Information and Communication Technologies have recently gained groundswell of interest. It is a significant research area for many scholars around the globe. Their nature has highly changed the face of education over the last few decades.
For most European countries, the use of ICT in education and training has become a priority during the last decade. However, very few have achieved progress. Indeed, a small percentage of schools in some countries achieved high levels of effective use of ICT to support and change the teaching and learning process in many subject areas. Others are still in the early phase of Information and Communication Technologies adoption.
Blanskat, Blamire, kefala (2006) conducted a study carried out in national, international, and European schools. With the aim to draw evidences regarding the advantages and benefits of ICT in schools achievements. It seeks to measure the impact of ICT on students’ outcomes. The study also tried to establish a link between the use of ICT and students’ results in exams. The findings are interesting: ICT has positive impact on students’ performances in primary schools particularly in English language and less in science. Schools with higher level of e-maturity show a rapid increase in performances in scores compared to those with lower level.
In addition, schools with sufficient ICT resources achieved better results than those that are not well-equipped. There is a significant improvement on learners’ performances. Finally, teachers become more convinced that educational achievements of pupils are due to good ICT use. In fact, high percentage of teachers in Europe (86%) states that pupils are more motivated when computers and Internet are being used in class.
Many pupils consider ICT tools very helpful in that it helps them to do assignments teachers see that ICT enables students with special needs or difficulties. It also helps to reduce the social disparities between pupils, since they work in teams in order to achieve a given task. Students also assume responsibilities when they use ICT to organize their work through digital portfolios or projects. In addition, the study showed that ICT has significant impact on teachers and teaching processes.
By virtue of government Interventions and training seminars organized in this regard, ICT tools stimulate teachers. Indeed, an absolute majority of teachers in Europe (90 %) claim to use ICT to do tasks, such as preparing lessons, sequencing classroom activities, etc. Therefore, teachers plan their lessons more efficiently. ICT also help teachers to work in teams and share ideas related to schools curriculum. There is also evidence that broadband and interactive whiteboards play a central role in fostering teachers’ communication and increasing collaboration between educators.
The ICT Test Bed evaluation (Underwood 2006) provides an evidence that many teachers use ICT to support innovative pedagogy. It states: “New technologies that provide a good fit with existing practices, such as interactive whiteboards are first to be embedded, but others like video conferencing, digital video and virtual learning environments are now being incorporated, providing evidence of ongoing learning by the workforce. Training needs to continue to support innovative pedagogy.” Both examples show that ICT is being integrated in a continuous process. Therefore, ICT can improve teaching by enhancing an already practiced knowledge and introducing new ways of teaching and learning. Transforming teaching is more difficult to achieve. “Changes that take full advantage of ICT will only happen slowly over time, and only if teachers continue to experiment with new approaches.” (Underwood 2006) This evaluation came from a teacher training seminar in IT during the ITMF project. It showed that teachers have not fully changed their use of ICT in education; however, most of them changed their way of thinking about the application of ICT in education. Teachers have increased their use of ICT in lessons where students look for information on the net and use it afterwards for subject specific areas, but hardly any use of ICT for class presentations. Nonetheless, teachers do not make use of ICT to engage students more actively to produce knowledge. Similarly, the e-learning Nordic study shows an increase in the use of ICT to teach but not to innovate teaching methods: “ICT generally has a positive impact on teaching and learning situations, but compared with the ideal expectations; the impact of ICT on teaching and learning must still be considered to be limited” (Ramboll, 2006).
Many teachers use ICT to support traditional learning methods, for example, information retrieval in which students are ‘passive learners of knowledge instead of ‘active producers able to take part in the learning process. In a document entitled teaching and learning with ICT, G. Galea (2002) explains how ICT can promote teaching and learning. According to her there are two main reasons behind increasing the use of ICT in education in UK. Firstly, ICT can change the lessons’ pace: she stated that children in modern society need to develop sufficient potentials and skills that enable them to take full advantage from the new opportunities that ICT offer. Second, there are groundswells of interest of academic researches in UK in how technological tools can enhance the quality of teaching and learning in schools, and so help learners to achieve better outcomes.
Furthermore, it has been proved that new technologies have lots of benefits on the students.
ICT allow for a higher quality lessons through collaboration with teachers in planning and preparing resources (Ofsted, 2002). Students learn new skills: analytical, including improvements in reading comprehension (Lewin et al, 2000). ICT also develop some writing skills: spelling, grammar, punctuation, editing and re-drafting (Lewin et al, 2000). Still new technologies encourage independent and active learning, and students’ responsibility for their own learning (Passey, 1999) ICT proves that students who used educational technology felt more successful in school they are more motivated to learn more and have increased self- confidence and self-esteem. It is also confirmed that many students found learning in a technology-enhanced setting more stimulating and much better than in a traditional classroom environment (Pedretti and Mayer-Smith 1998).