In the field of education, information Technology is defined as a method of study where the student is provided learning materials via digital media like the internet, CD-ROM, intranet, interactive television, extranet, etc.
Indeed, with the exponential growth of technological developments, this form of education is expected to affect a greater part of the population within the next ten years. Great strides have already been made in this area with regard to teaching languages.
The term ICT, while encompassing information and communication technologies for education, brings together different elements. Let’s try to break this down by simple reasoning, without necessarily being exhaustive. The two major elements that emerge from the term ICT are; the dematerialization of documents and the increase in communication tools. These elements shall be discussed in the paragraphs that follow.
To begin, there is the dematerialization of documents: this means the use of electronic books (text books, workbooks) on CD-ROM, and teacher’s documents in form of presentations that may contain illustrations, animations, and interactions, making the course more attractive to students. This method of study equally promotes the exchange of educational materials among teachers. The inclusion of accessible Internet links and references in the lectures makes it possible to better orientate students towards a specific knowledge base while permitting the most advanced students to learn more.
To add, there is an increase in communication tools. Uploading video recordings of synchronized courses online, as is the case with tel-conferencing, gives access to the opening of teaching arenas. This facilitates the use of external lecturers and international exchange. As a matter of fact, electronic dialogue increases exchange between teachers and students through ‘frequently asked questions’, or custom questions. The interaction can take place during the course itself (for instance, through the provision of a multiple choice questionnaire used to assess the impact of a certain chapter that has been taught). Moreover, once the investment in technology is recovered, the computer management of institutions can become a good way to reduce expenses.
On the other hand, the illustrative examples discussed in the paragraphs above are not without risk and limitation, especially with regard to the use of such tools in education. Some setbacks include, but are not limited to, the following:
To begin, the social divide between students whose families would have allowed or refused them early access to information technology, would necessitate the provision of financial support or a means to update students that are not up to par.
Furthermore, the economic impact on commercial publishers of textbooks is often poorly assessed, especially in terms of human resources. It would therefore be necessary to work in a concerted, progressive and clearly planned manner.