Introducing technology into the classroom in developing countries – should we or shouldn’t we?

I am researching whether modern technology in education is beneficial to teachers and pupils or whether we should stick to the traditional and familiar methods of teaching and learning. I had never heard of the programmes I am about to discuss until I researched alternative forms of education used in schools that are being assisted immensely by the development of modern technology. I have previously stated that I sit on the fence in regards to the argument of traditional vs. modern education although I do strongly believe that traditional methods of learning should not be totally excluded from classrooms in favour of more modern learning methods. However I am investigating whether I can be proven wrong and that the introduction of modern technology can in fact outperform the traditional learning and teaching methods that have been successful in schools around the globe for hundreds of years.

The Mobilink-UNESCO program was launched last year and is used by Pakistani women that live in rural regions of the country and are unable to travel to the main stream schools which are located some distance away. The SMS-based literacy programme is used as a communication tool between the ‘pupil’ and teacher and is used in attempt to increase literacy skills among girls in Pakistan. Pupils use their mobile phones to send an SMS message to their teacher. After sending, the pupils receives messages from the teacher in response, which they carefully copy by hand in a notebook to practice their writing skills. The pupils do this from the safety of their home and with their parents’ consent (Smith & Winthrop, 2012).

A five-month pilot project was conducted before the program was launched. The pilot involved 250 adolescent female learners who were provided with mobile phones and received informative daily text messages which they were expected to respond to (Unesco 2010).

The initial outcomes looked positive. After only 4 months, the percentage of girls who achieved an A level on literacy examinations increased from 27% to 54% and the percentage of girls who achieved a C level grade decreased from 52% to 15% (Unesco, 2010).

The power of mobile phone technology appears in this case to be a successful tool for education by introducing new ways to support learning for rural pupils who experience limited opportunities to attend school.

This programme has recently been expanded and now includes a further 1,250 girls in rural areas of four districts of Punjab. (Unesco, 2010).

This is undoubtedly an example of how the development of modern technology has provided a significant facilitation to pupils’ education. However, on the other side of the world in Peru, the development of technology for education has not proven to be so helpful.  Due the introduction of a programme called the ‘One Laptop Per Child’ that was arranged by the Ministry of Education, a number of colourful and expensive laptops are gathering dust in the corner of classrooms across the country. They were provided to pupils with the intention of improving ICT and content-related skills however without the proper support for training the teachers in how the laptops should be used, no repair and maintenance warranties and out of date software, the laptops are unusable and serve little purpose. In contrast to the Mobilink-UNESCO program, in this case technology has not helped to improve the educational experience of learners (Smith & Winthrop, 2012).

Both of these studies demonstrate that while there are many examples of how technology is used to the great benefit of teachers and learners alike, there are also many cases in which it does little to impact educational processes and outcomes and supports my argument that traditional forms of teaching should not be completely dumped from classrooms in favour of impressive gadgets and colourful robots.

References

Smith, M. S., Winthrop, R. (2012). A New Face of Education: Bringing Technology into the Classroom in the Developing World. Brooke Shearer Working Paper Series. 1.

Unesco. (2010). Expnasion of women’s “literacy by mobile phones” program. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/en/literacy/dynamic-content-single-view/news/expansion_of_womens_literacy_by_mobile_phone_programme/back/11922 on March 2013

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9 thoughts on “Introducing technology into the classroom in developing countries – should we or shouldn’t we?

  1. There are various amounts of studies, researchers and psychologists whom have brought about an influential opinion on what technology does and does not do for our children. In the paper, written by Posey et al () they explain a new paradigm which supports learning and teaching activities across the internet; this is known as the Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs).

    The Internet offers many advantages such as, flexible access and new ways of communication and assessment. However, as with most things, the Internet also has disadvantages such as; reliance of information service providers, credibility and reliability. For the teacher, creating Internet resources that are stimulating, interesting, effective, friendly and educational is time consuming (Posey et al, ). The VLE’s integrates the technology of computers and the Internet into education, with the use of the Internet, there is a whole new world of potential available to our students.

    On the other hand it is important to highlight the psychophysiological aspects of modern technology and technological stress (Arnetz, 1997). There are many negative impacts that technology brings to our academic success, including, sleep disturbances, psychophysiological stress and somatic complaints. There needs to be an increased awareness of brain functions and aspects when the risks and benefits of the rapid spread of information technologies are talked about.

    References
    Arnetz, B. B. (1997). Technological stress: psychophysiological aspects of working with modern information technology. Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 97-103.

    Posey, G., Burgess, T., Eason, M., & Jones, Y. The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Virtual Classroom and the Role of the Teacher.

  2. This blog was eye-opening in discussing how we can provide the gift of learning to such rural communities that would otherwise have no access to such learning. There is also an increasing body of empirical evidence emerging suggesting that mobile-phones can be incorporated into university lectures. I think that this is a very clever idea; students will be engaged using their phones instead of being distracted by their phones. In their pilot study, Smith and Marsden (2004) lecturers enabled students to respond to MCQ’s using their phone; in addition students were allowed to send free-text comments and questions to the lecturer. The findings obtained from the authors indicate that students fully enjoyed the opportunity to be more actively engaged in lectures, but also voiced concerns about the costs involved with such methods. It is important to consider that the above mentioned study is a pilot-study and that future studies can use it as a foundation. It would be interesting to find out whether incorporating mobile phones into the format of a lecture reduced problem behaviours.

  3. Post was deleted before so lets go again:

    Taylor and Francis (2010) review paper found little work has been done to connect the concepts of subject specific interaction and learning as of yet. This is at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Although the social interactions and constructs of online education have been accounted for, little else has been studied into within online education. Further resesarch is also needed in the differences in subject matter and how students learn from online study should be studied into in order to produce the most effective way of teaching using the internet.

