Teaching and learning are now improvised with information communication technologies (ICTs) since the past decade. Computers are often used in various fields such as manufacture, business and research, but now these are used in education and its various disciplines as well. Many countries are now promoting and improving e-learning. ICT has been providing more time, space, academic resources, skilled teachers, and appreciation of learning (Kennewell 2004). However, teachers encounter various problems regarding the utilization of ICT, investment inadequacies, management of learning resources, adjustments to new technologies, acquiring ICT skills and competences, and controlling pupils’ behaviours in a computer class.
The history of ICT use in education is not very popular until the mid 1990s when the computer use was given an important consideration as part of classroom activities. The history of ICT began in the 1960s when computer programming was first taught and computer experimentations were conducted such as using computers in exploratory learning modes and in teaching. Introduction of ICT in early education greatly helped in the learning of pupils and the development of confidence among teachers such as in pre-schools and primary schools. Among teachers who have attended ICT teacher professional development (TPD), they have complimented the usefulness of ICT and the development of their confidence and suggested for further training developments such as increase familiarity with other ICT, focus on already available resources to teachers in schools, use of different ICT literacy in different disciplines, and use ICT for lifelong learning both for students and teachers (Rodrigues & Robbins, 2005). Teacher professional development programs, however, are available only on developed countries which have enough budget allocation for ICT education. Not all countries, especially the developing ones have access to computers and Internet connection.
The computer hardware and software have a lot of considerable advantages such as providing additional updated academic resources that are conventionally available in libraries and collaborative communication of information through the Internet. The increase in the use of ICT has caused the increase in demand of teacher professional development (TPD). The teachers highly consider their professional development and attend programs for professional development. In England, for example, the Teacher Training Agency outlined the skills and knowledge that student teachers must possess in order to qualify as teachers. Aside from England, other countries have also been encouraging e-learning for improving education and curricula (Rodrigues & Robbins, 2005). The thirty country members of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have invested great amount for ICT in teaching and learning. In a research study conducted by OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, USD 16 billion was the estimated investment for ICT in late 1990s (Education Policy Analysis, 2005). OECD is an international organisation established in 1961 which aims on improving the market economy of the members and the participating non-member countries. The country members include United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Spain, Mexico, Germany and other European countries (“The OECD’s 30 members,” 2008).
Aside from problems in limited resources and investment, ICT use policies affect the teaching and learning process. Policies should be well directed towards priorities such as ensuring the number of students per computer and the proportion of the facilities with Internet connection. The OECD study reported barriers of achieving ICT development goals: proper computer integration in classroom teaching, computer scheduling, teachers’ lack of knowledge in using computer as tool in instruction, and teachers’ lack of time for preparing computer lesson since not all teachers possess the necessary skills and competence and interest in ICT instruction (2005). While other teachers use ICT because they think they are obliged to (Haydn & Counsell, 2003).Time and availability of computers among teachers are also limited. Not all teachers in primary schools have access to computer. On secondary schools, on the other hand, teachers do not have enough time to use computers and be familiarized with it. It is important to give provide teachers with computer access and enough time to use it. If teachers know how to use the computers then they know how to use it with pupils (Marilyn Leask, 2001).
Promoting technical skills and competences, however, reduce teaching. Rodrigues and Robbins (2005) argued that “teaching is both an art and a craft”. Technical skills promote the craft aspect of teaching but reduce the art aspect since teachers are highly expected to deliver and maintain students’ progress. Also, the collaboration of ICT to TPD programs has not been successful for teachers to rather understand the benefits of technologies since they became more interested in e-learning and e-teaching. Professional development train teachers to recognize and use the available technology with expertise, but it fail to demonstrate how these skills and competencies shall be demonstrated. In short, the focus is more on the technology and not on using the technology for various teaching strategies. Technologies such as Internet and the web thus have less impact on education in a national assessment of student’s performance.
