ICT at the Center of Teaching and Learning
Globally, galloping inequity in the access to digital technology and data packages has been further reinforced by the Covid-19 pandemic – more so in the marginalized areas. Even in many schools which could afford digital tools and data packages, teachers’ technology self-efficacy has been wanting – making it hard if not impossible to integrate it in their teaching. To teach meaningfully via technological aids requires educators to have tech-inclusive pedagogies and activity approaches – as it is them who ultimately decide the level of technology integration in any given classroom. They decide how and when to use it and therefore their upskilling needs to be prioritized, especially in these unprecedented times when technology is expected to evolutionize teaching and learning. Its success is dependent on many other factors such as training, vicarious experience, and positive attitude towards its use. High levels of technology self-efficacy among teachers trickle down to the classroom, making teaching and learning more interactive and stimulates higher order thinking hence better learning outcomes.
The future of teaching and learning is expected to go beyond the conventional purposes of schooling which was – and still has been – to sort, control and keep custody of students. In this decade and beyond, we expect development of epistemic dispositions, intellectual character and problem solving skills among our learners – all which fulfill the moral purpose of education. It is said that necessity is the mother of all inventions. Covid-19 pandemic and the social distancing that followed has resulted to collapse of country and continental boundaries – thus making it possible for educators and students around the globe to connect, engage and collaborate generously to share knowledge, skills and expertise to improve their well-being and that of their students alike, courtesy of virtual platforms. The wind of breakthroughs of mind and heart and a great shift towards interpersonal caring that supports learning is being felt across the globe, and it is becoming an open secret that no single agency can ever solve the many but wicked challenges facing teaching and learning more broadly. Attendance of conferences and meetings has never been any easier, as one only needs to have access to digital tools and wifi or data packages – though this is not to mean everyone has access to all these. The interaction between teachers and students is undergoing a fundamental shift with online educational programs expected to be more rooted than ever before. Previously, books or officially produced videos used to be the major educational tools but not anymore.
The Internet is allowing anyone, anywhere – so long as they can afford it – to network and build communities of practice, and networking is turning out to be the latest currency. Among the networks that emerged during Covid-19 pandemic include Africa Voices Dialogue and Open Portal Network. Africa Voices Dialogue has created a convening space for a series of dialogues, workshops, and conferences in education in the African continent, within which the experiences and narratives of African educators, learners and community members can be seen, heard and loved, and find a space of belonging. All its dialogues, conferences and workshops have taken place through virtual platforms. On the other hand, Open Portal Networks exists to create a convening space for global networks focused on new models of education and connect learners, educators, activists, organizations, associations and networks. The network seeks to build a global movement that will bring 21st century learning to all – and technology will be at the center of its success. In my view, any network or rather community of practice that will not respond to the fast changing technological world will become obsolete. Success of many networks will largely depend on their why, how and what. We are in a defining moment in history – and any innovative idea we implement, collaboratively or in silos, will have long lasting teaching and learning effects to generations to come.
The pandemic has of course exposed what has been ailing many education systems around the globe, and as such, what we have in our hands is the greatest opportunity of doing the right thing – re-define schooling and curriculum. Doing so will echo what Kwame Nkurumah – the founding father of Ghana – foresaw saw when he said the following as it regard to having progressive curricula: “an ideal nation with sound base of economic development and a well informed society will be made not by a strong military state rather, a strong education system guided by an articulate and elaborate curriculum”. As time evolves, it is hoped that the definition of schooling will be revisited to include homeschooling, hybrid teaching and learning, curricula that respond to the needs of the society, and that the wicked challenges in education – that have many interdependencies and which hardly sit conveniently within the responsibility of any one organization – will be addressed, and that ICT will play an integral role.