December 19, 2015

Final ICT Project

Posted in My Portfolio at 5:51 pm by izzatrinbago

How the utilization of Information Communication and Technology improved the learning and teaching outcomes in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago, the largest Caribbean island in the western Hemisphere with a population of 1.3 million people is a melting pot of people of mixed race from Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and Middle East. On August 31st, 1962 the country obtained its independence from Britain and officially became the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Although the country’s education system has changed over the years the structure still reflects the methods of the British educational system. However, over the years The Ministry of Education has tailored the education more reflect the
Primary and Secondary schooling, which is comparable to the US Grades is free and Children begin Primary School at the age of 5 which last thru age 15 years progressing to secondary school after “completion of the Secondary Entrance assessment Exam which assess students learning progress which includes reasoning, numeracy, literacy reasoning and comprehension skills.” (Ali)

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago recognizes that Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) has evolved to become an important leverage in education that will lead to pedagogic changes to the curriculum in order to prepare its students for life long learning in this 21st Century. This ultimately will allow students to be competitive with other nations and will contribute to the reform of the education system that will have a lasting impact on the economy and move the country towards a more developed status. (Light)

The Ministry of Education of Trinidad and Tobago (MOETT) in trying to answer the question ”How can we prepare ourselves to participate in a globalized world in this present century and beyond.” (Hackett) In the 2005, MOETT drafted a Policy for ICT in Education which conveys that the integration of ICT within the education system will “dynamize the teaching and learning environment and by providing equity and access, would create an environment that encourages creativity, critical thinking and decision making, promote collaboration, enhance teacher skills and abilities, facilitate the development of partnership between school communities and other public and private sector.”(Rampersad) Thereby enabling students to be at a comparable level as other students in other countries that is more prone to a knowledge based system.

The Ministry of Education has and is continuing to invest a lot of its financial resources in technology as the benefits of having an education system and curriculum that is infused with ICT will become more vital for the advancement of the economy. As a result, the infrastructure of Trinidad and Tobago has evolved to accommodate the rapid ICT expansion in the education system. Primary and Secondary schools students can now access computer centers set up with hardware and software, some with multimedia rooms with resources with access to Wi-Fi with connectivity speeds that have facilitated the expansion of ICT and other digital technology in schools.

These resources allow teachers to create lessons that are more interesting, engaging, having more of an impact for students which ultimately enhance the learning environment. To assist with the demands of the ICT transformation, and to support teachers, each school has trained technical personnel who are readily available to provide assistant to schools when needed. When I came in as minister we had 125 underperforming primary schools. “We managed to reduce that figure by 100. Also, 100 schools that were just performing at minimum standards are now excelling. We have improved academics across all areas and scopes.” says Dr. Tim Gopeesingh, the Minister for Education. (Worldfolio)

The initial National ICT Plan launched in 2003 thru 2008, coined Fastforward and created as a result of the first phase of the World Summit on Information and Society (SIS) was intended to advance the country in the area of emerging technologies and catapult it’s ICT landscape.    Fastforward strategies impacted, changed the society of Trinidad and Tobago and placed the country on a more even platform with other countries to compete globally in various sectors. “ Trinidad and Tobago is in a prominent position in the global information society through real and lasting improvements in social, economic and cultural development caused by the development and usage of information and communications technology”. It also provided a national connectivity roadmap and provided a much-needed framework for ICT to be integrated successfully in business, Schools, communities, and government. “ (Committee)

One of Fastforward main contribution was the creation and regulation of the Telecommunications Authority (TATT) in July 2004 which removed previous restrictions that existed and made it possible for the liberalization and advancement in the telecommunication sector which lead to national changes in the way this sector operated and allowed competitors to enter the telecommunication sector and to contribute to the country’s infrastructure.

