Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ICT Misconceptions and Problems/ Highs and Lows of Teaching

I was talking with my one of my co-teachers about the computerization program of the Department of education and I felt some tinge of doubt and even antagonism in her voice. Most teachers in the school have doubts and some are even against the program. This is understandable since most teachers are threatened by technology and especially the more mature ones are not open to changes ,and, also, they have difficulties adapting with trends in technology.

There are also misconceptions about using computers in the classroom because many imagine a classroom full of hardwares, technology, cables, screens etc. This is unrealisitc since the technologies available in the schools (pilot) are too few to even give all the teachers the chance to get acquainted with the technology. It has been clarified that an ICT (Information and Communication Technology) compliant classroom does not necessarily have to use the full gamut of ICT—a fully computerized lesson and classroom. Since the hardware and the technology available is very, very limited, a classroom or a lesson that uses a simple PowerPoint presentation can be considered an ICT compliant lesson. The presentation maybe done in the motivational, the discussion, or the evaluation part of the lesson. It does not necessarily have to be in all the part of the lesson and it does not necessarily must use all the features of the multi media packages given by the department.According to the authorities of the program, any multi-media tools used in the classroom may it be an audio, a visual, an
internet based (or lesson using the internet) lesson in part or in whole is an ICT compliant class. Small doses of ICT in the classroom lest the teachers are overwhelmed.

It is still impractical to use ICT in the whole lesson as of this time. It takes time to set the up the system. The computer hardware and software is unreliable and the Internet connection is slow and the router overloaded. In fact this is the most common complain why most teachers do not use the system--too much time wasted tinkering. It is still better to use traditional implements of teaching in the classroom because of this problem.

Another misconception that generates the most negative attitude towards computerization program is one of elitism. Many teachers feel that ICT key teachers are elite because of their access to the technology and their exposure to seminars, hence to some this may seems like a policy of prioritization and even favoritism. Somehow this misconception have developed a feeling of inadequacy and may I say a tinge of envy and jealousy to some of the teachers. This cannot be helped and I cannot disagree with them. Actually this may just be an incidental result of their fear of technology.

Anyway, these multi media trained teachers are still teachers. They are no better than any teacher. In fact, I still believe that the best teachers are those who could teach with less. Socrates for one developed one of the most effective method of teaching simply by mastering the art of questioning.

Computers are just tools.

I for one (though I am not an ICT teacher, it juts happened that I substituted for one in the seminar) , seldom, and at times do not use the multi-media package in the classroom becuase they are still novelties and as a result they distract rather than help focus the pupils' attention to the lesson especially if the presentation are too fancy for their short attention span. Small doses lest the pupils are overwhelmed.

The program is still in its infancy. The ideal ICT classroom is, for me, still fifty years ahead until the time that the computer to pupil ratio has become realistic.

Teaching has it highs and lows depending upon the group of pupils that I’m teaching. Teaching homogenous section is fulfilling becuase  the pupils can relate and catch up with the lessons. They participate and are active during discussions. I feel like a teacher, a real teacher, with this group of pupils. 

Teaching heterogeneous group especially the lower sections on the other hand is frustrating. There is virtually no classroom discussion because most of my lesson time (or most of the teachers’ also) is taken up by classroom management. Just giving definitions and instructions take a lot of repetitions. I have to be very very patient and I have to keep repeating, re explaining and re-telling everything. Every time I ask them if they understand, they always say yeas, but, after a few minutes, I can’t help but notice the blank look in their eyes. I, of course know the reason for the blank look: they have no idea of what needs to be done!

I don’t know if they are learning anything. I feel like a prison guard with these pupils.

Teaching, talking, standing in front of tha class, discussing, these are not tiring. Physically these activities may be draining but then they are not really that exhausting. What is exhausting is teaching with the nagging doubt that maybe my pupils are not learning. They are not interested, they cannot catch up. The more I think about this, the more pressured I am to do better, to drive these pupils harder and when this happens, I become mean, angry and bad. This is what is exhausting. 

Maybe I need to be desensitized. 

Maybe this is how many teachers manage to survive.


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