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.
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