Pedagogy & Information Technology in Maldives

Why should ICT be introduced in the education system?

There are two main reasons why ICT should be introduced into the education system. First, considering the changes ICT has had on the various sectors of the world, economically, socially and politically, over the past twenty years, today’s children need to grow the skills that will ensure that they will be able to cope with the dynamic changes, as well as benefit from the new chances offered by ICT. Secondly, there is a developing body of academic study, such as the interactive education scheme at Bristol University in the UK, which reveals how ICT improves the value of teaching and learning in schools, and thus helps in raising the principles of achievements in education (Web-Based Education Commission, 2000).

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Upward inclination to ICT penetration can be accredited to the fact that, the government of Maldives understands and considers ICT as a fundamental factor in the rising of the economy. A complete section in the Seventh National Development Plan and within the Ministry of Planning and National Development is devoted to expanding existing ICT levels (Ministry of Planning and National Development, 2007). The Seventh National Development Plan also contains a number of major ICT policies related to education.

The first policy deals with the Right to Use Computers for Every Student: To conquer technophobia among the children of Maldives, computers are made effortlessly available to them in schools, to allow them to get in touch with other students and teachers, collect information through the World Wide Web and carry out research related to the various lessons taught at school (Romeo, 2006).

The second policy is that referred to as the large pool of ICT professionals: The government envisions a need to develop sufficient human resources, equal to the market requirement for ICT. In this case, capacity building is a main priority, and hence an important undertaking. The Government of Maldives lately released the Strategic Action Plan (2009-2013), which too focuses on the intensification of the ICT industry. To that degree, it expresses policies and plans necessary to develop the ICT infrastructure, and guarantee affordability of ICT services to all citizens.

Another policy is that related to, initiatives: The government has taken some initiatives to develop the existing level of ICT access and consciousness.

One other policy, is that dealing with the teacher resource centers: The MoE, Dhiraagu (National Telecom Service Provider), and UNICEF have set up Teacher Resource Centers (TRC) in 20 islands, in Maldives. Each TRC is set in line with recent technology such as the smart board, which is an interactive finger screen replacement for the customary white board utilized in schools. The money invested on this initiative was about $3.5 million. TRCs can also be utilized by students to access ICT services that are not offered in school, or by professionals who desire to expand their expertise using online programs (Ministry of Education, 2009).

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Virtual university for small states is another key initiative. Its benefit is that, partakers are able to get courses conducted in the universities of the commonwealth states through the internet without paying any amount of fees. A laptop for every teacher is also an initiative that is aimed at providing a chance and support to edify teachers. The initiative also instills coaching skills through the use of assets of modern technology. In this system, 500 laptops are supplied each year.

The government has also taken the initiative of digitally sanctioning development in the island population of Maldives. The function of this partnership project, involving MCST and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), is to give power to, and reinforce island communities by sharing facts and information within different islands, using a community portal. This is intended to offer information regarding products and services in the islands to a lot wider audience, through the setting up of a community portal and web sites in the audience’ s home languages, Dhivehi and English. The project will give state and international contact to local businesses, improve access to markets and generate awareness of ICT among the audience to advance their social and economic life. However, reports state that the integration of ICT in schools has not been successful due to a number of reasons (Vrasidas & Mclsaac, 2000). One such reason is the lack of ICT competence among the teachers, lack of resources and enough time to integrate the use of ICT.

Problem of the Study

As a result of the existing contradiction that despite a huge amount of money being invested in ICT projects, reports still indicate a lack of ICT integration, no studies related to this concept have been conducted in the country. This study will, hence, focus on assessing the use of ICT among teachers. There is a necessity to improve the skills and competencies of all teachers in terms of ICT (Anderson, 1997). However, there is a lack of inspiration and presence of technophobia among teachers, when it comes to the learning and use of ICT. Steps will, as a result, require to be taken to advance the teachers’ IT and Internet expertise before doing the same for students.