This allowed the country to be transformed into a people centered information society and was the main factor that helped the country obtain better infrastructure and connectivity which ICT strives on. This led to the increase in ICT usage in homes as the removal of taxes and duties on technology equipment and devices were less costly for families. Public libraries were also outfitted with computers and high speed Internet and all primary and secondary schools were set up with connected computer and media labs. (Committee)

A noteworthy component that emerged from FastForward was the Knowledge Innovation and Development Program (KID), where students were able to attain the academic knowledge and provided them with technical tools needed to improve and enhance their learning progress.

Another important component of the KID program is the LibraryNet Program which was instrumental in improving the digital divide by providing books and giving students access to e-learning opportunities which enabled them to procure vast information for personal use and for school assignments. (Rampersad)

After fastforward concluded, The National ICT Company Limited referred to as iGovTT emerged which further implemented ICT initiatives in the country. One main outcome was the formation of e-Connect and Learn-(eCal) which spearheaded the distribution of laptops to students in form one to improve ICT literacy in schools and inspire and support the integration of ICT in the curriculum . Teachers, and other staff were also provided with laptops and other supporting ICT Tools so their ICT skills can be improved which allowed them to feel more comfortable and be better prepared to deliver the curriculum and promote student engagement and collaboration. In an effort to maximum students learning outcome, principals, supervisors and teachers were trained on how to best incorporate these laptops in their lesson planning, delivery methods and into the administration.

The MOETT views the infusion of ICT in the curriculum as a change agent for transforming the country’s education system. It’s primary vision for the ICT initiative of the Ministry of Education (MOETT ) is for students to be ICT competent early, so this can be applied throughout their whole learning process and their school experience .

The success of the laptop initiative program further led to the MOETT expanding their ICT initiative to Primary schools in the form of an iPad initiative program which came in to effect in the new term in September, 2015. New iPads were distributed to Standard three and Standard four students in Primary schools with the expectation that since students are attracted to devices, such as cell phones, tablets etc. these same devices can be used to enhance students learning experience even further. . “You see the age group: and Standards Three and Four, they are already technology savvy.” He said these would be iPads with the stylus “so that the children will still keep the skills of writing. MINISTER of Science and Technology, Dr. Rupert Griffith (Burnett)

In this research, one primary school and one secondary school in Trinidad and Tobago was selected to showcase what was done and is currently being done to move towards a more ICT inclusive school. Although both schools are in different transformation phases, they have moved away from a teacher centric environment and have progressed towards a more student-centered approach to learning. The expectation is that teachers will use ICT and other emergent digital technologies in their lesson planning by incorporating project based activities that will enrich their students’ learning experience and that administrators, principals and other stakeholders will bring about effective changes to the instructional policies.

The ICT shift in these schools further led to changes that impact and foster communication that ultimately affect how teachers, administrators, principals and students relate to each other.

The research conducted garnered responses from Teachers, principals, and students, concerning how the utilization of ICT has affected them and the effect on instructional pedagogy of the curriculum.

ICT on Teaching Outcomes

Many teachers who were used to the traditional teacher centric approach had to change their attitudes and their instructional delivery methods in order to make the lesson more student centric using instructional tools like PowerPoint presentation, audio clips, live stream that will foster and promote communication, collaboration, critical thinking and discussions:

In my lessons I use various ICT tools to engage my students, especially if a concept is hard to grasp. For example in my geography class I may use live streaming or videos to bring an actual volcano eruption into the lesson.

Some teachers also indicated that after they were trained and their knowledge improved, they felt more comfortable using ICT as a tool in their classroom and no longer had reservation about it and felt it was instrumental in the learning process for students.

After my training I felt my knowledge was improved and I understood better how to use ICT as a learning tool and it was nothing to be afraid to incorporate into my classroom. As a matter of fact, It added new dimension and stirred interest and curiosity to the lesson.

Some teachers expressed that although the learning curve was high as it relates to learning new software, retooling, keeping up with the latest ICT tools, technology, changing how assessments are done, and relearning instructional strategies they previously used, felt that the instructional delivery of the lesson was easier and the time spent on the lesson in the classroom was maximize.

