ETL 411 – Topic 5 – ICT Integration Issues

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Although valuable lessons may be learned from best practices around the world, there is no one formula for determining the optimal level of ICT integration in the educational system. Significant challenges that policymakers and planners, educators, education administrators, and other stakeholders need to consider include educational policy and planning, infrastructure, language and content, capacity building, and financing.

Research on the use of ICTs in different educational settings over the years invariably identify as a barrier to success the inability of teachers to understand why they should use ICTs and how exactly they can use ICTs to help them teach better. Unfortunately, most teacher professional development in ICTs are heavy on “teaching the tools” and light on “using the tools to teach.”

Teacher anxiety over being replaced by technology or losing their authority in the classroom as the learning process becomes more learner-centered—an acknowledged barrier to ICT adoption—can be alleviated only if teachers have a keen understanding and appreciation of their changing role.

Education administrators. Leadership plays a key role in ICT integration in education. Many teacher- or student-initiated ICT projects have been undermined by lack of support from above. For ICT integration programs to be effective and sustainable, administrators themselves must be competent in the use of the technology, and they must have a broad understanding of the technical, curricular, administrative, financial, and social dimensions of ICT use in education.

Technical support specialists. Whether provided by in-school staff or external service providers, or both, technical support specialists are essential to the continued viability of ICT use in a given school. While the technical support requirements of an institution depend ultimately on what and how technology is deployed and used, general competencies that are required would be in the installation, operation, and maintenance of technical equipment (including software), network administration, and network security. Without on-site technical support, much time and money may be lost due to technical breakdowns.

What are the challenges related to financing the cost of ICT use? One of the greatest challenges in ICT use in education is balancing educational goals with economic realities. ICTs in education programs require large capital investments and developing countries need to be prudent in making decisions about what models of ICT use will be introduced and to be conscious of maintaining economies of scale. Ultimately it is an issue of whether the value added of ICT use offsets the cost, relative to the cost of alternatives. Put another way, is ICT-based learning the most effective strategy for achieving the desired educational goals, and if so what is the modality and scale of implementation that can be supported given existing financial, human and other resources?

At my current school we are about to trial a new program with 1 stage two class where they all have laptops. These laptops are on loan to them for their entire school year and their parents/ caregivers gradually pay off the loan. Students are able to keep these laptops once completely paid for and they leave primary school. Students laptops will be connected to the main smartboard through the smart notebook application. They will be able to see the teaching and learning content on their own screens without having to look over someones shoulder. The teacher will have access to all laptops and will be able to shut down any programs that are open and shouldn’t be through their main computer. This is very exciting for our school. If it is successful with the trial class, then all primary students will have this opportunity.

Therefore, the educational effectiveness of ICTs depends on how they are used and for what purpose, like any other educational tool or mode of education delivery, ICTs do not work for everyone, everywhere in the same way. In the different part of the world the use of ICTs is different depending on the affordability, availability and access to technology.