Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has a high impact on the education system (Jung, 2005). The use of ICT in schools has increased dramatically, and research has shown that “this trend will continue to accelerate” (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000, p 206; Jung, 2005). Thus, the traditional methods of teaching, which involves students as passive learners has now changed to more interactive scenario in teaching, where teachers function as facilitators. McAllister and Deaver (2006) posited that “similar classroom designs (integration of ICT in teaching) reinforce higher level thinking skills such as problem-solving, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation” (p. 44).
Anderson, Baskin & Halbert (2002), confirm that ICT is highly useful in the strengthening of procedural knowledge. In a school environment, ICT is generally used in the capturing, processing and interpretation of data involving multimedia software, computer projection technology, and in the provision of publishing and presentation tools (Lagrange & Artigue, 2003). Newton and Rogers (2003) suggest that the employment of ICT technology in teaching benefits in two important ways; firstly, the intrinsic properties of ICT help in time saving and secondly, the manner in which ICT is used in classrooms, offers potential learning benefits to the students. However in order to be able to exploit the true potential of ICT, it is obligatory to possess certain operational skills (Hu, 2005).
The continuous spread of technology in the field of education has affirmed a paradigm shift in the process and manner of imparting education. Dickey (2008) asserts that innovative learning environments can be attained by the integration of educational and constructivist learning theories, as constructivist learning plays a crucial role in children learning (Doll, 2008). Atherton (2005) defines constructivism as a combination of learning theories which includes both cognitive and humanistic and is highly focused on educational psychology (Lua, 2005).
According to the constructivist view, “learning is a mind constructing procedure in which “each learner constructs meaning as he or she learns” (Lua, 2005; p.36). Hein (1991) and Dickey (2008) further stress that constructivists provide learners to “interact with sensory data and construct their own world”.
In the paper, the researcher attempts to focus on how the constructivist theory supports the use and employment of ITC in educational training programs, and aims to highlight the importance and benefits of integrating ITC in teacher training and education programs.
Piaget’s Theory of Learning
The Constructivist learning theory is basically focused on three major learning theories including Piaget’s theory of learning, Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory and Dewey’s constructivist theory.
Piaget’s learning theory particularly concentrates on the cognitive abilities of individuals and by way of his theories Paiget depicts how adaptations and assimilation occur in the development of knowledge which is the “result of contradictions between what is already known, and what is new to the learner” (Ornberg, 2003, p 2). “Active exploration, discovery and motivation” are considered to be the crucial concepts of this theory (Ornberg, 2003, p 2). Piaget emphasized on the importance of individual participations in the activities and further stresses on the exposure of children to the activities which are of interest to them.
Thus, the incorporation of ICT in teacher training programs would provide the necessary knowledge and skills for the use of ICT and thereby, aid tremendously in building the students’ “confidence in ICT integration” (Chen, 2008, p.546). Consequently, the employment of technology in pedagogical teaching would be more involving than mere mastery of skill (Jang, 2008). While training teachers, it is important to embrace technology so that due regard is given to the beliefs and perception of the teachers during the teacher training programs (Chen, 2008; Dickey, 2008).
Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Theory
In the process of training teachers through ICT, there should be additional focus on didactical reflection which would benefit students and teachers alike, to be able to gain maximum benefit from technology, as an effective tool in teaching and learning activities (Osborne & Hennessy, 2003). ICT learning tools such as multimedia, internet and spreadsheet can be utilized to gain the most benefit in such training programs.
Vygotsky notes that the social environment has immense influence on the learning and thinking processes of the individuals. Similarly, Hsiao also points that “peer interaction, scaffolding, and modeling”, which “are important ways to facilitate individual cognitive growth and knowledge acquisition” are crucial in Vygotsky’s theory. Moreover, the employment of ICT in teaching, “can help to create an active environment in which students not only solve problems, but also find their own problems” (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000, p 207). This should also be effectively addressed in teacher training programs.
Dewey’s constructivist theory
According to Dewey’s constructivist theory, knowledge can surface in students, only when the students or learners are provided with significant experiences and situations in which they are able to effectively draw out knowledge. A social context is essential for the students and learners to maneuver the resources available to them, either in classrooms or in the community in which they learn. Dewey asserts that learning cannot take place simply by ‘rote’ memorization, rather concrete activities are essential for the learners or students to effectively combine theory with practice so that the impact on the minds of the learners is long-lasting and successful.
The importance and necessity of social interaction and experience has been reiterated by Dewey, who asserts that “the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child’s powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself (Dewey 1897, p. 77).
The social construct of students or the learners, enables them to construct the knowledge in collaboration with the other community members as the emphasis is actually on the entire community in which the student functions rather than simply on the individual learner or student (Holmes, et al., 2004). According to Mark (2001), the environments and situations provided due to the ICT play a crucial role in the encouragement of collaboration among the learners by enabling them to build human inter-connections which help in the promotion of amiability through the sharing of knowledge and common involvement between the learners by way of the various activities (Mark, 2001).
Thus we see that the role and importance of the ITC in view of the constructivist approach is immense. It is therefore absolutely necessary to incorporate ITC into the training and education programs of teachers, so that the same can be effectively forwarded to the students in the classrooms and they are able to obtain the benefits of ICT in education.
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