Significance of the study

The study is significant to policy makers, as it will help them plot the present situation in terms of nationwide goals, educational perspectives, ICT in education and the dynamics of amendment (Bernstein, 2001). Through it, the policy makers can be able to identify the various educational parts related to ICT intercession and in turn formulate matching ICT education policies. It will also allow for the implementation of infrastructure, content ware, hardware and personal training. Using the study, policy makers will also be able to strengthen their execution plans and integrate their financial and administrative elements into the master plan. The assessment of effectiveness, implementation and impact of ICT intercession and the subsequent modifications and follow-up actions, together with the preparations for electronic content, will also be possible through the study. The study will also offer information to policy makers about the probable and existing conditions related to effective application of ICTs for learning.

The study will provide teachers with a clear starting point, as they reflect on the various lessons they teach. In this case, the teachers will be able to discover different issues, positive and negative, related to the lessons taught through ICT. The study will also look for parts of their coaching that are perhaps adequate, but which may be advanced with the use of ICT found components. The study will act as a steer through the course of including the utilization of ICT into learning.

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Another significant aspect of this study is to facilitate the develop need and use of ICTs as a motivation in the developing countries. Here, the governments in the developing countries will have to respond to this motivation. The expansion of IT as an industry in the country will provide a way of increasing economic performance, and supplying employment to the youth. It is in this cause that nearly all countries have put in position detailed IT policies, and launched the IT Ministries and Departments to supply impetus, for the improvement of the information technology industry. Consequently, and in a good number of countries, the creation of ICT in education started with the essence of having a competent team of human resources in information technology (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996).

In studying the various ICT for Education initiatives, it emerges that, initiatives are successful precisely because they are able to draw together many different fundamentals in an organic and incorporated manner, and that are maintained by a robust, yet, flexible policy structure.

How Do Children Learn?

Being actively involved: Learning in school requires children to concentrate, memorize, observe, understand, have goals and assume accountability for their individual learning. These cognitive actions are not achievable without the active participation and engagement of the learner. Teachers must help scholars to become active and target oriented, by building on their natural aspiration to explore, comprehend new things as well as master them (Andersen, 1997).

Social participation is another learning method. The founding of a fruitful, collaborative and accommodating atmosphere is a vital part of school teaching (Romeo, 2006). Studies have shown that, social relationships can boost students’ accomplishments, provided that the kinds of relations that are encouraged add to learning. Finally, social actions are interesting in their own way, and help to keep students occupied in their academic work. Students put effort so as to improve the quality of their work in school, when they are acquainted with the idea that it will be distributed to other students (Bransford, et al., 2000).

Why Is There A Need to Use ICT in Teaching?

Many declarations have been made when writing about the motivational property of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on pupils, directing them to have positive thoughts to their work, spending longer on responsibilities and being more dedicated to their learning (Czerniewicz & Brown, 2004). In general, there is no significant difference between the traditional teaching methods, and the use of ICT. Both cases highlight the significance of interaction. ICT harmonizes other teaching methods, and should be seen as an addition to, rather than a substitute for, traditional methods, and thus gives students a combined learning environment (Conole, et al., 2004).

ICT Is A Teaching Tool So How Can It Be Used Effectively In Teaching?

A significant part of constructivist theory is to point a child’s education on authentic responsibilities. These are responsibilities which have real-world importance and utility (Jonassen, 1991). It would be not possible for us all to turn out to be masters of all content areas; hence, “instruction is attached in some meaningful, real-world background” (Jonassen, 1991p. 61). According to the British Educational Communications Technology Agency (Becta) (2003), children study whole to part, and not incrementally. The thoughts and interests of children compel the learning process. Teachers can be flexible in that they can at one time be a source of information, or at other times act as a link between the giver and receiver of information. Learning must turn into a constant, and later turn the changeable into a constructivist location. This model is more focused on the child and not on the curriculum. The model makes learning very active and lively. It is believed that, active learning leads to better retention and a higher thinking level.

There are a number of factors that affect the successful use of ICT by teachers to teach. One of them is the lack of confidence among teachers. This is a contextual factor which acts as a barrier. According to Pernia (2005) a teacher’s fear of failure is a likely to cause lack of confidence to teach.

