CHAPTER 3: USES OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICA-TION TECHNOLOGIES IN 21ST CENTURY LEARNING
For the foreseeable future, computing will play an increasingly important role in human learning. However, no one yet knows exactly how great that role will eventually be, or precisely what form it will finally take (Taylor 1980:1).
Robert Taylor, an early pioneer in the use of computer technology in education, made the above statement in 1980, and yet today, three decades later, we are still struggling to understand the role of technology in education, as well as the forms it may take. Perhaps it will never be possible to arrive at a final consensus on the role and forms of technology uses in education because of the dynamic nature of modern society and technology. In general the goal of this chapter is to get a deeper understanding of the roles of technology in 21st century learning and the forms in which they manifest in the classroom.
This chapter explores the research question: What are the uses of ICTs in learning? There are three categories of technology users in schools: managers, teachers and learners. Three categories of technology uses in schools can therefore be distinguished according to the type of user: technology uses in management, technology uses in teaching and technology uses in learning. So why is the focus of this chapter (and research) on technology uses in learning only? Simply because the NCS as a curriculum specifies learning outcomes that learners have to achieve. All ICT requirements of the NCS are related to learning activities that will enable learners to achieve the knowledge, skills and values represented in the learning outcomes (refer section 5.2.1 for more detail). However, the technology uses in management and teaching are not disregarded completely – they are explored cursorily in order to provide context and perspective.
The chapter begins by describing the technology tools available to education, and a general classification system of technology uses in schools. The categories of this system are technology uses in management, technology uses in teaching, and technology uses in learning. The chapter then proceeds to examine various views on the use of technology in learning in more detail, resulting in identifying and describing a set of technology uses in learning that comply with contemporary learning needs and the requirements of this research. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the meaning of a technology-integrated curriculum.
The uses of technology in learning are examined in the context of the learning needs of modern society in the 21st century. In other words, the uses of technology must comply with and meet the learning needs of contemporary society, as the NCS as a curriculum also aims to do. This will ensure that the ICT requirements of the NCS are matched with categories of technology uses that are based on current (and not outdated) learning needs.
TECHNOLOGY TOOLS AVAILABLE TO EDUCATION
The objective of this section is to give a brief and general description of the technology tools available to education. The description obviously represents the current (2010) technology developmental status, but it is limited to only those technologies that are non-exotic, generally available, affordable and relevant for all schools in South Africa.
According to Picciano (1998:253), technology as we know it today is the result of a convergence, merging and integration of three formerly distinct technologies: computer technology, communications technology and video technology. Computer technology includes all forms of programmable, electronic computers that accept input, process it, and produce output. Communications technology entails all technologies that use a variety of communication channels (e.g. cable,telephone line, wireless, microwave and satellite) to transfer information in formats such as text, graphics, audio and video. Video technology encompasses all forms of technology involved in the handling (production, storage and presentation) of images.
Technology tools are defined for the purpose of this study as application software packages that users use to perform particular tasks. Such packages obviously assume the availability of a suitable hardware platform, system software and network infrastructure if applicable. Table 3.1 contains a list of the most important basic and general technology tools available to education. These are described in terms of the type of application package, its purpose and examples. The list cannot be considered as conclusive or comprehensive because of the dynamic nature of technology, and the fact that the use of technology is only limited by the imagination and creativity of its users.
From an educational point of view it is important to realise that all the packages listed in Table 3.1 are in themselves ‘content free’. They were not developed with the specific needs of education in mind, but are general tools that can be applied in many knowledge domains, including education. Technology tools such as these can be used individually or in combination for instance to: develop technology-based learning materials that contain content; construct learning effects (such as an algorithm, essay, or presentation developed by a learner); or present, communicate and transmit learning content (concepts and ideas) during learning events. In complexity it might vary, for example, from the simple use of a word processor for essay writing in language teaching to a comprehensive collaborative research project in which learners might be required to search for information about a topic on the Internet using a web browser, consult with an expert on the topic using e-mail, use a discussion forum to collaborate with team members that can be geographically anywhere, write a research report using a word processor, and create a presentation to communicate their findings to others using a presentation package.
