1.1 Background to the Study
Technology is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the world today. Technology has evolved and become more central to teaching and learning. Integrating technology into the curriculum is a priority in schools. When teachers first began to use computers in a classroom setting, schools evaluate whether the use of educational technology had a significant and consistent impact on pupil performance. When people hear the word “technology”, computers are the first thing people think (Mechling, 2007). However, there are many different types of technology other than computers that can be used to improve pupil learning. There are various kinds of programmes in the classroom and they serve different purposes. Such examples as word processing programs that encourage communication and writing skills; spreadsheet software promotes mathematics; database software promotes organizational skills; modeling software enhances the application of science skills (Using Technology to Improve Performance, 2003). It is without question that the introduction of a new medium of instruction like technology would have an enormous impact on the traditional classroom.
Technology is a body of knowledge that is applied to create tools, build up skills and extract or collect materials. In addition, it is the application of science (the combination of the scientific technique and material) to meet an aim or solve a problem (Rye, 2005).
Technology is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a pre-existing solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Meanwhile, learning is often defined as a relatively lasting change in behavior that is the result of experience (Sikorski, 2005).
Technology can be most broadly defined as the entities, both material and immaterial, created by the application of mental and physical effort in order to achieve some value. In this usage, technology refers to tools and machines that may be used to solve real-world problems. It is a far-reaching term that may include simple tools, such as a crowbar or wooden spoon, or more complex machines, such as a space station or particle accelerator. Tools and machines need not be material; virtual technology, such as computer software and business methods, falls under this definition of technology (Jonassen, 2006).
According to Kumar (2004) technology ushers in fundamental structural changes that can be integral to achieving significant improvements in productivity. Used to support both teaching and learning, technology infuses classrooms with digital learning tools, such as computers and hand held devices; expands course offerings, experiences, and learning materials; supports learning 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; builds 21st century skills; increases pupil engagement and motivation; and accelerates learning. Technology also has the power to transform teaching by ushering in a new model of connected teaching. This model links teachers to their pupils and to professional content, resources, and systems to help them improve their own instruction and personalize learning.
Online learning opportunities and the use of open educational resources and other technologies can increase educational productivity by accelerating the rate of learning; reducing costs associated with instructional materials or program delivery; and better utilizing teacher time.
Technology should be integrated as a tool to promote and extend pupil learning on a daily basis and to further improve academic performance. Technology use allows pupils to create, problem solve, research, collaborate, and interact globally. Pupils that use technology as a tool and or a support for communicating with others are in an active role rather than the passive role of recipient of information by a teacher or reading textbooks. Pupils have the ability to learn and express themselves in their individual learning style too (O’Connell, 2007).
Randolph (2008) submitted that when technology is introduced into a classroom, things change. Instruction through computers give pupils more control over their learning environments and access to a wider range of materials to use in the learning process. For example, pupils are too confused or embarrassed to ask questions because they don’t want to show their ignorance but with individualized computer instruction, pupils can always immediately request help if something is unclear. Computers in classroom help to make it more interactive. They are extremely effective with the struggling learners because they have unlimited patience. The computer can also be used to educate the smarter pupils who easily get bored in a traditional classroom since they reach their goal faster. With computers, pupils that finish a unit can go to the next one immediately. For these bright pupils, the challenges that computers can offer encourage self-directed learning. Also, the use of technology fosters collaboration among pupil.
The use of information technology (IT) at universities world-wide has grown and changed substantially over the decades. Over the years, educators have used various types of technology aids to help them teach and to improve their pupils’ learning (Heinich, Molenda, Russell, & Smaldino, 2001). Pupils can be considered adept at the use of computers and the Internet for information exchange, having grown up in a “high technology” environment. However, for most faculty members, integrating IT into their curriculum is a gradual, reflective process. Whether supporting the use of new technology in traditional classroom environments, in the delivery of fully-online courses, or implementing hybrid courses that include online activities, universities face major challenges in meeting the technology needs of faculty and pupils (Anderson, 2011).
The teacher’s role changes as well. Teachers often find themselves acting more as coaches and less as lecturers. Teachers play the role of facilitator, setting project goals and spend more time individualizing their instruction. As a result, pupils are given much more individual attention due to the nature of some technologies (Heinich, Molenda, Russell, & Smaldino, 2001).
Kimberly (2004) submitted that the use of new technologies in education has had a positive impact on pupils academic performance and performance, educators, as well as the educational system as a whole. Effective technologies use many evidence-based strategies (e.g., adaptive content, frequent testing, immediate feedback, etc.), as do effective teachers. It is important for teachers to embrace technology in order to gain these benefits so they can address the needs of their digital natives
Technology is helping teachers to expand beyond linear, text-based learning and to engage pupils who learn best in other ways. Its role in schools has evolved from a contained “computer class” into a versatile learning tool that could change how we demonstrate concepts, assign projects and assess progress (Kennedy, 2000).
Donnely (2005) asserts that technology allows pupils to see the whole world as a resource with themselves being in charge of their destiny. It also benefits pupils because they have choices and opportunities to explore and share information to a greater extent than available in a traditional classroom. Technology is a versatile and valuable tool for teaching and learning and becoming a way of life. Technology in the classroom is both beneficial to pupils and teachers. It creates new ways of obtaining and presenting information and gives pupils new ways of analyzing and understanding the world around them.
Kennedy (2000) suggests that information technology is an avenue for pupils to increase their engagement in areas such as active or collaborative learning or pupil-faculty interaction. This is rather encouraging, given the fact that pupils will learn better if provided with the opportunity to engage and interact with the tasks at hand.
Despite these opportunities, adoption of technology by schools is still anything but ubiquitous. Knezek (2002) says that U.S. schools are still asking if they should incorporate more technology, while other countries are asking how. But in all, technology has shown its potential for improving education.
- Statement of the Problem
Improving the academic performance and performance of pupils and in turning improving their achievement in mathematics is an ultimate goal of the school and education. Pupils performances in schools is deteriorating by the day and the classroom teacher cannot do it all by himself, there is the need for external influence or support to be lent so as to improve the academic performances and performance of learners to meet the set goal of education. The congruence of technology education and problem solving is based on the fact that technologies are, in many ways, a product of problem solving.
Technological problems require the application of knowledge from many different disciplines and the laboratory provides a medium to develop and test solutions.
It therefore becomes imperative for technologies to be adopted in the classroom setting to solve educational problems and to improve the academic performance of learners.