Technology, otherwise known as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) or simply Information Technology (IT) has been ubiquitous in our daily lives and now imbricated in all aspects of society (or at the least aiming to get there). The Business world, especially in the advanced and developed world, have galloped precipitously with technology and is evident in many other fields such as health, sports, retail, mining and nearly every field there is.
However, the educational sphere has been a bit laggard at adopting technology though there are some inroads in the area of educational technology, the sector as a whole seems to be miles away from the revolution which was promised by the enthusiasts. The question beckoning now is why the gap?
When the Educational sector got into Educational technology it was largely technology transformation which centred on sending education to the masses and automation of repetitive tasks, the former gave birth to Online Education and Massive Open Online Courses ( MOOCs) and it has been game-changing in education compelling well established Higher Educational Institutes to offer online options to broaden their reach and also bring them up to speed with the trends in the sphere.
In as much as the technology promises several innovative and revolutionary outcomes which technology enthusiast laud and promulgate, there has been a severe gap between the promises and reality, especially in African HEIs with Ghana Inclusive. The reasons for this gap will be discussed in another article.
ICT or CIT
In Ghana, most of the technology used in education has largely centred around data entry and visual communication (presentations to be precise). The latter is primarily what has come to be known as ICT, where teachers prepare PowerPoint slides of lesson notes and are sometimes enhanced with pictorials for the class. Although this is a helpful aspect of ICT, technology goes far beyond just amending part or parts of the teaching process by moving it on to the computer whereas all else stays exactly where they were in the 20th century. In this scenario, the computer has now become a visual aid just like posters were used and the immense transformative power of technology to cull information to enhance and deepen understanding as well as to build capacity to make sense out of the content is utterly trounced.
In this vain IT/ICT has been parochially been embedded into urban and private schools where it is can be afforded yet pedagogy, mode, method, organisation, management and the analytics of the data is completely ignored and not considered. The use of ICT as a mode of communication has even ignited the debate of renaming Information Communication Technology (ICT) as Communicating Information using Technology (CIT). This renaming proposal is laconic of the inadequate understanding and usage of ICT which considering the precipitous rise of technology particularly in cellular and mobile technology devices as well as the profound and widespread use of these, even in the rural settings of the country is disheartening. It is imperative that IT/ICT is not relegated to a visual aid where its potentials lost in the tray of under-utilised.
ICT is as the name suggests is a technology with information and communicating capabilities and should be utilised as such. In education, the whole fabric of teaching should be reconsidered with ICT embedded in the strategy. This means ICT should not be only limited to communicating teaching notes but the pedagogy (methods and modes of teaching), management both of the students and tutors, data management including the analytics of it to enhance and help navigate students through their learning process and direct teachers and tutors to the areas of much attention needed. ICT is much more than PowerPoint slides, it is the whole embodiment of employing new innovative technologies to harness information, deepen comprehension, widen the scope, enlighten visually and keep up with the 21st century in an ever-closer global setting. Technology is widely imbricated in society and educationist should engage it to educate its users creating a more ethical usage.
Growing up as a child, my father had an array of encyclopaedia books on the bookshelf. The guarantee of these was that the information in there was verified and true at the time the books went to press. They were globally reliable information. The dilemma of today is that although there is a cornucopia of information and data via various technology, it is extremely difficult to decipher the true facts from alternative facts (otherwise called fake information). This is vividly apparent in the majority of our social media paradigm where the technology re-enforces a particular hold (viewpoint) due to the algorithms and thereby creating an ever-increasing polarised society. These can be limited by educating the users and laying bare the clandestine objectives these technologies possess. Hence it is time educational institutions take the bull by the horn and tackle the use and misuse of technology. It may not be perfect but it will be a step in the right direction.
It is in this light that, Jackson College of Education makes it a priority to embed ICT in its strategy in all areas of the learning process. It is encouraging students to familiarise themselves with devices such as smart tablets and phones, even in the rural areas where battery banks can extend their usage times in no electricity periods. Student management is a hybrid of technology and tutors which are essential for both stakeholders to achieve excellence in the learning process, management and lifelong learning. It is imperative for future teachers to be abreast with current and future technology in order to facilitate teaching and learning of the future generation. Education should not only be the dissemination of information but the understanding and utilisation of it for the betterment of society. This is the primary objective of Jackson Educational Complex which also is in line with UNESCO’s sustainability development goal.
Daniel Jackson CMgr CMI
Pro-Director of Jackson Educational Complex.
Kumasi – Ghana
– Mr Jackson is an engineer and a technology management consultant. He is also a Chartered Manager with a research interest in Educational Technology ( EduTech), Data Analytics and Data Science.