By Michael Hilkemeijer
Over the past number of years and certainly decades, we have all witnessed the rapid emergence of new and emerging Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Everyone we know is involved in its use.
In the past, I have written extensively about the benefits of ICT in education, and in this article, I will share with you my why primary schools need ICT today.
Learning is socially constructed and today, student-centred learning is a fundamental strategy that all teachers must employ in their classrooms.
ICT is important in enabling this to occur as it can be used by students to construct (and even deconstruct) knowledge and understanding.
Students are now given more responsibility and control over their own learning. However, students can learn without it.
ICT in Primary Education
Most governments, the Australian government particularly, wants its students to have the necessary skills, hence teachers need to aware of the importance of ICT.
This is the reason why looking at the Australian Curriculum as an example, demonstrates the encouragement and use of ICT, and the development of ICT capability (now the Digital Literacy capability).
Governments are recognising that we are all living in a ‘Learning Society’ where it is significant to have the skills learned by using ICT that help students become lifelong learners.
Many teachers use ICT in their personal lives and sometimes this crosses with professional reasons. For example, professional development for primary teachers may be delivered through online courses such as those in my ICT in Education Teacher Academy. Teachers commonly search for online professional development through ICT as well as about ICT for their in-service needs.
Today, most curriculums are online and so it is important for teachers to keep track of any changes that may or may not be expected.
Children who enter school environments today are commonly labeled as the ‘digital natives’ meaning that they most likely have had some exposure to ICT in their lives. Good pedagogy builds on what children already know and so as a teacher, you need to be aware of these possibilities and provide the right opportunities for all students to make the best use of the ICT available in both school and home.
What are the pedagogical reasons for using ICT? The importance of ICT in primary education is widely recognised not necessarily as a subject to be taught independently, but as a means of enhancing learning and teaching across subject areas.
Effective teaching takes account of the different learning styles of children. For this reason, you need to present and explain in different ways so that you can communicate with all children who, in any age group, will have a range of different learning styles.
Another reason that highlights the importance of ICT in primary education is that it can have a positive effect on attainment. There is strong evidence in literature that suggests that this is occurring. This indicates that the crucial component in the appropriate selection and use of ICT in primary schools is the teacher and their pedagogical approaches.
It is important to understand and realise that just using ICT does not mean it will have a positive impact on learning. You need to be aware of the full range of ICT’s capabilities from which you can select the most appropriate uses.
The use of ICT in primary schools develops digital literacy and this prepares children to participate in a rapidly changing world in which work and other activities are constantly transformed by ICT that continues to emerge and develop.
Children in primary education can use ICT to find, explore, analyse, exchange and present information responsibly, creatively and with discrimination. The use of ICT in primary schools helps children to learn how to employ ICT to enable rapid access to ideas and experiences from a wide range of people, communities and cultures.
Additionally, it has been said that the increased use of ICT in primary education will promote initiative and independent learning as children are able to make informed judgements about when and where to use ICT to best effect, and consider its implications for home and work both now and in the future.