The introduction of technology in various aspects of the day to day activities in administration, government, business, and education, among other fields has brought about both new opportunities and challenges in the twenty first century. The incorporation of technology in the academic setting has rattled the conventional teaching and learning paradigms.
This use of information and communication technologies in educational practices has posed new challenges to the teachers and trainers, which involve the acquisition of necessary skills in the implementation of IT products, and the appropriate tools and channels to convey IT knowledge to learners (Sansanwal, 2009).
The current societal trends require citizens to be well versed in accessing and communicating information through the newest technologies (Sansanwal, 2009). As a result, both teachers and students need to use the best means to build their competency in ICT. The use of telematic networks in various fields enables users to have unlimited access to information, as well as, flexibility of time barriers (Sansanwal, 2009).
ICT has changed the traditional learning community due to the introduction of new learning and teaching settings that are based on virtuality (Mikre, 2011). These new teaching modalities require trainers to change their attitudes towards the teaching paradigms in order to take up the new educational concepts that incorporate flexible learning processes, and interactive bi-directional communication systems (Mikre, 2011).
One of the key benefits of using ICT in education is the ability to interact and collaborate with other participants on a global platform in both real and asynchronous time. The application of ICT in the high school context requires extra effort from the educational authorities through the incorporation of “depth of ICT in the curriculum as a central to teaching and learning processes” (Mikre, 2011).
In addition to this, educational authorities should also focus on increasing the capacity of teachers to educate the learners through the use of training programs. Such programs familiarize trainers with the new learning scenario, and allow them to take a central role in the development of a knowledge society (Mikre, 2011).
The creation of computers was not focused on enhancing the quality of teaching; however, researchers found them to be useful in the profession through various applications such as Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI), Computer Managed Instruction (CMI), and Computer Based Instruction (CBI) among others. These applications have been used to teach various subjects in schools, as well as, in higher learning.
Studies on the efficacy of teaching using CAIs over conventional paradigms that employ lectures showed a significant improvement in the former for multiple subjects. For instance, supplemental CAI were observed to be effective in enhancing mathematics and spelling for mentally handicapped students through the interactive dialogue of language impaired children with computers (Leung, Watters, & Ginns, 2005).
“The CAI activities involved setting goals, following instructions, accessing information to accomplish the task, and evaluating performance” (Leung, Watters, & Ginns, 2005). CAIs have also been found to be effective in enhancing Science Process Skills, teaching reference skills, and building Meta-cognitive writing skills in elementary school children (Leung, Watters, & Ginns, 2005).
Some of the shortcomings with the use of CAIs in education include the lack of sound functionalities, rapid changes in the school curriculum, and lack of adequate training for trainers (Gamage, Adams, & McCormack, 2009).
Most of these limitations were overcome through the introduction of ICT, which was not limited to text, but also included audio, video, and other formats to relay information. This has provided opportunities for online learning, e-coaching, and e-education among others (Gaible & Burns, 2005).
These forms of education are fast, convenient, and cost effective in providing rich material to the classroom and library for access to both teachers and learners. ICT is used in high schools for various functions including teaching, diagnostic testing, remedial teaching, evaluation, psychological testing, online tutoring, development of reasoning and thinking, and instructional material development (Gaible & Burns, 2005).
The most significant use of ICT in high schools is to fulfill the teaching function, which entails the development of expression ability, reasoning and thinking power, comprehension, speed and vocabulary, proper study habits, judgment and decision making ability, and application of concepts (Gaible & Burns, 2005).
This paper looks at the development of a teaching plan for trainers in order to build their capacity for the integration of ICT in the teaching of foreign languages.
Teacher training in ICT
The current technological advances provide trainers with a variety of educational contents that allow them to offer both autonomous and diversified learning opportunities. Training in ICT requires teachers to abandon the conventional techniques and adapt to the new guidelines while facilitating cooperation and collaborative efforts between various entities.
Teachers are expected to acquire various skills including operating new media and managing different learning environments where skills and knowledge are complemented (Leung, Watters, & Ginns, 2005). Teachers also need to be familiar with the various applications to be used, and know how to select and assess learning materials, as well as, solve practical problems.
Previous efforts to engage teachers in learning ICT have been faced with numerous challenges including negative attitude towards the new paradigms, and lack of ideological content, which makes the teachers unsure of their ability to cope with the change.
However, these challenges have been addressed as seen with the increasing number of teachers participating in training courses, and number of necessary equipment within the learning environment (Leung, Watters, & Ginns, 2005).
