The Role of Teachers in Promoting Digital Education in Schools

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This article is a case study on “The Promotion of Digital Innovation and Literacy Skills in The Pursuit of Education“: A Case Study of Nusrat Senior Secondary School (NSSS), The Gambia.

Published by Mr. Ousman Faal, ICT Instructor at Nusrat Senior Secondary School.

 Abstract

This article will focus on “The role of teachers in promoting digital education in schools, its impact on students and teachers, as well as its relevance to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the AU Agenda 2063”. We will look at several issues, including e-learning or distance learning and why we should integrate electronic learning in our traditional way of teaching. What new skills teachers need in order to be effective in an ICT supported learning environment. We will also look at the current status of the integration of innovative technologies, using Nusrat Senior Secondary School as an example.

Introduction

In recent years, ICT has greatly become part of our lives; and the integration of ICT in education has challenged traditional education. So, introducing ICT in education should be considered greatly to improve the way we teach and learn.

Being an ICT instructor for more than 7 years and having been using e-learning tools to deliver online lessons in the form of videos, text, quiz and presentation on my blog(faalictacademy.com) for about 4 years now, has given me great experience in e-learning. And I believe other teachers should also embrace and include ICT in their teaching. The role and the perspective of teachers have become highly relevant because we are crucial players in this process.

According to goal 4 of the sustainable development goal –Quality Education:

On the basis of data from 65 developing countries, the average percentage of schools with access to computers and the Internet for teaching purposes is above 60 per cent in both primary and secondary education. However, the share is less than 40 per cent in more than half of sub-Saharan countries with data.

The Changing Role of Teachers

Teachers have a big role to play when it comes to using ICT in education. The modern educational Information and Communication Technologies is constantly changing. So, we need to check our roles to become more proactive in providing quality education through ICT.

What are these changing roles? As teachers, we are likely to become role models to our students. We should bring in new ideas to the subject through our own experience, research or development work. We should not only be subject teachers but an inspiration, one who awakens the desires and motivate the students.

Well, change may bring uncertainty, but the introduction of ICT in education is paramount and teachers will need to adapt to change if they are to survive and keep up with the new methods and technologies.

Bringing ICT into The Classroom

Education has now gone beyond the classroom; students should be given another avenue for them to learn at their own time anywhere as far as they are connected to the Internet. This will really help students especially the slow learners to easily catch-up. Teachers should involve ICT in some parts of their lessons to make students realize the benefits of ICT in that subject area.

Some teachers are so stuck in the traditional way of doing things. The teacher should offer more tutoring instead of purely focusing on lecturing. Introduction of ICT into the classroom will certainly require teachers to adapt to new changes in technological innovations.

Technology won’t replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will definitely replace those who don’t.” ~George Couros

For long, teachers are the monopoly of knowledge and they are the ones that come to class to deliver that knowledge so that the students can acquire them. But today, knowledge is no more a monopoly among teachers, because students can get knowledge from many sources, and hence the role of teachers today is facilitation, that means help students where and how they could get the right knowledge and how to use it.

Thus, introducing ICT into the classroom can generally help improve memory retention, increases motivation and deepens understanding. It can also be used for collaborative learning, including, group problem-solving activities and articulated projects. Yet, the use of ICT may require a great deal of investment from teachers in terms of time, effort and commitment.

The use of e-learning or distance learning should be implemented to give students an alternative way of learning. In e-learning, teaching materials are in digital form and are prepared in a concise and interactive manner to make it convenient for everyone. In e-learning the student meets the teacher online, either on video-conferencing or a pre-recorded video or access to online assignments and quiz.

Once a student told me that after watching a short video on my YouTube channel; he understood better on that video than in class. I asked him why that was, and he said it was because he played it several times until he was able to understand. That’s one advantage; the content will always be available to the student anytime anywhere and they can review it at any number of times.

Why Teachers Need To Improve Their ICT Skills

In order to become a confident user of ICT in the classroom, teachers need to take part in ongoing training.  Teachers should understand the benefits of digital literacy. Schools need to invest in and implement long term training and continuous professional development to keep up with the rapidly evolving digital technologies.

The digital skills that teachers need have long moved on from just being able to use word processing and spreadsheet software. Digital skills that 21st Century teachers may need include cloud storage and sharing solutions, social media, blogging, web content editing, image editing, presentation software, and multimedia.

According to goal 4 of the sustainable development goal which is –Quality Education:

The lack of trained teachers and the poor condition of schools in many parts of the world are jeopardizing prospects for quality education for all. Sub -Saharan Africa has a relatively low percentage of trained teachers in pre -primary, primary and secondary education (44 per cent, 74 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively). Moreover, the majority of schools in the region do not have access to electricity or potable water.

Current Status

Nusrat Senior Secondary School is the first school to introduce a comprehensive online registration with a school management system in The Gambia where students can view their results online. The teachers don’t have to prepare reports, the admin doesn’t have to prepare transcripts anymore because all of that is now automated. All the teacher needs to do is to key in the marks of the students and the system handles the rest. This has greatly saved time and resources.

And of recent, the school has also introduced computer based objective examination in which the school will have a question bank for various subjects, and questions shall be set according to the year and term. Students will have to login with their username and password to access the exam within a certain period of time.

Looking at The Future

I think that tomorrow’s students will pick their own college or university through the Internet; they will familiarize themselves about possibilities and limitations and find out what suits their particular needs. Many people for example may want to do a course or want to acquire a degree without traveling, maybe because of some circumstances or family situations, while others may want to be part of a lively student environment. So, whatever the choice, there should be a flexibility in the provision of education no matter where you are and how your background is.

People learn differently, therefore by combining the possibilities available today, we will be able to provide education to a wide range of students.

Conclusion

I think the government should actively invest and encourage schools to embrace ICT as a fundamental part of the curriculum. Teachers should build a strong interest in ICT. Well-equipped and enough computer labs must be implemented with access to Internet.

The main objective of ICT in education is to promote and serve the goals of education reform. Information technology must be blended into the education system; there must be innovation in educational concepts, modes, content, and methods; the education system must be restructured, procedures must be reworked, and cultural ideas must be reformulated.

 

 

References:

The role of the teacher in the age of technology: Will the role change with use of Information- and communication technology in education? [online] http://www.eurodl.org/materials/contrib/2000/eide3/eide3.html

Information and Communication Technologies and the Changing Role of the Teacher. STEVE WHEELER, University of Plymouth, UK. [online]

https://www.slideshare.net/timbuckteeth/information-and-communication-technologies-2001

Albert Sangrà & Mercedes González-Sanmamed (2016) The role of information and communication technologies in improving teaching and learning processes in primary and secondary schools, ALT-J, 18:3, 207-220, DOI: 10.1080/09687769.2010.529108

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09687769.2010.529108

https://www.ics.ie/news/why-teachers-need-to-improve-their-ict-skills

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg4

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