Benefits and Barriers to Using ICT in Education

Description of an Experience

Today I read an article titled ‘ICT in Education: A Critical Literature Review and Its Implications’ (Fu, 2013). In this article, Fu critiques the use of ICT in education. Fu begins by examining the benefits of ICT integration in education, stating that ICT is “a powerful tool for educational change and reform” (p. 112). Fu argues that “appropriate use of ICT can raise educational quality and connect learning to real-life situations” (p. 112). Fu then describes some of the benefits of using ICT in education, such as expanded access to education and the multiplicity of resources abundant on the Internet. However, despite the advantages of using ICT in education, Fu also acknowledges that “barriers or challenges with its use still exist” (p. 115). Fu identified teachers’ attitudes, perceptions, and confidence in using ICT, among the main challenges associated with successful ICT integration in education.

I have summarised Fu’s discussion around the benefits and barriers to using ICT in education in the following table:

Benefits: Barriers:
·      Through ICT, learning can occur any time, anywhere and with anyone. ICT enables students to communicate, share, and work collaboratively any time and anywhere.

·      Learning and teaching no longer depend exclusively on printed materials. Students can access digital information efficiently and effectively.

·      ICT makes knowledge acquisition more accessible. Knowledge can be acquired through video clips, audio sounds, visual presentation and so on.

·      ICT assists in transforming a teaching environment into a learner-centered one. Students are actively involved in the learning processes in ICT classrooms. Students take control of their learning through their use of ICT.

·      ICT provides opportunities for students to develop critical and higher-order thinking skills. ICT is used as a tool for students to discover learning topics, solve problems, and provide solutions to the problems in the learning process. They build new knowledge through accessing, selecting, organizing, and interpreting information and data.

·      Low teacher expectations and a lack of clear goals for ICT use in schools. A lack of motivation, and technical and financial support.

·      A lack of specific knowledge about technology and how to combine it with the existing pedagogical content knowledge to support student learning.

·      A lack of in-service training on the use of ICT. Insufficient time to master new software.

·      Pressure to improve scores on national examinations. Low software competence and habitual ways of conceptualizing what and how students should learn.

·      Technical problems in the classroom.

·      Classroom management with large class sizes.

·      Uncertainty about the possible benefits of using ICT in the classroom and lack of specific and definite ideas about how integrating technology into instruction will improve student learning.

 

Personal Experience

I believe Fu raises many important issues in his critique of the use of ICT in education. While there are many benefits to ICT integration in education, there are also many barriers to successful ICT integration. Many of the barriers that Fu described stem from the teacher’s confidence and capability in using ICT in the classroom. This article thus has important implications in terms of my use of ICT in the classroom, as I have acknowledged that this is an aspect of my teaching practice in which I lack confidence. Stemming from this lack of confidence, I also lack motivation to engage with new ICTs and to integrate a range of ICTs in the classroom. As I have previously acknowledged, I tend to use only those ICTs with which I am most familiar and comfortable. Further, although I understand the benefits of ICT integration in education, I lack knowledge about how I should use ICT in the classroom to support student learning.

benefits
While there are many benefits to ICT integration in education…

Image source: https://medium.com/@marisacamarena/should-students-have-technology-in-the-classroom-ac14c3a2302f 

barriers
… there are also many barriers to successful ICT integration.

Image source: https://wwhspawprint.com/date/2016/02/

Critical Analysis

While ICT is changing teaching and learning for the better in several ways, Fu has also identified some barriers. Fu thus proposes a variety of strategies for addressing these barriers in order to foster the benefits of ICT integration in education. These strategies include (p. 116):

  • Providing professional development activities related to technology to improve teachers’ skills and knowledge.
  • Establishing supportive, collaborative partnerships that help teachers share effective technology practices and experiences.
  • Offering opportunities to observe other teachers meaningfully and effectively using technology to support student learning (I think this is a great idea for ALL teachers!!!).
  • Providing workshops that allow teachers to reflect upon effective strategies for technology integration into instruction and to unveil issues that are central to understanding the process of technology integration into instruction.
  • Providing adequate technical support.

 Outcome

There are both benefits and barriers to ICT integration in education. In order to access the benefits of ICT integration, teachers must learn not only how to use technology to support traditional teaching, but also must learn from a learner-centered perspective how ICT can be integrated into classroom activities in order to promote student learning. Fu recommends that schools should offer their teachers workshops to improve their ICT skills and prepare them to encounter possible challenges while integrating technology in order to improve teachers’ professional development on ICT use. Professional development is imperative to supporting teaching and learning with technology integration.

References

Fu, J. S. (2013). ICT in education: A critical literature review and its implications.

International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, 9(1), 112-125. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/openview/2e3a7cd417463ec1e137548a306a0a31/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=28521

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