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The Impact of Educational Technology on Teaching and Learning 

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Table of contents

  1. The use of Educational Technology by teachers to improve teaching
  2. The use of Educational Technology by students to improve learning
  3. Availability of educational technology resources for both the teachers and the students
  4. Some of the challenges and solutions for educational technology
  5. The framework for the maintenance of ETDs in schools

In a study conducted on the effectiveness of the virtual classrooms and the traditional classroom, they concluded that the virtual classroom environment resulted in better mastery of course materials, greater student satisfaction, and a higher level of student-reported learning than traditional classroom experiences. It may be worth noting that the focus of engagement theory on meaningful and real-world learning activities is consistent with a more general trend in education. For example, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor jointly fund the National School to Work program aimed at helping young people make the transition from school to careers and lifelong learning. Consequently, Engagement theory is presented as a model for learning in technology-based environments which synthesizes many elements from past theories of learning. Technology provides an electronic learning environment that fosters the kind of creativity and communication needed to nourish engagement. Engagement theory represents a new paradigm for learning and teaching in the information age, emphasizing the positive role that technology can play in human interaction and evolution.

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The use of Educational Technology by teachers to improve teaching

Many researchers have confirmed that ET can be an effective tool in supporting teaching and learning. Also, it is established that the introduction of ET into schools has improved the quality of education or raised attainment. Reassuringly, there is a growing awareness that the pedagogical and technical expertise of the teacher is critical here because ET helps in ensuring effective and efficient teaching and it is inherently advantageous. Only a few reports adopt a quantitative approach exploring access, and the reasons why teachers in schools choose to use ET in their classrooms. Iloene, Iloene, Mbah, and Mbah aver that Nigerian secondary school teachers use ETs and implications for further development of ET use in schools using a census of 700 teachers. The findings showed that most teachers perceived ET as very useful and as making teaching and learning easier. It was recommended that professional development policies should support ET-related teaching models, in particular those that encourage both students and teachers to play an active role in teaching activities. Additionally, emphasis should be placed on the pedagogy underlying the use of ETs for teaching and learning.

In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), governments have emphasized teacher development as the key to effectively implementing policy and curricula, to using ET to enhance teaching and learning, and raising educational standards. In many African countries, however, a major impediment is the lack of qualified teachers who have the required skills.

The use of Educational Technology by students to improve learning

ET has become an important tool to use in this modern world and should be introduced in all educational institutions, especially where the students have almost the same exposure. Students from rural areas and other students from different countries with less privilege with technological exposure have enormous challenges to cope with educational technology delivery. The growing internalization of education has raised some concerns about the integration of students, especially from rural to urban or as international students struggle with their adaptation to an unfamiliar academic culture and environment. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national organization advocating for 21st-century readiness for every student, explains the outcomes of this transformation as fusing on the four C’s: critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. The study revealed that students develop the four C’s which is an effective application of these important skills in a technology-infused life and the workplace requires acquiring them in a technology-infused learning environment. This environment calls for two elements: technology must increasingly be put to the hands of students and must entrust them with more progressive technology use. It is no longer sufficient for students to have less access to technological tools than the teacher, nor is it enough for anyone suite of software to serve as the zenith for technological mastery. For student performance to approximate student potential, students need to access constantly both old and new technological tools that will keep them abreast with the activities that demand problem-solving, decision-making, teamwork, and innovation. Some of the scholarly literature focuses on variances regarding teaching and learning styles while other research studies have a stronger focus on learning philosophies. It is also interesting to note that technology acceptance has been identified as a cultural issue that plays a major role in today’s learning experience.

The Scandinavian model of education fits in a broader Western academic culture, which is considered to be more interactive and student-centered than Asian and African academic cultures, which have been described as more power-distant and teacher-centered. Generally, most of the research work on students’ experiences focuses on describing and analyzing the relationship between learning style preferences and cultural backgrounds. Attributes such as perfectionism or reverence for teachers’ authority have been reported as characteristic to Asian students, also when studying in Western institutions. Nevertheless, describing the influence of culture on learning styles is not a straightforward task, and concerns have been raised about the validity and reliability of studies that propose models of culture-specific learning styles. An important question that has been raised is whether the learning styles of students are predetermined by their cultural background or whether their learning practices evolve as they move from one learning environment to another. In South Africa, there has been a slight improvement in the use of technology in education by students which is not far from other African countries. The use of ET is more evident now than ever before, teaching and learning practice in South African education, however, remains largely unchanged.

