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 UNIT 5: Session I: Technology in Education

Unit 5: Session I introduces information technology as an emerging tool in education and the development of educational systems. As the shortages of qualified professionals trained for the classroom worsens, Caribbean Governments must find alternate ways of education and traing their citizens. In addition, the global workplace, changes in the nature of work, increasing work from home and self employment, diversity of services demanded and flexibility of work hours preferred, all force the development of new strategies of service and training delivery.


On completion of this unit you should be able:

1. To position information technology within the scheme of things
2. To evaluate its effects on education process, advantages and disadvantages
3. To assess the long term gains: life long learning and life at the workplace.

Activities: Readings:

Speech by: Everald M. Gowie
Executive Director
Jamaica 2000
Jamaica Computer Society Education Foundation
Topic: "Technology and Education"
Forum: Joint Committee of Tertiary Institutions
Venue: Wyndham New Kingston Hotel
Date : April 6, 1995, 10:30 a.m.

 UNIT 5: Session I: Technology in Education

Put very simply, information technology [IT] is to education, what the machete is to the small farmer. IT is used to prepare the ground, plant the seed, remove the seeds, defend the user, access the progress, reap the harvest, network produce for dissemination or transportation, serve as a companion and to communicate.

In a technical and dynamic sense, IT is a system of communication providing instant feedback, multiple ways of presentation of information and knowledge, access to reservoirs of knowledge anywhere in the world, and an easy way to add to that reservoir of knowledge. How we use this technology will determine whether we become the "new poor" of the world in the 21st Century. We can miss the boat as we did with film, radio and television or we can use this tool to make that quantum leap to the status of being a first world nation.

The entire system, educational, social and economic, must develop a new vision of the role of information technology in the transformation of the Caribbean Society and there is no doubt that the right place to begin is in the education system. This is so in light of the need to:

1. make every learner successful, recognizing that each student can learn and given the opportunity will acquire knowledge, skills and knowhow in order to pay his way, develop an appreciation of beauty, acquire self-respect, and respect others as himself.

2. make the best use of dollars spent on education

3. make a determination of what needs to be taught, and what can be caught

4. make the best use of technology - and particularly in this regard determine how information technology can be used to enhance the process of teaching and learning.

In creating this vision of what the education process of the future should be, it would be instructive to attempt a definition of Educational Technology:

The relationship and inter-relationship created by combining - educators and learners; teaching and learning methodologies, procedures, and practices; teaching and learning tools, applications, and sub-processes within a given natural and social context clearly identifying:- what is to be learned, what is taught and what is caught; how each learner's needs are met through the use of multiple instructional strategies and authentic assessment tools; how each learner's progress is determined; how each learner will receive adequate time, attention, assistance; and access to sources of information in order to make each learner a life-long learner, an in depth learner, and a creator of knowledge thereby facilitating the fulfillment of his own potential.

It is impossible to proceed without a clear concept of the nature of the product that is required from the system to meet the "needs" of society on the one hand, and on the other to meet the requirements of the product itself, that is, the learner.

What are the basic attributes required for life? Do they remain constant? Do they change from one epoch to the next? Are the attributes required in the year 1900, the ones required in the year 2000 and the ones required in the year 2100, one and the same? Is it that what has changed is the available tools and the environment we live in, thereby, giving rise to new demands of those same attributes in the pursuit of a quality life.

If that is so then we need to identify what those attributes are and target them for development in each and every learner. A suggested list of attributes are the need to be highly educated, highly cultivated, highly responsible, highly skilled, highly productive and highly moral. The learners position in society will largely be dependent on the extent to which that learner develop and use these attributes:

1. Your capacity to learn, the attitude you bring towards learning, the extend to which it is sustained throughout life, and the extent to which you are willing to invest in the acquisition, production, sharing and dissemination of knowledge and the knowledge experience.

2. The extent to which you are cultivated - in short this means the extent to which you have learnt to appreciate beauty in whatever form -"whether of nature or of art"...Thomas Huxley- it embraces being schooled in manner and manners, politeness, common courtesies and etiquette, as well as respect for yourself, in your ability to pay your own way, and to respect others as yourself.

3. The extent to which you discern for yourself the ways in which you may serve mankind during your lifetime, and the extent to which you have taken responsibility to execute that mission, doing for yourself what you can and should do and encouraging others to do the same.

4. The extent to which you have identified your individual talent(s) and acquired knowledge of how to apply it in developing productive skills, perhaps unique to yourself and highly marketable ... qualifying you for new opportunities to solve problems, for creativity, for innovation, or for further study.

5. Your orientation to technology and how it can be applied in creative ways to human development and productivity. Technology here is in the broadest sense, that of, combining resources - humans, machines and knowhow to create a good or service.

6. The extent to which you have developed a value system that can be understood and accepted within social norms, that can be trusted - a system within which you can come to terms with your own spirituality, sexuality and morality.

The experience from the process of acquiring these attributes is what is brought to the table as values and attitudes.

When you seek to apply the technology, therefore, and as we go to war over information technology, the People vs. Cable and Wireless, the key factors must be our access to it and our preparedness to use it. The technology itself is of little value unless we come to terms with how we use it. The outcome of the process of education and socialization cannot be expressed in absolute terms, the learner must acquire an approach to life that incorporates, life-long learning with an ability to communicate effectively, express and articulate one's feelings and views, whether orally or in written form, or in art form, the ability to reason and make decisions, the ability to interact with human beings and the ability to understand and respect the social and natural environment.