These packages are the tools for the various categories of technology uses in schools which are investigated in the next section.
A GENERAL TYPOLOGY OF TECHNOLOGY USES IN SCHOOLS
Proposing an appropriate classification system is essential for the important research activity of classifying the ICT requirements of the NCS that is to follow later. Classification systems for technology uses in schools in general, and learning in particular, are therefore a major focus of this research. According to Patton (2002:457-458), there are two types of classification systems that divide some aspect of the world into parts along a continuum, namely taxonomies and typologies. He defines taxonomies as classification systems which classify a phenomenon in detail through mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories. In contrast, he defines typologies as classification systems built on ideal-types or illustrative endpoints rather than a complete and discrete set of categories. In education it is not always possible to identify mutually exclusive and discrete categories of technology uses, especially technology uses in teaching and learning. Categories often overlap and represent illustrative endpoints rather than a complete and discrete set of characteristics. Therefore, the term typology is used in this study to describe classification systems for technology uses in education.
There are a multitude of technology uses in education throughout the world, ranging in complexity from simple and affordable to highly exotic, technical and expensive. These ‘high tech’ applications are obviously not relevant for the majority of South African schools because of the lack of the necessary funding and high expertise levels. For the purpose of this study the criteria of affordability and skills availability are applied in considering whether a particular technology application should be included in a typology of technology uses in schools.
The objective of this section is to establish a context for technology applications in schools, and distinguish broad basic categories of such uses. The simplest way to do this is to base it on the three categories of technology users in schools: managers, teachers and learners. Three categories of technology uses in schools can therefore be distinguished: technology uses in management, technology uses in teaching and technology uses in learning. The technology uses are described in a format that indicates them as tools with a specific function. For example, a category of technology use indicated as ‘communication tool’ refers to all technology uses in which messages are communicated between individuals and/or groups. As explained earlier, technology uses in management and teaching are examined only briefly and superficially, while technology uses in learning are explored and analysed in detail.
Technology uses in management
The management of a school includes the establishment of an administrative structure that supports the instructional functions of a school. According to Van Deventer and Kruger (2003:223-225) the following administrative duties are considered essential in a school’s administration:
Communication: Three types of communication are distinguished: external communication, internal communication and correspondence.
Dealing with reports: This involves storing, summarising and retrieving information so that it can be supplied to organisations that require it (e.g. education departments and district offices).
Processing material: The task of typing and duplicating various documents for staff and management team members.
Dealing with school organisational matters: A variety of school organisational activities have to be arranged, for example school timetable, test and exam timetables, and duty rosters.
Administering school attendance: Developing and implementing guidelines for controlling school attendance that include keeping daily attendance registers.
Procuring stock and equipment: This duty includes procuring expendable items (e.g. stationary) and durable items (e.g. furniture and ICTs), as well as maintaining inventories of it.
Administering school finances: The financial management of a school requires a systematic bookkeeping system.
Controlling of physical facilities: This includes the proper management, use and maintenance of school buildings and other assets.
The potential of technology to support, enhance and extend schools’ abilities to process, store and disseminate large volumes of data and information for various management purposes is obvious. Technology’s attributes of speed, reliability, accuracy, storage and communication perfectly match and support responsibilities such as those above. Using these administrative duties as the basis, the following categories of a typology of technology uses in school management are proposed:
Information management tools: Using database management systems for supporting the data and information needs in administrative functions such as: financial transaction processing; learner records; learner grading and reporting; staff records; inventory control; time table; and sport event management.
Time management tools: Using specialised scheduling packages to manage: diaries; school, test and examination timetables; and programmes for extramural activities.
Document processing tools: Using a word processor to process documents
in schools such as: letters; minutes; class notes; and test and examination question papers.
Decision support tools: Using spreadsheets for: budgeting; planning; and other “what-if” scenario-based management decisions.
