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Kemi Olurinola: The Forgotten Technologies

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by Kemi Olurinola
Expert Educator Columnist, Nigeria

Early definitions of instructional technology focused on instructional media – the physical means via which instruction is presented to learners. Over the years, many attempts have been made to define this field because new ideas and definitions have affected the practices in this field.

One definition of interest to me is that produced in 1970 by the Commission on Instructional Technology established by the U.S government.

…. Instructional technology means the media born of the communication revolution which can be used for instructional purposes alongside the teacher, textbook and blackboard…………(Commission on Instructional Technology, 1970)

There are two points I would like to focus on in this definition.

The media born of the communication revolution: this would depend on the present communication revolution in different countries. According to Marsden et al, those of us in the developed world live in an environment where information is literally everywhere. In addition to physical media such as newspapers, books, and magazines, invisible signals carry data to our smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The uncountable pages in the World Wide Web leave nearly no question unanswered, and using mobile devices to obtain data has become natural. Information and communication technology (ICT) has become so convenient that we scarcely think about it. For those in the developing world, however, information is less than pervasive.

Alongside the teacher, textbook and blackboard: in some developing countries like mine, it is not uncommon to find, in rural area, schools that are without adequate teachers, sufficient textbooks or even a blackboard. These requirements are supposed to be the foundational premises for technology integrations, but where a school is lacking in these areas wouldn’t it be putting the cart before the horse to begin to talk about bringing technology innovations to the school. At this particular school, friends of the Encouragement Initiative and I, had to first and foremost meet the needs of lack of writing material amongst other needs.

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The question therefore is, for schools such as this, when do we begin technology integration? Will the Novelty of the technology not impede the learning objective? Should they just be left to the hope that someday they would “Grow” into this things somehow? Or should we begin to look for ways to help bridge this gap.

While I do agree that no child should be left behind, I believe technology hasn’t been about what we can “do”, it’s about what we can “use” to do what we need to do. Using technology in school is not the point – learning is. For some of these schools we may need to spend some time first to teach these kids about the technologies of our past (e.g. visual aids such as charts, models, maps etc.), and, whether we continue that or not, we need to teach them about the technologies of their present dispensation and something about the technologies of their future.

 

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