THE ROLE OF COMPUTER IN ENHANCEMENT OF THE OF TEACHING AND LEARNING PROCESS

CHAPTER ONE

  • INTRODUCTION

During the past few years, the world has witnessed a phenomenal growth in communication technology, computer network and information technology.  Development of new broadband communication services and convergence of telecommunication with computers have created numerous possibilities to use a variety of new technology tools for teaching and learning system. The integration of computers and communications offers unprecedented opportunities to the education systems with its capacity to integrate enhance and interact with each other over a wide geographical distance in a meaningful way to achieve the learning objectives. The growth of these communication and computer systems, their ease of use, the power and diversity of information transfer allow teachers and students to have access to a world beyond the classroom. It has the potential to transform the nature and process of the learning environment and envision a new learning culture. Interactivity, flexibility and convenience have become the order of the day in the ICT supported environment. ICT opens up opportunities for learning because it enables learners to access, extend, transform and share ideas and information in multi-modal communication styles and format. It helps the learner to share learning resources and spaces, promote learner centered and collaborative learning principles and enhance critical thinking, creative thinking and problem solving skills. Not only mastering ICT skills, but also utilizing ICT to improve teaching and learning is of utmost importance for teachers in performing their role of creators of pedagogical environments. While literature provides some evidence of the effectiveness of using ICT in technical considerations, little is known about which learning strategies and pedagogical framework should be used for education and training. How to construct these electronic teaching and learning environments so that they are based on specific epistemologies or knowledge bases? What will be the new vision and guiding principles of teacher development for pedagogy-technology integration? As we become increasingly supported by ICT, teaching and learning will not be the same as before. We will have to make use of the rich and exciting opportunities offered by the new technologies in education to reach our new goal and vision.

The past two decades have witnessed a dynamic shift in the way the computers have been used as a tool in the teaching-learning process. Today, the trend appears to be towards the creation of courses specifically aimed at computer literacy, as well as towards integrating computer technology in other content areas across the curriculum. Further, computer technology has increasingly been applied towards non-instructional (record keeping, grade averaging, communication, etc.) and pre-instructional (developing materials, researching instructional content, etc.) uses. This great change has brought forth a fresh perspective in the use of computers in the teaching-learning process. The recent advancement in information technology innovations and computer usage is rapidly transforming work culture and teachers cannot escape the fact that today’s teaching must provide technology-supported learning. Moreover, links have been made between computer use and constructivist, collaborative, and inquiry-based learning and also pedagogical change (Scrimshaw, 2004). Some researchers suggest that computer technology can overhaul education, serving as a panacea, or as an agent of change. Generally, it is accepted that computers have the potential to enhance teaching and learning (Gordin, Hoadley, Means, Pea, Roschelle, 2000) and provide students with a learning experience that other strategies cannot provide (Wellington, 2005). Therefore, being prepared to adopt and use technology and knowing how that can support student learning must become integral skills in every teacher‟s professional repertoire.

Governments in most developing countries have responded to the challenge by initiating national programs to introduce computers in education. To better prepare pre-service candidates for teaching in the information age, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has defined National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) (2002) to guide technology integration into teacher education programs. These include dividing the teachers‟ application of technology in instruction into six categories: technology related -understanding, designing of experiences, implementation of curriculum plans, assessment strategies, enhancement of productivity, legal-ethical issues. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural  Organization (UNESCO) implemented Beijing workshop (2003) on Teacher Training in ICT Integration discussed guidelines for developing Competency Based Standards for Teacher Education Curriculum which comprised of core competencies related to pedagogy (new ways of doing things with Information and Communications Technology (ICT), new theories of learning, pedagogical skills: selection, presentation and assessment); technology (related concepts and operations, social, health, legal and ethical issues); and technology-pedagogy integration (ethical and legal use of technology to design effective learning experiences, manage students‟ learning, improve professional skills, support interaction in learning/social communities). One developing country that is currently pursuing the technological track in education is India. Recognizing the challenge of the “information age”, the Indian National Curriculum Framework for School Education, NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) through Curriculum Guide Syllabus for Information Technology in Schools, 2001 addresses at length the question of integration of ICT into schooling, acknowledges the pedagogical rationale behind this integration and brings to the fore its manifold implications. NCERT not only undertakes the development of training materials for teachers and syllabus or instructional materials for students but also holds training/orientation programmes for teachers towards basic ICT skills relevant to school education and developing ability to use ICT-based learning materials for the classroom.

