After introducing ICTs and some common terms associated with it in my last blog, in this part I will enumerate, why ICTs are assuming greater importance in the field of education.
ICTs are a potentially powerful tool for extending educational opportunities, both formal and non-formal, to previously underserved constituencies—scattered and rural populations, groups traditionally excluded from education due to cultural or social reasons such as ethnic minorities, girls and women, persons with disabilities, and the elderly, as well as all others who for reasons of cost or because of time constraints are unable to enroll on campus. With advancement in technology, not only the robustness has increased but so has the cost involved in its deployment.
One defining feature of ICTs is their ability to transcend time and space. ICTs make possible asynchronous learning, or learning characterized by a time lag between the delivery of instruction and its reception by learners. Online course materials, for example, may be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ICT-based educational delivery (e.g., educational programming broadcast over radio or television) also dispenses with the need for all learners and the instructor to be in one physical location. Additionally, certain types of ICTs, such as teleconferencing technologies, enable instruction to be received simultaneously by multiple, geographically dispersed learners (i.e., synchronous learning).
Access to remote learning resources
Teachers and learners no longer have to rely solely on printed books and other materials in physical media housed in libraries (and available in limited quantities) for their educational needs. With the Internet and the World Wide Web, a wealth of learning materials in almost every subject and in a variety of media can now be accessed from anywhere at any time of the day and by an unlimited number of people. This is particularly significant for many schools in developing countries, and even some in developed countries, that have limited and outdated library resources. ICTs also facilitate access to resource persons—mentors, experts, researchers, professionals, business leaders, and peers—all over the world.
ICTs prepare individuals for the workplace
One of the most commonly cited reasons for using ICTs in the classroom has been to better prepare the current generation of students for a workplace where ICTs, particularly computers, the Internet and related technologies, are becoming more and more ubiquitous. Technological literacy, or the ability to use ICTs effectively and efficiently, is thus seen as representing a competitive edge in an increasingly globalizing job market.
ICTs help improve the quality of education
ICTs can enhance the quality of education in several ways: by increasing learner motivation and engagement, by facilitating the acquisition of basic skills, and by enhancing teacher training.ICT can help a much larger number of students access the teachings of well known professors and teachers i.e. it will increase the “teacher bandwidth” (the number of students a teacher can service)
ICTs motivate students to learn
ICTs such as videos, television and multimedia computer software that combine text, sound, and colorful, moving images can be used to provide challenging and authentic content that will engage the student in the learning process. Interactive radio likewise makes use of sound effects, songs, dramatizations, comic skits, and other performance conventions to compel the students to listen and become involved in the lessons being delivered. More so than any other type of ICT, networked computers with Internet connectivity can increase learner motivation as it combines the media richness and interactivity of other ICTs with the opportunity to connect with real people and to participate in real world events
ICTs facilitate the acquisition of basic skills
The transmission of basic skills and concepts that are the foundation of higher order thinking skills and creativity can be facilitated by ICTs through drill and practice. Educational television programs use repetition and reinforcement to teach the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes and other basic concepts.
Better utilization of resources
The education which can be completed without disturbing job or the education for which there is no need to discontinue the work and give up present job, entails less burden on the society and the productive resources of the society. These resources are available in the form of natural and human resources and their appropriate and optimum use is very essential to solve the basic problems before the society. This is also true in case of an individual as in case of the economy. Time and money being an important resource available with an individual, he has to allocate this resource very carefully and properly. In case of education particularly in conventional system, students devote full time to education and lose the opportunity of utilizing the same time in earning their livelihood. Because in developing countries like India, the rate of unemployment is high, people do not attach much importance to their time and because of this appropriate allocation of time is ignored or overlooked. Students learn because they do not get job.
In the third part of this series,I will present the consolidated findings of some of the breakthrough research done in this field.