Extending the Reach of High Quality P-12 Education through ICT
by Mark Sivy, Ed.D.
Realizing that a well-educated populace is essential for boosting national prosperity and competitiveness in an international economy, top-level education departments and ministries around the world are now focused on ensuring that their P-12 curricula and instruction are adjusted to modern standards. In Oman and around the GCC, this task involves ensuring that students have the specific skills, literacies, knowledge, and expertise that will ensure their success locally, regionally and in the global marketplace. A crucial piece in accomplishing this, both in terms of learning outcomes and instructional delivery, is ICT (Information, Communications and Technology).
As a driver of learning outcomes, ICT can play an important role in the development of new Omani curriculum and instruction strategies. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has been at the forefront of providing a basis for the remodeling and modernization of teaching, learning and curriculum, with ICT being a significant consideration. Even though established as a US K-12 education initiative, the organization’s recommendations have relevance and implications for GCC educational systems. One of the major categories found within the Partnership’s renowned publication, P21 Framework Definitions, was created in response to the fact that we live in a global environment that is infused with and dependent upon technology and media. The ICT portion of the document offers the following highlights about the knowledge, skills, and expertise that student should possess as a result of the learning process:
Information Literacy – 1) accessing and evaluating information and 2) using and managing information
Media Literacy – 1) analyzing media and 2) creating media products
ICT Literacy – 1) applying technology effectively, ethically, and legally
As a medium for instructional delivery, ICT can play a significant role in the modernization of Oman’s educational system. One of the challenges in many countries has been the provision of a quality and equal education to all children regardless of their circumstances. Around the world, ICT infrastructures are being updated and expanded to provide Internet access to both urban and rural destinations and recipients. In Oman, the development of this infrastructure is underway and when finished it will be able to facilitate learning through the Internet-based transfer of instructional content.
Additionally, Omani schools and learners will need to be provided with devices to receive and make use of educational web content. This e-content should be specifically designed and developed by subject matter experts, master teachers, and instructional designers who are highly specialized in e-learning and the variety of learning devices. Of particular interest and development are mobile learning, One Laptop per Child (OLPC), and other one-to-one initiatives. The implementation of educational ICT is an intricate and complex process that should only be attempted through the direction of a project management team that has curriculum, instruction, and education technology expertise.
Reflection Point – When faced with a steam-rolling technology, you either become part of the technology or part of the road! ~Nigel Willetts