The current five year plan also lays emphasis on teacher training in use of computers and teaching through computers. Government of India Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) with its National Mission in Education through ICT has initiated an ICT policy in 2009 wherein the mission is to devise, catalyze, support, sustain ICT and ICT enabled activities and processes in order to improve access, quality and efficiency in the school system. It also promotes networking, research, evaluation and experimentation in ICT tools and ICT enabled practices to utilize the potentials of ICT in school education.

Despite the initiatives, mandates, recommendations by different government organizations, policies, and the ever-increasing use of technology worldwide, it has been observed that computers are not being used effectively by the teachers (other than computer teachers) teaching various subjects like science, maths, languages, commerce, social-sciences, etc. The literature suggests that:

(1) Only a few teachers routinely use computers for instructional purposes in different subjects like science, maths, languages, commerce, social-sciences, etc.

(2) When computers are used, they are generally used for low-level tasks such as presentations, drill, and word processing, by the elementary, secondary and senior-secondary grade students;

(3) Computers are not sufficiently integrated across the curriculum. Computers are not being used sufficiently and properly by the school teachers (other than computer teachers) (Becker, 1994; Blankenship, 1998; Dawson, 2008; Drury, 1995; Ely, 1995; Lehtinen & Sinko, 1999; Mooij & Smeets, 1999; Omur, 2008; Stratford, 1997; Wallace, 2001).

Benzie (1995) indicates that national programs have been of limited success not only because they were formulated in non-educational realms, but also because they were not based on research. Innovation is synonymous with change and the innovation of technology-integrated instruction is an instance of planned, organizational change.

Rogers‟ Innovation Decision Process theory (1995) states that an innovation‟s diffusion is a process that occurs over time through five stages: Knowledge (of an innovation), Persuasion (forming an attitude towards innovation), Decision (to adopt or reject innovation), Implementation (of the new idea) and Confirmation (of this decision), (pp. 161). In many developing countries where computer is recently introduced in the educational system, researches have mainly focused on the first two stages, that is, on knowledge of an innovation and attitudes about it. The implementation of use of computers in teaching-learning process into the Indian schools has not been guided by research. This has often been the case in most countries across the world.

In Rogers‟ terms (1995), the “initiation stage”, which demands information gathering and planning, seems to be missing in this headlong process of technology implementation. In particular, both the researches and the computer technology implementation plans seem to be lacking consideration of the manner and variation in computer use by teachers in teaching -learning process. Does classroom technology result in a fundamentally different brand of instruction? Do teachers tend to use technology as more of an “overlay” upon their present instructional style? With apparent interest and initiative, do teachers continue to engage in meaningful interaction with the computers? Such questions if remaining unanswered may engender unforeseen repercussions for computer integration in schools. As a result, fostering technology usage among individual teachers remains a critical challenge for school administrators, technology advocates and policy makers. Thus, it is beneficial to systematically study various ways of computer use among teachers in order to realize the paradigm shift in the usage of computers with the advent of information technology. The current study was based on this pressing need. The study would help to demystify seeming inconsistency and variation with regard to computer use among teachers. The identification of comprehensive ways of computer use would certainly pave the way for policy and decision makers with useful information to aid strategy formulation to fully infuse computer based instructions in teaching-learning process.

1.1     STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Over the years, efforts have been made to provide computers to schools, at workshops and seminars organized to train teachers in order to improve their skills and knowledge of computing and computer applications to better their productivity, competency and efficiency in the course of their lessons delivery, but these could not go down well without problems. The classroom is a microcosm of society, and technology is having an increasing impact in schools throughout the country. In the same way that little is known about how technology affects communities in general, little is yet to be known about the effects that increased use of technology is having on school communities, in particular, on the sense of community of classroom learners (Wighting, 2006).

Thus the problems of computer in education today ranges from low level of computer literacy among students, inadequate computers for practical lessons and lack of internet connectivity in schools where there are computer laboratories and in some instances unsteady power supply; all these prompted the need to investigate how computer can enhance teaching and learning process.

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Updated: 19th February 2018 — 9:01 pm

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