“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” – Roy Amara
In the 21st century, ICT & education seem to have been coupled. The pressure on teachers to use ICT in their classroom practice is mounting. The dollar investment from governments is sending the message that ICT needs to become a part of our classrooms! From The Mohammad Bin Rashid Smart Learning Program to Connect to Learn, the message is unified, teachers need to use ICT in their classes!
Although there is a lot of promise, the challenges that are associated with effective implementation of technology can surpass the excitement of the impact on teaching and learning. Many teachers, even when they envision the benefits of integrating technology in teaching and learning, dread using it and for good reason!
Many teachers do not know where to start as there are many possibilities and the choices are limitless.
With the introduction of ICT, teachers are no longer isolated and the four walls of their classroom dissolve. They are no longer the primary source of information and knowledge for their audience. Children with internet access can find information within seconds by using search engines or by simply exchanging ideas using social platforms. This 21st c. world has rendered the teacher as information pharmacist dolling out capsules of facts to be digested by kids, an idea of a distant and archaic past.
Prominent defining features of ICT in education are accessibility, mobility and flexibility. These features are what differentiate teaching and learning in a technological age. In order to maximize the effect of ICT on student’s achievement, there are a number of considerations when integrating technologies in the classroom.
- A fundamental shift in the mind set of teachers
While everyone agree that integrating technology in teaching and learning will lend itself to a more student-centered approach, unfortunately many are still utilizing technology to replicate conventional educational models that do not engage students.
- ICT integration should be linked to the teacher pedagogical beliefs
It has been argued that technology itself can neither be good nor bad and that it is how you use technology that matters (Bates 2005, Nichols 2005). For example, simulation and modeling are good example of how technology can help to explain abstract concepts in math, and how emails can be used to help in utilized in language acquisition and communication skills and how wikis and blogs are best suited for collaborative work.
- Teachers need to acquire technological knowledge in addition to their content and pedagogical knowledge
The digital divide between teachers and students is sometimes night and day! Some Teachers are insecure about their technical knowledge and fear of loss of control of the education process. Helping to bridge the gap between the digital generations means supporting teachers to develop some critical skills to fit in the 21st c. educational paradigm. Teachers are still key players in this education paradigm and they need to acquire certain skills to make this transformation happen.
- Teachers need to define the purpose for utilizing technological tools
Although this statement seems self-evident, in practice, the success of ICT integration in classroom is often measured by the presence of the hardware rather than the engagement and increased learning of students. A great checklist for teachers to use in deciding when and why to integrate ICT in their teaching is from Sue Lyon-Jones which you can access by clicking here. Prior to just introducing a technology, teachers should be asking themselves:
- Will the technology be used to enhance and support learning?
- Will the technology be used to do something that could not be achieved otherwise?
- How will the technology make this goal more achievable for the students? For the teacher?
Before introducing any ICT, teachers need to recognize that it is a tool – and only a tool! This fact necessarily means that it can be very helpful, useless, or a distracting element in the class depending on how, when and why it is used. ICT is not always the answer and teachers are the class-level educational leaders who need to think through the introduction of any tool as it relates to the learning objectives and their group of students.