The Effects of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Early Childhood Classroom
Objectives of study
The objectives of this study was therefore to determine the extent to which ICT can be used in enhancing early childhood education.
Specifically, this Study sought to:
- Determined the roles of the teachers in implementing and integrating ICT within the early childhood context.
- Identify the ICT materials that are needed for effective teaching and learning in early childhood education.
- Identify the roles of ICT in the teaching and learning environment in early childhood education.
- Identify the challenges of ICT in early childhood education.
This section reviews literature related to the study on ICT integration in the teaching and learning process in secondary school education. The review is divided into the following: the concept of ICT integration in education; internet connectivity and ICT equipment in schools; teacher professional development in ICT; digital curriculum and content for schools and policy framework for ICT integration in education. The section ends with the discussion on theoretical framework and conceptual framework upon which the study was based.
Concept of ICT Integration in Education
Information Communication Technology (ICT) is basically a tool; it can be a hardware, a software or both. Jackson (2002) advises that teachers should not replace what they teach, but see ICT as a tool just like a calculator, a pen or chalkboard that help them to teach and students to learn. Hodgkison (2006) and Duplessis (2010) note three types of ICT integration present in schools; the first being, learning about computers without any link to classroom practice. The second is full integration with traditional goals whereby computer is just used as a transmitter of knowledge resulting to just learning “from” the computer and the third is full integration with constructivist learning space and context, implying that computers are taken as mediational or transformational tools resulting to learning “with” or “through” using computers. An analysis of South African Institute of Distance Education (SAIDE) (2003) suggests that the generative mode integration is not the norm in most Sub-Saharan African schools.
Muchiri (2008) (citing Poole 1998) indicate that educators in United States of America (USA) are able to put computers to good use in preparing teaching and learning materials. They are able to produce syllabi, schedules and classroom materials professionally and more efficiently using computers. By use of productivity tools such as word processors, database management software, communication systems and graphic tools educators are able to duplicate excellence in managing the process of teaching and learning. Generally, educators have found ICT to be a crucial tool for supporting drills and practice in previously taught skills and concepts in class. Also opportunities for networking and collaborative learning indicate that several principles and theories which promote learner centered constructivist learning can be more easily integrated in teaching. Furthermore, the internet connectivity makes it possible for educational resources to be accessed and exchanged with relative ease.
Nigerian experience on ICT integration has been low despite the government and Ministry of Education’s efforts to support ICT integration initiatives. Ndiku, (2003) conducted a research on the experience of managers and computer teachers in eight schools in Uasin Gishu with a focus on problem encountered in implementing ICT projects. The research identified the following as the most significant factors: insufficient number of computers and peripheral devices, teacher lack of adequacy in ICT knowledge; inadequate software for instruction and inadequate technical assistance .The research by Ndiku focused on problems encountered in ICT implementation but did not capture the extent of ICT usage in teaching and learning activities.
Internet Connectivity and ICT Equipment in schools.
Electronic learning in education is the wholesome integration of modern telecommunication equipment and ICT resources in the teaching and learning process and it can be online (synchronous) or offline (asynchronous) (Garrison, Anderson 2003 and Allen 2003)
An important aspect of e- learning therefore is the utilization of the internet in education. Tracy (1995) defines the internet as the international network of communication in which computers in wide area network (WAN) communicate with each other. Most of the available options for effective use of ICT in support of education are much more powerful when the activity is linked in a communication network that permits access to email, web browsing, file transfers through downloading and uploading as well as other communications. Brassford, Brown and cocking (1999) indicate that High School students in the United States of America(USA) use the internet to enhance their educational experience in a variety of ways .These include opportunity for collaborative learning environment where students actively construct their knowledge with online peers and teachers through message boards, chat rooms and emails creating an arena where different discourse and leaning styles can comfortably co-exist. Students also benefit from lectures and presentations in form of video conferencing and web cast from dispersed teachers and experts. Such learning opportunities can only be possible if there is efficient internet connectivity in schools. Government of Nigeria (2006) quoting Educational Management Information Systems (EMIS) survey (2003/2004) indicates that 70% of secondary schools and much larger population of primary schools require functional internet connectivity. The study also establishes that about 90% of secondary schools need to establish Local Area Network to improve sharing of learning resources. Aydin and Tasci (2005) indicate that secondary schools ought to ensure internet connectivity is in place as it forms an important indicator of e-readiness for ICT integration.
A research design is the structure of research. It holds all the elements in a research project together. It shows how all the major parts of the research project work together to try to address the central research question Kombo and Tromp, (2006). The study will adopt a descriptive survey design. Kombo, (2006) defines descriptive survey as a method of collecting information by administering a questionnaire to a sample of individuals in order to secure evidence concerning all existing situations, and comparing the present conditions for the next cause of action. Descriptive survey will be suitable since this study sought to determine the Effects of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Early Childhood Classroom.
Early childhood classes in Lagos state will be adopted for this research. This will involve the teachers, school board and educational stake holders in Lagos state.
DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
The results are presented in the order of the research questions.
Research Question One Table 1:
Mean ratings on the roles of the teachers in implementing and integrating ICT within early childhood education (ECE).
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
The findings from this study identified many benefits of using ICT by teachers for enhancing inspiring pupils and increasing the provisional satisfaction. The teachers involved in this study considered that ICT in ECE offered valuable opportunities to make children’s learning visible and contributed to developing and enhancing relationships with children, families and teachers when integrated in meaningful and purposeful ways within the early childhood teaching and learning community.
It is important that teacher’s beliefs, roles and experiences are considered, if changes are to be made to foster and optimize opportunities for young children’s learning, and how these beliefs, roles and experiences influence and shape the ways in which teachers implement and integrate ICT within the early childhood context.
The following recommendations were made, based on the findings of the study
- Researchers and educators should encourage ICT in ECE from the perspectives of children and families. This will help in exploring how early childhood teachers notice, recognize and respond to the impact of ICT on young children, through a series of case studies.
- Further researchers should examine early childhood teacher education to incorporate adequate ICT content.
- Government should give teachers opportunities to actively engage in dialogue to explore and articulate their pedagogical approach, to ICT in ECE.
- Teachers should help to create opportunities for young children to understand and appreciate the benefits of visual images and graphics in knowledge which are part of their everyday experiences.
- The teachers should be involved in decision making surrounding the purchasing, implementing and application of ICT and sometimes improvise when necessary rather than being randomly supplied with resources to use.
- School authorities need to create more facilitation for more ICT integration not only in the school but also in the classrooms including ensuring that all the classes have appropriate infrastructure like sockets for ICT equipments as well as replacing blackboards with whiteboard or smart boards so as to reduce dusty classrooms and improver projection of the work from the computer
- Teacher’s training colleges and universities should not only incorporate and strengthen ICT integration training in their teacher education programs but should also ensure that such training are based on equipping the student teachers with skills on actual integration of ICT in their respective disciplines.
- Head teachers, policy makers and other education stakeholders in Nyeri South District should develop strategies concerning increasing the use of ICT in teaching and learning through addressing the various challenges identified that are inhibiting full implementation of ICT integration
- There is still need for more intensified government as well as private sector support to secondary school towards acquisition of and maintenance of ICT equipments and facilities especially multimedia computers and broadband internet.
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