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ICT and Education in the 21st Century

Education and information has great relationship, ICT in Education means teaching and learning with information and communication technology. Therefore, Information and communication technology (ICT) is a force that has changed many aspects of human endeavours. The impact of ICT on various fields of human endeavour such as medicine, tourism, business, law, banking, engineering and architecture over two or three decades has been enormous. But when one looks at the field of education, there seems to have been an uncanny lack of influence of ICT and far less change than other fields have experienced. A number of scholars such as (Soloway and Prior, 1996) have attempted to explore this lack of activity and influence of ICT on education and many others. In other words, though ICT has begun to have presence in education, its impact has not been as extensive as in other fields (Collis, 2002). Education is a very socially oriented activity and quality education has traditionally been associated with strong teachers having high degrees of personal contact with learners. With the world moving rapidly into digital media and information, the role of ICT in education is becoming more and more important. It has been suggested that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can and play a number of roles in education such as developing the kind of graduates and citizens required in an information society; improving educational outcomes and enhancing and improving the quality of teaching and learning (Wagner, 2001; McCormick and Scrimshaw, 2001; Flecknoe, 2002). Garrison and Anderson (2003) argue that the application of ICTs in the teaching-learning process can enhance the quality of education in several ways such as increasing learner motivation and engagement, facilitating the acquisition of basic skills, and enhancing teacher training. Since several subjects has been offered at both secondary and tertiary levels, its relevance and sustenance in the 21st century requires the adequate application of ICTs like video tapes, television and multimedia computer software that combine text, sound and colorful moving images which can be used to provide challenging and authentic content that will not only engage the student in the learning process but as well make earning concrete.

DEFINITION OF ICT IN EDUCATION IN NIGERIA

A number of scholars have viewed the definition of ICT from different perspectives and standpoints. The term information and communications technology (ICT) was said to have been introduced in the early 1990s to replace that of information technology (IT) in recognition of the communicating abilities and facilities offered by the computer. However, while most people adopted the term ICT, people in higher education used the term communication and information technology (C and IT) to refer to the same concept (Salau, 2005). The term ICT covers a whole range of applications, techniques and systems (Clarke, 2006). Lallana and Margaret (2003) clearly postulate that ICT “refers to a broad field encompassing computers, communications equipment and the services associated with them.” This means that ICT is not just considered as applications and systems but also as skill for life. In this sense, it is viewed in line with literacy and numeracy as a fundamental skill that every individual needs so as to live “confidently, effectively and independently in a modern or contemporary society (Clarke, 2006). ICT is also seen as a key skill for learning different subject areas (Tanner, 2003 and Kennewell 2004). This identification of ICT as a skill for life informed its introduction in the school curriculum in the developed nations (Akudolu, 2007). ICT has three positions in the curriculum and these include learning about ICT, learning with ICT and learning through ICT. Learning about ICT refers to ICT concept as a subject of learning in the school curriculum while learning with ICT is concerned with the use of ICT as a medium to facilitate instruction (Akudolu, 2007). This view was also shared by Pelgrum and Law (2003). They maintain that “learning through ICT refers to the integration of ICT as an essential tool into a course/Curriculum, such that the teaching and learning of that course/curriculum is no longer possible without it”. Despite that, most schools do not provide Information and communication technologies for teaching. ICT can be an instructional medium or a source for learning. It can also be integrated in the learning process so that learning takes place through the learner’s interaction with the facilities. Therefore ICT in education is considered as discipline, resource and key skill. Within these three broad areas, ICT offers enormous benefits to the society. This is based on the fact that ICT education and in education is concerned not only with equipping learners with knowledge and skills for the information age but also with boosting the economic and political status of the country (Akudolu, 2007).