The wide variety of technology that learners need to be familiar with imply that more is needed to ensure satisfactory operations besides adequate equipment and teacher training. The high school educational setting is still overly reliant on the transfer of knowledge through textbooks and teachers.
Hence, the challenge of introducing ICT in the learning environment can best be addressed through specific training that is relevant to the curricular, and the usage of technological tools through the design and development of modules that adapted to the educational requirements (Leung, Watters, & Ginns, 2005).
This requires the planners to move away from trends that focus on technical and instrumental criteria, and focus on vital aspects such as references to their utilization, organization and didactic design.
Competencies of teachers, which are determined by their training, need to be modified because: the teacher has to handle intricate scenarios where students have diverse needs and new communication patterns; there are modifications to content being taught and instruments being used to deliver; and the requirement for lifelong learning and regular updating of knowledge (Gamage, Adams, & McCormack, 2009).
Teacher training involves two components namely “training for the media”, which entails the trainers familiarizing themselves with the use of the means, and “training with the media”, which involves a devoted means of training in order to build on cognitive abilities and enhance the comprehension of information, as well as, the development of differentiated environments for learning.
Achieving success with the students requires trainer competence, which is determined by the teacher’s readiness and capacity (Gaible & Burns, 2005). Hence, the various requirements that should be identified before training commences include:
- Cultural competency: knowledge of the areas that the teacher will teach
- Pedagogic competency: research techniques, didactic abilities, social and psychological knowledge that enables them to comprehend conflict resolution, treatment of diversity, and group dynamics.
- Instrumental capabilities and awareness of new languages in ICT and audio-visual language
- Personal traits such as maturity, self-esteem, empathy, self-confidence, emotional intelligence components
Studies show that these are the vital factors that should be used to design a training plan in order for teachers to be well suited to work with ICT (Sansanwal, 2009). With this in mind, the teacher trainer should take into consideration various contents when training teachers in ICT as detailed below:
|Type of content||Content|
|On ICT – for professional, didactic, personal use|| |
|Thematic – related directly to the subject matter of the teaching|| |
|Psycopedagogic – involving deep attitudinal components|| |
The channels used to provide training to the teachers will be in the form of web-based tools and in-service teaching materials. Some of the internet tools include email communications, discussion lists, and bulletin boards. Forms of synchronous communication between the teachers-trainer and the teachers include audio-chats and audio-video conferencing (Leung, Watters, & Ginns, 2005).
Other forms of communication include virtual reality like action mazes, authoring tools like puzzles and quizzes, and collaborative environments. The World Wide Web (WWW) will be useful for teachers as a source of referencing through providing access to various resources including dictionaries, encyclopedias, news articles and search engines.
Internet resources include educational portals, virtual resource centers, on-line writing labs, cyber listening labs, web-based English courses, virtual libraries, creative teaching websites, teacher’s websites, student websites, on-line English grammars, and help centers on English related questions (Leung, Watters, & Ginns, 2005).
Teachers will be given the option of choosing the web-based tools that they will be most comfortable using. Teachers who are going to use the Internet will have to start looking for appropriate web sites or resources that they can use in their teaching (Leung, Watters, & Ginns, 2005). However, there are many instances in which teachers become overwhelmed by the amount of information they find.
Hence, studies have proposed a model for selecting material on the World Wide Web, enabling the user to evaluate web pages critically without getting lost in all the information. The criteria provided below will be used to facilitate the evaluation of websites for resources due to the versatility of the information available on the internet.
Pre-evaluate the learning objectives. Set goals as to what to find. Narrow down the subject as much as possible depending on what you are looking for in terms of opinions, facts, stories, interpretations, or statistics (Mikre, 2011). By knowing the responses in advance, teachers will create their own private set of criteria by which they can screen their sources quickly before evaluating their contents (Mikre, 2011).
Test the sites that have been selected by a number of criteria. For this purpose, a set of criteria can be used that can be divided into two groups: criteria pertaining to the contents of web pages and those pertaining to design and user-friendliness.
The first category is the most important one since only reliable information can be used. Therefore, it is necessary to look at the sources, accuracy and objectivity (Mikre, 2011). However, in limited lesson time slots, it is also imperative that the sites are user friendly, well designed and easy to access. Furthermore, students should not be distracted from the contents by poorly designed or poorly structured sites (Mikre, 2011).
The SCAD checklist (Source evaluation, Contents, Access, and Design) is an easy-to-use set of criteria which incorporates both aforementioned categories:
It can be helpful to look for the author’s credentials in order for the learner to find out if the author is knowledgeable and reliable. For instance, is there biographical information (education, training, relevant experience)? Is contact information (email, snail mail) provided? An anonymous publication is never a good sign. Is the site reviewed or rated by an organization?