Availability of educational technology resources for both the teachers and the students

Learning outside of the classroom has been made possible because of technology. Students are no longer limited to face-to-face learning since technological advancements have made it possible for students to choose whether they want to attend class either face-to-face or via online or both with the significant increase in Internet access and computers in and out of classrooms. Undoubtedly, the implementation of ETD systems in higher schools has enabled a dramatic change in teaching and learning practice. E-learning adoption has several advantages across organizations that is dependent on several factors, for example, the availability of technology, how students and instructors are supported in its use, and the integration of technology within the student learning experience. Even if the technology is abundant, teachers may still need the internet to access these resources. As noted by Fabry and Higgs in 1997, ‘Access to technology is more than merely the availability of technology in a school; it involves providing the proper amount and right types of technology in locations where teachers and students can use them’ (as cited in Hew & Brush, 2007, p. 226). More specifically, investments have to be made to accommodate the recent transition in standards and guidelines in education to build skills that will help students perform well in college/university or make them competitive for a career. Unfortunately, as noted, even if the technology is made available, teachers may still not have access to them. Thus, the follow-up question is posed to understand how these investments increase technology integration and access in schools. In 2007, a baseline survey was conducted to determine the availability of resources for the Department of Basic Education to make decisions in terms of ET resource allocation. These resources were inadequate and not evenly distributed throughout the provinces. Also, Cantrell and Visser (2011) adduce that South Africa relies on donor funding for the provision of computer laboratories, more so than motivating more teachers qualified to integrate ICT into teaching.

Some of the challenges and solutions for educational technology

Most African countries have inefficient ICT-related infrastructures such as electricity, telecommunications, computers, and trained personnel. The problem in Africa is generally not just the near absence of e-learning programs but also the inability of students to gain access even to the few that do exist. Despite numerous opportunities offered by ET, the devices suffer from several challenges such as having small screens, limited processing power, and small keyboards. For example, the memory size of a mobile phone is said to be too small to hold the course resources such as PDF files and other multimedia-enhanced resources. These devices also suffer from the risk of loss due to their portability. Due to these challenges and many others, some users have negative perceptions towards using these devices for educational purposes which make adopting mobile learning difficult. The average African university has bandwidth capacity equivalent to a broadband residential connection available in Europe, pays 50 times more for their bandwidth than their educational counterparts in the rest of the world, and fails to monitor, let alone manage, the existing bandwidth has resulted, what little available bandwidth becomes even less useful for research and education purposes. The need to understand factors that contribute towards learners’ intention to adopt and use ET learning is critical for successful implementation in a given context. This will help students who are involved in ET learning receive good orientation, implementation and sustenance to make it relevant and acceptable.

The framework for the maintenance of ETDs in schools

Schools in many parts in the advanced world are ensuring continuous use of ETs that need attention in the maintenance of the Educational Technology Device (ETD). ETDs such as projectors, smart boards, laptops, tablets, phones, digital textbooks, cameras, audio enhancements, networked learning and so on are the most modern devices schools can use to enhance quality teaching and learning. The maintenance of Educational Technology Facility (ETF) in the context of this study means measures are put in place to keep ETFs in continuous good working conditions. Such measures include capacity building program for technical staff on ET maintenance, provision of alternative sources of electricity supply, increasing the time allocated for ICT training, instructions, and practice, connectivity of school to the internet, school partnership with relevant professional and corporate bodies for technical support, periodic organization of workshops, seminars and conferences on ETDs for teachers and students to improve their capacity in the usage of ETF for teaching and learning in high schools. In Malaysia, the Government has introduced various initiatives to facilitate the greater adoption and diffusion of ICT to improve capacities in the education system for easy maintenance of ETDs in schools.

Jackson, Pompe and Krieshok (2012) adduce that for the past fifteen years, Namibia has seen an enormous growth of technological availability in both cellular technology and networked computing resources. The Namibian government and foreign donors have begun heavy regional investments in computing infrastructure, centered primarily in schools. The country had an ambitious and country-wide school computerization initiative that has been operative in Kavango and has consistent repairs and maintenance culture. Repairs and maintenance consist of replacing failed hardware components, re-installing software, and removing computer viruses.

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In South Africa, the skill of using ETDs of both teachers and learners are fairly low which make the efficient use of ETDs rare in schools. The maintenance rate of ETDs is very low because both teachers and students are not familiar with them and thus, breaking or rendering the devices to be malfunction. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds often have low technical skills, and because most of them do not have computers at home they have no opportunity to practice what is covered in lessons. In some cases, the schools are not able to meet the maintenance cost that makes the ETDs be in limited use or total abandonment of them. Consequently, educators expend time dealing with the use of technology, instead of teaching the subject content, therefore, defeating the purpose of ETD’s usage. Hence, some educators go to great lengths to avoid the use of technology because of inadequate skills. On the school level of ensuring effective ET maintenance, the support of principals is one of the most important ways of sustaining and maintaining ETDs. When principals are well informed with ETDs, it makes the supervision of support and maintenance easy to be executed. 

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