Computerized simulations used in teaching are not ‘straightforward, as Rodrigues (2000) argued. With the presence of computerized models and simulations, teachers have difficulty establishing their impact on the students. ICT obviously have a lot to contribute in supporting learning however skills and competencies on ICT should not be dependent on teachers’ capabilities in using various technologies only. These skills should also be creatively and widely used in implementing learning. Teachers also face the challenge of studying and learning new skills and concepts in order to be applicable for the current technology trend. Is has become an even bigger challenge especially for non-specialist ICT teachers whose students happen to be more skilled than they do. Teachers also have lesser control on the software since some students may have full access to all of its features unlike in textbooks, modules, and worksheets wherein teachers have full control (Monteith, 2004).
Providing computer hardware and software require teachers to mediate the instruction. The traditional practices are forgotten due to technological innovations (Dowling & Lai, 2003).The usefulness of the ICT depends on the teacher and how they will deploy it, but if they are uncertain of its use in their subject, they might regard ICT as less effective and useful (Monteith, 2004). In ICT teaching, sometimes it is not clear who is teaching. Teachers sometimes become the learners especially those with inadequate training and skills. Other than teachers, librarians, social workers, church people, and health workers facilitate teaching. Some students also teach the adults who do not have knowledge in ICT. In apprentice education, teachers are replaced with members of work community (Marilyn Leask, 2001). Direct human interaction between teachers and learners also is lessened. Learning is shifted to learning rather than teaching. The role of the teacher changes to resource manager and facilitator. Leask said added that teachers lose “psychological security”. There may be a number of good opportunities for other types of learning but the relationship between the teacher and the learner is changed.
Teachers admit that learning is enjoyable but most of them are unconvinced of the value of ICT in education. In the Netherlands, for example, secondary teachers do not agree with the added value of ICTs. Teachers commented that ICTs have little or negative impact in teaching. Teachers are not optimistic on the usefulness of ICTs since most of it is applied Information Technology and Science subject only. They argue that the improvement on teaching is not dependent on the availability of ICT but to the quality of their teaching (Kollias & Kikis, 2005).Time and availability of computers among teachers are also limited. Not all teachers in primary schools have access to computer. On secondary schools, on the other hand, teachers do not have enough time to use computers and be familiarized with it. It is important to give provide teachers with computer access and enough time to use it. If teachers know how to use the computers then they know how to use it with pupils (Marilyn Leask, 2001). Teachers also face the challenge of studying and learning new skills and concepts in order to be applicable for the current technology trend. Is has become an even bigger challenge especially for non-specialist ICT teachers whose students happen to be more skilled than they do. Teachers also have lesser control on the software since some students may have full access to all of its features unlike in textbooks, modules, and worksheets wherein teachers have full control (Monteith, 2004).
Both in primary and secondary education, although teachers have the same set of students, teachers find it difficult to incorporate ICT in teaching. In primary school particularly, they find it difficult to apply it as aid in learning subjects or as a study itself. In some cases, the teachers would just bring their students in computer laboratories and let the most skilled pupil lead the other pupils. This means that the teacher allows for an open-ended learning (Kennewell, Parkinson, & Tanner, 2000).
According from Kennewell, Parkinson, and Tanner (2000) there is no evidence that would provide a strong link that teachers teaching in lab eventually implement learner-centred activities as a replacement over the traditional practices. On the other hand some teachers, due to the limited access to ITC resources, tend to adopt group studies and collaborative learning over the traditional ones. However, if there are enough computers and teachers are confident enough to teach suing ICT, they have the tendency to not use collaborative teaching-learning and group assessment to support the traditional methods.
Another issue if there is plenty if access to technology, traditional teaching is shifted to the computer lab to make the instruction it teacher-centred. Teachers, for example, would assign computer activities for the whole class instead of assigning it in pairs or individuals. Teachers rather find it easier to use a projector and screen for the whole class to see while the students work in their computers in pairs of individually. This seem to be the most effective practice since the teachers used to it than drastically changing to new teaching styles (Kennewell et al. 2000).
Teachers do not perceived ICT as medium that would change and improve the quality of school teaching. Instead they view it as a medium that they needed to incorporate in traditional teaching. It does not necessarily mean that they do not consider the strengths of ICTs in teaching. They simply do what they are required to since ICTs are just add-ons in the curriculum. Besides, computer labs are effective rather than providing computers in every classroom which is more expensive and higher ration of computer per student (Kennewell et al. 2000).
