Integrating ICT and E-Learning in the classroom

Before incorporating any ICT aspect into the curriculum it’s good to ask why we might do so. Identifying the intention provides a focus to determine which tool to use and whether or not its effectiveness will prove worthwhile. Prior planning for how that tool might be used helps to keep students on task to achieving the intended learning outcomes.

Incorporating e-learning (electronic learning) serves many purposes. E-learning allows students to pace their own learning, encourages an inquiry style of learning and metacognitive thinking. If lessons and resources have been made available on a content platform like Moodle it allows students to continue with their studies anytime, anywhere, provided there is an internet connection available to them. It also promotes confidence and familiarity with developing IT skills, enabling them to work with confidence in a digital world. The inclusion of teacher moderated social networking sites can also provide a safe environment for students to practice communication skills in an online environment.

Caroline Haythornthwaite teaches in classrooms real and virtual at the Illinois University in the college’s 13-year-old LEEP program. In an online article she explains the virtues of e-learning.
“Since there’s an emphasis on more learner-centric activities than traditional lecture-based classroom learning, the teacher is more of a facilitator in an online classroom,” she said. “Not only does that enhance the collaborative nature of online learning, it also motivates students to be much more engaged and to take more responsibility for what they’re learning.[1]

Disadvantages to E-Learning and some strategies to counteract them

A major obstacle for teachers introducing e-learning into their programmes is accessibility to computer equipment coupled with poor broadband speeds. The best laid plans can turn ‘belly up’ if internet delivery is inefficient so it pays to always have an alternative lesson plan as a back-up. To counter slow loading times it is advisable to encourage students to have more than one tab open in a browser, this can keep them engaged whilst waiting for a page to load.

It is likely secondary students will need the teacher to be the initial driver in terms of what resources to access and where they might find them in order to cultivate good online work habits. There is also the issue of students not applying themselves to tasks or participating in online discussions. To help remedy this, regular emails, and invitations to place feedback or make a comment can help to remind students of their obligations to the class work. Some teachers even send a text message to students on their mobile phones to remind them of an assignment due date. Whilst there is the potential for a whole course to be run online, in secondary schools we are really talking about e-learning running parallel to standard classroom practice.

Schools' e-Learning Action Plan: