Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is a term that refers to technologies that are used for collecting, storing, editing, and passing on information in various forms. A personal computer is an example of the use of ICT in education. Multimedia is also a frequently used term to refer to a combination of data carriers, for example, video, CD-ROM, floppy disc, and Internet and software in which the possibility for an interactive approach is offered.
ICT enables the transformation of teaching, research, and learning processes at all levels. It empowers teachers and students, making significant contributions to the education fraternity.
In general terms, we can categorize functions of the use of ICT in education as:
ICT as an object.
This refers to learning about ICT. The ICT has been organized in different courses according to the goal, purpose and area of applicability. What is being learned as well depends on the type of education and the level of the students. Education prepares students for the use of ICT in education, future occupation, and social life.
In the education sector, we have seen ICT having a huge impact on the schools and colleges’ curriculum by introducing it as an area of study. For example in Universities and tertiary colleges, KCA as an example, we see ICT as a field of study in different professional disciplines. Some of the disciplines include Information Technology, Computer Science, Software Engineering, Data Communications, Computer Engineering, Management Information Systems, Mobile Computing, among many others. This in turn has led to professions in the ICT, both in the education system and the industry. The ICT as an object is a key driver on the use of ICT in other application areas.
ICT as a tool in education.
In most cases, ICT is used as a tool, for example, while making assignments, collecting data and documentation, communicating, and conducting research. Typically, ICT is used independently from the subject matter. In current higher learning institutions, coursework, assignments, and other work are no longer done the traditional way of paperwork. They are done and submitted electronically.
ICT as a medium for teaching and learning.
ICT has transformed the way education is delivered. It is a tool for teaching and learning itself, the medium through which teachers can teach and learners can learn. There are many different types in which ICT has been envisaged as a medium for teaching and learning including computer-assisted learning, web-learning, computer classes, online training, distance education, eLearning, virtual learning, digital training, etcetera.
ICT is used as a tool for the administration and management of records such as school examination preparation and printing, examination results compilation, timetable, school fee, and school attendance.
In most primary and secondary education sector in Kenya, the actual situation is that most teachers and schools do not possess sufficient ICT educational skills and equipment at present. Although teachers consult each other more frequently, the teacher decides on the educational practice in his classroom. He is responsible and has the opportunity to teach in the way he pleases. However, in practice (the classical teaching situation), the teaching method usually seems to be determinative and limits the teacher in his possibilities. Education and teacher are tied to the specific content of education, timetables, amount of face-to-face instruction, instruction time, classrooms, etcetera. Even the teacher’s status is laid down. Legal provisions also determine the educational practice in schools.
Because of these constraints teachers are insufficiently challenged and stimulated to create powerful learning environments and guide students in their learning processes individually and therefore, the use of ICT does not take place.
ICT plays a role in three fundamental aspects of education: access, quality, and cost. It has advanced knowledge by expanding and widening access to education, by improving the quality of education and reducing its cost while extending the education to the remote areas through Virtual, eLearning, online, and distance learning. ICT in education has provided more employment opportunities within the education system directly and indirectly through academic and non-academic staff.
eLearning is a promising tool for expanding and widening access to tertiary education. Because they relax space and time constraints, ICTs can allow new people to participate in tertiary education by increasing the flexibility of participation compared to the traditional face-to-face model: working students and adults, people living in remote areas (e.g. rural), non-mobile students, and even foreign students could now more easily participate in education.
Online learning allows access to education to a larger number of students. The constraints of the face-to-face learning experience, that is, the size of the rooms and buildings and the students/teacher ratio are eliminated. With ICT, a lesson can be reproduced and communicated very cheaply via different means like digital recording. This has widened access to tertiary education to young people and too small an academic workforce.
E-learning has shown a promising way of improving the quality and effectiveness of tertiary education and learning. These promises have been derived from different characteristics of ICTs: the flexibility of the learning experience to students; enhanced access to information resources for more students; potential to drive innovative and effective ways of learning and/or teaching, including learning tools and easier use of multimedia or simulation tools.
E-learning has also led to reducing the cost of tertiary education, which is critical for expanding and widening its access worldwide. It presents new opportunities for students having difficulties with this traditional format.
Negative impacts of ICT in education
One of the major impacts of ICT in education is moral decay. These include access to inappropriate material, violation of personal privacy, being the recipient of sexual predation, pornography, harassment, stalking, or scams, and dissemination of harmful or abusive material.
By use of ICT, students do not learn basic mental arithmetic skills because they rely on electronic methods including calculators.
