Teaching in the age of communication technology
Without a doubt, teachers are pretty important to the society. Teachers hold the key to the future since they help to mould future leaders. They don’t just teach, they are critical personalities who nurture the young folks to understand the world and to understand themselves. Evidence shows that teachers, their professional knowledge and skills are the most important factor for quality education in any society.
Today, teaching has become easier and yet, more difficult because of the ubiquitous availability of communications technology. Whether it is social, business or instructional, technology now makes it easier, faster, more affordable and more intuitive to communicate. Teaching is essentially about communication and the attractiveness of communications technology in an educational setting is difficult to resist.
While some forms of these technologies may constitute distractions, there is broad consensus that, if properly harnessed, the adoption of communications technology in an educational is advantageous in a number of ways. Thus, the question that confronts the 21st century policy makers is the extent to which existing and rapidly evolving technologies should be adopted and utilised to facilitate the communication between a teacher and his/her students.
In considering this question, Rick Delgado, a leading thinker on educational innovations, identified a number of reasons why policy makers and schools will do well to ensure that teachers are capable of utilising available communications technology to impart knowledge on students. First, the use of technology levels the field between the so-called high end schools and the so-called low-end schools. This then brings about equality in the treatment of students in our societies as technology ensures access to significant skills and relevant information by all students and virtually all schools.
Second, technology prepares students for the future. The world is moving towards technology at a breakneck pace and educators have a responsibility to introduce, encourage, and help students master technology as it applies to school and the future. Technology will be used in every aspect of the future professional lives of current students.
Third, technology ensures that the classroom can be taken anywhere. This, indeed, is the age of the mobile life. Adopting the use of technology means that the classroom can be taken anywhere. With all the knowledge and resources contained and deliverable on demand in mobile devices, students can learn at home or in the field. Mobile technology also allows for greater collaboration between students thus promoting strong foundations in group work.
The social component of existing communications technologies also serves to motivate students and ensure healthy competition among students. Indeed, creating a social element to educational technology can allow for healthy competition amongst peers either in the same classroom or across the country. Performing well and earning badges to gain virtual social status is at the heart of many social applications today and using technology to make education have social elements can make learning very addictive.
While our society may not be there yet, it is now a known fact that technology can replace infrastructure and thus result in huge savings for the government and for parents. Desks, books, laboratory equipment and other items are a heavy cost burden on schools everywhere. Technology and devices can help save on these costs. In addition, geographically isolated or economically disadvantaged children can benefit from access to online software or resources which would otherwise be cost prohibitive.
Technology can also help in addressing one of the most urgent problems in our schools today. That is, the problem of reliance on obsolete textbooks that are not regularly updated. Some reports say that students sometimes continue to use textbooks that are up to 10 years old. This is not acceptable and technology can help in ensuring the timely updating of academic information because updating software and educational content is not as expensive or cumbersome as updating textbooks. With the help of technology, course curriculum can reflect real world data and in some applications, students can be exposed to real-time information.
Technology ensures that students, classrooms, schools and teachers can be connected to anyone in the world instantly. Devices coupled with the Internet can allow for a free way to communicate globally. The opportunity to understand international or different cultural perspectives on the same topic is invaluable and incredible.
This requires stronger training upfront and continual professional development and support, to enhance performance and learning outcomes. It is for the reasons above, amongst others that the Lagos State government under the able and visionary leadership of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, has resolved to prepare and equip teachers for the challenges and excitement of adopting modern communications tools and methods of delivering instructions in the classroom. As the ones entrusted with our children future, this government places huge premium on the training of teachers. Our teachers must be properly trained and subjected to continuous training such that our schools and the products of our educational system will rank amongst the best in the world.
In this technology driven world, teachers are pacesetters, role models, disciplinarians, restorers of values and above all as agents of change equipped with communications tools and instructional aids for efficient and effective service delivery. It is in view of this that the Lagos State government has continued to invest in the training and retraining of teachers in its public schools to ensure that they are properly equipped to deliver premium, relevant and globally-competitive instructions.
The overall intent is to raise excellent faculties for various courses taught in our High Schools, Colleges and Learning Institutions in Lagos State. These faculties will be defined as: Teachers of exceptional ability; teachers capable of adapting the basic tools of effective communications at imparting knowledge; teachers who will be dexterous at optimising Microsoft PowerPoint as a tool of instructional delivery; teachers of great learning capabilities with enhanced competencies in instructional deliveries and teachers who will make learning fun for adopting hands-on methodology in imparting knowledge.
It is expected that public schools teachers in the state will in return reciprocate this kind gesture by rededicating themselves to the core values of the noble profession, eschew indiscipline, disloyalty and non-challant attitude, utilise what they have learnt in at various trainings to enable them be at par with their colleagues all around the world.
It is only when teachers are effectively positioned to produce students that are capable of launching the state and, indeed, the country into league of industrial and technologically powered societies that â˜Itesiwaju Ipinle Eko je wale ogun (the progress of Lagos State is paramount to us) which is the mantra of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration can amply become a breath taking reality.
• Dr. Oke is the commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Lagos State.