Why ICT?

 

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After reading Erin’s post entitled “But what does it add?” I thought it was worthwhile considering the motivating factor for integrating ICTs into primary teaching contexts. Apart from the deep intrigue students have when interacting with ICTs, is engagement significant enough to justify use of technology within the classroom. Erin points out “Why wouldn’t you just complete the activity on paper? Are you just using technology for technology’s sake?”. Matthew Kearney certainly was constantly asking us to carefully consider our rationale for different learning tasks within our LAMS sequence to justify or account for our use of technology.

The immense educational possibilities for primary education that technology and more specifically the Internet are worth considering. There is no doubt that the Internet provides students with a virtual and interactive world where they can connect to a global community and have experiences which are simply not possible within the four walls of a primary classroom. In Dina’s posing “The Skeptic’s Seven Questions About Technology” she states “technology has to teach the student something of value on its own before we can justify asking a teacher to pour energy and resources into it”. There is not doubt that integrating ICTs into the classroom can be an extremely time consuming process particularly as new software is developed and innovative technologies are introduced.

Perhaps it is worth discussing this debate from a different perspective. Rather than finding the floors in ICTs within education, instead list the immense benefits. Rather than being caught up on time constraints instead consider the diversity of educational possibilities and teachable moments provided by the Internet and other technologies. Certainly I adopted this approach when developing my LAMs sequence in determining my teaching philosophy or rationale.

The use of technology in this instance was invaluable in opening up a new world of coral reefs to be explored in a much more visual, interactive and real manner than a paper worksheet labelling the anatomy of a fish. Instead students could watch fish swim through a vibrant coral reef, observe its movements, its feeding habits and its interaction with other marine species. They could also develop a deeper understanding of human impacts on coral reefs by engaging with marine species who come alive using pod-casts. In this way students can imagine they are part of the underwater world and consequently comprehend the enormity of coral bleaching, dynamite fishing, tourism etc.

Finally ICTs allow students to genuinely and personally respond to the environmental impacts humans place on coral reefs. Rather than creating a paper poster to be hung on a cork board in a classroom, students can launch a real poster of protest online. They can use the stories of coral reefs they have virtually interacted with and express their opinions to a global audience. This allows for students to have a say and make a difference in the real world which makes learning so much more engaging and worthwhile.

I found Erin’s conclusion on ICTs in primary education helpful in highlighting their immense value within primary education.

“Essentially, i believe that ICT enables students to access a wider range of resources faster, and comprising of various mediums that will meet the varying learning styles of students in a class. Furthermore it provides students and teachers with a way to celebrate, share and critique their work in a worldwide forum, coming into contact with people who are geographically distant.”

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