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Level of Adequacy of Information and Communication Technology in Early Childhood Education Classrooms

 

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

1.1 Background to the study

All over the world,  Information and communication technology (ICT) has turned out to be an accepted element in all our lives and has a central role to play in education.  Similarly, the world as it is currently, is experiencing technological breakthrough in teaching and learning. Early childhood education is not left out of the race because children live in rich communication environment. Information Communication Technology (ICT) can be defined as “anything which allows us to get information, to communicate with each other, or to have an effect on the environment using electronic or digital equipment” (Siraj-Blatchford & Siraj-Blatchford, 2003,p.4). Some authors use the term learning technologies, while others simply describe it as technology.

It can also be defined as anything which allows the avenue through which communication takes place. It involves the use of electronic gadgets like computers, phones, digital camera, puppet, video disk and electronic toys for communication purposes. Bolstard (2004) also posited that these technologies offer new opportunities to strengthen many aspects of early childhood education. Siraj-Blatchford and Whitebread (2003) defined ICT as anything which allows an individual to have flow of information to communicate with each other or have an effect on the environment using electronic equipment.

In early childhood education (ECE) however, the term ICT could include,but not limited to the following types of hardware and software gadgets:

(i) Computers (including desktop, laptop, and handheld computers);

(ii) Digital cameras and digital video cameras;

(iii) Creativity and communication software and tools; the Internet;

(iv) Telephones, fax machines, mobile telephones, tape recorders;

(v) Interactive stories, simulated environments, and computer games; programmable toys and “control” technologies;

(vi) Videoconferencing technologies and closed-circuit television;

(vii) Data projectors, electronic whiteboards, and more

All these gadgets put together, have significant roles to play in the education of young children in this 21st century. Hence the researcher undertook to examine the level of it’s adequacy in Early childhood education and Nursery classrooms in Benin metropolis.

Mean while, early Childhood Education (ECE) on the other hand, refers to the type of education received between ages 3 to 5 within the school environment. It is sometimes referred to as nursery school or play group (Farrant, 1982). The National Policy on Education (FRN, 2009) classified ECE as educational institution for children prior to their entry to primary school, where children are left in the care of individuals or organizations.

It has been discovered in the recent past that the use of ICT in the education of young children is widely practiced/advocated for.This is so, as a result of the multiple benefits which acrues from its adoption in the teaching and learning process.

 

Benefits of incorporating ICT in the teaching and learning process

The merits of incorporating ICT in the education of young children can not be overemphasised. However, for the sake of this paper, a few of these advantages have been outlined to include:

 

Speaking and Listening – In the classroom, ICT allows greater opportunities for sustained forms of talking, such as asking and answering questions. The use of webcams extends interactivity, and allows for instant feedback and reflection on the processes involved in talking, both in groups and individually.

Interactive whiteboard – IWB technology puts emphasis on shared and public talk and on pupils’ responses. Through ordinary talk, details cannot be easily remembered unless recorded in some way. Sound recording has been available for some years, of course, but transportable sound recording devices (such as MP3 or MP4 formats) make it more straightforward and support emphasis on listening. Also, digital cameras are likely to help the pupils’ ability to reflect and comment on use of language: gesture, posture and facial expressions are integral elements of speaking. In more formal situations, video presentations allow pupils to view and review formal and informal presentations from the earliest years.

Early reading – With renewed interest in phonics teaching, there is currently a wide range of software available to support early reading using synthetic phonics. Through the use of ICT-based phonics books, clear connections can be made between sounds and letters on a page. Learning to read is a long and difficult process, and many pupils struggle to concentrate when using books alone – increasing concentration and attention time is a key advantage to ICT. Many pupils view software differently from ICT – perceiving it to be more exciting. There are lots of audio-based reading schemes now available to schools, many of which offer significant advantages over books. For struggling readers, there are also many software-based reading intervention programs available that can dramatically improve pupils’ achievement. Some feature speech recognition software and integrated assessment for learning.

Vocabulary – Interactive dictionaries can prove invaluable in the classroom. The days of having to refer to a weighty tome in the corner of the classroom are long gone, and the essential development of vocabulary is made easier through interactive resources.

Sentences – ICT makes sequencing words easier. There are many products available to help with sentence writing skills, such as Textease or Clicker, and many offer added speech facilities to help pupils check their work.

Comprehension – The use of ICT resources that include aural and visual comprehension activities can make a significant difference to a pupil’s development. Pupils have to acquire listening skills, which they will need in all areas of the curriculum. If the only voice they ever hear is the teacher’s, this can prove difficult. Many products are available that offer paper-based comprehension activities alongside sound, animations and video. These multimedia products open up a world of experiences to the pupil, allowing them to develop core comprehension skills without even realizing it.

Composition – Presentational software and databases extend possibilities for composition. Mixed-mode texts can be constructed on paper, but digital technology, with its facility for importing pictures and manipulating text, means that the presentation of writing can be more varied, involving design features which paper-based writing does not allow. Using word processors allows pupils to edit text without their changes showing on the page. They don’t need to think so hard about spelling or presentation and so can focus on the content. They can present information in a range of ways and use a spellchecker or thesaurus.

Drama – A strength of using ICT-based drama in literacy lessons is that it allows pupils to be experimental, reflect on their learning and reshape their ideas after reflection. Digital cameras, capturing moving and still images can greatly aid drama processes, particularly the development of dialogue. Capturing drama moments – by using freeze-frame functions – on camera and displaying the images on the IWB allows for ease of sharing, evaluating and extending understanding.

