• How to secure your job in age of information and communication technology (ICT)

By Bianca Iboma

Master your subject very well. Study to know it until it becomes part of you. Be an authority on it. But in addition to your knowledge, learn how to use smart boards, projector, smart phones, computers and lap-tops to teach your subject effectively, otherwise you might find yourself out of the teaching job sooner than you think.

This is the advice that concerned stakeholders in the education sector would want teachers at various levels in our education system to heed. The days of classrooms where a teacher sits in front of the class to dish out lectures to students seated on neatly arranged seats will soon be over, they insist. Learning technologies, and pedagogical methods, are not only changing the way teaching is done but also the physical environment.

Educational nature of the ICT race

Though a good number of private schools have introduced computer instructions in their education system, the number of schools that offer computer education is negligible compared to general schools population.  At a co-educational private secondary school in Lekki, Lagos, each teenager sits in front of a computer to learn. This shows the future of education technology.

A middle-aged English Language teacher, Mr. Tajudeen Olatobosun Oladipupo, of Government College, Ijanikin, Lagos, has described the future of education as dynamic. He noted that although mobile devices were once banned in classroom, they are now becoming more accepted as a teaching and learning tool. 

But he does not foresee a situation where technology will eventually replace teachers as some people are predicting. Rather, he sees it enhancing teaching and learning. “No! Teachers’ role have always been central and not peripheral,” he said. “New technologies will only replace some of the things that teachers do and it will require them to take on new or more sophisticated duties and responsibilities.”

All the same, he warns that, in future, he foresees a situation where teachers who do not know how to use technological devices like projectors, smart phones, smart boards, etc. will be replaced by those who do. He recalls that when computers and Internet services were introduced in the education system for the first time, it almost met with some resistance from certain portions of the teacher population. Such resistance is understandable and perhaps to some extent even inevitable, he said. “Change can be scary but a lot of our teachers took advantage of the development and built their personal computer skills.”

Integrating teaching and technology 

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A primary schoolteacher in the public sector, Mrs. Grace Oladejo, with Military Primary School, Ojo, Lagos, agrees that students know much more about smart phones and computer Internet applications than their teachers owing to the ICT trend. Teachers need to discover the most effective ways to integrate technology into learning environments, she said, by laying emphasis on the use of the tablet in the classroom as well as interactive marker board.

But she advised that smart phones and laptops should not be welcomed at this time because they may constitute distractions to students who may not know how to resist the temptation of opening more windows in the course of learning. “Only the tablet is ideal in the classroom because students can open only one screen at a time,” she advised.  

Fostering understanding and learning

Students need to seek collaborative environment that fosters understanding and learning, Emmanuel Ewoma, an undergraduate said. “I don’t think classroom space should be static. As the world is moving, everything is advancing including learning. Therefore, the way teachers deliver their lessons should also change,” he counselled. “The future classroom will remove focus from the teaching wall and will create an ambience of favourite grandma’s living room, thereby providing an emotionally safe, comfortable and visually stimulating environment.”

The Registrar of Royal College, Iyesi, Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Ojo, believes also that the teaching and learning of the future will be technology-driven. “Although the schools of the future may still have the traditional setting online presence and format may eventually overshadow it at some point,” he said while pointing to the recent CBT exams by JAMB as an eye opener.

“Most of the otherwise brilliant students who did not make good grades in the exams failed based on the fact that they had challenges with technology,” he noted. “Though naturally brilliant and intelligent they were dull because they did not know how to use the computers to shed in their answers on time.”  He advised the education sector to introduce the use of technology early enough so that students can develop skill proficiency in ICT.

Mrs. Nnenna Ubani, a computer-study instructor advised both teachers and students to get acquainted with use of technological applications because it is fast advancing and moving away from the traditional nature of teaching and learning.  “Scientists and technology experts are thinking of replacing the traditional lectures or tutorials with online stuff rather than physical settings where you have direct contact with your students,” she warns. “If that eventually happens and I believe it will happen sooner than we think, then education will have been transformed from the everyday settings and interactions into a distributed wide platform and tools where mobile devices will be used to access needed information.”

Connecting to the world of learning

Evangelist Adeoye Akinmosi, Proprietor of Mofola Schools, Ota, Ogun State, also fears about Nigerian teaching and learning environments growing fast to the point where the classroom will be automatically eliminated. “Many schools don’t have extra cash to invest in gadgets that can connect them to schools abroad,” he lamented. “There are a lot of free opportunities out there. As an educator I can interact with the world but do I have a classroom blog where I can have access to the world? I know about many educators and teachers who do not have a twitter account, instagram, email, Facebook or any other social media applications accounts.”  

Kenechukwu Chidi and Florence Ezekwem, two of secondary school students who participated in an ICT entrepreneurship training held recently by an NGO VISION 2020 said that although the normal education delivery systems still exist in Nigeria, there is need for alternative ICT-based delivery systems in line with modern innovations in teaching and learning. They too said they foresee a time when the blackboard-and-chalk system will be replaced with technology and any teacher or student who doesn’t know how to use it may not be able fit into the education system.