The Digital Age learning culture

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· Some highlights from the National Pre-Tertiary Education Curriculum Framework

It’s perfectly normal to feel some discomfort whenever something new (though most expectedly timely) is introduced. Like they say, the only persons who expect and demand a change are babies who have soiled their diapers; they cry out loud to be changed and changed quickly.

In short, the fear of change is normal for most adults; but children or the youth are not that fearful of new challenges! Children expect change. They get tired of the same old stuff stuffed in their gullets over and over again. And it gets worse for them – in the education arena – with the same old analogue (chew-pour-pass/fail-forget) methodology foisted on them by analogue teachers, supported along with the blessings of bureaucrats in the archaic system. The good news is that you can’t fight an idea whose time has come. And the new Framework is that much more emphatic.

Many rivers to cross

Let’s get something straight from the start. There will be many obstacles along the way, and they have to be seen and settled. We can’t pretend they don’t exist. The fear bordering on timid complacency exists in unhealthy doses. From my experiences across the country – in places where I have done training in ICT to update the standards of teachers – a prime obstacle includes the oppressive bureaucratic mindset affecting many heads and teachers fearful and uncomfortable with digital technology.

Ironically such people are quite comfortable in a stagnant system of hard analogue work that is clearly going nowhere. Such negativity gets in the way of those forward looking youngsters and teachers ready to embrace progress.

Another reality was that neither computers nor computer literate teachers could to be available for every school at the moment, but the vision has to be seen in the context of an unfolding audacious future. In the 1960s, for example, when the United States president, John F. Kennedy, envisioned a man on the moon, there were no American precedents but mouthfuls of naysayers. The vision was all it took for progressive people to size up themselves for the occasion till it happened. We are in that very same spot now for a moon shot. It is imperative that the whole country was seen working towards that end to appreciate the force of that analogy.

The state of mind for the occasion

The state of mind one brings to any process of value makes all the difference; a relevant mindset determines how successes are designed. First, we have to think of any education route as if it were a game in which each problem is a puzzle that needs to be solved. By solving one problem after another we develop the grit and principles that continually elevate one to the next step in an ever evolving loop. It’s like climbing a ladder to the topmost pinnacle knowing that the pursuit of progress is what gives life its flavour.

Children need to be taught in that very same breath: that progress is ever at one’s disposal and attainable. But if the adults in any society are themselves lethargic, fearful, dormant and moribund, where’s the grit for innovation, creativity and all the other daring stuff that evolved great nations right before our very eyes? Nations that used to be exactly in the dumps have advanced on, leaving us prostrate and festering in a pitiful cowardly quarrelsome state!

ICT in the new Framework

The new curriculum framework situates the use of ICT delivery on three pillars. The first is to generally use

  • ICT as a learning and operating tool
  • ICT as integrated into teaching and learning
  • ICT as a career option for learners.

The second pillar is for the teacher to be initiated into:

  • Exploring the educational possibilities of technology for teaching and learning
  • Learning to make the right choices of hardware, software and ICT interactions
  • Growing to become a critical use of ICT.

The third is for the learner to be initiated into

  • Creativity and problem solving
  • An introduction to the world of information and technologies
  • An opportunity to shape career pursuits.
again
ICT teachers in Ghana supporting each other in teams

The beginning steps

The ICT policy framework is a beginning step in determining the principles and objectives to be met. At the end of the day, it would create fresh opportunities for both teachers and learners to engage in new ways of acquiring information and analyzing them for substance, and particularly in applying knowledge in meaningful ways. These days, lifelong learning and ICT are powerful bedfellows, and are fused at the hip.

For teachers, as noted in an earlier column, they need “to recognize that ICTs are not ends in themselves but the means to an end. In other words, knowing the general uses of computers is one thing, but using ICT specifically to make the methods of the teachers easier is the goal of any efficient and effective system.”

Generally speaking, investing in science and technology would help to make Ghana relevant in the global economy.  The Framework noted: “The coming years will represent an important challenge for Ghana on its resolute journey towards the goal of integrating ICT in education delivery.” The ICT tools in the classroom “to enhance teaching and learning will be vital if Ghana is to succeed in producing more quality products from its schools.”

As a reader suggested, the government needs to support ICT across the nation in a big way as Tony Blair did for the UK through a National Grid for Learning (NGL).

Email: anishaffar@gmail.com
Blog: www.anishaffar.org

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