lack of confidence from teacher because they do not have much understanding on how to use the equipment so training required for staff to gain more understanding on the use of resources. Bingham et al (2002, p.303) state that 'This lack of time and training resources means that many teachers do not have the appropriate skills to use ICT in their teaching' Another negative aspect is the danger of children copying from internet when doing homework set by teachers such as presentations or doing a project. Broadbent & Brown (2002) p.162 state that 'a cut and paste sections of sacred text without reference to its context and reflection on its meaning is not good use of ICT'. From this quote I believe that teachers need to teach children that copying someone else's work is wrong and you need to reference all information used from online resources.
This table shows that in the last few years from 2002-2004 over half of the teachers who teach Religious education in secondary schools use ICT in the curriculum but only 'some'.
Prior, G and Hall, L (2004), ICT in Schools Survey 2004, ICT in Schools Research and Evaluation Series No. 22, Becta/DfES
Ofsted (2002) p.6 state that 'Good use is made of ICT in religious education in only three in ten schools and its use is unsatisfactory in four in ten'. This statistic from Ofsted shows that ICT in RE is not very good in every four in ten schools visited but on the other hand the good use of ICT in religious education is less three in 10 schools. The reasons for this can be lack of ICT resources in schools and arranging time for this to be done effectively in lessons.
Discussions of findings
From doing my project on ICT in RE I have learnt that ICT can bring opportunity to RE. It has a lot benefits such as it will help students to think critically about issues in RE and children and teachers can have debates on these issues on forums. RE online state that 'making use of the internet to explore religious beliefs and practices, ultimate questions and ethical issues'. This is good because children will be able to socialise with friends on religious issues via the internet. Dfes (2004) p.15 state that 'communication could be developed by pupils using e-mail to contact pupils in other schools that are following similar topics'. Children who are quiet in class may be able to open up and give their ideas on their beliefs via the internet which will help the child to gain confidence. Use of ICT in RE can enhance a child's creativity through the use of power point and posters where they are designing something on issues in RE. Time to plan activities are important because then the teacher can assess the resources they are going to use for the activity and make any changes if required to meet the needs of children. I my opinion I believe that ICT will make RE better because it will give them more free resources to improve the ways in which teachers teach. Parfitt (2005) state that ' ICT is part of "how" as much as "what" in learning it's not about replacing, but adding, enriching and enabling'. But the weaknesses are the little support on training on using ICT resources and lack of time to organise activities. Another factor is that of children using online resources incorrectly this means that they copy work from the internet without referencing. Schools must teach children dangers of this and they should refer to piece work they looked at.
Conclusions and recommendations
In conclusion whilst doing my project and believe I have achieved my aims in my report by including all my information relevant to the aims. My work will benefit others by giving them more understanding and knowledge on this topic. Improvements I can make to my project are to use more resources such as books, journals and online websites. During my project I found it difficult to gather information on this topic because there's not much research done it this area. If I do this project again, I will do my own research in this topic. I will do my own research by going into schools carrying questionnaires and observing RE lessons.