APPLICATION OF ICT IN EDUCATION: A PANACEA IN THE IMPROVEMENT OF STUDENTS ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
Information and communication technology (ICT) has proved to be an indispensable tool in education. ICT can be seen in various fields like Education, Industry, Communications, and Transportations. It has a vital role to play in students’ academic achievement. This present paper is developed to examine the application of ICT in education which was identified as a panacea towards the improvement of students’ academic achievement. The current problems and challenges facing ICT implementation in teaching and learning and the impacts of ICT in education were also highlighted and discussed. This expository work proposed that if teachers can implement the use of ICT during classroom instruction, there will be a positive observable change in the academic life of students. The paper concludes by suggesting the various ways to solve the challenges faced in ICT implementations in the education system.
Keywords: Information and communication technology (ICT), Education, Students academic achievement, Implementations
Adamson (1998) opined that the term information technology refers to the application of scientific knowledge. It was further defined by UNESCO (2006) as any form of technology used to transmit, store, create, share or exchange information. On the other hand, Okonkwo (1998) classified education into two categories. Firstly, education functions as an instrument used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and thereby bring about conformity. Secondly, education can function as a means whereby young men and women are taught to deal critically and collectively with their social reality and in the process, develop a means on how to engage in the transformation of their world.
Modern information and communication technologies have made the world a small global village, in which people can interact and communicate with others across the world as if they were living next door. ICT is the modern way of dissipating information and communications by using technologies. In recent years, several studies highlighted the potential impacts of information and communication technologies in improving the standard of education. In this 21st century, ninety per-cent (90%) of academic works are done online. The COVID-19 pandemic scenario is a practical example. Through technological tools, students can browse and do their assignments and even take online courses either through Coursera, Edx, Khan Academy, or so many other online courses.
However, research has shown that the application of ICT in education improves students' learning immensely. An increase in the use of ICT in education with integrating technology into the curriculum has a significant and positive impact on students’ achievements (Kumiko Aoki 2010). The work of Kimiko Aoki (2010) shows specifically that the students who are continuously exposed to technology through education perform explicitly better than those who are not continuously exposed to technology. Moreover, in Albert Sangra (2016) work, the application of ICT to the improvement of teaching and learning processes is higher in the schools that have integrated ICT as an innovation factor. Furthermore, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) opined that Information and Communication Technology could contribute to universal access to education, equity in education, the delivery of quality learning and teaching, teachers' professional development and more efficient education management, governance, and administration. These contributions make teaching and learning more efficient and easier and thus improving students’ academic prowess. Further to this, with the aid of computer-assisted instruction (CAI), Computer Assisted Learning (CAL), Computer Managed Instruction (CMI), students can easily learn with or without the presence of their teachers. As well, the digital skills of the students will be immensely improved but unfortunately, developing countries like Nigeria are still far from acquainting ICT skills to students in primary and secondary education.
IMPACTS/ ROLES OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) IN STUDENTS' ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT.
Ellis and Loveless (2013) indicated that higher education pedagogy could neither be isolated from academic achievement nor the teaching process and innovation. Their dissertation shows that the potential role of information and communication technology (ICT) in higher education cannot be overlooked. Two ardent researchers, Sari and Mahmutoglu (2013) observed that to obtain a change in teaching methodology in a university, a paradigm shift that will recommend adopting student-centred approaches is required. This new methodology should aim at making the student an active element in the learning process, and this can easily be stimulated through hands-on practice in technology.
ICT enhances students’ performance both in secondary and tertiary institutions. Students doing calculation courses find the use of information communication technology relevant in recalling facts and figures and doing quick calculations that enhance their achievement in schools. In this twenty-first century, several sites on the World Wide Web (www) provide guidelines on how different ICT tools can be used to teach and impact knowledge to the students. The materials available in the sites educate the students on how to think laterally, longitudinal, and across the board, thus enhancing their education domains. Onuoha (2000) posited that the introduction of information technology has made education simpler and easier for students especially, adolescents in secondary schools. He also opined that information and communication technology has helped students in numerous ways such as in project writing and collection of essential information leading to effective studies. This has enabled many students to obtain tremendous academic achievement in school.
The impacts of ICT in education have made it possible for students in the classroom to learn from the curriculum material. Special needs students are no longer disadvantaged because they have access to necessary material and special ICT tools which students can use ICT for their own educational needs. Despite this, it also opens new issues related to the 'digital divide' and provides access to ICT tools and resources for less fortunate people.
In addition, the student's digital skills have been improved because of the advent of ICT. The best way to develop ICT capability is to provide students with meaningful activities in purposeful subject-related contexts. ICT in education improves retention of knowledge and student engagement. When ICT is fully applied during lessons, students become more engaged in their perspective work. This is as a result of the fact that technology provides different opportunities to make it more enjoyable in terms of teaching the same things in different ways. Because of this increased engagement, it is said that they will be able to retain knowledge more effectively and efficiently (Isolutions).
Through the advent of ICT, virtual learning or distance learning has become easier. Students can learn at their convenient time. It allows higher participation and greater interaction between students and their teachers. It also improves the quality of education by facilitating learning by doing, directed instruction, self-learning, problem-solving, information seeking and analysis, critical thinking and the ability to communicate, collaborate and learn (K. Ratheeswart, 2018). Moreover, either video, audio, or web-based conferencing, academic conferences can be done online using technological tools. Students’ engagement in all these academic conferences fosters their literacy skills and makes them academic elites. According to Adelekunnu (1994), information communication technology (ICT) can be used to assist students to get along with others, achieve self-reliance, and educational success.
