I wrote most of these articles and conference reports while I was doing my M.Ed.(CI). Originally put up on the website TeachAsiaOnline.com (defunct since 2009), I have decided to archive them here as I think most of the information is still relevant and useful for others. (2012) I'm now picking up where I left off to write about more recent seminars I attended.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Future of Learning: Hands-on Practice in Integrating ICT’s with Pedagogy

Speaker: Prof. Dr. John Denny, UNESCO, Bangkok
Organised by: ABAC Faculty of Education, Bangkok
Date: 8 July 2006
Location: A-42 (Ramkhamhaeng Campus), Bangkok

UNESCO
UNESCO defines ICT as follows, "The term, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), refers to forms of technology that are used to transmit, store, create, share or exchange information. Examples of ICT include: radio, television, video, DVD, telephone, satellite systems, computer and network hardware and software, as well as the services associated with them, such as video conferencing and electronic mail."


UNESCO Bangkok trains a variety of levels of educators in ICT.
  1. UNESCO first developed A separate program ICT for policy makers (The ICT in Education Policy), but the information didn’t filter through to the lower levels. Therefore they created the:
  2. National training programme for teacher educators on ICT-pedagogy integration (The ICT in education programme). This is the program Dr. Denny works for.
  3. UNESCO also trains actual teachers.

The ICT in education programme
The effective use of information and communication technologies (ICT) can improve education quality, expand learning opportunities and make education more accessible. With these goals in mind, the ICT in Education programme implements a number of projects in six key areas: Policy; Training of Teachers; Teaching and Learning; Non-Formal Education; Monitoring and Measuring Change; and Research and Knowledge-Sharing

The rationale for training teachers is that with the advent of ICT teachers' roles needs to be redefined. Teachers are becoming facilitators instead of dispensers of knowledge. Many teacher training programmes have focussed on computer literacy, not on integrating ICT in the day-to-day classroom instruction as they should.

"When we teach a teacher educator, they then spread it to their students, who then spread it to their students, already 3 levels. That’s why teacher educators are very important."

Objectives of the ICT in teacher training are to
  • Improve teacher educator competence in ICT integration
  • Develop resource packages
  • Develop online resource base
  • Build networks of teacher educators

UNESCO organises 5-day workshops covering
  • Competency skills awareness
  • Classroom based discussions
  • Hands-on workshops
  • Discussions with policy makers and key players (private enterprise (more teachers on ICT, help to improve economy, sell ICT)

"Especially in Asia teachers still use old-style, teacher-centered teaching methodologies. Teachers have to change their awareness and attitude first. Teacher-centered does NOT work!"

At the moment UNESCO is working on the following products:
  • Course material developed that is easily adaptable to varying contexts and reproducible for continued training after the limited in-country workshop period.
  • Books on innovative practices of ICT in education from the Asia-Pacific region
  • Development of a CD featuring 40 software packages available under a free and open source (FOSS) model of distribution “free software for windows”

“Software piracy is a big issue, since in poor countries people can’t afford to buy legal software. UNESCO distributes free and open source software on CD-rom. “If you give people a computer you have to give them software too, otherwise they will steal it.”
  • Development of a multimedia resources CD containing sections on audio files, clipart etc. (portable applications on USB stick)
  • Utilise free and open software learning management system (web-based) to disseminate workshop materials.

After this introduction of UNESCO and the ICT in education programme, Dr. Denny let us prepare a presentation with Photo Story for Windows, a great tool to make a quick and professional presentation based on photo's. This software is unfortunately NOT one of the free software tools provided by UNESCO, although it can be downloaded and installed for free on computers with a legal Windows version.

Reflections
A useful lecture about ICT and its integration in pedagogy. The three-level structure of training ICT in education is a good solution for the problem that policy makers don't communicate enough with teachers and teachers educators. Targeting teacher educators is a good way to reach big groups of teachers. However, Dr. Denny did not address the issue that of in-service teachers, who will not go through a teacher training again. How they will be able to expand their knowledge on ICT in pedagogy is unclear.

A pity that there was no opportunity to let some of the audience present the presentation they had produced with Photo Story for Windows. It would have been a good demonstration of the student-centered approach that UNESCO promotes.

References
Free Software Download... 12 Aug 2006. <http://www.download.com/> (Photo Story for Windows, 5 MB)
UNESCO Bangkok. 8 July 2006. <http://www.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=3058>

(c) cafavier, 2006-2011

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