Technological teachingUse of information communication technology in teaching is vital to preparing children for the digital age
The use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in education is growing in demand around the world. This is because revolutionary developments in computer technology and the internet have changed the way people live and work. However, Nepal’s education sector still has long way to go with ICT integrated approaches to educating pupils. A big ICT fete just concluded in Kathmandu. The organisers also conducted an ICT conference. Such fetes, organised on a yearly basis, facilitate the purchase of IT hardware and software, but very few people are specifically concerned about the use of ICT in education.
Teaching through ICT
ICT use in education does not mean simply establishing computer labs and teaching computer science as a subject or using educational software in schools and colleges. Many private schools and colleges in the Kathmandu Valley claim that they provide an ICT-friendly teaching and learning environment. Additionally, they charge huge fees in the name of such facilities. But are their claims true? Students and guardians must be sure of this before paying for such services. It is very easy to check whether the school or college meets the standards of ICT use.
An ICT-friendly learning environment is a setting where all students and teachers have equal access to different kinds of latest technology to facilitate teaching and learning in all subject areas. Access to a radio, television, computer, internet, smart phones, tablet PCs, CD/DVDs with educational software, multimedia projector or interactive white board, sound system, or any other means of communication device and service provided within a classroom setting exemplifies an ICT-friendly environment. Students and teachers must be able to use such resources equitably whenever they want in order to enhance their teaching or learning activities.
But it doesn’t seem as if this situation can be imagined in the current classrooms of Nepali schools and colleges. Nonetheless, some schools in the Kathmandu Valley have started to provide such facilities for all grades—right from primary to the college level. Such facilities require a revolutionary change in the school’s
infrastructure, huge allocation of resources and a full budget. Nonetheless, it is not impossible to start with at least one common ‘ICT room’, like a computer lab.
So far, the Ministry of Education recently disseminated the ‘ICT in Education Master Plan (2013-2017)’. It is beautiful as a policy guideline but lacks specific implementation plans. As a result, the budget allocated for the purchase of ICT-related facilities for 7,143 selected public schools in 75 districts for this fiscal year have not been dispersed properly. The schools themselves are unaware of the budget and the ICT facilities.
Public schools planning to apply for the ICT infrastructure fund can envision a common ICT room so that they can start with a small budget. For this, all they need to do is identify a separate room, buy and install a multimedia projector, laptop, display board and an internet connection. The budget allocated by the government for public schools is sufficient for such a setup. In this regard, private schools and colleges can do better, as many of them have already installed at least one computer lab and other e-resources. It is enough to ‘start with a little’. The school or college can gradually add facilities later.
Preparing for the future
There are a number of benefits of using ICT in schools and colleges. Young students get opportunities to (virtually) travel around the world in search of the knowledge and skills aligned with their level of education. Virtual tours to different geographical locations are possible. This opens the doors to quality education. Teaching and learning
becomes fun. Complex ideas can be simplified through the use of various software. Multiple methods of teaching—audio, video, e-resources, animation and simulation—for a single concept can be used.
We can see dramatic changes in the ways of education that developed countries provide by integrating ICT into the teaching method. However, using ICT in education in the context of Nepal is in its initial discourse. Everyone in academia must realise the need for change and be prepared for the next generation. Otherwise, there will be no justice for our children. While the rest of the world strides into the digital age, our children will be left behind. Therefore, schools and colleges must focus on preparing teachers, which is the foremost need to adopt ICT-based educational tools. They must be trained to use the latest technologies in their concerned subject matters. Such teachers can maximise the use of the minimum available resources.
In this regard, the government has a major role to play in facilitating schools and colleges by offering teacher training programs on ICT use and providing infrastructure development support. Public schools can be supported through the Ministry of Education and public colleges through the University Grant Commission. The government can also offer subsidies and tax cuts on the hardware and software purchased by private schools and colleges for training and ICT infrastructure.
Pangeni is an ICT and Computer Applications lecturer at the Kathmandu University School of Education (email@example.com)