CHALLENGES OF ICT IN EDUCATION IN NIGERIA

Recent report revealed that the readiness of ICT in this part of the world (Africa) is still very low with most countries experiencing strong lags in connectivity because of the insufficient development of ICT infrastructures. While the developed world continues to witness development of ICT, sub-Saharan Africa is still lagging behind due to poor quality services (Global ICT Chart Report: Guardian, Friday April, 2012 p.6). The report also ranged African countries on the global ICT Chart. While Nigeria was ranked 112th on the global ICT Chart, other countries in the African continent like Mauritius, South Africa, Rwanda, Botswana, Kenya and Senegal were ranked 53rd, 71st, 82nd, 89th, 93rd and 100th respectively (Guardian, Friday April, 2012 p.6). The report indicated that African countries suffer from severe weaknesses in all components of the index of ICT which ranges from poor connectivity caused by expensive and poor quality ICT infrastructure to very low levels of basic skills and a weak framework for technology (Guardian, Friday April, 2012 p.6). Generally speaking, a number of factors are said to have militated against the use of ICT in education in Nigeria. These have included such factors as lack of funding to support the purchase of the technology, lack of training of teachers, lack of motivation on the part of teachers to adopt ICTs as teaching tools in the classroom instruction and so on.

THE ROLE OF ICT IN THE TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE 21ST CENTURY

The teaching and learning of ICT in the Nigerian institutions most importantly in the 21st century have developed within the framework of theory and practice. In this technological age, the effective means of communication in the classroom instruction requires the use of communication technologies. “The illiterate of the 21st century, will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alvin Toffler (cited in Shikshak, 2009). The above statement pointed out the relevance of ICT revolution in the 21st century education. Haddad and Jurich, (2002) argued that there are four basic issues in the use of ICTs in education in the 21st century. They are effectiveness, cost, equality and sustainability. They pointed out that, in recent years, there has been an upsurge of interest in how ICTs most importantly computers and the internet can best be harnessed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of education at all levels and in both formal and non-formal settings (Haddad and Jurich, 2002). The role of ICT in the teaching and learning of English in the 21st century can be seen in four major angles, namely, the impact on teacher, learner and the image of English as a discipline. Conventional teaching which is still common today in our schools emphasizes content. For many, teachers of English in particular have taught through lectures and presentations interspersed with tutorials and learning activities designed to consolidate and rehearse the content (Kamal and Banu, 2010). Meanwhile, contemporary settings are now favouring curricula that promote competency and performance. In the developed countries, curricula are starting to emphasize capabilities and to be concerned more with how the information will be used than with what the information is. The moves to competency and performance-based curricula are well supported and encouraged by emerging instructional technologies (Stephenson, 2001). Such curricula tend to require: access to a variety of information sources; access to a variety of information forms and types; student-centred learning settings based on information access and inquiry; learning environments centred on problem-centred and inquiry-based activities; authentic settings and examples; and teachers as coaches and mentors rather than content experts. For many years, teachers wishing to adopt competency and performance-based curricula have been limited by their resources and tools but with the proliferation and widespread availability of contemporary ICTs, many restrictions and impediments of the past can now be removed (Otakhor, 2007). As students and teachers gain access to higher bandwidths, more direct forms of communication and access to sharable resources, the capability to support these quality learning settings will continue to grow (Oliver, 2000). Another role of ICT in the teaching and learning of English in the 21st century is the need for information literacy. In the 21st century, there has emerged the need for educational institutions to ensure that graduates are able to display appropriate levels of information literacy, “the capacity to identify an issue and then to identify, locate and evaluate relevant information in order to engage with it or to solve a problem arising from it” (McCausland et al., 1999, p.2). The drive to promote such developments stems from general moves among institutions to ensure their graduates demonstrate not only skills and knowledge in their subject domains alone but also to acquire general attributes and generic skills. Traditional generic skills have involved such capabilities as ability to reason formally, to solve problems, to communicate effectively, to be able to negotiate outcomes, to manage time, project management, and collaboration and teamwork skills. The growing use of ICTs as tools of everyday life have seen the pool of generic skills expanded in recent years to include information literacy (Kamal and Banu, 2010).

CONCLUSION

The place of information and communication technology in education and training cannot be overemphasized. Its full integration in education helps to ensure quality education in various levels of education such as primary, secondary and tertiary. Despite the fact that some educators do not support the introduction and adoption of ICT into the school curriculum, majority of educators strongly feel that ICT is the most valuable tool to overcome the problem being faced in the teaching-learning process. ICT has become a major key tool in acquiring, processing and disseminating adequate knowledge especially in the 21st century. In fact, its effective use has become an imperative tool for measuring development of a nation in the 21st century.

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