A FIRST STEP TOWARDS AN EFFECTIVE ICT INTEGRATION AT SCHOOL LEVEL IN GILGIT-BALTISTAN
Professional Development Center, North
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
A FIRST STEP TOWARDS AN EFFECTIVE ICT INTEGRATION AT SCHOOL LEVEL IN GILGIT-BALTISTAN
Aga Khan University, Professional Development Centre North
The Professional Development Centre North (PDCN) is an educational campus of AKU-IED, strategically planted in the heart of Gilgit-Baltistan with a strong team of professional development teachers, fully equipped and furnished infrastructure, dealing with research and providing trainings and support to in-service teachers and headteachers of Gilgit-Baltistan for their professional development and to achieve the ultimate goal of students learning outcomes and the capacity building of organizations for more than 10 years.
Along with its major focus on integrity, quality, relevance and access in all the programmes offered by PDCN, also emphases and keep a very professional and sharp eye on the newly emerging trends of information and communication technology (ICT), which is rapidly influencing all the sectors of life generally and education particularly. It has been proved through researches that headteachers have a critical role in educational innovations. In order to encourage the use of computers or ICT integration in schools among the staff and students, headteachers’ own attitude towards using the technology matters a lot. In Pakistan, government sector is the largest provider of education while computer’s integration in education is on its initial phase and there have been identified two major findings of a research, which need an urgent attention for future expected implementation and effective integration of ICT in schools; i.e. computer trainings for headteachers are essential to enhance positive attitude towards computers, and availability of computer in headteachers’ office enhances self confidence and attitude.
Keywords: ICT Integration, Headteacher’s role, Computer Trainings, Computer Facilitation
The Professional Development Centre North (PDCN) is an educational campus of AKU-IED, strategically planted in the heart of Gilgit-Baltistan with a strong team of professional development teachers, fully equipped and furnished infrastructure, dealing with research and providing trainings and support to in-service teachers and headteachers of Gilgit-Baltistan for their professional development and to achieve the ultimate goal of students learning outcomes and the capacity building of organizations (Fullan, 2001) for more than 10 years. PDCN is committed to support and improve the quality of teaching and learning through professional development and associated research and evaluation activities by reflecting and keeping the local and contextual needs and priorities of the area in mind. PDCN’s focus is on the professional growth of the teachers and headteachers through integrated practices of theory and research with active links to the networks of teachers, headteachers and schools of two major educational systems working in the area, i.e. government and private schools. Field-based professional development is aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning at classroom and school management levels to address educational needs.
PDCN also focuses on research to explore and identify the educational problems and their expected solutions. It’s every decision use to be data driven and bases on the research findings. To provide the appropriate and updated services to the larger communities and networks and to create even stronger relations with these communities and networks, PDCN has been initiating new projects through the world renowned philanthropists and funding agencies like European Commission and AusAid (the funding agency of Government of Australia).
PDCN’s past successful fifteen years’ experience and trust among the communities is most valuable asset, which is continue without any breach of confidence and trust, as we have been successfully completing the projects and their outcomes and impacts are very much visible and self explanatory in the area. PDCN can now proudly say that its presence has been felt respectfully and as a trust worthy institution in every corner and remotest valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan and of-course this is not simply a claim, but many researches have already proved the success stories of PDCN while some other researches are still underway.
Recently PDCN has completed successfully five-year EDIP (Education Development and Improvement Programme) project in 59 government schools with the financial support from AusAid through Aga Khan Foundation Pakistan. The major goal of the EDIP was to contribute to the overall socio-economic development of Gilgit-Baltistan through enhancing access and equity; improving the quality and relevance of education; and strengthening the governance and management of the Government Education Department of Gilgit-Baltistan. To achieve the overall goals of the project PDCN, along with other educational strategies and intervention also takes the full advantage of the latest Information and Communication Technologies available in GB to accelerate the achievement of EDIP goals. Schools have been facilitated with computers and internet. Computer trainings have been conducted for head teachers and teachers.
Along with its major focus on integrity, quality, relevance and access (IQRA) in all the programmes offered by PDCN, also emphases and keeps a very professional and sharp eye on the newly emerging trends of information and communication technology (ICT), which is rapidly influencing all the sectors of life generally and education particularly. Pakistan is of course not the exception as ICT is also strongly taking roots in the country, which is a developing nation with a population of approximately more than 160 million and it, ranked 134th out of 177 countries on the 2006 Human Development Index (UNDP, 2006). The ICT sector in Pakistan is growing, particularly from the educational perspective. Over the last many years, however, provision of computers has been one of the major focus areas for the government. There is a growing realization among policy-makers that computers hold great potential to the extent that the government is encouraging the use of computers in education.
Technology is becoming the medium for teaching and learning and ICT has distinct advantages that surpass the classroom environment. The vision laid down by Pakistan’s education policy is to have education for all its citizens and many programmes have been launched by the provincial as well as Federal Government to achieve these goals (National Education Policy, 2009). Yet, our country is behind others that have successfully developed ‘Knowledge Societies’.
It has been proved through researches that headteachers have a critical role in educational innovations (Chin, 2000; Karim, 2009). In order to encourage the use of computers or ICT integration in schools among the staff and students, headteachers’ own attitude towards using the technology matters a lot. In Pakistan, government sector is the largest provider of education while computer’s integration in education is on its initial phase and there have been identified two major findings of a research (Karim, 2009) which need an urgent attention for future expected implementation and effective integration of ICT in schools; i.e. computer trainings for headteachers are essential to enhance positive attitude towards computers, and availability of computer in headteachers’ office enhances self confidence and attitude.