Effective collaboration of pupils in ICT takes time to achieve. In Australia, for example, Mathematics learning which uses ITC was studied. It was found out that ICT can only facilitate collaborative learning in small groups and that the teacher should encourage pupils work using technology in more powerful ways. The teachers have a vital role to teach students for a collaborative group work with computers. It is a challenge for teachers to plan and facilitate the ICT resources and instil in their students the objectives or the desired outcomes. The lessons on ICT are quite long. As a result, teachers ignore whole-class introduction and the plenary to allow students to work on computers for longer time that is why the three-part lesson was introduced. Technical problems also can be difficult for teachers especially if they have not prepared for a contingency plan. Students might get discouraged and teachers will have difficulty managing them. If the there is computer failure, the lesson plan might be useless (Marily Leask & Pachler, 2006).
Teachers should be able to anticipate different technical problems such as slow or no Internet connection while the students are searching for materials, reserved a computer room and found out that only two thirds of computers are functioning, the network failure and the students are waiting the teacher to teach them, overheating of projector, printer jam and students cannot print, some students forgot their passwords and cannot log to the network, reserved a computer which turned to have a different network where the students saved their works, the computer breakdown and the works are not saved, incompatible software, and others. In every possible technical problem, teachers must prepare a contingency to avoid unnecessary problems (Marily Leask & Pachler, 2006).
Misbehaviour of pupils in ICT classes is also a challenge for teachers. ICTs offer some pupils who wanted to experiment, play, or damage computer equipments. Equipments might be damaged such that some pupils remove the mice, balls, or drop sticky substances on the keyboard. Also, students who are skilled enough have the tendency damage the school network by hacking. Students’ misdemeanour is a constant problem of teachers. Teachers should be able to implement behaviour policies and practices in order to improve the behaviour of students. Every time the class work on the computer room, the teachers should frequently roam around to monitor if the students are actually doing the assigned work or simply working on irrelevant matter such that some might just play games or surf the Web. Some students might also be keeping an eye to the teacher while opening other software that they are not supposed to access (Marily Leask & Pachler, 2006).
ICTs certainly have a lot of considerable advantages especially if properly utilized as teaching media and as tools on classroom activities. However, there are also disadvantages especially on the adjustments of skills and competencies of the teachers, response of teachers to technical failures, and management to pupils’ behaviours. The roles of teachers not only comprise the classroom level but also the school and community. In the adoption of ICTs as teaching and learning tools add more tasks to the teachers since it require teachers to possess the necessary skills of handling computers and managing resources, while has become more focused in learning than teaching. It is important to balance the use of ITCs in teaching and learning otherwise it will either be useless or it will overcome the teaching processes.
In order to deal with the challenges faced by teachers, Cummins and Davison (2007) wrote several suggestions such as conducting seminars based from reflective learning experience. The seminar’s framework prepares and exercises student teachers early in initiating the learning process. For example, they will choose a research topic and the task is to use ICT in researching, discussing, and publishing the results of their research. This will not stop from this as they will be exchanging and sharing ideas and information to other teachers from other universities with similar research topics virtually.
This framework of ICT use exercises reflective learning experience both for the students and the teachers. The kind of environment in ICT teaching and learning involves multiple tasks and the role of the teachers in teaching is not clearly defined. In order to cope with this situation, both the teachers and the university should support their students in handling the learning environment (Cummins & Davidson, 2007).
ICT teaching and learning, given the fast-changing technologies, should consider updating the knowledge of school teachers. An example program is the Actualization de Maestros en Educacion (AME) used in the Latin America where ICT involves the use of television and e-learning. There is mutual cooperation among the teachers and the university administrators such that teachers form groups and watch classes in the educational centres then they will carry out the activities on the virtual classroom with the university professor guiding the teaching process (Bracey & Culver, 2005).
AME has been successful in dealing with improving the teachers’ participation in virtual communities and other forms information technologies. Teachers are also receiving improved trainings on ICT on particular disciplines and values (Bracey & Culver, 2005). Therefore, to achieve successful ICT teaching and learning experience, the teachers, school administrators and students should coordinate together.
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