During the school year and especially leading to the end there is always a haste to complete the syllabus. ICT facilitates the timely completion of the syllabus and better management.

In addition, although a lot of the ICT tools are available for teachers to use , we still have to think creatively and think of the best way that using one or more of these tools can enhance and elevate the lesson for students. Therefore, a lot of thought process has to take place to come up with the best way to incorporate these tools.

Some teachers stated that because of this new way of teaching they are better able to reach students with different learning styles and those who were previously more difficult to reach to be involved in the class. These are primarily the quiet ones who sometimes sit in the back of the class too timid to participate and be involved.

This student- centered learning utilizing ICT has helped me reach and motivate students who are introverts. I am able to create lessons that facilitate working in groups, collaboration, discussions, so that I am not the only one doing the talking, instead I guide them and steer my students in the right direction while developing their 21st century skills. In time, these same students who were previously introverts become so eager and willing to participate and I’m always amazed to see this happen.

Teachers also admitted that the tendency for the lesson and discussion to expand outside the classroom has greatly increased, as there are now a variety of forms of communication, emails, Facebook group, etc. to promote this. Students can logon to their school portals to access the students section and obtain their class assignments and questions can be answered in a timely manner.

  In one of my classes my students created a blog about a specific topic and students were  able to write their thoughts about the topic express their opinions and post comments.

One History teacher reported that ICT allows her to bring more real world experiences in the classes. Students are no longer limited to learning based on their local environment instead learning is done based of a more Global nature because of the vast amount of online resources available for both students and teachers to refer to.

Although the general consensus towards the infusion of ICT into the lesson was very positive from teachers, a few still had some reservations and expressed that it was not effective in teaching certain topics like those that are more theoretical in nature.

Some teachers also felt because of the unstableness of the internet connectivity at times it makes it difficult to complete the lesson therefore, there should not be a total one hundred percent dependency on ICT because when these tools are no longer available the lesson still has to be taught.

Some also reported that if the integration of ICT in the lesson is not structured and incorporated correctly in the pedagogic of the lesson it can undermine the potential for it to be of any benefit. As it can become overwhelming for students to stay focus on doing school work and obtain the information required. As a result they can become uninterested and have a negative attitude towards the learning process.

One English teacher felt that the simple organic tasks like writing and reading a book is lost as students sometimes tend to take the easy way out to learn about a topic and simply only wants to learn via you tube or video clips not realizing that at times the essence of what is being learned can be lost by not reading the book.

  I try to stress and convey to my students that watching a video clip is not the only way to learn. I try to encourage them to read a book and show them that reading is a very important part of learning.

 Another teacher reiterated that it is important for teachers to continue to instill in their students the importance of writing skills as the tendency to depend on a computer software to correct grammar errors and do most of the work takes away basic skills the student should have.

 

ICT effect on students

Overall, students had a positive experience with the integration of ICT in the classroom. Some reported that it allowed them to better understand concepts that is difficult to grasp from a text book thus they are able to participate more in the classroom discussion.

As I am not a book person, but a more a visual person, viewing live streams or watching clips on a specific topic on you tube with the class makes it a lot easier and quicker for me understand what my teacher is teaching and I don’t feel shy about asking questions I don’t feel as though I’m dumb…

Students also reported that they like a doing team projects and working in groups that foster collaboration and feeling a sense of accomplishment when a team project is completed and a good grade is received.

When my teacher divides us into groups its so much fun to work  with other students and we are all motivated and love what is created to end up with a project that my classmates can learn from.

Some students reported that as they are already technology inclined they are pleased to see their teachers utilizing some of these same things they are familiar with in the classroom therefore this leads to new found interest in the lesson and is excited to learn.