Another reason related to a teacher’s lack of confidence in teaching is the lack of competence to incorporate ICT into pedagogical application. Numerous findings have identified lack of skills as being a major contributor towards the teachers’ lack of ICT use in schools. Many teachers prefer not to use ICT in teaching due to their lack of ICT skills, rather than for academic reasons.

A lot of studies on obstructions to the incorporation of ICT into education have established that, teachers’ thoughts are an inherently resistant to adjustment, and are, therefore, a significant barrier to ICT use. A number of IT specialists argue that, incorporating the new technologies into educational situations needs change. According to the specialists, bearing in mind different teachers’ attitudes to adjust is important, since teachers’ beliefs control what they achieve in class (Pernia, 2005).

According to a number of researches carried out, teachers are confident and competent enough to teach through the use of information technology. The teachers, however, fail to do so due to lack of enough time. The findings in this study indicate time as a being a major constraint to the implementation of ICT use in class, with the teachers indicating that, they have very little time to plan for the ICT classes, ensure a continuous access to the internet and select the relevant and working software. Time is a strong determinant of a teacher’s ability to finish an assigned duty (Dawes, 2001).

Lack of effective training is also a limitation to the integration of ICT in schools. Lack of good training on the use of ICT to teach, will mean that the teachers do not acquire all the necessary skills, and hence cannot effectively be able implement the various lessons learnt during the training. Lack of ample ICT skills means, inefficiency in its use to teach. This issue is certainly complex. Additionally, it is of essence that the various elements that influence the success and efficiency of a training process are put into consideration. These include the time for preparation, pedagogical training, skills training and an ICT use in first teacher training. Offering pedagogical training to teachers, rather than purely training them to use ICT apparatus is an important aspect that is crucial for the successful implementation of the use of ICT in the classroom.

Inadequate availability of resources is another limitation that depresses teachers from assimilating new technologies into education. The various hindrances related to the accessibility of ICT are: lack of enough computers, lack of a smooth and continuous access to the internet, lack of enough software as well as external computer devices/ peripherals (Dawes, 2001).

References

Anderson, C. (1997). Enabling and shaping understanding through tutorials. In J. Entwistle & D. Hounsell (Eds.), The experience of learning. Edinburg: Scottish Academic Press.

Bernstein, B. (2001). Official knowledge and Pedagogic Identities: the politics of recontextualisation in Pedagogic Symbolic Control and Identity – Theory, Research, Critique. New York: Rownman and Littlefield Publishers.

Bransford, J., Brown, A. L. & Cocking, R. (2000). How people learn: brain, mind, experience, and school (2nd ed). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

British Educational Communications Technology Agency (Becta) (2003). Primary schools- ICT and standards. Web.

Conole, G., Dyke, M., Oliver, M. and Seale, J. (2004). Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design. Computers & Education, 43(1-2), 17–33.

Czerniewicz, L. & Brown, C. (2004). Access to ICTs for teaching and learning – from single artefact to inter-related resources. Web.

Dawes, L. (2001). What stops teachers using new technology? In M. Leask (Eds.), Issues In Teaching Using ICT. London: Routledge.

Duffy, T. & Cunningham, J. (1996). Constructivism: Implications for the design and delivery of instruction. In D. Jonassen (Eds.). Handbook of research for educational communications and technology. New York: Simon & Shuster Macmillan.

Jonassen, H. (1991). Evaluating constructivist learning. NJ: Educational Technology Pub.

Ministry of Education. (2009). Government Policy of Providing Aid to Registered Pre- schools in the Atolls. Maldives: Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Planning and National Development. (2007). Millennium Development Goals, Maldives Country Report. Maldives: Ministry of Planning and National Development.

Pernia, E. (2005). Strategy framework for promoting ICT literacy. Bangkok: UNESCO publications.

Romeo, G. (2006). Engage, empower, enable: Developing a shared vision for technology in education. In M. Khine (Eds), Engaged Leaning and Emerging Technologies. The Netherlands: Spring science.

Vrasidas, C. & Mclsaac, M. (2000). Integrating technology in teaching and teacher education: implicationsfor policy and curriculum reform. Educational Media International, 38 (2/3), 127-132.

Web-Based Education Commission. (2000). The Power of the Internet for Learning. Moving From Promise to Practice. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office.

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