ICT in Education: Challenges, Issues and Guidelines

“The illiterate of the 21st century,” according to futurist Alvin Toffler, “will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Abstract. Globalization and technological change—processes that have accelerated in tandem over the past fifteen years—have created a new global economy “powered by technology, fueled by information and driven by knowledge.”1 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 shrink and access to information continues to grow exponentially, 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 to learn,” : i.e., the acquisition of knowledge and  skills that make possible continuous learning over the lifetime.2 “The illiterate of the 21st century,”  according to futurist Alvin Toffler, “will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Keywords: ICT, ILO, LAN, WAN, PPT

1.Introduction

One of the many challenges facing the developing world in 21st century is making their societies competitive in the global world impacted by ICT revolution. The global economy, powered by information & communication technology is driven by knowledge & intelligence. Further developing countries have to manage economic growth to keep pace with the rest of the world.

The toughest problem faced by the countries in this endeavor in the developing world is to manage population and its growth in terms of education, health & poverty eradication.  The problem is difficult when majority of the population suffers from inequity in income, social diversity and low education level.

The new mantra of management in the ICT economy is collaborate for productivity, share knowledge for prosperity, and resort to team work for enhancing resource productivity.  This new mantra has brought paradigm shift in the way the business is done in this century. The business processes are IT enabled and driven by communication technology. The new global economy relies heavily on human resources and their productivity. Human resource productivity largely depends on education and skill levels the people have. The success of ICT application in Business & Industry is not fully extended in Education and also not fully exploited for the masses. There are issues about access, relevance, cost and productivity when ICT is seen as a tool for driving education system.

2. What are ICTs?

ICT is defined as set of technologies & tools used to create, communicate, disseminate, store, and manage information. These technologies include computers, networks, the internet, radio, and television. More specifically as under

  1. Audio / Video cassettes
  2.  Radio / Television
  3. Tele conferencing.
  4. Web based conferencing

Different technologies are used in different combinations for delivery of the subject. Telephone, Radio, & Television are popular for number of years. The other technologies are now increasingly used as delivery mechanism. The requirements of education in 21st century world are the following.

  • Basic Education as a skill for learning,
  • Tools, Technologies and Analytical skills for problem solving,
  • Knowledge development out of work experience for intelligent application in Decision making.

These requirements can be fulfilled because of potential capabilities of ICTs. Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) with its proven capabilities have been considered potentially a powerful enabling technology for handling the paradigm shift in pedagogy.  The potential capabilities of ICT are

  • Delivery anywhere
  • Presentation and Demonstration
  • Experimentation
  • Interactive, collaborative through networks
  • Manipulation & Creation of new formation
  • Communication & sharing
  • Restrictive as well as open
  • Storing of Information & knowledge.

The capabilities become more powerful because of its access for everybody anytime, anywhere for 24x7 hours a week. Through these capabilities the ICT plays following roles in education

  • Provide access to information: Making knowledge open,
  • Share Content/Curriculum: Reducing knowledge divide,
  • Link learning material to curriculum: Bringing consistency in the two,
  • Test & assess the learner: Continuous & purposeful,
  • Help to reduce digital divide: Provide reach, access& transparency.

3.Traditional model of Instructional design & delivery Vs ICT enabled Model of Instructional design & delivery

In the new era, the education centers, schools or universities, cannot just remain the centers for delivery of prescribed curriculum to students through a structured timetable in semesters or trimesters. These centers have to change their role from Centers of Teaching to Centers of Learning. They are to be recognized as the centers of continuous learning for ever expanding knowledge. Added to this paradigm shift they have to show more concern to educational relevance and its quality as an enabler for living in the competitive world. In the world to day the centers of education have to deal with problems of providing educational opportunities to those who need it on continuous basis. The challenge of converting these centers to new role of centers of continuous learning has four dimensions, namely Cost, Access, Relevance & Quality.

Such conversion is a strategic shift in pedagogy of traditional model of imparting education. The traditional model is founded on the principle that the knowledge is limited to basic education in basics such as languages, science, mathematics, history, geography, sociology etc. It can be delivered in scaled manner through curriculum, Syllabus, Class room interaction. This is then considered sufficient for life time of an individual.