 

Roles/uses of ICT in early childhood education

Below are some of the identified roles/uses of ICT in early childhood education:

 

  • Children using ICT in their play or learning (alone, with peers, or with adults). e.g Children using computers to play games, listen to stories, or draw pictures.
  • Children and practitioners using ICT together to scaffold children’s learning.
  • Using the Internet to locate information or resources, sparked by children’s interest in a particular topic or idea.
  • Children and practitioners using ICT together to document and reflect on children’s learning, or to share children’s learning with parents, or other practitioners. For instance taking digital photos, videos, or audio recordings of activities in the early childhood education setting and reviewing these together, or sharing them with parents.
  • Practitioners and children using ICT to build portfolios of children’s work, to use for evaluating progress in children’s learning and development.
  • Practitioners using ICT for planning, administration, and information management.
  • Teachers developing individual learning plans for children, or using computer-based templates to plan or document children’s learning (e.g. using learning stories templates, or inserting relevant concepts from TeWhāriki into children’s learning records).
  • Creating databases to keep track of important information about children and their families. etc

If used appropriately and supported properly within the school by a technician, ICT can dramatically improve achievement levels, inspire creative thinking and encourage the development of skills that will prove invaluable in the real world. We live in an age of computers, so the sooner pupils become acquainted with technology, the better.

 

1.2  Statement of the problem

 

Looking at the multiple benefits that comes with the use of ICT in the education of young children and the fact that the world is gradually turning to a global village and all the economies of the world becoming digitized, it calls for serious concern, why there seems to be little efforts by the educational sector in this part of the world, geard towards maximizing the multiple opportunities presented by this illustrious and reputable sector.

It is no doubt that no nation can ever make a reasonable progress beyond it’s education sector, consequently, it is of paramount interest to constantly strive to look for ways to improve the education sector for the over all benefit of the nation. In view of the above realities, the researcher haven noticed the multiple benefits that come with the adoption of ICT in the teaching and learning process in the early childhood education classrooms, undertook to assess the level of it’s (ITC) adequacy in ECE classrooms in Oredo local government Edo State where this research centers on, in order to help in creating awareness/sensitization on the need for more attention to be given to this aspect of the children’s education in order for them not to be left behind in this technologically driven world.

1.4  Research questions

  1. What is the level of availability of ICT in Early childhood education and nursery classroom?
  2. What is the level of adequacy in the provision of ICT in early childhood education and nursery classroom in Oredo L.g.a Edo State?
  3. Is there any difference in the level of adequacy of ICT in Early childhood education and nursery classroom in Rural and Urban Schools?
  4. Is there a difference in the level of adequacy of ICT in early childhood education and nursery classroom based on ownership of schools ( Private and Public ).

 

1.5. Scope and delimitation of the Study

 

This study examined the level of adequacy of ICT in early childhood education classrooms in Oredo local government area Edo State. The ICT of interest in this study includes; Laptop computer or notebook computer , the internet, Computer games, Programmable toys, Recording devices, and Television. The Study is delimited to public and private nursery classrooms in Oredo local government area, Edo State.

1.8   Significance of the Study

This study is extremely important, especially to parents and teachers of preschool pupils because the findings will help to sensitise them on the multiple benefits that come with the use of ICT in the education of their children/wards,thereby making it possible for them to get more involved with its provision.When this is done,it will in turn benefit the teachers as it will help in facilitating their work,thereby enhancing more profficiency/productivity.. It is as well expected that the findings of this study may also be of benefit to:

The Ministry of education where the study may be used to formulate policy that will enhance early childhood education in the classroom.

Furthermore, the study will be used by the Ministry of Education and other policy making organs of government especially in the measures they adopt in resolving the identified factors militating against the adoption of ICT in the education of young children.

The findings of this study will also reveal the best ways or measures to be taken in order to improve the quality of early childhood education in Edo state using ICT; which helps to promote teachers’ productivity and effective school system as a whole.

It will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.

 

1.9    Operational definition of terms

During the course of this study, the following terms were used, hence the need to clarify them in the context in which there were used.

 

Information: Things that are or can be known about a given topic; communicable knowledge of something.

 

Communication: The concept or state of exchanging data or information between entities.

ICT: An acronym for Information and Communication Technology :- In this study they include ;

*  Laptop computer,or notebook Computer : is a small , portable personal computer ( Pc) with a screen and alphanumeric keyboard.

* The Internet : This is a group of computers that are linked together.

*Computer Games : A computer game is a computer controlled game wher players interact with objects displayed on a screen for the sake of entertainment.

* Programmable toys: These are toys such as “Bee-bots”, Roamers, Pixes and Robots, and are suitable for children from around three years and upwards.

* Recording Devices : These are devices that may be used to record or transfer sounds or images .

* Television: A piece of equipment with a screen and speakers that reproduces images and sound.

Technology: All the different and usable technologies developed by a culture or people

 

Academic Performance: This also known as academic achievement and it is the extent to which a pupil, teacher or institution has achieved their short and long term educational goals.

Preschool: Education given to children from birth to the age of about eight years.

School: A school is an institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of pupils under the direction of teachers.

Learning Outcomes: Significant and essential learning that learners have achieved, and can reliably demonstrate at the end of a course or program.

Infant/Toddler Education: This is a subset of early childhood education which denote the education of children from birth to age two

Classroom: This a room in which a class of pupils or students is taught.

Childhood: Childhood is the age span ranging from birth to adolescence.

Education:  Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, culture, and habits.

Urban Schools: These are schools located within the local government headquarters.

Rural Schools: These are schools located outside the local government headquarters.

Public Schools: These are schools managed by the government.

Private Schools: These are schools managed by private bodies, organizations and individual bodies.

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