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 Thursday, November 21, 2013

A collaborative action research (CAR) study funded by Ericsson, and managed independently by a team of multidisciplinary experts from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Columbia University Teachers College, University of Nairobi in Kenya, and Kampala University in Uganda, finds significant potential for improved teaching and learning with ICT tools. Specifically, the findings are only such when the tools are appropriately designed and adequately supported with infrastructure and ongoing professional development for teachers.

Investigators worked for one year to understand the effects, opportunities and challenges of integrating ICT into schools and teaching routines. To do that, university faculty and teachers worked in close collaboration at four rural schools in Kenya and Uganda.

Interviews, training workshops, surveys and observations conducted indicate significant improvements in teaching and learning when ICT tools and resources are well-designed with the school infrastructure and environment in mind, and when teachers are provided with on-going training and professional development in how to optimize these resources in their classrooms.

Research findings show that over the course of the study, guided use, training and professional development workshops offered essential support for teachers focusing on using ICT in their classrooms. There were significant increases both in teachers' reported skill and comfort with using ICT for educational purposes, as well as in the observed use of ICT in their classrooms. For example, where only 21% of teachers considered themselves to be "advanced" users of ICT at the beginning of the project; by the end, 45% of teachers were reporting themselves to be advanced users. There was also an 18% increase in reported use of ICT in the classroom over the course of the project.

Researchers compiled recommendations in several categories, including:

- Physical infrastructure, calling for policies for open access to hardware, electrical outlets throughout all classrooms and security;
- ICT infrastructure, where Wi-Fi networks, adequate airtime, and computers and projectors are basic needs;
- Teacher pedagogical skills and knowledge development along with basic ICT training, where professional development should be facilitated in partnership with local universities or Non-Governmental Organizations, among other steps;
- Open source teaching and learning resources, including use of Connect To Learn's online resource library and expanding the availability of locally relevant online resources;
- Student ICT participation and knowledge, which encourages teachers to assign online research and computer-based projects; and
- Public-private partnership implementation, urging each site to hire local facilitators to provide ongoing support to administrators and teachers, and forging partnerships with local decision-makers and telecommunications industry leaders to institutionalize the integration of ICT at all levels of education.

Download full report

Video about the ICT in Education Study

(Source: Ericsson)