infoDev’s Knowledge Maps on ICTs in education are intended to serve as quick snapshots of what the research literature reveals in a number of key areas. They are not meant to be an exhaustive catalog of everything that is known (or has been debated) about the use of ICTs in education in a particular topic; rather, taken together they are an attempt to summarize and give shape to a very large body of knowledge and to highlight certain issues in a format quickly accessible to busy policymakers. The infoDev knowledge mapping exercise is meant to identify key general assertions and gaps in the knowledge base of what is known about the use of ICTs in education, especially as such knowledge may relate to the education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
It is generally believed that
information and communication technologies (ICTs) can
empower teachers and learners, promote change and foster the
development of '21st century skills, but data to
support these beliefs are still limited. There is widespread
belief that ICTs can and will empower teachers and learners,
transforming teaching and learning processes from being
highly teacher-dominated to student-centered, and that this
transformation will result in increased learning gains for
students, creating and allowing for opportunities for
learners to develop their creativity, problem-solving
abilities, informational reasoning skills, communication
skills, and other higher-order thinking skills. However,
there are currently very limited, unequivocally compelling
data to support this belief.
At first glance, content issues related
to information and communication technologies (ICTs) use in
education might seem to some to be of minor importance.
After all, access to the internet means access to an entire
world of educational resources. Access to the internet
provides access to seemingly endless sets of educational
resources and indeed it does. However, experience shows that
there is a dearth of educational resources in a format that
makes them easily accessible and relevant to most teachers
and learners in least development countries (LDCs),
especially as they relate to a given country's current
curriculum. Experience tells us that, unless electronic
educational resources are directly related to the
curriculum, and to the assessment methods used to evaluate
educational outcomes (especially standardized testing), lack
of appropriate and relevant educational content is actually
an important barrier to ICT use in schools.
Teacher training and on-going, relevant
professional development are essential if benefits from
investments in information and communication technologies
(ICTs) are to be maximized. A shift in the role of a teacher
utilizing ICTs to that of a facilitator does not obviate the
need for teachers to serve as leaders in the classroom;
traditional teacher leadership skills and practices are
still important (especially those related to lesson
planning, preparation, and follow-up). ICTs seen as tools to
help teachers create more 'learner-centric'
learning environments in Organization for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, research
consensus holds that the most effective uses of ICT are
those in which the teacher, aided by ICTs, challenge
pupils' understanding and thinking, either through
whole-class discussions or individual/small group work using
ICTs. ICTs are seen as important tools to enable and support
the move from traditional 'teacher-centric'
teaching styles to more 'learner-centric' methods.
Pedagogical practices of teachers using ICTs can range from
only small enhancements of teaching practices, using what
are essentially traditional methods, to more fundamental
changes in their approach to teaching. ICTs can be used to
reinforce existing pedagogical practices as well as to
change the way teachers and students interact.