The utilization of ICT in teaching improves the cognitive development of the students and increases their motivation to learn and their interaction in learning. Davies and Birmingham (2002, pp. 19-20) identify three benefits of using storyboard program software to support the students’ learning of Macbeth characters. Those three kinds of benefits are cognitive, motivational, and interactional advantages. Cognitively, the students can retell what happened in the story without being told by the teachers. Motivationally, they enjoy and have fun with their learning process to not be painful and exhausting. Interactionally, they can work collaboratively with their teachers and peers (Adi Suryani 2010). All these make students’ retention of knowledge solid and thus aid in students' academic achievement.
Computer-assisted Instructions (CAI) programs also simulate real-world situations for the students. This has more significant impacts on the student than just reading about a subject (Ogwueleka, Nonyelum 2005). Furthermore, in courses like Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, computers can be used when performing experiments. In experiments that have to do with chemicals, if the student chose the wrong chemicals, an explosion would appear on the computer screen rather than on the table. Therefore, the computer not only improves students’ academic achievement but also protects students from chemical explosions.
CHALLENGES FACING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ICT IN EDUCATION
While ICT continues to advance, there are several deterrents in implementing ICT in the education setting especially in developing countries. Most of these challenges include:
1. Lack of trained teachers to teach ICT in schools: It has been observed that teachers lack ICT knowledge and skills, and they were reluctant about the changes and incorporation of extra learning associated with computers (Taban Habibu et al, 2012). Most schools lack trained computer literate teachers that would support and manage the application of computing during classroom instruction.
There has been a high demand for ICT learning and the number of teachers who are acquainted with the skills to teach ICT cannot meet the demand. Numerous students are eager to be taught computing skills but there is a lack of teachers to transfer the skills. However, the work of Kassimu A. and Ms Florence (2014) shows that generally, teachers lack pedagogical knowledge. They are incompetent in using a word program, e-mails to communicate with students and the internet to find teaching resources. As a result of this factor, the implementation of ICT during classroom instruction becomes impossible.
2. Inadequate Computer Facilities: According to Engr. Mukalla, computers are very expensive and despite spirited efforts by the government agencies, NGOs, corporate organizations and individuals to donate computers to as many schools as possible, there remains a big percentage of the schools unable to purchase computers for use by their students. As a result of lack of funds, most schools in rural areas find it difficult to purchase computers thus making students lack computer experiences even when they are in computer class. Moreover, Kassimu et al (2014) generally show that both teachers and pupils lack access to ICT facilities in primary schools. The majority of teachers and pupils have limited access to ICT facilities in primary schools. This effect makes ICT difficult. Osborne and Hennessy (2003) opined that "limitations on access to hardware and software resources influenced teachers' motivation to use ICT in the classroom.
3. Inadequacy of power supply: Electricity is a key factor to be considered when it comes to ICT. Many schools in rural and urban areas are still not yet connected to electricity. In developing countries like Nigeria, the government has not been able to connect all parts of the country to the national electricity grid. Consequently, schools under these territories are left handicapped and may not be able to implement ICT during the learning process.
4. Outdated Computers: Outmoded computers lower the morale of both the teacher and the student Engr. Mukalele (2019) most schools in developing countries are still using out of date computers. Technology keeps on advancing at a higher rate, new applications are made every time. Engr. Mukalele (2019) stated that most of the Ugandan schools are still using Microsoft Office 2003 suite, yet the current version of the program is Office 2013, as respect to this, most Ugandan schools are ten (10) years behind the rest of the world. More so, Balanskatet et al (2006) stated that the accessibility of ICT resources does not guarantee its successful implementation in teaching, and this is not merely because of the lack of ICT infrastructure but also because of other problems such as lack of high-quality hardware, suitable educational software, and access to ICT resources.
5. Lack of credibility: One problem preventing teachers from using ICT in their teaching is lack of confidence. Taban Habibu, (2012) investigated the cause of teachers’ lack of confidence with the utilization of ICT and found that due to fear of failure, many teachers do not consider themselves to be well skilled in using ICT and feel anxious about using ICT in front of a class. They would not want to be embarrassed in the classroom while trying to utilize ICT in teaching. Balanskat et al (2006) posit that limitations in teachers' ICT knowledge make them feel desirous about using ICT in the classroom which makes them not confident in utilizing them.
ICTs are making dynamic changes in our contemporary society. Its influences are felt more at schools because ICTs provide both students and teachers with more opportunities in adapting learning and teaching to individual needs. (K. Ratheewart, 2018). Information and communication technology is a sine qua non to students' academic prowess. Logically, it can be seen as a fuel that helps to propel vehicles. The world, which is now a global village, is made possible through ICT. Amid the covid-19 pandemic, students, teachers and educators across the globe can easily work, participate or attend both national and international conferences, webinars, Bootcamps, even normal classes through Zoom, Google Meet, Google Classrooms and lots of many others. However, because of its numerous impacts, it can be generally stated that ICT increases students' academic prowess and is also a route to global development.
Implementation of ICT in education has many benefits and difficulties. Each school has its barriers depending on its contextual factors. Irrespective of the impacts/ roles of information and communication technology in students’ academic achievement, there exist some challenges such as Lack of trained teachers, outdated computers, epileptic power supply, etc., which makes its implementation in teaching and learning quite difficult. Therefore, Government and non-governmental organizations should organize ICT orientation programs for teachers so that they can be acquainted with necessary skills and experiences which will enable them to effectively utilize ICT during classroom instruction. Government and any other nodal authorities should as well ensure proper funding of schools so those obsolete facilities will be duly replaced. Other factors like inadequacy of power supply, which is the major deterrent, should be adequately resolved because, in the absence of energy or electricity, ICT tools cannot function.
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