The globalization & technological change however calls for strategic change in this model towards learning that too continuous learning of relevant knowledge. The International labor Organization (ILO) defines the requirements of education in global economy as Basic Education for learning, Tools, Technologies and skills for application, & Knowledge development for intelligent application.

3.1 The Uses, Role & Drivers of ICT

The uses of ICT in education are:

  • Delivery of content to learner’s desk.
  • Customized Presentation to increase interest & motivation.
  • Demonstration of effects & activities
  • Experimentation to choose the best
  • Testing and analysis of learning effort vs gains.
  • Storage of content.

The role of ICT in education and learning is

  • Making knowledge open by providing access to information, reducing digital divide;
  • Sharing Content/Curriculum: Reducing knowledge divide;
  • Linking learning material to curriculum bringing consistency in the two, increasing learning effectiveness;
  • Testing & assessment: continuous & purposeful.

The drivers of full potential realization of ICT are:

  • Effective integration of ICT in the Education System.
  • Institutional readiness to implement.
  • Teacher competencies & their attitude to ICT.
  • Curriculum design and pedagogy.
  • Long term financing for sustenance.
  • Effective delivery model for imparting the knowledge.
  • Ability to decide the relevance to the learner.

If ICT is configured properly keeping learning environment in focus, it offers benefits as under

  • Expands the access to education, 24 x 7
  • Makes education relevant, Need based decided by the learner
  • Raises quality of education, Receives the best content
  • Allows learning at learner’s pace, Makes it cost effective & productive
  • Makes education more interesting, Allows the expansion of education.

The limited experience of making education ICT enabled revels that the full realization of its potential is not possible automatically. The ICTs need to be integrated in an overall education system giving regard to institutional readiness, teacher competencies, curriculum and so on.

3.2 Learning Methods: E- Learning, Blended learning, & Distance learning

Before we get into more details of ICT enabled learning models and its application, it is necessary to appreciate the difference between ‘Education and Learning, or Training and Learning’. Three learning models are E- Learning, Blended learning, & Distance learning in education; it is a delivery of information and knowledge to the learner by the teacher. In this process of education, learner views the teacher’s readily developed mental models or schemas.  Learner is not expected to initiate or innovate new views or mental models.

In Learning, It is an acquisition of information & knowledge by the learner’s initiative through Constructivism. The theory of learning is called Constructivism

  • The theory views learning process in which learner constructs mental models or schemas, which in turn provide meaning and organization to experience or exposure. The learner uses these models or schemas to build knowledge.
  • Teachers, parent, peers and community members facilitate the process of learning.

E-Learning is more popular in higher education and corporate learning. It uses extensively the internet, intranet and extranet on LAN & WAN. It is largely successful & effective where information & knowledge is just to be shared. Teacher interaction, intervention is not a great necessity. The effectiveness of e-learning is more if instruction design takes this into account.

  • It uses internet platform for course delivery, interaction, communication evaluation & feedback. It is also called online learning and Web based learning.

Blended Learning: Blended learning assumes that not all learning is achieved through E- Learning. It is necessary to have teacher interaction and intervention. This is largely decided by the characteristics of learner and the subject itself. The subjects like Science, Engineering & technology are best delivered through this model.

  • This method combines traditional class room interaction with e- learning.
  • It uses print material and online material for all steps of learning.
  • Blended learning is gaining ground as not all learning is effective through e- learning.
  • The necessity of teacher intervention or interaction in the process is a necessity.

Distance Learning: The distance learning is chosen where reach & access is a problem compounded by cost of delivery.

  • This method separates Student and Teacher in time and distance.
  • It uses electronic and print media to communicate and share information.
  • It is by and large time bound and delivers a structured course in structured manner on a time scale.

Learner Centric Environment.

The key to effective learning irrespective of learning method is, whether the delivery of Information & knowledge is in “Learner centric environment”.

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About Author

Parag Rabade

Parag currently works with the National Institute of Management and Administration in Kabul as Head of the ICT department with responsibilities that include curriculum development, faculty evaluation and training. He is a qualified chemical engineer and e-Commerce expert, and has over 22 years of experience in the fields of Education, Chemicals, Plastics, Textiles, HR and Logistics. A passionate teacher and mentor, he is also involved with research, and has seven conference papers to his name.

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