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Farah Aliza Abd Aziz

ICT In Education

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ICT IN EDUCATION

ICT for Education

Across a range of educational applications, ICT is being harnessed to improve the efficiency, accessibility and quality of the learning process in developing countries.

One of the most clearly demonstrated applications is distance education. Distance education has been a particularly successful model in developing countries where affordability and geography have been real barriers to access. The six largest distance-learning universities in the world are located in developing countries: Turkey, Indonesia, China, India, Thailand and Korea—all of which offer expanding virtual campuses. To date, distance learning has mainly been applied to tertiary education where the motivation and commitment of students is high. In the case of primary and secondary education, ICT has been found to significantly enhance the learning process by enabling increased access to knowledge and more collaborative and interactive learning techniques, but is not an effective substitute for close personal supervision from teachers or parents. In Chile, for example, the Enlaces Project wired 50 percent of the primary schools, enabling teachers within the schools to improve the quality of the curriculum and allowing students from different schools to conduct collaborative projects.

The development of scientific research networks on a worldwide basis, usually over the Internet, is also helping to empower indigenous research and development programs in developing countries. Virtual research groups—composed of interconnected specialists in different parts of the world—allow databases to be shared, conferences to be organized, papers to be circulated and discussed, and collaborative research and reporting to be undertaken. A proliferation of such collaboration is occurring on both a North-South and South-South basis. The African Virtual University, for example, provides online communication tools such as chat rooms, email, bulletin boards and home pages to encourage shared research efforts among both academics and students.

Another rapidly growing area of ICT-mediated learning is in the delivery of technical and vocational training. Because ICT can facilitate sophisticated and customized performance simulation at low marginal cost, many organizations and vocational training facilities are employing ICT to train workers in an array of functional areas—from healthcare to IT services—even to train teachers themselves. For example, Cisco's Networking Academy Program provides a 280-hour technical training course over the Internet. This course trains workers in developing countries in designing, building, and maintaining computer networks, enabling students to obtain jobs in the local IT industry.

ICT-enabled solutions also present significant opportunities for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of education administration. Through the use of ICT data repositories and networks, curricula can be developed collaboratively, educational materials can be procured more cost effectively, staff and student time can be scheduled more efficiently, and individual student performance can be monitored more closely. In Southern Africa, Educor, a private conglomerate of education institutions, uses ICT networks to facilitate collaborative curriculum development among educators across its schools—improving the quality of the curriculum and avoiding duplication of effort.

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Farah Aliza