Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Role of ICT in Teaching and Learning: Past, Present and Future Perfect

To go back in time, the first commercial computer was launched only 60 years ago and the first microcomputers appeared in schools about 30 years later. Schools up to that time could mostly be described as traditional, having changed little from the learning institutions of 100 years or so previously. But these first microcomputers were beginning to bring about gradual change in classrooms as recorded in a UNESCO publication, Developing Computer Use in Education (1986). This time may be considered as a baseline; the beginning of the use of ICT in schools – termed theemerging stage.

To jump to the present, we see today the linking of computers across the world. The year 1996 may be remembered as the year that the Internet made its initial, far-reaching impact, on learning institutions and on much of the rest of human activity. Today’s web of computers and what we call ICT (Information and Communication Technologies)
have since proliferated to such a degree that they impact on virtually every aspect of our daily lives. Our schools and teacher education institutions and the nature of learning and teaching are witnessing a paradigm shift brought about by the use of ICT. Schools have moved well beyond the emerging stage to what are termed in another UNESCO publication the applying and infusing stages in their use and adoption of ICT.

As we look forward in time, what directions do we see for the future of ICT? Five predictions have been made. The digitising of human knowledge, cloud computing, social networking, touch-screen technology, and the convergence of mobile and PC technologies are developments on the education horizon. A device yet to be invented may be given the name iCT. What will be the impact of these newer ICT on education? Will education have gone beyond the infusing stage to the transforming stage? And perhaps the most important question of all, how do we prepare the next generation of teachers for such a future? UNESCO Headquarters in Paris is about to publishTeacher Development in an E-learning Age, a book containing a four-strand learning model for teacher development that may be a potentially useful template for teacher education programmes in an e-learning age and also may assist in shedding light on the transforming role of ICT on teaching and learning.


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