Science Article on Ghanaon ICT Use

A Review on the study entitled:  The Views of Educational Practitioners
in Ghanaon ICT Use and Instructional Design Practices
for Promoting Quality Education

Mitchelle J.D
Introduction
            The implementation of information and communication technology or ICT as a new instructional tool in schools will not achieve its supposed goal of creating quality teaching and learning unless guided by research.
            This paper presents a critical review of the study entitled: The Views of Educational Practitioners in Ghana on ICT Use and Instructional Design Practices for Promoting Quality Education.  The author of the study is Frederick Kwaku Sarfo of the University of Education of Winneba, Kumasi Campus in Ghana.
            This study asserts that while ICT plays an effective role for quality teaching and learning, teachers’ role in designing effective learning tasks is still the bedrock of quality education.  Although this runs contrary to the assertion of most ICT determinants who expects ICT, all on its own, will bring about quality teaching and learning, the contention of the study is strongly supported by studies of Clark R.E, Heinich R., Russel T., and Earle S.R.  According to these researchers it is not the hardware (computer), but the instructional designs of the software by the teachers that affects quality education.  It is deemed important, therefore, to determine the views of teachers, students, and policy makers because unless these educational practitioners especially the teachers do not recognize the need for ICT, then they will not use it in their classes.  The goal is to explore the views of students, teachers, and policy makers in Ghana on the use of ICT and instructional design for quality teaching and learning.  It further aims to explore the views of the educational practitioners of Ghanaon recommendations for future plans with regard to the ICT.
            As a developing country trying to cope with knowledge-based society, it is important to explore the views of our own educational practitioners because we might naively rush to equip schools with computers without determining the capacities of these key players in education.  The revolution of ICT in Thai schools are more focused on hardware acquisitions and building infrastructures (Bangkok Post.  Hiking the e-trail, 2006 ), overlooking that the “software” – professional development, curriculum design, supporting policies, and long term implementation plans is of equal if not more important.  This by itself is reason enough to explore the perspective of educational practitioners in Thailand, not to mention English Language is the lingua franca of ICT which Thailandis still struggling to acquire. Although the computer hardware and software in Thailand has incorporated the Thai language,   English is still needed to be globally competitive.
Analysis
            Scope of the Study
            The participants of the exploratory study included 1) 59 secondary school students; 17 teachers; and 14 educational officers selected from three secondary schools and regional education offices in Ghana respectively.  
            Instrument
            The basic instrument for the study was questionnaire: 5 point Likert-type scale from “strongly agree to strongly disagree” with a Cronbach alpha of .79, and 2) three additional questions to tap the participants’ recommendations.  The scale was constructed based on the first five principles of Merrill.
            Methodology
            The methodology employed in this study is appropriate to determine its objectives.  It is not costly and is easy to administer.  There are key people in education that are significant but were not included as participants in the study, the parents.  Their perspective is very important especially that to some extend they determine what kind of education their kids ought to have depending on what they deem necessary.
            Findings of the Study  
            1) In Ghana more than half of the people view that teachers can design and deliver quality teaching better than an ICT
            2) Both teachers and students should be trained to use ICT for quality teaching and learning
            3) Teachers should be trained to know how to design their instruction and teaching 
            These results imply that even though effective design of learning task or instruction is the bedrock of quality teaching and productive learning, students, teachers, and policy makers do not disregard the importance of ICT.  These advocate further that training is an essential tool for students and teachers to develop knowledge and acquire skills in instructional design and the use of ICT to enhance teaching and learning.
            On the other hand, the results imply that Ghanaian teachers have not fully accepted ICT as a tool to revolutionize teaching and learning as viewed by the government and other decision-makers.  Moreover, these tells Ghanagovernment to repose its enthusiasm on the use of instructional design integrated with ICT in the classroom, otherwise the whole effort will be futile.  The need to provide computers should not go before the need of training teachers to acquire adequate skills in instructional design.  This  significant findings leads to an important question which needs further study; Will teachers be interested and motivated in practicing designed teaching in the classroom if they are trained to acquire appropriate knowledge and skills in instructional designs?
            The educational system of Thailand just like other developing countries is trying to cope with the information age.  But just like Ghana, it is focused on acquisition of hardware.  ICT is not complete without the “software”.  This is where the importance of this study sets in.  Thailand should make a major revamp on its educational system beginning from its policies down to training of teachers and other key players in education.  Researches should be conducted to answer important questions such as; 1) Are policies governing the educational system support the implementation of ICT? 2)  What is the perception of students, teachers, and policy makers on ICT? 3) Are schools capable and willing to conduct professional development training for teachers? 4) Are teachers willing to undergo professional development training?  5) Are schools willing to send their teachers to this training?  6)  Are teachers qualified and proficient in English?  Answers to these questions could help the government and other decision-makers in their future planning and implementation of ICT to achieve its goal of quality teaching and learning.  The following are recommendations made by Dr. HItendra Pillay of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, which are valuable in developing teacher education in the light of ICT use.
The new educational management model is integral to improving learning outcomes for students.
A Manual of Policy and Procedures (MOPP) is needed to delineate clearly the respective roles, functions, and responsibilities of various
organizations and agencies involved in teacher education.
Teacher learning and development should be school-based, facilitated by the effective use of ICT.
It is important to create Local Learning Centers to facilitate learning
reform and life-long teacher learning.
He urges careful consideration of distributed learning as a model to foster the use of diverse and multiple approaches to pedagogy, which should not be limited to only student-based learning.
Summary
            The study is simple but valuable. 
            This era of the human civilization is characterized and defined by development and modernization of almost everything the human mind could conceive.  In order to globally survive, countries need to keep with the latest.  And there is no better way to achieve this than through education.  But just like any project a feasibility study or research is needed.  Thailand has never been late in adopting new technologies according to Hugh Thaweesak Koanantakool, an electrical engineer specializing in digital communication.  But education is complex.  It is more than just acquiring the latest technology.  It has to ensure that its goals are achieved by the means it is using. 
            Therefore, it is essential that any country trying to improve its educational system must conduct researches before plunging itself in the wagon of modernization. 
References
Hugh Thaweesak Koanantakool.  A Brief History of ICT in Thailand1968-2007.  Retrieved on September 22, 2008 from http://thaweesak61.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!89D63ABACC4D439E!121.entry
ICT Forward: The Thailand ICT Think Tank. February 6, 2007  http://www.asiaonline.net/blogs/ictforward/
learningpost@bangkokpost.co.th . Hiking the e-trail. The Post   PublishingPublic Co., Ltd.  Last modified: May 29, 2006
Julie Lindsay at Monday, November 28, 2005 http://123elearning.blogspot.com/2005_11_01_archive.html
Gerald W. Fry.  “Synthesis Report: From Crisis to Opportunity, The Challenges of
Educational Reform in Thailand”.  Retrieved on September 27, 2008 from www.edthai.com/publication/0002/fulltext.pdf

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