Most educators in this pandemic time have seen the importance ICT based instructions through computer technology in delivering lessons for the learners.
The distribution of print modules is not enough to cater the needs of all learners to be able to understand immediately the modules they receive. In all cases, most teachers must have a virtual discussion with their students to explain the lesson before anything else. At present, most teachers have crossed the boundaries of their skills to meet the requirement to at least have a basic knowledge in using different apps like ZOOM, MEET etc. that helps them deliver their lesson to students.
Computer technology can be viewed as an effective vehicle “to transform classroom learning into learning. Communities with students, teachers and community members all playing a vital role in directing the course of education.” The experiences described here exemplify this type of learning model with its emphasis on collaborative group-based learning, lecturer as learner and learner as teacher, as alluded to earlier. Electronic communication, peer tutoring etc. have contributed to the development of a community of learners in which learning flourishes in a non- threatening, supportive environment. Learning at undergraduate level was the antithesis of this experience. It stressed isolated, competitive endeavor in an environment where failure was not a valued learning experience. The students’ own perceptions on how ICT has impacted on their learning experiences are informative.
Initially many students began the course with the perception of ICT as a ‘scary’ subject, e.g. “ I was afraid to be left alone in a room with the computer for fear it might blow up”. “I don’t know the first thing about technology. I am hearing words like operating system, ftp, ASDL, broadband and I haven’t a clue what they mean!” while some were even unconvinced as to the value of ICTs in education. “I don’t see what a computer can do that a blackboard and chalk can’t, and with far less hassle.” In addition, many students had little experience of integrating ICT into the curriculum.
“I have never used a computer with my students before. Number one, I have never had the opportunity and number two I would not know how to”. Students found however that their perceptions changed when they experienced success in learning and grew more confident in using ICT as a learning tool themselves. “We can see how children can benefit from our experience and that’s been very motivating”. Student fear of ICT and group work was overcome by experiencing early success in learning through and about ICTs. “ I remember when fellow students arrived at my house to do the first assignment. I was terrified. I had never worked in a group before where I shared my work with others and displayed it for them to comment on!” “Having received a good grade and enjoyed the experience of working collaboratively I was ready to do so again but this time without the anxiety” (A positive view towards ICT is not universally shared. “I felt there was no reward because by the time I had finished coming to terms with the technology I was so exhausted that I couldn’t enjoy the success”. ) Early success was crucial to the development of a positive attitude to ICTs and being motivated to continue learning.
The course created a range of learning opportunities and environments, which addressed the needs of multiple intelligences and provided a framework for successful learning outcomes. People argue that multiple intelligences working collaboratively makes a learning community interdependent i.e. develops peoples strengths and competencies which leads to empowerment. “ I really felt that we brought out the best in each other” one student said about collaborative learning.
A particularly interesting observation on the course to date is that students with a moderately successful experience of learning at undergraduate level are achieving higher results than many of their peers who excelled in the traditional undergraduate and even postgraduate system. Many factors may be contributing to this but one possibility is that those who are most dissatisfied with the traditional learning paradigm may feel more motivated to fully embrace a new learning environment characterized by self-direction, collaborative learning, peer tutoring and experimentation with new technology. Motivation, combined with competence and confidence in learning with and about ICT led to increasingly successful learning outcomes as the course progressed.
This development of competency in ICT was invaluable in motivating students to become involved in the transfer of learning to the global community. This was evident when an interest emerged among students in participating in conferences and projects outside the realm of the course. By Lilibeth Escalo