In the absence of love between parties involved, a relationship is as good as non-existent. In the same vein modern day learning has Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as its oxygen.
The duo are birds of the same plume who perambulate in close proximity. The world has become one global village because of communicating information through technology worldwide. All information including that which used to be for the privilege of a teacher exclusively is now an open secret due to technology. Having internet and access to it simply means that one has the whole world onto their fingertips. A knowledge-based economy would therefore mean accessing information to construct knowledge that can aid innovation and creativity.
Last week I boarded a night bus from Gaborone to Maun. Majority of passengers were youth. I guess it was at that time when tertiary institutions were going for the semester breaks. My observation was that almost all youth passengers had their handsets stuck to their ears during most part of the journey. I can only guess that they were playing music, movies, Facebooking, WhatsApp, reading e-book and many other applications. Subsequently we can assume they do have smart gadgets that allow for such applications. This can only mean one thing, that youth in 21st century are glued to gadgets that propel technology usage. If my assumption is a reality, we might as well go e-learning. This route is clearly defined by Government as stated under strategic priority 10 in the ETSSP document page 44. It reads as ‘Greater access, utilisation and integration of ICT as a means to improve teaching and learning and also a tool to improve education management is a key strategy linked to improving learning outcomes’. I think the Government has realised that it is only when our youth are having fun that they can be engaged educationally.
This would mean placing learning materials on their gadgets, allowing learners to use them for research purposes and placing videos showing how to solve past papers questions. It also means shifting from teacher centric methodologies to learner centric that involve project and problem based learning. Am I suggesting that learners be allowed to bring their smartphones and tablets to schools? I will boldly say YES. Am I privy to the consequences
A computer plus projector can be used instead of chalk and board. A ‘Kindle’ can substitute carrying magnitudes of books. Search engines can relieve head-cracking in search of solutions to situations and over dependence on teachers. This is 21st century and our learning must demonstrate just that. Has anybody wondered how a teacher struggles to draw a three dimensional shape on a chalk board? How frustrating, embarrassing and time wasting it can be when a teacher is not certain about a solution to a situation? Why go through so much pain when a video would have been used to demonstrate a 3D-shape or using search engines to solicit solutions for situations.
Finally, I want to commend Government and other stakeholders who are consistently trying to integrate ICT in the teaching and learning. The many gadgets that are provided to schools are a step in the right direction. Internet connections and hiring of IT officers especially in rural places are some initiatives taking place to embed ICT. I would have done injustice in this writing if I don’t appreciate private companies who through adopt a school initiative have come in handy to propel the usage of technology in schools.
As teachers and students, we can only play our part by not disappointing those who are helping in this journey by sitting on these gadgets and not using them. Let us empower ourselves for all purpose of a better teaching and learning system.
*Ignatious Njobvu is a Performance Improvement Coordinator at Maun Senior Secondary School & OBE Task Team Four Core Member.