THE idea of presenting educational material through digital means has been around for years. In terms of electronic material, there are countless packaged materials already in the market, in both Science and Arts, taught over a wide range of formats.
From audio lectures to animation, "e-learning" is something which the country is recently embracing, has been around for years.
A favourite of mine some 10 to 15 years ago was the CD version of the Encyclopedia Britannica, through which I used to spend countless hours on learning about... well, everything.
Not that the knowledge had ever been put to practical use, but it did put the world into perspective, in the sense that it made a large and strange place seem just a little more comprehensible.
But that software wasn't something you would be able to find in most typical classrooms back then. In fact, during my particular generation, going into a computer room in school was a semi-rare treat, despite having a personnel computer at home.
It was a break from a routine, where we did some word processing and played around with a couple of programmes that were installed instead of listening to the subject teacher drone on and on (with all due respect to Sir).
When it comes down to it, I am not entirely certain if we had learned anything useful back then. I briefly wonder if the entire concept was "here, have some technology, maybe you'll learn something useful" instead of there actually being a direction in terms of learning objectives.
With more recent policies on education, including the concept of student based learning, instead of traditional models being more prominent, the idea of using ICT to excite students into learning is coming back to the forefront.
From past articles, the Ministry of Education is at least experimenting with the concept of using "tablets" in the classrooms.
The challenges associated with that are many, ranging from content appropriateness to physical security issues. The critical question however, that would ultimately decide the future of such a programme would be "Are our students learning effectively?"
Whatever the cost or the risk would be justified in the end if the answer is 'Yes', it helped them learn better based on whatever metric.
This is where teachers and facilitators have to be extremely careful not to try and let the technology they use do the teaching, simply because technology cannot teach. ICT is not a teacher, but a tool for teaching.
Loading up a tablet with a couple of textbooks and some apps to replace traditional exercise and workbooks is not exactly something that is groundbreakingly innovative.
It might not even increase the overall metrics for learning, as students might place emphasis that they can now access information easily, and thus not make an effort to understand or even commit to memory, something they can easily look up later.
And if you give them the choice, most students would most likely rather play "Bejeweled" (or some version of) on their tablet then do reading or research.
One other challenge, which will be necessary for a successful transition from traditional materials into the digital medium will be to place greater emphasis on the 'Communications' part of ICT. A successful teacher is one who connects with his or her students.
ICT can be used to make student-teacher interaction faster, appear more direct and streamlined if implemented carefully and with those concepts in mind as one key point in employing ICT is the increase speed and efficiency of feedback on course material.
Inevitably, change is coming, and it is important to not lose sight that the end goal is for students to be able to learn effectively, without hinderance for any reason.
The views of the author are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Brunei Times.
The Brunei Times
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Feel free to comment on this article using your Facebook account. By submitting your comment, you agree to the Terms and Conditions for the use of this comments feature, as stated here.