BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF INTEGRATING INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) INTO TEACHING AND LEARNING TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
Department of Woodwork Technology
Federal College of Education (Technical)
The age of digital technology has completely changed our life. Education system around the world are under increasing pressure to use the new Information and Communication Technologies ICT to teach students the knowledge and skills they need in the 21st century. This paper therefore, dwelt on the meaning of ICT, benefits of ICT in teaching and learning which include support conventional classroom work among others and challenges of ICT which include limited technology infrastructure, technophobia, etc. The paper suggests provision of adequate infrastructure, provision of alternative source of electricity and trained manpower.etc.
Key words: ICT, e-learning, Technical Vocational Education.
We are living in the age of digital technology. The advent of computers has completely changed human life styles. They have brought so many total changes in our life’s, in directing the education system, which has also been affected by this new technology. Today, we learn with the help of CAI (Computer Aided Instructions) or use Computer based technology (CBT) and download desired information from the internet. Different websites are available to learn the contents. Thus education is becoming more and more popular. Even virtual Universities exit on internet. Whatever the approach we apply, we have to see whether it meet the basic qualitative requirement of the existing education system.
Information technology is the use of hardware and software for efficient management of information, i.e. storage, retrieval, processing, communication, diffusion and sharing of information for social, economic and cultural improvement. It enhances technologies used in the collection, processing and transmission of information. In fact, its knowledge can provide sources for knowledge acquisition and storage.
The desire in the use Information and Communication technologies (ICT) to teach students the knowledge and skills they need in the 21st century is on the increase globally (Khvilon 2002). Appropriate academic qualifications and professional training are needed for teachers of all subjects, particularly for Technical Vocational Education teachers who do not only teach their subjects effectively but have the additional responsibility of safety of students while conducting practical work. Technical Vocational Education (TVE) remains the popular means by which trained manpower is produced for economic and industrial growth of both developed and developing countries. The Federal Republic of Nigeria, specifically stated in its National Policy on Education (2004) that,
“Technical and Vocational Education is used as comprehensive term referring to those aspects of the educational process involving, in addition to general education, the study of technologies and related sciences and the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupations in the sectors of economic and social life”.
This could be one of the reasons why TVE is integrated in all educational levels; primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. It is also an area that is attracting the attention of young and old researchers as well as educationists around the globe. Moreover, the impact of TVE in curtailing the menace of unemployment, reduction of poverty and the breakthrough in industrial development makes it one of the fields of study that require full deployment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), especially in the present era where world of work is rapidly changing its requirement for workers from skill based to an ICT literate (Karahocaa, et-al, 2010). This is because recent developments in technology, globalization and changing demand for new skill sets in the job market have necessitated the need for a new teaching and learning paradigm. It is against this background, this paper seek to identify the Benefits and Challenges of integrating ICT into Teaching and Learning Technical and Vocational Education in Nigeria with the view of making viable suggestions to remedy the challenges so that its maximum benefit not only to education but to other social and economic lives of the Nigerian citizens can be felt..
E-Learning in the Context of TVE
Due to the flexibility, simplicity of ICT facility, its application in the field of education is gaining popularity among educational organizations and their stakeholders (Tondeur, van Keer, van Braak, & Valcke, 2008). TVE in this context is not an exception too; the use of ICTs to foster employability skills is highly recommended (Saud, et-al, 2011). E-learning (ICT based learning environment), enables students, trainees and teachers/instructors interact virtually without physical contact. E-learning or web-based instruction as the name implies refers to the use of electronic technology and media to deliver, support and enhance teaching, learning and assessment. It includes elements of communication within and between communities of learners and teachers, as well as provision of online content, which may be locally generated or developed elsewhere. (O’Leary et- al., 2003) The consensus among educational practitioners is that e-learning is ‘the use of processes and technologies to create, distribute, manage, and enable learning via an electronic network. By the implication of the above definition, one may wonder how e-learning environment that is similar to distant learning in designed and presentation can support the nature of courses offered in TVE, considering the fact that majority of the courses require hands-on activities (practical activities).
The use of interactive electronic media has proven advantageous in a recent study on vocational and technical education students and even seen as a solution to shortage of staff and materials in the field (Karahocaa, et-al, 2010). The integration of e-learning to facilitate problem based learning in engineering and technical education will give students some sort of support to comfortably take part into learning activities, gives them an opportunity to work independently and developed new ideas on the problem at hand (Tasir, et-al, 2005).
Benefits of ICT in TVE
The uses of ICT in education can never be over emphasized. The use of ICTs can help students to ask questions, predict hypothesis, obscene, measure, record, interpret their results and evaluate their performances in the learning process. The following are the uses of ICTs to education.
