The Challenges of Implementing ICT in Secondary Education

There is no doubting the power and importance of technology in today’s world which has no place for technophobes or those who shun this marvelous invention. Technology has revolutionized the way we teach and learn by making inroads in the field of education and assisting teachers and students alike. But there are a number of problems that arise when we integrate technology into the classroom and harness its power to assist the process of learning, especially when it comes to secondary education and K12 students.

The thing with technology is that it keeps changing in the blink of an eye; what’s relevant today is outdated tomorrow; and by the time we get up to speed and learn to understand one, we are bombarded with ten more programs or gadgets that are more sophisticated and advanced than the ones we are used to. Using technology in education is a task that needs to be researched and tested for viability before it is implemented. And once put into practice, it cannot be discontinued in order to accommodate a newer version or better program.

For one, it takes time for both teachers and students to get used to the new system and way of doing things. And for another, it takes money and other valuable resources to invest in technology and implement the same. But when you don’t stay up to date, the students are at a disadvantage because they are not getting the most out of the technology that is available.

Another problem that we face in using technology in education is that many teachers are not in favor of changing their tried and tested methods to accommodate the new technology. Either they are reluctant to learn new things or they are scared to try the technology because they feel they may be inadequate at it. Children are remarkably sharp when it comes to learning how to use technology, so many teachers feel their authority slipping away from them when they are not used to the technology but the children are.

The only ways that technology can be efficiently used in a classroom are when the teachers are given enough training, when the technology is used effectively to enhance learning specific to a subject and improve general education skills, and when it is easily upgradable without the investment of too much time or money.

This guest-article was written by Kat Sanders, who regularly blogs on the topic of best online engineering degree at her blog - The Engineering A Better World Blog. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:

The Next Great Disruptive Technology?

We are now just over half way through the Connect School Project and in the process of procuring the hardware for Yr 4. This time round it will be 10" Netbooks running Edubuntu Linux. In yr 1 it was 15" Laptops running Windows - would anyone like to do quick figures on the price difference?

St Aidan's has been named as one of the 78 post-primary Schools to be included in a new broadband for Schools program that will see our pipe grow from 4Mbps to 100 Mbps in the coming year! The significance of this cannot be underestimated - our Teachers have been getting to grips with creating and uploading multi-media content to the Schools Virtual Learning Environment, the new pipe will mean access to this content in-class will be seamless.

Google announced this week that they're working on an open-source operating system that will initially be available for Netbooks by mid 2010 It will integrate with their browser, Chrome, which is increasingly becoming the platform of choice for developing web applications.

And there is now a test version of Moodle available that incorporates single-sign-on for Moodle and Google Apps. Since we use both here in St Aidan's this is good news for our administrators - no more need to create 2 spreadsheets of usernames/passwords for each system.

Things have changed so dramatically in the past few years in the world of ICT in Education it is difficult to see where we'll end up. In yr 1 we rolled out 15" Laptops, will be be rolling out phone/netbook hybrids in yr 5? At one point in this project we were seriously considering linux thin-clients but these looked like they'd only really prove useful in dedicated classrooms on wired connections. It just didn't seem like a throw-switch solution.

It seems that progress in this sphere will continue to a large extent to be driven by "disruptive" technologies such as the iphone or the netbook. What will the next great disruptive technology look like? Why did the Netbook, which looks like such a market staple now, take so long to appear? I suggest that the development of the Netbook was not really in the interest of the industry, it said Moores law has gone far enough and I dont need massive storage since storage can now be online.

Cobble a few of the above ideas together and what do you get? Ideally Students needs seriously inexpensive devices to access the internet. With gigabit wireless, 100 Mbps broadband and online applications how much processing power need reside in the local device? Wouldn't a shell with screen, keyboard, graphics card and network card accomplish most of what's required in the modern school? As Sun said a long time ago - "The Network is the Computer". But what manufacturer would dream of selling such low-end access devices? Granted these devices would be practically useless without an internet connection (unless of course you included a firmware-installed skinny linux) , but then again the device I'm typing this on, a Dell XPS M1710 would never be turned on either were it not connected to the internet.