Role of Ict

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The role of ICT in higher education for the 21st century: ICT as a change agent for education Ron Oliver Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia r.oliver@ecu.edu.au

Abstract: Information and communication technologies (ICT) have become commonplace entities in all aspects of life. Across the past twenty years the use of ICT has fundamentally changed the practices and procedures of nearly all forms of endeavour within business and governance. Within education, ICT has begun to have a presence but the impact has not been as extensive as in other fields. 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. The use of ICT in education lends itself to more student-centred learning settings and often this creates some tensions for some teachers and students. But with the world moving rapidly into digital media and information, the role of ICT in education is becoming more and more important and this importance will continue to grow and develop in the 21st century. This paper highlights the various impacts of ICT on contemporary higher education and explores potential future developments. The paper argues the role of ICT in transforming teaching and learning and seeks to explore how this will impact on the way programs will be offered and delivered in the universities and colleges of the future. Keywords: Online learning, constructivism, higher education

Introduction 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 (eg.Soloway and Prior, 1996; 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. These have included a growing need to explore efficiencies in terms of

program delivery, the opportunities for flexible delivery provided by ICTs (eg. Oliver & Short, 1997); the capacity of technology to provide support for customized educational programs to meet the needs of individual learners (eg. Kennedy & McNaught, 1997); and the growing use of the Internet and WWW as tools for information access and communication (eg. Oliver & Towers, 1999). 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 emphasised content. For many years course have...
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