It has been identified that teachers or student-initiated computer projects or ICT integration endeavours have been undermined due to lack of support from the headteachers as they use to have a critical role in educational innovations (Chin, 2000). Today’s headteachers are expected not only to manage the day to day activities and capacity building of the school but also focus on students’ learning standards, data driven decision making and restructuring efforts. School leadership is in fact the key component in guiding the teaching-learning process necessary for preparing students with the relevant knowledge and skills in today’s society to become a productive citizen of the 21st century. In order to encourage the use of computers or ICT integration in schools among the staff and students, headteachers’ own positive attitude towards using the technology matters a lot as attitudes influence not only headteachers’ initial acceptance of computers, but their future behaviour regarding computers (Karim, 2009). Researchers are of the opinion that awareness and attitudes toward computers, constitutes a crucial criterion in the evaluation of computer application and usage including the development of computer-based curricula (Woodrow, 1991; Kay, 1993; Robertson et al, 1995).
In Pakistan, government sector is the largest provider of education. Computer’s integration in education is quite on its initial phase in Pakistan in general and in Gilgit-Baltistan in particular, and for it to become a reality, headteachers need to be trained and they also use computers as part of their regular practice. Hence, to explore government school headteachers’ attitude toward computer usage in education, a possibly generalise-able survey conducted by Karim, (2009) with a sample of 185 headteachers from Sindh and Baluchistan had found various results. The survey explored two major findings:
The survey result showed that the use of computer and prior computer training contribute to the overall attitude of the respondents towards use of computer in education. It was evidently shown that prior computer training contributed to the outcome variable significantly which suggests that if the headteachers have attended training programmes, they are more likely to have a positive attitude towards using computers in education. Need of computer trainings to increase the positive attitude has also been identified by Davis (1989).While the majority of the respondents were not exposed to computers and proper trainings in the survey.
Keeping these findings in mind, the ICT training for headteachers comprises several modules aimed at instruction in basic ICT skills and the requirements in a teaching environment. It also contains a module dealing with ICT integration in curriculum and instruction. This approach is in line with international opinion that headteachers need to feel comfortable and competent in basic computer skills, so that he/she could be able to handle computer for the basic official purpose without being dependent on subordinates, which will also lead to enhancement of positive attitude toward computers in education.
EDIP’s intervention in this regard in the six districts of Gilgit-Baltistan is remarkable and the expected outcomes are encouragingly increased day by day, while only a couple of months of intervention have been passed.
Secondly, it was found in the said survey that majority of the participants did not have a computer in their offices. While it was evident that the use of computer in offices, contributed more than prior computer training in the overall attitude of headteachers (Karim, 2009). The findings in this study showed that the level of self-confidence in computer use is correlated with positive computer attitudes, supporting previous research (Shashaani, 1997). Using computers in office more frequently and developing a variety of computer related skills and techniques increases one’s knowledge of the computer as a whole. This broadens one’s learning perspective and potential that in turn promotes a positive feeling towards the computer use (Houtz & Gupta, 2001). Self-confidence was found significantly high among the respondents who have computers available in their offices, which predicts that respondents having computers in their offices have access to use computer and ultimately their confidence level was found significantly higher than the respondents, who do not have computers available (Karim, 2009).
Therefore, by providing computers in their offices and developing access to computers, we can meet the needs of school authorities like headteachers and can motivate to the agenda of Lifelong learning and can develop a positive attitude towards computers which will lead to the effective integration of computers in education.
Overall, these two solutions are at significant level to tackle with according to the research findings. Through EDIP project provision of basic computer trainings and facilitation of a computer set and a printer to the headteachers of the project school is in process which is proving to smoothen the school environment to initiate effective and long-lasting computer integration in education on next phases.
The major and long ranged purpose of this project is smoothening the atmosphere of schools for the effective and long-lasting ICT integration in education and to achieve this major goal, as a first step at school level, headteachers are being exposed to the information and communication technology through provision of the basic computing skills training and facilitating computers to their offices. Headteachers are being provided opportunity to use the technology and thus overcome fears and reservations. Special attention is being paid to gender-related imbalances. This strategy will lead to achieve the ultimate goal of making headteachers positively adaptive and ready for the effective and long lasting integration of computers as headteachers are the key players in school context, and without their active involvement, effective ICT integration seems impossible.
Chin, C. (2000). A case study of a mathematics teacher’s pedagogical values: Use of a methodological framework of interpretation and reflection. Proceedings of the National Science Council Part D. Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education, 10(2), 90-101.
Davis, F. D. (1989). Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly, 13(3), 318-340.
Fullan, M. (2001). The new meaning of educational change (3rd Ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.
Houtz, L. E. & Gupta, U. G. (2001). Nebraska high school students’ computer skills and attitudes. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(3), 316-326.
Karim, D. (2009). Exploring Head and Deputy Head Teachers’ Attitude Towards Using Computers In Education. Unpublished master’s thesis, Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development, Karachi, Pakistan.
Kay, A. (1993). The Early History of Smalltalk. Proceedings of 2nd ACM SIGPLAN History of Programming Languages Conference, 28, 69-82.
National Education Policy. (2008). Ministry of Education, Government of Pakistan.
Robertson, S., Calder, J., Fung, P., Jones, A. & O’Shea, (1995). Computer attitudes in an English secondary school. Computers & Education, 24, 73-81.
Shashaani, L. (1997). Gender differences in computer attitudes and use among college students. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 16, 37-51.
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) (2006). Human Development Report 2006. New York: UN. Retrieved on April 23, 2009 from www.hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/pdfs/report/HDR06-complete.pdf.
Woodrow, J. (1991). A comparison of four computer attitude scales. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 7, 165-187.