Or is the article published on the site of a well-known and reputable institution? If this is the case, then one can be sure that the publication was reviewed thoroughly before being put on the Web. What sort of meta-information is provided? Evaluative meta-information is harder to come by. It includes reviews, comments, ratings and recommendations (Gamage, Adams, & McCormack, 2009).
It is necessary to find out if the information is correct, in depth, truthful, precise or complete. The audience a publication is meant for, and the purpose it was written for can be beneficial too. A publication should be well balanced, moderate and not emotional. It should not comprise wild and irrational claims or arguments (Gamage, Adams, & McCormack, 2009).
Students easily get bored if they have to wait too long for a page to download to their computer. So it is good to check if a site is not cluttered with unnecessary graphics that help to slow down download time (Gamage, Adams, & McCormack, 2009).
It is also necessary to check if a site is so popular that it can become overcrowded and difficult to access. Furthermore, teachers should make sure they have all the plug-ins and software that are required for using the site and that it uses standard multimedia formats (Gamage, Adams, & McCormack, 2009).
A web page should be well structured, and the individual pages should be concise and short enough to avoid having to scroll. In addition, a website should be easy to navigate and allow the teacher to use it spontaneously. Teachers should also ask themselves if the design is functional or just fancy (Gaible & Burns, 2005). Does it support the contents or does it constitute a distracting element?
Do all parts of a page work and are the hyperlinks up-to-date? A last consideration is the degree of interaction. One of the benefits of using the Internet is that students can interact and not merely passively sit back and consume information (Gaible & Burns, 2005).
Hence, the SCAD list can be summarized as shown below, as proper guidance for students (teachers) in identifying the most appropriate resources
|Source evaluation||Trustworthy source: information obtained from author’s credentials, e-mail, organizational support, rating, grammar, meta data|
|Contents||Provides accurate information that is relevant: up-to-date, comprehensive, objective, reasonable, consistent|
|Access||Standard multimedia formats in that it does not require extra plugins or applications to view it, it is free, easy to access, downloadable|
|Design||Well structured, easy to navigate, interactive, no distracting visual elements, functional design, no broken links.|
The content will be piloted in one of the high schools, in order to use the teachers as trainers for a reaching more schools with the same methodology. The materials comprise a series of duties whose achievement requires the use of ICT tools and resources.
The primary objective of the delivery method is to inform the teachers of the ability of the tool in order to favor teaching-learning (Leung, Watters, & Ginns, 2005). Assessment will enable the teachers’ trainers to determine:
- Whether the teachers are receiving the right training regarding information and communication technologies
- Which ICT competencies the different teachers should emphasize in order to account for the successful integration of ICT in teaching and learning processes
- Which ICT-based tools and resources account for the successful integration of ICT in the various classrooms
- The elements that enhance the efficacy of the integration of ICT in teaching learning processes.
Keeping up with technology
One of the training techniques involves the establishment of an educational portal for the institution. The portal provides teachers with necessary resources on all subject areas, reference materials and manifold activities that can be conducted online.
The website will also provide teachers with access to guidelines and support, a catalogue of the available resources, and innovative school projects regarding the integration of ICT tools in the curricula. In order to optimize the benefits and reduce the disadvantage of integrating ICT, various initiatives will be introduced including:
- The development of workshops to enhance the exchange of experiences among colleagues
- Teacher training initiatives to provide a principled, meaningful approach to the creation and harnessing of new literacy such as dedicated websites.
- Creation of platforms that provide links to providers and users of various online classes and materials
- Creation of new training plans whose contents can be updated and revised periodically.
Gaible, E., & Burns, M. (2005). Using Technology to Train Teachers: Appropriate Uses of ICT for Teacher Professional Development in Developing Countries. ICT and education series, 3(1), 2-17.
Gamage, D., Adams, D., & McCormack, A. (2009). How Does a School Leader’s Role Influence Student Achievements? A Review of Research Findings and Best Practices. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 4(1), 23-43.
Leung, K. P., Watters, J. J., & Ginns, I. S. (2005). Enhancing Teachers’ Incorporation of ICT in Classroom Teaching. Educational Leadership, 40(1), 4-10.
Mikre, F. (2011). The Roles of Information Communication Technologies in Education Review Article with Emphasis to the Computer and Internet. The Role of Information communication, 12(1), 1-36.
Sansanwal, D. N. (2009). Use of ICT in Teaching – Learning & Evaluation. Educational Technology Lecture Series, 14(1), 21-29.