The Role of Information and Communication Technology in Education

by Trifon Tsvetkov

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Out of the current world population of 7.7 billion people, 5 billion own mobile phones and over 50% of these devices are smartphones. It’s safe to say that information and communication technology (ICT) is an integral part of today’s world.

ICT refers to any product that can receive, store, manipulate or retrieve data or information in a digital format. 

ICT in education has increased information accessibility across nations and diverse socioeconomic classes.  Students and teachers use various devices to access information and communicate with each other. There are opportunities for more interactive learning which boosts students’ motivation. Creativity and self-expression are also nurtured through the use of ICT in education. 

With this in mind, let’s look at some of the roles of ICT in education today:

1. Easy Access To Information

A few years back, most learners would dread the thought of carrying out research. 

The amount of time it took flipping through books in the school library was arduous, to say the least. Mastering the monstrous Dewey Decimal system was a must if you wanted to get the relevant reading materials.   

And that’s assuming the library was well stocked with the necessary books and journals. If not, more trips to different libraries were inevitable.

The role of ICT in education has enabled many to get the latest and most relevant information just by the click of a few buttons. Students can carry out research in the environment of their choice. This means saving on time otherwise spent moving around in search of information and photocopying notes and assignments in libraries.  

Easy access to information encourages more students to get involved in the learning process. It eliminates hurdles that prevented marginalized learners from accessing necessary academic resources.  

Students with different learning abilities and styles aren’t factored in using most traditional teaching and learning methods. The speed of teaching without ICT is also standardized which means it doesn’t address the needs of outliers. Using ICT allows for diversification of teaching and learning methods e.g use of visual and audio multimedia. Students can learn at their own pace thanks to individualized software features.  

Teachers can confidently give up to date lectures and assignments. ICT gives teachers the ability to teach without having to slavishly follow state-mandated textbooks. 

2. Increased learners’ motivation

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A school administrator’s joy is seeing their teachers enjoy teaching and students enjoy learning. Before the role of ICT in education was well known to learning institutions, most models of teaching were limited to long, boring lectures and group projects scribbled onto poster boards. 

With ICT, the process no longer has to be so monotonous. Teachers can use multimedia like videos, images, and audios to aid in teaching. Using varied ways of passing information makes learning fun and exciting for students. They can remain alert longer.

In schools where each student has their computer, laptop, or tablet, there’s the opportunity for a more interactive learning process. Students can contribute to online forums in real-time. The learning environment becomes less formal and tense and this allows learners to open up and be more eager to learn.

Even the American Psychological Association points out the advantages of using technology in classrooms.

Students’ motivation is also increased by interacting with other learners from different parts of the world. Virtually meeting people of different cultures and backgrounds may trigger a curiosity that will drive them to learn more.

3. Improved communication

Before ICT, whenever teachers gave assignments it was harder to follow up with the students when they weren’t in class. Technology enables communication from anywhere. Students can also hand in tests, projects, or assignments and get feedback much faster. This improved communication makes learning seamless and continuous thus more effective.

“Student to student” communication is also augmented by having out of class interactive sessions on these online academic forums. More time is therefore used acquiring knowledge in a way that’s less stressful and feels effortless. 

For school administrators, communications with education stakeholders have been made easier. Memos and reminders can be sent to all teachers instantly and automatically. Parents can also be kept up to date on their children’s performance and achievements using the same online platforms.

4. Better assessment and follow-up of students

According to Forbes, technology significantly aids in students’ assessment. 

Teachers are spared from keeping countless paper records of their students’ performance and hours of manually analyzing data. Educational ICT avails assessment tools that teachers can use to do all these.

Records of students can be stored in the school database and analysis automatically by simply giving the computer a few commands. This means fewer errors and more ways of presenting the final information such as through the use of infographics. The school administration can then use these findings to make decisions concerning curricula and teaching models.

5. Access To Training For Teachers

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Educators have to remain up to date with knowledge in their fields to better teach students on various subjects. This was harder to achieve in the past because one had to physically attend training sessions and that meant time off work. 

With the internet, teachers can enroll in online training programs. This can be done wherever it’s convenient and whenever the teacher finds the time. The time saved by avoiding the commute between work and higher training institutions relieves overworked teachers from the balancing act needed to maintain success on both ends.

6. Nurtured Creativity And Self-expression

The role of ICT in education is not only to give information to students but also to allow them to contribute to the information. Software is available for learners to edit their multimedia and present it to the world through the internet.

Recent surveys show learners’ creativity is nurtured as they create images, videos, or audios. The mind of a child opens up to new possibilities when they know they can make an impact through self-created media. Having a platform to showcase their work also builds confidence as people from all over the world view and comment on their creations. 

Technology also helps shy students find different ways of expressing themselves.

Online forums where students can interact freely with others encourage self-expression. Teachers can instruct their students to be a part of specific academic forums where they can learn more from colleagues all over the world.

7. Education Accessibility For More Learners

Thanks to the World Wide Web, education is now accessible to students all over the world. Learners do not have to be in a physical classroom to be taught. All they need is a reliable internet connection and a computer.

Universities are making an effort to offer their degree programs to students online. Because of this, more students can acquire knowledge that was once only accessible in a few regions. Lecturers can now also pass their knowledge to students all over the world. 

ICT has made it possible for people who work odd hours to still get an education during their free time when it’s convenient for them. For instance, mothers with young children can enroll online if they so wish and continue learning in the comfort of their homes.

8. Strengthened Integrated Learning

With traditional forms of learning, most subjects were taught in isolation. ICT makes it easier to achieve integrated learning. Various disciplines can be linked in the learning process through the use of computer software.

Teachers using smart boards in classrooms can easily show connections between different subjects or topics. Moving back and forth from one page to the other by simply swiping or clicking a button makes referencing smooth and uncomplicated.

Teachers can also incorporate practical aspects of the class into the theoretical parts using ICT-enhanced learning. Computer technology can be used to simulate what the teacher has taught in theory. 

This eventually helps students seamlessly integrate into the workforce after school. Several organizations today have a knowledge sharing workforce that depends on connectivity and automation provided by ICT. By gaining familiarity with similar systems in school, students can later quickly get up to speed when entering technology-centered companies. 

In Conclusion

There are many roles ICT plays in education. Even major organizations like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) believe that incorporating ICT into education helps ensure equity and universal access to education.

However, for educational technology to be effective, it cannot be done in isolation. Teachers still need to use some of the traditional methods of learning. 

ICT cannot replace teachers and classrooms. 

But by merging the different learning models and aiming for a perfect balance, educators will be able to amplify the role of ICT in education.

Most workplaces are also embracing ICT. This means students taught in ICT-enhanced environments have an advantage. They are better positioned to integrate into the job market. Those with a more entrepreneurial mindset can also blend well into the globalized business world.   

Properly implemented ICT in education can create better learning and teaching form for both students and teachers. 

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