Embracing technology for education

These days everything in this world is based on technology.

This means the success or failure of any business venture lies on the application of technology or lack of it. Literary, this also means that technology is good and mandatory in this era, as it affects every aspect of life.
Ultimately, Africa must embrace technology for education if the continent wants to catch up with other developed nations and reinforce its progressive status.
Technology can improve education within and across Africa. Therefore, political leaders in the continent should work to ensure that all citizens receive the technological training and experience necessary to participate in the global economy.
Embracing technology in education can uplift the lives of Africans.
Jelous Joseph, knowledge and information expert, says, “Being digitally wise is very important to economic and educational advancements and community participation.”
He goes on to say, “Since education has become global, a nation should produce citizens who are adaptable, capable and valuable with so much to contribute.”
Consequently, embracing technology for education enhances one of the most vital intellectual developments for learners – their emerging ability to think abstractly.
Dr Lee-Roy Chetty, in “Imagining Web 3.0”, believes that the role of technology in the field of education is four-fold.
“It (technology) is included as a part of the curriculum, as an instructional delivery system, as a means of aiding instructions and also as a tool to enhance the entire learning process. Thanks to technology; education has gone from passive and reactive to interactive and aggressive.”
Chetty goes further to say: “Education is essential in corporate and academic settings. In corporate settings, education or training is used to help workers do things differently than they did before.
“In academic settings, education is geared towards creating curiosity in the minds of students. In either case, the use of technology can help students understand and retain concepts better and it traditional school curricula, it tends to prioritise the accumulation of knowledge over the application of knowledge.”
For the continent to effectively develop and participate globally, education reform is essential and this reform should embrace technology.
Avijit Ghosh, of the Pan-African E-Network Project says: “Africa must embrace technology in education since it is necessary to provide learners with competencies and values needed to become responsible citizens in a learning society.
“Computers should be mandatory from pre-school up to tertiary education. Embracing technology in education and making computers mandatory will surely sustain employability throughout life in a knowledge based economy.”
Through the use of technology, African learners can become active participants as opposed to passive ones where they simply receive instructions or information. Thus, the benefits of embracing technology in education far outweigh the negatives.
Joseph says: “With the help of technology, teachers can establish credibility in what they are teaching; web-based tools can be used for providing demonstrations and examples that can help students establish credence in what they are learning.”
Furthermore, technology also has the potential to transform education by extending the learning space beyond the four walls of a classroom. Africa is already witnessing the emergence of flexible, open learning environments that enable contextual, real-time, interactive and personalised learning.
A good example is the thriving performance of distance learning institutions such as University of South Africa (UNISA) and Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU).
The performance of these institutions and other virtual learning organisations prove that embracing technology in the education sector has the potential to create highly versatile education and training environments that can provide equal access to learners regardless of gender, geographic location, socio-economic background or any other circumstance that would normally hinder the provision of high-quality education.
Naturally, for technology to have a positive impact on education, it should be designed and prepared well. Therefore, political leaders, policy makers and stakeholders in the education sector have to work together to effectively embrace this empowering tool.
Munyaradzi Shoko, an information officer based in Harare, says, “Obviously, where there is a new trend or phenomenon, government has to come in with policy which is for regularisation and standardisation of the use of the emerging technologies.”
She cited the distribution of computers by Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe, in schools as a good example of supporting the use of technology in education.
The exercise of embracing technology for education is very expensive. Thus, to successfully benefit from technological advancements, political leaders, policy makers and stakeholders in education should make important efforts to support school technology adoption.
Ghosh says, “All involved players should secure funding from prospective donors for the acquisition of equipment and networks, the provision of teacher-training programmes and teacher-support schemes, and the development of digital content.”
More so, to achieve universal access to technology, inclusion of poor people should be prioritised. This means that Africans living in rural areas, disabled people and other disadvantaged groups should also benefit from the process.
“It is the obligation of African governments to raise the level of digital inclusion by increasing the number of people using Information and Communication Technologies,” said Joseph.
Honestly, Africa as a continent is characterised by all sorts of bad things. In the eyes of detractors, the continent is viewed as a ‘dark continent’. Some view it as the least educated.
Therefore, to successfully prove that Africa is a progressive continent, policy makers should reform the education sector by embrace technology since it effectively help in problem-solving.

 

April 2013
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