1. Students learn at their own pace.
Integrated learning systems can individualize instruction, and teachers can prescribe individual learning paths for students. Such tools are being used in our schools today offering lessons to gives learners from different backgrounds interests, and motivation, the basic tools of learning. Students can move at their own pace without fear, malice or sarcasm, remediating weaknesses and at the same time creating a foundation of basic learning skills.

2. The technology facilitates the development of writing skills
The Word Processor eases the "burden" of penmanship, promotes prolific writing and the development of critical thinking skills, creativity, and quality production and presentation of students' work thereby generating a sense of accomplishment.

3. Provides the learner with easy access to information
On-line tools and resources allow students to efficiently gather and evaluate information, then communicate their thoughts and findings. This communication may require reading; thinking; writing; creating charts, graphs, and other images; or the organization and production of information using spreadsheets and databases.

4. Provides support for challenging learners to solve complex problems.
It is virtually impossible to teach higher-level process skills in the traditional sense; they cannot be transferred directly from the teacher to the learner. Students need to develop these skills for themselves, with appropriate guidance. They need to struggle with questions they have posed and search out their own answers.
A collection of computer applications often called productivity tools - databases, spreadsheets, computer-assisted design, graphics programs, and multimedia authoring programs - could revolutionize the way students work and, more important, the way they think.

5. Technology provides a variety of forms of expression.
Modern technology-based art forms (video production, digital photography, computer-based animation, and the like ) have great appeal, encouraging artistic expression among our diverse student population. These tools increase motivation and foster creative problem-solving skills as students evaluate the many possible ways to communicate ideas.

6. Learners must be globally aware
The learner must be prepared for the universal arena. The access to material as well as the material itself must be defined in a global context so that each become a "player" in the global market-place.

7. Technology provides the basis for creating marketable products that support the learning process.
Publications, Drama and Musical Video Productions, plus tele-communication links to the rest of the world, can provide vehicles through which students' work is showcased and at the same time provide revenue support for the student and the education system.

8. Quality, Equity and Access
Information technology and distance education technologies can bring important learning experiences to students, even in remote districts where small student populations have made some courses impossible to offer.

9. Students must feel comfortable with the tools of the Information Age.
By making technology a natural part of the process of teaching and learning, students become natural users of technology to solve problems and aid productivity.

10. The technology re-position teachers in the system.
Some things only teachers can do:
1. Teachers can build strong, productive relationships with students
2. Teachers can motivate students to love learning
3. Teachers can identify and meet students' emotional needs.

Technology-based solutions in education can, and must, free the teacher to do the important work that requires human interaction, continuous evaluation, and improvement of the learning environment.

In summarizing, how can the emerging technologies support the education system? We can place this response in the context of our own efforts to reform the education system.

The Reform of Secondary Education - ROSE(JAMAICA) - has three main objectives:

1. to improve quality of the education product,

2. to improve equity in its availability, and

3. to improve access to higher education

In respect of quality, the new technology prepares a more focused and purposeful learner - an in depth learner, improving levels of interest in learning leading to reduced absenteeism, students missing fewer classes, increased anxiety to reach classes, improving levels of concentration - we have reports from the Edwin Allen Comprehensive High School where boys are showing renewed interest in learning.

The new technology promotes equity by removing elements of prejudice, treating all users the same irrespective of social class, race, gender, sex, age or perceived intelligence. In addition, it meets the needs of individual learners by the use of multiple instructional strategies and recognizing and coping with the individual's need for adequate time and practice.

The technology offers access to ever-increasing number of sources of information, utilizing libraries on CD-ROM, INTERNET, Distance Teaching, etc., "taking down the walls between subjects, classrooms and age groups and nations, and supporting learning that is integrated and global".

We are now in a position to develop a process, a model, for integrating technology into the total education system.

The model will address:
a) the perceived needs of students, including preparation for learning, acquisition of the primary tools for learning, subject-related development and knowledge production.
b) the dimensions of teaching styles related to remediation, guided learning and the production of knowledge
c) the type of technology available whether for drill and practice, subject-related courseware, productivity tools, multimedia, libraries or the INTERNET.
d) the transfer of control to the student and the redefinition of the teachers' role
e) the mechanism for assessment and transfer from one "level" to the next.

The teacher by incorporating technology into the curriculum can achieve several important goals:
1. They can build on-going exercises in critical thinking into the curriculum regardless of subject area.
2. They engage themselves into a curriculum process that is ever-current reflecting ideas that are relevant to the learner's daily life and to the real world, and
3. They create a process to "grow" knowledge by sharing data bases among students adding "new" thought and discoveries to advance knowledge in the sciences and other disciplines, thereby building and constructing new knowledge, offering it to scrutiny, stimulating more challenges and leading to more powerful explanations.
4. By making the technology the natural part of the education process the learner acquires technological expertise critical to take full advantage of the information society.

The communities of the future will be connected and united by sharing information and knowledge common to its members, but will access immediately updates and new knowledge as they become available.

These are indeed exciting times. For the first time full employment stares us in the face. 10 years, 20 years, who knows. For the first time you don't have to go any where to learn, to work or to do business. The technology is available to bring economic and social gains, it is opening windows of opportunities.

"It is time for the Caribbean to make its move".