 I have always been interested in tech stuff and got my computer at a young age, I also spend a great  deal of time on the computer at home, so teachers who use the ICT tools in their lesson will capture my attention more that those who don’t as I can easily become bored.

The Ministry of Education is constantly exploring avenues via ICT to improve students learning outcomes. One such path is through the Samsung Virtual Education solution that is being implemented “using devices like interactive whiteboards, with touch support, Note 10.1 tablet and others. The goal of this solution is to improve collaboration and interaction with students that will capture students’ attention and interest. It also will allow teachers to use this new learning environment and will eventually be implemented in all schools. After the pilot period and by the end of the year Samsung’s education solution will be gradually expanded across the entire school system.” (Mendes-Franco)

The success of integrating ICT in the education system in Trinidad and Tobago and the success of its twenty virtual classroom centers, has led to the country being asked to be the lead to create in conjunction with Samsung a virtual classroom in every Caribbean island where Trinidad and Tobago will be in charge of setting it up similar to the ones that’s presently in Trinidad and Tobago. The intention is for students throughout the Caribbean islands to be afforded the same learning and teaching advantages like their neighboring counterparts.

The integration of ICT in the curriculum was the catalyst for changes in academic testing. Previously, multiple-choice questions were the main method used to assess students taking the Common Entrance Exams to advance on to secondary schools. Now assessments have been revised to accommodate the different learning modalities of students.

In 2012 The Ministry of Education began the distribution of laptops to school students entering secondary school and as to date over 75,000 laptops has been issued and by the end of this year almost 91,000 will be distributed. Since the introduction of this laptop initiative for students in the first year of its implementation, Trinidad and Tobago rose by 16 points on the international benchmarking scale in regards to science and technology. (Manswell)

The MOETT Vision for the use of ICT within the education system has led to the creation of an ICT Professional Development Strategy for educators in Trinidad and Tobago to support them and provide the necessary training and development conducive to the effective use of ICT, where its main objectives is to “Ensure coherent Management of teacher ICT professional development, enhance teaching and learning through ICT integration, Build capacity to design and deliver professional development courseware, improve support and recognition at institutional level, Monitor and evaluation and implementation.” (UNESCO)

ICT is one of the main catalysts for the recent revamped in the curriculum to a more integrated thematic curriculum approach in primary schools in Trinidad and Tobago throughout the public schools system, which was implemented in the 2013-2014 school year and brought about a change in the learning and teaching process. “ This paradigm shift occurs when students will not exclusively experience subjects as discreet and separated, but rather within themes, placed in context and logically organized and linked to real life situations.” (John). “This new curriculum focus more on nine content core subject areas that consist of Agricultural Science, English Language Arts, Mathematics, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Spanish, Values, Character and citizenship Education, and Visual Performing Arts, Cross Cultural. development of Literacy Numeracy, integrates ICT, prioritizes assessment for learning , develops values which includes Health and Family Life Education and was geared towards systematic differentiated instruction to facilitate the different learning needs of students.’’ (John)

The new integrated curriculum, which received mostly positive feedback, is said to have a more “balanced approach to literacy with the integration of other core subject areas and consists of seven themes for each primary school level, which extends into subthemes.”(John)

After the first year of implementation, fifty percent of teachers were not very receptive   as they felt they were not sufficiently prepared to proficiently implement this new curriculum in the classroom. “ A great majority of teachers claim that demonstrations of how to differentiate, assess and integrate ICT with a thematically integrative focus were not properly provided.”

The Association of Teachers Educators (ATE) has envisioned the new curriculum to be a critical factor to be used in the education process that will ultimately bring about improvement in students learning outcome. Therefore, in an effort to assist educators, school personnel and other stakeholders have a positive effect on students learning with this new thematic approach, the ATE has outline standards educators should follow to properly and effectively implement the new curriculum. One such standard states that “educators should Model teaching that demonstrates content and professional knowledge, skills and dispositions reflecting research, proficiency with technology and assessment and accepted best practices in teacher education applied appropriately to learners at all levels.” (John)

In an effort showcase the effects this new curriculum will have on teaching and learning and learning outcomes a study was conducted by the Centre for Education Program to showcase which consists of 42 prospective teachers who were assigned to 10 schools sites and teachers implementing this new curriculum and some who did not.

