Making computers available in schools is not sufficient to realizing technology’s potential. They are often idle and when used amount to little more than enhanced typewriters. The role of information technology in education involves exploring the potential for technology to re-define the teaching and learning experience. Applying information technology in education helps students to form a more practical, creative and productive approach to learning; which is sure to greatly help them in their future professions.
Education is a life-time process as there is no limit on when to start or when to stop. It provides us with so much information that we have to learn and process for our own use. Technology eases the learning process by making this information as easily accessible as possible. This is very important to education as it will greatly help in reducing the level of illiteracy. Information technology has the ability to speed up information delivery, an ability that can be used in improving our learning environments. With proper implementation of information technology, costs of accessing educational material are cut down and it makes it possible for students to learn from anywhere.
Students today are leaders, inventors, teachers, and businessmen (and women) tomorrow. Without the proper skills, they will not have the preparation needed to survive. Can the tools of technology when properly used break through the barriers to educational progress? We say yes. Here are some reasons:
Improved Educational Resources
Information technology has changed the way we learn and interpret information. The use of audio-visual education helps students learn faster and easily. As opposed to text and blackboard notes that sometimes get boring. It is a human weakness for people to get bored after reading text for so long. The introduction of audio-visual technology in education, makes students enjoy what they’re learning. Visual illustration using images on projectors helps a student understand the concept, because some of these images are interesting and they look familiar to students. Our brains tend to remember visual illustrations easily more than text. This explains why one can easily remember someone’s face but fail to remember their names.
Full Time learning
In the past, learning was limited to a physical classroom, students and teachers could only access academic information while at school. Today, all that has changed. Information technology has made it easier to access academic information. Both students and teachers can use information technology to acquire and exchange educational materials. For example; teachers can easily provide visual and audio classes to their students using computers and broadband internet. Student can access information at any given time of the day.
It does not matter where they are or the time of the day it is. Information technology has facilitated online education. A student can study at school, home or anywhere else. Students in different locations of the world can now study the same course. This new advantage has further bridged the learning gap between advanced countries and developing countries.
Students need productivity tools for the same reasons everyone does. They need to write, read, communicate, organize and schedule. A student’s life is not much different from any knowledge worker, and they need similar tools. Even if they are never used in the classroom, portable personal computers will make a student’s (and teacher’s) life more effective.
To cash in this benefit, schools need to go paperless.
Today, everyone needs a basic understanding of ICT and how to make productive use of it, just to be good students, workers and citizens. Teaching people how to be competent users of ICT technologies is an important role of ICT education, so as to make them more successful in their academic and work careers, and they can efficiently participate in today’s modern technical society.
A vital skill in the new digital world is the ability to work collaboratively on projects with others who may not be physically close. This can best be done using modern computer tools such as the web, email, instant messaging and cell phone. Rather than laboring alone on homework, students can work in small groups wherever they happen to be and at any time. Many university projects are undertaken by teams spread around the world. Students need to be prepared for this.
Technology can be used to track and report the progress of students instantly. What fun is running a marathon if you don’t know how long it takes? Runners can get instant feedback for hundreds of data points as to their condition. This feedback provides instant motivation to improve performance. Similarly, students who use technology are motivated to improve performance. This can be seen in how they compete amongst themselves in gaming consoles. Trying to beat high scores at home and trying to beat high scores in math use the same psychology.
Assessing student performance can be done instantly with technology. It’s more than just test scores; simply understanding students’ grasp of a subject in real time can be done on tablets in classrooms. A classroom could be questioned with a multiple-choice problem for example. Students could then input their answer and the feedback score is instantly given to the student and teacher. This feedback can help teachers better understand the response of students to their teaching process and even sometimes highlight certain points or subjects that they need to improve on.
Improved School Management
School administrators can also reap several benefits from applying technology by using digital school management tools. They include effective communication between teachers, parents and students, more accurate staff attendance management, complete automation of all operations, centrally stored information with zero redundancy, Instant reports based on pre-existing data and more organized financial records.
As a System Analyst and Application Developer; I recognize the importance of Information Technology to education and I have developed Software Solutions targeted at improving the use of Information Technology in our schools. They include: Academia, A Full-fledged Result Portal / CBT Platform and Libraville, An E-library/E-learning platform. I have deployed them in schools nationwide.
But one of the major challenges of applying I.T to education is that while some schools have embraced technology tools, they have invested only meagrely, if at all, in training teachers to use technology. The education sector has no systemic approach to upgrading the skills of its professionals. If done at all, technology training for teachers has been limited in number served and scope of training. Most times it has been left primarily to individual teacher initiative. Lack of training typically has not helped teachers understand how to integrate technology into the curriculum. And when the teachers who are the most important part of the educational workforce can’t properly utilize technology tools, a lot of the technology initiatives taken by schools either fail or are greatly under-utilised.