- To support conventional classroom work: The (ICTs) is potentially a powerful tool for extending educational opportunities, formal and non-formal to remote areas. The teacher could ask his students to use ICT facilities in school work.
- Electronic teaching materials such as books, journals, newspapers, magazines etc. can be exchanged through ICT.
- The computer can help in the design and development of learning materials.
- The virtual library “stock” electronic versions of books, journal, etc. through ICT, we can access, store, analyze information in electronic form.
- ICT is particularly useful in research as it gives access to a world of resources, especially in electronic form.
- ICT can play a key role in administration. Student’s data, personnel administration, purchase and supplies, advertisement, etc. can be handled with ease using ICT.
Challenges of using ICT by Nigerian Teachers
The use of ICT in educational programs is confronted with enormous problems that may have impeded its proper implementation. Some of the problems as identified by Anderson (1997) are:
- Inequality of access to the technology itself by all the students. The cost of Personal Computer (PC) and laptop are still very higher in Nigeria considering the income level of an average worker in the country. Few students that are privileged to have a PC/Laptop are not connected to the internet as this does attract cost which cannot be afforded.
- Technophobia: most of the students have no computer education background, hence they are afraid of operating one, some go to the extent of hiring expert at a cost to fill their admission, registration and other documents meant for them to fill online. However, the very few who have access to the computer do not know how to use it and maximize its usage.
- School Curriculum: most of the students admitted have no Information Technology/Computer Education knowledge because it was not entrenched in the curriculum at their elementary and secondary education level. Not until recently when computer education is been introduced at elementary level and it is not yet a compulsory subject at the secondary level of our education.
- Attitude of students: ICT give room to independent learning and most students are too reluctant to take responsibility for their own learning, but they preferred to be spoon-fed at all times.
- Inadequate and lack of steady supply of electricity
- Lack of political will to alleviate the situation through proper planning.
- Educational factors including levels of teachers‟ own education and literacy rates, and access to professional development play an important role.
- Poor accessibility of internet services from the service providers to the users is another major constraint hindering full benefits of using ICT facilities in the teaching and learning technical vocational education.
Indeed, in a study by Saud, M. S., et al (2011) indicated that it is teachers attitudes, expertise, lack of autonomy and lack of knowledge to evaluate the use and role of ICT in teaching (or technophobia in teachers) that are the prominent factors hindering teachers’ readiness and confidence in using ICT support. There is also a general inadequacy of learning resources, course curricula and other learning materials that incorporate ICT use.
It is a common misconception that access to technology on its own motivates teachers to apply it in their teaching. Lack of access to technology is inevitably a major problem in its application, but availability does not necessarily translate into use. However, in the study of Nigerian secondary school teachers by Tella et al (2007), lack of technical support in the schools, and teachers’ lack of expertise in using ICT were the prominent factors hindering teachers’ readiness and confidence in using ICT. The lack of incentives and support for teachers are other factors hindering their use of ICT. However, school administrators offer very little structural support and few incentives to use the technology effectively in the classroom. National policies need to make more commitment to helping teachers effectively integrate computers and internet technologies into the classroom by aligning curricula, exams, and incentives with the educational outcomes that they hope to gain. In the end, computers by themselves bring very little to the learning process – they are only tools for teaching and learning.
New digital technologies in Nigeria have the potential to revolutionize the quality of subject teaching and learning when carefully integrated into the classroom. The application of technological innovation in education and the need for TVE graduates to compete in a technology biased labour market necessitated the need for integrating e-learning tool in teaching and learning of hands-on courses. Moreover, the development in internet connectivity, availability and affordability of network service providers enable TVE students to download virtual lecture materials and laboratory manuals and perform laboratory experiments virtually. Despite its benefits and challenges outlined above, full deployment of e-learning tools for enhancing the teaching and learning of engineering related disciplines is something the management of institutions should dwell on. However, some of the challenges identified may not be tackled within short period of time, especially in developing countries like Nigeria. Nevertheless all efforts should be on deck to adopt e-learning in teaching and learning system in order to forestall the challenges faced by TVE graduate in the changing nature of the world of work.
The following recommendations are made to help Nigeria in working towards better integration and use of information and communication technology to enhance teaching and learning process.
- Government needs to ensure that the cost of telecommunications, hardware and software are cheap, which will involve examining existing taxes and impact duties.
- Government should provide also the necessary social amenities, infrastructure and constant supply of electricity for easy take up of ICT in education.
- Awareness campaign should be made on the benefit of ICTs to education.
- Skilled manpower and professionals should be employed and in charge of all ICTs facility in educational setting of the country.
- Government should build more structures for ICT centres and make it compulsory for schools at various level of education in Nigeria.
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