Friday, May 28, 2010

ICT based distance learning programme - III

In the third part of this series,I will present the consolidated findings of some of the breakthrough research done in this field.Please refer the First part for Introduction and Second part for the Importance of ICT.

Positive Outcomes:
The ICT based initiative had several positive outcomes:
• The use of ICT in business education helps increase pupils’ motivation. Many pupils, particularly boys, opt for business courses at least partly because they often include a strong ICT component.
• A large percentage of the teachers felt that instructional technology saved time and that there is greater student involvement and learning with instructional technology than with lecture method
• They also felt that the instructor availability is more with instructional technology than with lecture method mode of teaching
• Many felt that they had more time to devote to intellectual enhancements as instructional technology has resulted in saving time for the respondents.
• Many teachers used instructional technology as a means for intrinsic enhancement and greater global orientation.
• Achievement in business education is often high where business scenarios are used to provide realistic contexts to develop ICT capability. It also helps them gain knowledge of business vocabulary and an understanding of basic business concepts which are clearly identified in the scheme of work.
• Many teachers make good use of ICT for administrative purposes. ICT was commonly used recording assessments and tracking pupils’ progress.

“Good teaching is to let students know how to learn … how to find out the way to solve problems, how to collect the information they want and they can, how can they make them more confident about themselves.” – One participant in the survey


But some challenges faced by different sections need to be addressed as well. I am presenting them under three different heads
• Many faculty members found instructional technology to be a complex and more demanding style of instruction which involved a lot of pre-preparation for instruction delivery. Most of them also felt that instructional technology was highly training intensive and they needed guidance for using instructional technology as a teaching aid.
• A very large population was of the strong belief that effectiveness of the lectures is still person oriented and not technology oriented, given the flux of technology enabled teaching environment in the country today.
• Effective use of ICT for the purposes of presentation, research and data handling has been witnessed. Its use beyond these areas is less well developed.
• Some teachers fear losing authority in the class room with the advent of ICT as well as lack of non-verbal clues esp. in distance learning programmes.
• Certain factors like age of the faculty, academic background, and the age of the institution, lack of training and administrative etc. could limit the integration of these tools into the teaching learning transaction
• The training provided to the teachers has been found mainly ineffective as it did not take sufficient account of teachers’ prior knowledge and understanding of ICT and was too generic in nature. In-house training was judged to be more effective because of its greater flexibility and better match to teachers’ needs.
• In a small minority of cases, teachers are not convinced that using ICT adds value to their teaching. They also argue that most examination courses in business studies and economics do not require students to use ICT or demonstrate an understanding of it.
• In some lessons, teachers make inappropriate use of ICT. Knowing when and when not to use ICT is an important skill. It can be a false assumption that pupils busily engaged on computers are also learning something.

• Well-presented graphs and charts, generated almost instantaneously by the computer, sometimes conceal pupils’ lack of understanding about what they show and how they might be interpreted.
• Increased emphasis by teachers on discussion with students about the assessment criteria for an effective presentation is required as it has been found that where this has not occurred, students tend to put too much text on each page, use too many different fonts or introduce too many special effects.
• In some lessons students spend too much time browsing the internet and are indiscriminate in their use of material. The most effective departments invested time in developing students’ research skills, gave guidance on which websites were likely to be most useful and helped students develop a critical awareness of the information they identified.
• Coursework is meant to be original, but word-processing makes it easy for students to copy material from each other or from other sources.
• Too often, large quantities of information are downloaded into coursework with little understanding or critical awareness of its content.

• Monitoring of ICT tends to focuses on the quantity of use, rather than its impact on teaching and learning. This meant that most colleges were unable to make value-for-money judgments about the deployment of ICT resources.
• Mostly the emphasis was on increasing resources, rather than improving teaching and learning by using ICT.
• Very few colleges were able to say with any certainty what ICT resources and types of teaching strategies were having the most impact on raising standards and achievement.
• Classroom computers that are acquired as panaceas haven't delivered the right desired results as other simultaneous innovations in pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, and school organization has not taken place
“Integration is still a difficult thing. I can see that the integration of technology into business is available … yet, it’s a challenge, trying to integrate [ICT into] teaching.”– One participant in the survey

In the fourth and last blog of this series, I will share the framework that I have developed for a model distance learning institute.

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