Training was provided to teachers and the MOETT curriculum toolkit which includes “integrated learning Units and Learning Plans for all themes, Core skills and learning plans in subject areas, scope and sequence Mathematics, Scope and Sequence Science, Assessment Rubrics for general performance areas and assessment Rubrics for subject specific skills and tasks, provided to teachers to better equipped them with the knowledge needed to prepare integrated lessons. Training was also provided in timetabling which was specified by MOETT.” (John)

The results of this study showed that 98 percent of teachers who were effectively trained to deliver this thematic curriculum felt they were more prepared and knowledgeable to teach and assess students with different learning styles and saw improvement in a variety of areas for example reading, science, math, motivation, engagement. It also reported to have helped with the integration of ICT, literacy and numeracy, developed critical thinking skills and helped students make connection to real life experiences and many others.” (John)

The ATE vision is that the use of this new curriculum will be more inclusive of all subjects and make learning more targeted and personalized that will further encapsulate the different learning styles of students and brings “real world experiences” into the classroom. The expectation is also to provide teachers with better and more efficient assessment mechanisms that will better reflect all of the different learning styles and will improve time management in and out of the classroom.

Recommendations and Conclusion

The integration of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) in the education system of Trinidad and Tobago is a pivotal factor for the broadening and advancement of the teaching and learning process which has created better schools, providing students with a more positive experience which will more equipped them to compete on more global platform.

This research paper sought to showcase how the integration of ICT in the Pedagogic practice in the education system of Trinidad and Tobago is viewed to have caused a shift in the teaching and learning outcomes resulting in an overall positive impact for both teachers and students.    The information obtained was collected via interviews with four teachers, two principals and students via face-to-face, emails, and telephone.

The general consensus of teachers was that ICT has an important and relevant place in the curriculum especially since the learning environment is a more student centered. This allows students to take more responsibility for their own learning as it changes the dynamic in the classroom.

ICT is also seen as a great tool to broaden students knowledge of things outside the classroom environment.. However, teacher training is one of the main the factor for the successful transforming in the education system using ICT. If teachers are not properly trained to be competent and comfortable using these tools to bring about the best learning outcomes for students, and improving students   learning experience in the classroom the benefits of integrating.

This research also highlights the disparity as it relates to the utilization of ICT in primary and secondary schools between schools located in or close to the main capital versus those situated further away. Schools closer to the main town area are better equipped with ICT facilities and tools than those further away. These schools with less ICT tools can benefit from the Ministry of Education creation of a depository of information that teachers can access to obtain knowledge on what other teachers have used successfully in their classrooms. There should also be an online forum for teachers to share ideas and classroom experiences that will facilitate new solutions.

The infrastructure of the education system has grown and improved significantly grown over the last few years and schools now have access to resources both locally and international as a result of the technological advancement in its telecommunication environment. However, more work need to be done to continue to improve its infrastructure especially in areas furthest away from the main town as it relates to better accessibility to electricity, consistent internet connectivity etc. in place so that schools have the necessary tools to support their ICT needs.

As some teachers are still not willing to sufficiently implement or they move at a slower pace to embraced the utilization of ICT in the learning process. The Ministry of Education should endeavor to provide more training for teachers to improve their technology skills so they are more comfortable using these new technologies and Teacher development should not only comprised of learning ICT skills but should include mentoring support for teachers.

The laptop initiative program for form one students was instrumental in providing students with access to a computer at home and not only at school, However, more consistent control and oversight need to be conducted as the curiosity of students can lead them to use theses laptop inappropriately, More laptop security should be in place to monitor students. In addition there should be better streamline process in place for the distribution of free laptops in the laptop per Student Initiative program, so they are used more effectively.