Communication tools: Using an e-mail package and other Internet
communication facilities for communicating with: education departments; other schools; parents; and other organisations, groups and individuals.
Information accessing tools: Using a Web browser for searching and retrieving information on the Web, for example to get policy documents, curriculum statements and implementation guidelines from an education department.
Information dissemination tools: Using a Website development package to,
for example, develop a school Website in order to: disseminate relevant information (notices, programmes, contact information, etc.) to parents on the Internet, and publish information as part of a school’s marketing initiatives.
Technology uses in teaching
Technology uses in teaching refer to the use of technology to support, enhance and extend teachers’ abilities to perform their teaching duties. One way of shedding more light on these duties is to study the seven educator roles as defined in the Norms and Standards for Educators policy document (Department of Education 2000). The roles are summarised below in order to provide a basis for defining technology uses in teaching.
Learning mediator: The educator will mediate learning in contextualised learning environments, demonstrating sound subject content knowledge and strategies, and using appropriate resources.
Interpreter and designer of learning programmes and materials: The educator will design learning programmes according to specific context requirements and select and prepare suitable textual and visual resources for learning.
Leader, administrator and manager: The educator will manage learning in the classroom and carry out classroom administrative duties.
Scholar, researcher and lifelong learner: The educator will achieve professional growth through lifelong study and research in educational and professional matters.
Community, citizenship and pastoral role: The educator will: practice ethical behaviour, respect and responsibility towards others, and develop a supportive and empowering environment for learners.
Assessor: The educator will: understand the purposes, methods and effects of assessment as an essential feature of teaching and learning; design and manage appropriate formative and summative assessment; and keep detailed and diagnostic records of assessment.
Learning area/subject/discipline/phase specialist: The educator will be well grounded in the knowledge, skills, values, principles, methods, and procedures of his or her learning area/subject, and in the different approaches to teaching and learning it.
Technology’s attributes of speed, reliability, accuracy, storage and communication provide abundant possibilities to support, enhance and extend teachers in performing their teaching duties. Using the teaching duties described in the seven educator roles as a basis, the following categories of technology uses in teaching are proposed for the purpose of this study:
Mediating tools: The teacher uses mediating tools to create appropriate learning environments that support and enable learners to achieve the expected learning outcomes. It includes using technology tools to present the facts, concepts and/or problem about a lesson topic in contexts that are meaningful for learners. Quite often the teacher uses a tool that allows learners to explore the facts, concepts and/or problem of the lesson actively on their own. In other words the teacher’s mediating tool becomes a learning tool for learners. A simple example is where the teacher uses presentation graphics slides to present the reasons/causes of World War II in a History lesson. A more advanced example is a Life Sciences lesson about the human heart in which the teacher uses an interactive multimedia simulation as a mediating tool to present multiple representations or views of the heart. It could include the physiology of the heart, (a simulation of) the functioning of the heart, heart diseases, cardiac surgery, lifestyle issues, and so on. This same multimedia program also becomes a learning tool for learners that allow them to explore the human heart in the context of the human body and its environment.
Resource tools: This category includes technology tools such as the Worldwide Web, multimedia CD-ROMs/DVDs and library catalogues that a teacher can use to access information about a lesson topic, instructional strategies and ideas for lesson plans. It also includes accessing information resources for research and professional development purposes.
Planning tools: Planning is a fundamental responsibility of a teacher, and an area in which technology can lend substantial support. Planning tools assist the teacher in developing a learning programme that comprises a subject framework, work schedules and lesson plans. In each of these, technology can provide meaningful support and enhancement, for example using a word processor to develop and store a subject framework and work schedules, and using a spreadsheet-based template to facilitate daily lesson planning.
Developing tools: Teachers often have to develop learning and teaching support materials. There are multiple technology tools and facilities available to support teachers in this task. Examples include a word processor to develop class notes, a spreadsheet to develop learner worksheets, presentation graphics software to create presentation slides for communicating ideas or concepts to a class, multimedia authoring software to develop an interactive multimedia presentation of a lesson topic.
