ICT Use in the Classroom

ICT Phobia, a Feeling of the Past!

 

          Throughout the first years of the reform, I have attended seminars and training courses in which highly qualified “figures” in teaching presented a variety of suggested techniques for a wide range of lesson plans using ICT. As much as I was impressed by these skilfully designed techniques, properly selected illustrations, relevant videos as well as audio scripts, I was upset coming back to my class. I felt I had a shortcoming somewhere in my teaching practices. “I had never touched a computer before!” I thought, “how could I plan a similar work?” As much as I acquired new ideas and techniques to improve my way of teaching, I had a fervent desire to implement them urgently before they vanish within the daily class routine.

 

     During this time, everybody cried for change; which required elaborately devised techniques and updated ideas for the learning process. Meanwhile, two components of the reform proved to be essential for its accomplishment: the Competency-Based Approach (CBA) and the Information Communication Technology (ICT). The latter is considered to be an indispensable requirement to achieve the former’s objectives. However, this change in our educational system didn’t focus on teaching methods with such an importance as it urged for the implementation of highlighted objectives that exceed pedagogical levels such as the creation of a good citizen. This optimistic sight of “tomorrow” has made everyone of us welcomes this change and takes a determination to cope with it. So many times I told myself “It’s a highly challenging mission we are asked to fulfil,” then, I thought “but at the same time, when it comes to building such kind of citizens, it is something noble and honorary.” Therefore, in order to get this well-mannered, tolerant, active, autonomous, creative, collaborative, open-minded student and the like of all qualities sought for in this educational reform, we have to be first all of these people. I came to a conclusion that I needed  self-development process. But again, “how can I do that by myself?” “Am I able to proceed alone?” I needed at least someone to listen to my inquiries, to share my bewilderment and to push my inquisitiveness onwards for creation and innovation.

 

     My feeling of “being lost” was alleviated as soon as I was offered the first chance to acquire some techniques about the use of ICT in a training course. I felt myself so lucky to have such an opportunity, and I recognised two things: the first one is that it doesn’t require from you more than saying one word “I am interested and I am eager to learn”, and the second one is that helpful people are everywhere. I also started to see the virtues that are sought for in our pupils applying to us as educators and “makers” of future citizens. Then, when working with colleagues, I realised again how collaboration and contact could contribute to the fulfilment of my previously determined decision of “self-development”; I have overcome my “computer phobia” as soon as my right hand caught the mouse and my fingers run on the keyboard. I could then solve some problems alone, and progressively I raised a kind of self-confidence. Despite my occasional technological skills shortcoming, I found it so challenging that no problem could prevent me from going ahead.

 

      My trouble came to an end when I was given the second opportunity to work in a team for the preparation of a Project Based Pedagogy seminar. Another time I said “I’m interested and I’m eager to learn.” During this adventure, that lasted for about three months, with a group of sympathetic, hard working and devoted colleagues, I have acquired as much pedagogical ideas, skills and ICT techniques as one can hardly develop in few years of individual research. This time, I felt myself, for the first time, helpful for I could contribute ideas as well as any other member in the working team.

 

      Now that I felt I have reached my determination to a certain degree, I felt a relief for I could use ICT in my own classes. I could rely on myself in designing lessons for my students. While some people claim that planning lessons is a burden of paperwork, I found my own work turned into a pleasure. I had a wider space to look for teaching resources, suitable illustrations or relevant videos and I enjoyed doing it to meet my students’ need.

 

      This feeling of ease while working wasn’t only during lesson preparation, but it extended to class work and pupils themselves. In the computer room and along the lesson presentation, there was really a different learning environment and students were completely relaxed. I noticed then the great change in their interest and motivation, their initiative and performances in class. One of the most important factors of learning effectiveness is time planning: In ordinary classes we used to spend some few minutes in giving equivalents for some items or looking for examples to facilitate understanding, and other minutes in writing whole tasks and instructions. In the data show room, we could save all of this trouble using sufficient material and handouts. Therefore, pupils can work in a relaxing atmosphere and much time is devoted to problem solving situations, and their performance. Moreover, they sometimes had the opportunity to be exposed to authentic resources and native language, which had an outstanding impact in improving their pronunciation of the target language and even raising their awareness and love of the discipline. As they can -these authentic resources- offer them access to other cultures and thus develop their tolerance and intercultural outcomes.

 

       What may be exciting in the use of ICT is that it spreads to our pupils’ thoughts and actions. They can no longer bear having their classes in an ordinary classroom, watching their teachers giving them instructions and waiting for them to work on their textbooks or write on their copybooks. They even proceed to use ICT in their own projects and can offer striking shows, movies, plays and the like of works including their own touch. And what may be praiseworthy is when you can stand away from these pupils just next to their parents watching them presenting their achievements confidently; and when you see in the parents’ eyes a glance of pride and recognition and you hear a strong applause on the success of their children.        

                                                            Miss Nacima Azzaz   (A teacher of English)

                                                                                       Oran, Algeria  / April 2008