Ever-changing technology is affecting the way students and teachers use technology for teaching and learning in schools. The 21st century teachers are required to be able to adapt to the fast paced emergence of technology while students are by default responsive to the emergence of technology as it evolves. Challenges and opportunities arise as teachers have to evolve technologically even before their students. Although, experienced schools administrators around the world have organised and recommended series of interactive training sessions for teachers on the use of innovative education technology. However, in my experience, I strongly believe this proffered solution is not enough to tackle the menace and challenges involved in emerging technology in education.
To improve the challenges faced by the schools in Africa, teachers will have to be re-orientated and re-positioned to see themselves as 21st century learners and not just teachers. I was in a seminar at Oxford University in the UK when Dr Ben Williamson, University of Stirling spoke about Sentient Schools: educational institution as software-supported big data platforms and sensing environments. He spoke about the importance of having a smart school technologically; laying emphasis on nurturing smart students and ways to improve how students use technology. It was an interesting session with Dr Ben Williamson speaking on the future of technology in education. Yet, Just a moment he ended his session, a question was raised as to know why “smart teachers” wasn’t in the context of his session since he spoke extensively about creating smart schools and smart students but he never spoke about smart teachers. Dr Ben admitted teachers are an important branch of sentient schools but are often ignored or not properly trained technologically. In my opinion as an experienced technology specialist and educator, improving teachers’ technological awareness cannot be overemphasized and so therefore a large chunk of 21st century teachers in Africa should be able to enhance teaching with computers, be able to use interactive white board efficiently, be able to understand the impact of teaching software and to use eLearning platform to support the slow learners in classrooms.
Enhance Teaching with Computers – “The use of computers and the Internet for teaching is highly effective”. Teachers can easily make lesson plans, search the Internet for lesson plans, design and deliver visual lessons, organise and record students’ achievements. Instead of having to rewrite a lesson plan for each class, teachers can use the computer to project lesson plans and class activities for student without being worried about chalk stains everywhere.
“Education is evolving due to the impact of the Internet. We cannot teach our students in the same manner in which we were taught. Change is necessary to engage students not in the curriculum we are responsible for teaching, but in school. Period.” – April Chamberlain
Interactive White Board (IWB) – With the use of a computer as a teaching tool, IWB will replace the traditional way of writing notes for students using chalkboards. Students will not have a problem reading teachers handwriting if teachers write notes with stylus pens on IWB or project PowerPoint slides as lesson notes.
Teaching Software – Exposing teachers to the use of computers effectively will foster them to use software as a teaching tool. For example, “Sibelius” is the world’s best selling music notation software. This software has updates and new releases and as such teachers who teach 21st century learners are expected to not just be able to use the software but also to update their knowledge regularly. Another software that teachers should embrace is the use of Boardworks; it is teaching software with fully prepared resources. These resources can cover any curricular in schools worldwide. Myimaths.com is yet another learning platform that can be used to prepare students mathematically. In fact, myimaths.com should be known to parents who want their kids to excel in mathematics, as a platform to educate their kids from home.
E-Learning VLE – Unlike a traditional classroom, eLearning is a digital teaching and learning environment. You will all agree with me that students don’t learn at the same pace, so in order for teachers to ensure all their students are learning, teachers will have to develop contents for eLearning space so that students who are slow in catching up will have another opportunity to learn anywhere and anytime on their own. In addition, school managements have to step in so that a policy can be drawn to ensure eLearning is embedded into the curriculum of every subject across the school.
The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) estimates that more than 1.5 million K-12 students were engaged in some form of online or blended learning in the 2009-10 school year. At the end of 2010, supplemental or full-time online learning opportunities were available in at least 48 of 50 states, plus the District of Columbia (iNACOL, 2010). Opportunities were available in at least 48 of 50 states, plus the District of Columbia (iNACOL, 2010). “International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), “A National Primer on K-12 Online Learning,””,
While preparing African students for academic success is as important as taking into cognitive that we are presently in a global world so therefore students should not only be prepared to get A* but to nurture them to be familiar and comfortable with the use of technology. To do so, teachers in Africa will have to be trained differently as the current curriculum at the University, College of Education and National Teachers’ Institute does not train teachers to be technology savvy.
By Lekan Anifowoshe