Assessment tools: A teacher has the responsibility to plan, develop and conduct appropriate assessment activities. It includes developing assessment instruments (e.g. tests, examinations, projects, tasks and case studies) and assessment tools (e.g. scoring memoranda, marking grids, check lists and rubrics), assessing the assessment evidence (the actual process of grading and scoring), processing and interpreting the assessment results, and recording the assessment results. Examples of how technology can support the teacher in this process include using a word processor to compile a test paper and its memorandum, using a spreadsheet to develop check list or rubric, developing an interactive program that presents multiple choice questions and scores learners’ responses, creating a spreadsheet to record test marks and process averages and standard deviations that enable teachers to interpret the assessment results, and developing a database for recording learners’ assessment history over an academic year.
Communication tools: A variety of technology tools are available to support teachers in the communication aspect of their teaching duties. It includes using e-mail for communicating with individuals such as learners, parents, colleagues and officials in departmental offices, mailing lists for communicating within groups such as clusters of subject teachers in a district, and Internet discussion forums for collaborating with other teachers enrolled in a further training module.
Administrative tools: Examples of technology tools available to support teachers in their administrative responsibilities include spreadsheets for compiling class lists and class budgets and a school administration (database) system to record learners’ personal details and academic history.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND DEDICATION
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF TABLES
CHAPTER 1: RESEARCH ORIENTATION
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.3 AIM OF THE RESEARCH
1.4 DEMARCATION OF THE PROBLEM
1.5 RELEVANCE OF THE RESEARCH
1.6 CLARIFICATION OF CONCEPTS
1.7 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
CHAPTER 2: LEARNING THEORIES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
2.2 WORKPLACE OF THE 21ST
2.3 LEARNING OUTCOMES FOR THE 21 CENTURY 20 ST
2.4 SCHOOL REFORM IN THE INFORMATION AGE 31 CENTURY
2.5 AN OVERVIEW OF LEARNING THEORIES
2.9 A LEARNING THEORY FOR THE DIGITAL AGE: CONNECTIVISM
2.10 OBJECTIVISM AND CONSTRUCTIVISM
2.11 THEORETICAL FOUNDATION FOR INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY IN LEARNING
CHAPTER 3: USES OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES IN 21ST CENTURY LEARNING
3.2 TECHNOLOGY TOOLS AVAILABLE TO EDUCATION
3.3 A GENERAL TYPOLOGY OF TECHNOLOGY USES IN SCHOOLS
3.4 AN ANALYSIS OF TECHNOLOGY USES IN LEARNING
3.5 TYPOLOGIES OF TECHNOLOGY USES IN LEARNING
3.6 TYPOLOGY OF TECHNOLOGY ROLES IN LEARNING
3.7 THE CONCEPT OF A TECHNOLOGY-INTEGRATED CURRICULUM
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH DESIGN
4.2 CHOICE OF A RESEARCH PROBLEM
4.3 AIM OF THE RESEARCH
4.4 CHOOSING A QUALITATIVE APPROACH
4.5 PRINCIPLES GUIDING THE RESEARCH DESIGN
4.6 RESEACH DESIGN
CHAPTER 5: ANALYSIS OF THE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY REQUIREMENTS OF THE NATIONAL CURRICULUM STATEMENT
5.2 IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RESEARCH DESIGN
5.3 RESULTS OF THE QUALITATIVE DATA
CHAPTER 6: A FRAMEWORK OF UNDERSTANDING FOR INTERPRETING THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION REQUIREMENTS OF THE NATIONAL CURRICULUM STATEMENT
6.2 IMPLICATIONS OF THE RESEARCH FINDINGS
6.3 A FRAMEWORK OF UNDERSTANDING FOR IMPLEMENTING THE ICT REQUIREMENTS OF THE NCS
CHAPTER 7: SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND LIMITATIONS
7.2 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT