Information and communication technology in higher education
Information and communication technology (ICT) is a force that has changed many aspects of the way we live. If one was to compare such fields as medicine, tourism, travel, business, law, banking, engineering and architecture, the impact of ICT across the past two or three decades has been enormous. The way these fields operate today is vastly different from the ways they operated in the past. But when one looks at education, there seems to have been an uncanny lack of influence and far less change than other fields have experienced. A number of people have attempted to explore this lack of activity and influence (e.g. Collis, 2002). There have been a number of factors impeding the wholesale uptake of ICT in education across all sectors. These have included such factors as a lack of funding to support the purchase of the technology, a lack of training among established teaching practitioners, a lack of motivation and need among teachers to adopt ICT as teaching tools (Starr, 2001). But in recent times, factors have emerged which have strengthened and encouraged moves to adopt ICTs into classrooms and learning settings. As we move into the 21st century, these factors and many others are bringing strong forces to bear on the adoption of ICTs in education and contemporary trends suggest we will soon see large scale changes in the way education is planned and delivered as a consequence of the opportunities and affordances of ICT. This paper seeks to explore the likely changes we will see in education as ICT acts as a powerful agent to change many of the educational practices to which we have become accustomed. In particular, the paper will explore the impact both current and emerging information and communication technologies will be likely to have in coming years on what is learned, when and where learning will take place and how the learning will occur. The impact of ICT on what is learned:
Conventional teaching has emphasized content. For many years course have been written around textbooks. Teachers have taught through lectures and presentations interspersed with tutorials and learning activities designed to consolidate and rehearse the content. Contemporary settings are now favoring curricula that promote competency and performance. Curricula are starting to Emphasize capabilities and to be concerned more with how the information will be used than with what the information is.
A. competency and performance-based curricula:
The moves to competency and performance-based curricula are well supported and encouraged by emerging instructional technologies (e.g. Stephenson, 2001). Such curricula tend to require: access to a variety of information sources;
access to a variety of information forms and types;
student-centered learning settings based on information access and inquiry; learning environments centered on problem-centered and inquiry-based activities; authentic settings and examples; and
teachers as coaches and mentors rather than content experts. Contemporary ICTs are able to provide strong support for all these requirements and there are now many outstanding examples of world class settings for competency and performance-based curricula that make sound use of the affordances of these technologies (e.g. Oliver, 2000). For many years, teachers wishing to adopt such 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 have been removed. And new technologies will continue to drive these forms of learning further. 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. B. information literacy
Another way in which emerging ICTs are impacting on the...