Students are being educated using ICT Tools in the classroom however; the support needed at home is not there as a result of the parent’s lack of ICT knowledge and skills. There should be public awareness and basic ICT programs for parents to attend to keep abreast of their children learning curve. Also, there should be a system in place for parents to access to keep abreast of their child’s progress and also to communicate with their teacher.

In an effort to be globally competitive and to further advance the country economically Trinidad and Tobago has made a significant financial investment in its education system. However, a more effective evaluation and assessment system needs to be in placed to provide clearer insights on the impact on utilizing ICT in the learning and teaching outcomes in its education system. This will allow Educators, teachers, administration and other stakeholders with the necessary information needed to make adjustments and improvements to the curriculum and its pedagogic practice and to focus on what might prohibit students from learning.

ICT has proven to be an important contributing factor to the teaching and learning outcomes in the Education system. However, if the curriculum is not rich, robust, conducive to the needs of students and encourages creativity, Digital citizenship, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving and innovation there will continue to be a Digital Divide in the system.

Works Cited

 

Ali, Raiesa. “Trinidad and Tobago: Education Reform and Societal Mobilization.” 7 August 2015. The Council on Hemispheric Affairs. 15 June 2015 <http://www.coha.org/trinidad-and-tobago-education-reform-and-societal-mobilization/#_ftnref14&gt;.

Burnett, Verne. Griffith boasts of ICT success. 16 July 2015. 30 July 2015 <http://www.newsday.co.tt/businessday/0,214234.html&gt;.

Committee, Trinidad and Tobago. “Contribution to the CSTD ten-year review of the implementation of WSIS outcomes .” 5 May 2012. UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOR DEVELOPMENT (CSTD). 4 June 2014 <http://unctad.org/Sections/un_cstd/docs/cstd_wsis10_trinidad_and_tobago_en.pdf&gt;.

Hackett, Raymond S. Technology and Schools. 8 7 2002. 24 6 2014 <http://uwispace.sta.uwi.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2139/8920/Raymond%20Hackett47.pdf?sequence=1&gt;.

John, Yvonne J. “A “New” Thematic, Integrated Curriculum for Primary Schools of Trinidad and Tobago: A Paradigm Shift.” International Journal of Higher Education 3 (2015): 200.

Light, Daniel. “The Role of ICT in Enhancing Education in Developing Countries:.” Journal of Education in International Development (2009): 22.

Manswell, Andrew. T&T to host education symposium in 2014. 16 October 2013. 17 October 2013 <http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/TT-to-host-education-symposium-in-2014-228113241.html&gt;.

Mendes-Franco, Janine. Can Tech Transform Education in Trinidad & Tobago? 22 May 2014. 12 June 2014 <https://globalvoices.org/2014/05/22/can-technology-transform-education-in-trinidad-tobago/&gt;.

Rampersad, Caty-Ann. “teachers’ perceptions of the contribution of information and communication technology to the teaching of modern studies, using an integrated system, in an urban secondary school. .” 6 January 2011. http://uwispace.sta.uwi.edu. 10 May 2015 <http://uwispace.sta.uwi.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2139/12784/Caty-AnnRampersad.pdf&gt;.

UNESCO. An ICT Professional Development Implementation Plan for Educators in Trinidad & Tobago. 7 January 2012. 7 January 2012 <http://ccti.colfinder.org/toolkit/ict-toolkit/resources/Documents/2012.01.09.T&T%20ICT%20CFT%20Strategy.pdf&gt;.

Worldfolio. “A world leader in education.” 11 January 2014. http://www.theworldfolio.com. 10 February 2014 <http://www.theworldfolio.com/news/tim-gopeesingh-minister-of-education-trinidad-tobago-n3260/3260/&gt;.