    Jose(2011) also stated that computer aidied language teaching has a vital role in language teaching as teachers can interact with students via the internet and also interact with the computer in order to study and learn a new language.
    Crystal (2001) also stated that:‘It seems to be standard conversion for books, dealing with digital technology to begin or end by warning their readers that contain is going to be soon out of date’. This statement suggest that technology will replace books in the future, although this was posted ten years ago, it shows with the introduction of the iPad and other hand held devices, book applications are much more easilt accesible from these and are therefore resulting in a technological change in society and teaching.
    Crystal, David, Language and the Internet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14636310303143http://www.ipedr.com/vol26/82-ICLLL%202011-L10128.pdf

  4. Hi Ffion,
    According to Kozma (2003) there were a significant improvement in achievement scores, attitudes towards learning and a depth of understanding when computers were integrated with learning. This shows us as positive of introducing technology in the classroom. However according to Kulik (1994) learning on computers is only effective in specific subject area. Since we are using power point technology in this module I looked at a research by Daniels (1999) which showed that using power point in classrooms compared to normal lectures of only a person talking students performed better and their reactions to power point was overwhelmingly positive.

    Daniels, L. (1999). Introducing technology in the classroom: PowerPoint as a first step. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 10(2), 42-56.

    Kozma, R. B. (2003). Technology and classroom practices: An international study. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 36(1), 1-14.

  5. It’s clear in your blog that different types of technology may have different effects. I believe that communication is something that is quintessential to human society, it’s the main cause for our flourishing development as a species. The invention of mobile phones has been the main cause for this prosperity. I think the study you mentioned where mobile phones were implemented, was a fine example of how communication can enable this. However, I would like to point out that not all technology in education is a good thing. It can sometimes distract from education. A study I have spoken about in my blog last week was slightly related to this, Sternberg et al. (2001) looked at individuals in a rural village in Western Kenya. They were trying to disprove a relationship between academic and practical intelligence. They found that individuals were not being taught about there natural environment and practical skills required for that natural life. If this is the case I think technology and the introduction of other influences could distract from was it more important in schools.

    Sternberg, R. J., Nokes, C., Geissler, P. W., Prince, R., Okatcha, F. Bundy, D. A., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2001) The relationship between academic and practical intelligence: a case study in Kenya. Intelligence.

  6. This is such an interesting topic to consider! It’s as if we take technology for granted these days because everyone seems to be using modern technology! We would be lost without it. However, as you mentioned, not all countries are able to supply these.

    Class sizes in developing countries often become oversized; can consist of up to 50 students at times (Osin, 1988). This can be due to the lack of qualified teachers in these countries. With classes containing too many students, individuals cannot receive the full attention of a teacher as they would if they were studying here in the UK where class sizes are much smaller. Regarding the two programs you mentioned, would they be helpful for large class sizes? If we consider firstly the Mobilink-UNESCO program, then I believe it would be effective to overcome the problem of class size. It encourages a fun method of learning for pupils; they are able to interact with teachers outside school. This program has been successful with girls; why not attempt the same method of learning with boys? Although a mobile phone would be required for each pupil, the cost of this would be much lower in comparison to the ‘one laptop per child’ program. In this case, the cost for 50 laptops would be too much for a developing country.

    It has been shown that the use of ICT in the Philippines has affected open and distance learning (dena Pena-Bandalaria, 2007). This was effective in transferring information to others which would enhance learning. This is an example of the technology being used effectively. However, if countries do not have thorough information about new technology, it might only be a short-term benefit. Technologies constantly need updating. If they have not got the money or ability to update these, the technology will be no good. There will not be any long-term benefits to this.

    Osin, L. (1988). Computers in Education in Developing Countries: Why and How? Education and Technology Series, 3(1).
    Dene Pene-Bandalaria, M. (2007). Impact of ICTs on open and distance learning in developing country setting: The Philippine experience. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 8(1).

  7. Personally I think it is crazy what we can do with technology now and I think everyone has a different opinion on whether technology should be intergrated in education. I think in certain circumstances technology such as ipads can be a constructive way forwards in education and benefit the learners using them. Ipads can be an essential tool in some students education, such as those who have disabilities; ipads can be a crucial tool for these students and enable tem to do things they may not have been able to do without them. Shah (2011) found that ipads can increase independence in children; especially if they have motor difficulties. This is because the touch screen is easy for them to use. Also these ipads can be completely personalised to the childs needs. However, I do feel further research needs to be conducted to find out the best way to use these to benefit children educationally. I think this is true for typical education and in developing countries as I don’t know whether the high cost of the use of technology is justified by the outcomes.

    Links:
    http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ918238&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ918238

  8. Hi Ffion, I listened to your talk today and found it very interesting… especially the fact that the ‘One Laptop Per Child’ scheme in Peru seem to fail due to the poor implementation and maintenance of the scheme, rather than the scheme itself. Nawaz, Awan, & Ahmed (2011), looked into the challenges faced when integrating new and old technologies in developing countries. These challenges included educator resistance, employing integration models effective in Western countries (bearing in mind the vast difference in available resources), and inadequate training of teachers and pupils. To conclude their study they suggested suitable methods of managing the integration of technology, and developed an ‘Integration Model of eLearning I HEIs’. It seems to me that the problem lies not with the technology itself, best with the implementation and maintenance of the schemes.

    References

    Nawaz, A., Awan, Z., & Ahmed, B. (2011). Integrating educational technologies in higher education of the developing countries. Journal of Education and Practice, 2(2). http://www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/JEP/article/view/176/61

  9. Pingback: Comments week 7 | Science of Education Blog

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