Develop Strategies to Teach ICT in Schools – Reid

Special advisor to the Minister of Education, Ruel Reid, has underscored the need for emphasis on developing the requisite “instructional strategies” to enhance the teaching and learning of computer technology in schools.
Speaking at the first E-Learning Jamaica (E-Ljam) teachers’ graduation ceremony at the Mico University College in Kingston on Friday (April 4),
Mr. Reid, who represented Education Minister Andrew Holness, noted that as government “invested large sums of money towards outfitting classrooms with computer technology”, many educators “await the promise of technology’s power to guide them and to lead improvements in the educational system”.
“Research, however, is inconclusive, as to the effect of computer technology on student achievement. As teachers respond to the challenge to utilize computer technology in the teaching and learning process, they must be mindful of an important distinction between using technology and infusing technology,” he stated.
While acknowledging that teachers must be offered training in the use of computers, Mr. Reid said this must incorporate the instructional strategies needed to infuse technological skills in the learning process. In the same vein, he lamented what he described as “popular trends regarding technology use in schools” that threaten to “impede the transformation impact of technology in the instruction environment”. One of these, he pointed out, is an overemphasis on merely building teachers’ technology skills.
“In the struggle to use and infuse technology, learning to use the computer is the easier part, and sometimes a challenge for many teachers. Yet knowing how to use a computer does little to guarantee the success and infusion of technology into the teaching and learning process,” the Special Advisor noted.
Another trend, Mr. Reid said, is the belief that teachers’ inability to use technology could be overcome by students’ ability in this area.
“Often, we hear administrators claiming that some teachers’ fear of computers will not be a problem because the students will teach one another and the teacher (how to use it). But, what self-respecting administrator would hire a teacher, who could not read and claim that it is not a problem because the students will teach the teacher?” he asked rhetorically.
This belief, Mr. Reid further said, leads to a third “problematic” trend, where the computer is often regarded as an end in itself. He noted that in schools where the computer is deemed a tool, “upon closer observation, it is evident that the use of the computer is either the goal of the lesson or a convenient side product of the lesson.”
“The emphasis is on teaching students merely to use the computer, not to consider it as a tool integral to the learning process. Computer technology provides students and teachers with unprecedented opportunities to transform the teaching and learning process,” he informed.
Despite these challenges, Mr. Reid said an encouraging 61 per cent of teachers have indicated that they are computer literate, adding that, “I have challenged the Minister (that) in five year’s time, all teachers in Jamaica will be fully computer literate.”
Some 334 teachers and lecturers from some 28 secondary institutions participated in the inaugural E-Ljam training programme, which is a joint effort between the Ministry of Energy, Mining, and Telecommunications, and the Ministry of Education.
The project is aimed at using state of the art information and communications technology (ICT) to enhance the learning experience, thereby improving the quality of education in secondary schools.

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