With ICT, students tend to do much of copying and pasting instead of learning and taking their own notes. This has led to ethical issues such as plagiarism.
Relying on spell check and grammar features of software such as Microsoft word processing lead to lower literacy skills because they tend to make the students think less.
Legal and Ethical Issues on the impact of ICT in education
Some of the legal and ethical issues with the use of ICT in education include:
Stealing software or the use of unlicensed/pirated software. This includes all aspects of making and/or using illegal copies of software. In most education environments, pirated software is rampant, mainly among the students and this raises major legal and ethical issues. You will agree with me that almost every student has at least one unauthorized or illegally acquired software.
Plagiarism. It is exceedingly easy to do “cut and paste” without referencing the source and without paying attention to copyright laws. This is a serious ethical issue among the education system with both student and teaching staff using other people’s work as their own.
Making illegal or unethical use of ICT facilities such as cyber crimes and hacking
Damaging, destroying, stealing, and illegally using ICT facilities and files that belong to others.
In the educational institutions, the teaching academic staff most cases understand the legal and ethical issues and these can be minimized by:
Modeling and teaching legal and ethical practice related to technology use. Students should adhere to codes of practice and apply strategies to conform to intellectual property and copyright laws including identifying and acknowledging the owner/creator of digital sources and citing references following agreed conventions
Applying technology resources to enable and empower learners with diverse backgrounds, characteristics, and abilities.
Promote safe and healthy use of technology resources. They should share materials responsibly respecting themselves and others when working online.
Facilitate equitable access to technology resources for all. By this, it will minimize the problem of using other people’s work but instead venture into individual contribution through the available technology resources.
Avoid using technology to break the law. For example, in Kenya, examination cheating is a criminal offense. One of the most common ways of examination cheating is the use of Information Communication Technology such as Phones and other electronic devices. The education staff should model the students so that they don’t do anything that breaks law.
Social Issues relating to the impact of ICT in education
In addition to the positive impact of ICT on education, there is reported decay and internet misuse among the education fraternity. The social impact of ICT on education includes access to inappropriate material, violation of personal privacy, and being the recipient of sexual predation, harassment, stalking, or scams.
Teachers with no practical preparation or experience in social, ethical, and legal issues surrounding digital technologies create another area of concern.
To cub this, teacher training programs need to ensure that teachers are prepared to use technology, especially the Internet, in a safe and ethically responsible manner. This way, teachers can then lead students on exciting, educationally enriching learning adventures with the help of technology.
Impact of ICT in Entertainment
Entertainment is one of the areas the ICT has really impacted. This has been achieved through enhancing the way in which we spend our leisure time and entertain ourselves. With the emergence of ICT and especially digital technology, the ways in which we can entertain ourselves has dramatically increased. Virtually every area of entertainment has been changed by the digital technology. One aspect that has been dramatically enhanced is the accessibility of music and musical software. For example music can now be purchased online free of charge or at a very minimal cost. It is now possible to record and mix music on a home computer which almost anyone can do. You can store music on your computer without having to insert CD’s or other portable drives.
Through the development of these technologies people can stay inside, watch TV, play online games etcetera. This means that the amount of leisure activities that people have drastically decreased, with respect to the wide range of entertainment technologies. Many people prefer to use ICT as entertainment rather than going out. With ICT, new programs, games and films come out every second. Compared to going out with friends, the later need everyone to be free at the exact same time, you need to find an activity which everyone would like, and lastly you need good weather and in most cases no one wants to go out when it’s really cold, raining and windy. With ICT we get the comfort from our own homes with the choice of thousands of things to do.
As the more ICT develops, more ways of entertainment are invented. The Internet itself is something people spend hours and hours on every day. For example, reading blogs, chatting and communicating with friends, watching videos and playing online games, multiplayer or single player are all forms of entertainment.
Legal and Ethical Issues on the impact of ICT in Entertainment
The application of ICT in entertainment has as well lead to serious impact on the legal and ethical issues. This includes the aspects of using illegal copies of entertainment software’s and the most common issue of music piracy. The use of digital technology has made it possible to make illegal copies of copy right music, videos and games among other entertainment materials. People do not need to buy the actual album when they can get it for free hence the music producers are making less money. This can eventually lead to less and less music being produced.
In Kenya, there has been a constituted anti-piracy law to curb this issue although it is still a big challenge.
Social Issues relating on the impact of ICT in Entertainment
The disadvantages of using ICT technology for entertainment is that it is addictive and many people do find themselves spending a lot of their time on it