Impact of Digital Technology on Education


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G N Wikramanayake (2005) "Impact of Digital Technology on Education" In:24th National Information Technology Conference, pp. 82-91 Computer Society of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CSSL Aug 15-16, ISBN: 955-9155-13-X.

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Impact of Digital Technology on Education

  1. 1. Impact of Digital Technology on Education G.N. Wikramanayake University of Colombo School of Computing E-mail: ABSTRACT A teacher has to be well educated and knowledgeable to be able to educate others. Traditionally education is centred on sources Also they have to acquire the skills of retaining such as schools, teachers and print media. The student’s attention and deliver content in an learners reached the information sources by effective way. Thus teaching is an important enrolling with schools, teachers and libraries. profession and people respected them as they Prior to the digital era, information was not guided and assisted the learners to be useful accessible by the majority of people, and even citizens of the country. Due to the respect those accessed were unable to obtain current earned by the society teaching was one of the information with respect to today’s context. social service activities. Also most activities The modern society wants to know the people then used to do were centred at village information as it happens and when it level and teaching too was carried out at happens, and the world is moving from an villages where small populations used to live. information society to a knowledge society. Thus education is given the highest priority With emerge of industrial and commercial and brainpower is becoming the most valuable cities people have moved out of villages to asset of an organisation. these cities for various forms of employment. When the population increased the demand for Advances in digital technology have opened up learning also goes up and thus the traditional many avenues of learning. Technology has schools or pirivenas could not cope with the made information accessible / transmittable demand. Thus new schools had to be created from anywhere and by / to all groups of and existing schools had to be expanded, and people. Education has reached most parts of new teachers were required to deliver the world and ICT has become an integral part education. To meet the demand inexperienced, of human life. under qualified and under trained personnel This paper describes the process of were used and thus the profession has changed generation, creation and acquisition of from a social service to a commercial business. knowledge through the technology. The use of Business is governed by remuneration and ICT to manage and organise explicit when it is lower the capable people tends to knowledge is highlighted. The paper also seek other employment offering higher describes how technology is used to access remunerations. Past governments used this and apply such knowledge. The paper relates sector as an employment creation section thus how these technologies have been used in contributing towards the deterioration of the education and its impact in general. Using sector. examples the paper highlights some of the changes that has taken placed in the Sri Lankan education sector. 1.1 Electronic and Digital Era Electronic era commenced with the use of wireless electronic communication over 100 1. TRADITIONAL EDUCATION years ago. Transmitting telegraph messages In Sri Lankan context, formal education was and the radio are among the important traditionally centred on schools and pirivenas applications of this technology. The messages at village level while non-formal education were passed through the air, invisibly, on radio was centred in libraries at central places in the waves. Since then the technology use has form of newspapers and books. Teachers moved from radio, to recordings, to movies, to delivered the formal education either following television, to computers, to CDs, CD ROMs & a textbook or notes prepared using books and the Internet [11]. their experiences. The learners enrolled and This technology was very useful to convey visited the places that offered formal instant urgent messages and well as to make education. The libraries offered supplementary people be aware current local and international reading material to enhance their learning as news. This has become an informal but well as reference facilities. effective form of education.
  2. 2. The transformation of analogue signals to Intranets are the backbones. They provide digital emerged a new technology that was transparent speedy transfer of knowledge capable of eliminating transmission errors and among people and applications. Internet performing the same task some efficiently. applications built using software and tools Digital technology has been around for over 50 allow collaborative intelligent access to years with the wide use of the technology for knowledge. Appropriate access and computers and other electronic equipment. authentication layers ensure the security aspect Since early 1960s educators and computer of such systems. Data and document bases act scientist began using computers for teaching as the repositories to generate the knowledge. purposes. Initially it was used as reading and typing text to provide instructions of how to use the computer due to its low-level 2.1 Organisation of Explicit interaction with users and later to solve some Knowledge time consuming problems. However with the invention of affordable microcomputers and Organisation and managing explicit knowledge the integration of text, graphics and colour includes generation, creation or acquisition of there was a rapid spread of computers in knowledge. Such activities could be performed business, educational institutes and homes [1]. through tools such as RDBMS and EDMS. Computers first came to Sri Lanka in the late 1960’s and around the same time computing 2.1.1 RDBMS was introduced to the curriculum of University of Colombo. Learning about computers grew One of the most commonly used tools to from understanding how computer works, to manage information is a relational database programming it to perform specific tasks, to management system (RDBMS). RDBMS have use of it to perform daily activities. been used by IT applications to manage operational data. The same technology is now Computers also evolved from manipulation of been used for knowledge management. text and numbers to interaction via text, RDBMS traditionally managed text and graphics, voice and pointing devices. The primitive data types such as numbers and date. ability to network many computers to share Knowledge has to be represented using beyond information and resources was another step the traditional data types such as character forward. With all these advances there has strings and numbers. Thus other forms of been a steady and dramatic decrease in cost of representations such as images and videos are a computer. Along with these courseware and required. Multimedia databases have better integration of text, graphics and colour immerged to manage such data. appeared making education material more effective. Operational data of educational management system are managed using this technology. Graphical power and use of mouse on a par Student registration data, evaluation results with keyboard made the most impact with and their performances are recorded using respect to attracting laypeople to use student information systems. In Sri Lanka use computers. The growth of the Internet from a of such systems is restricted to a handful and small group of academics and government they too do not fully exploit the facilities on officials exchanging textual material into a offer. In most cases only few ad hock activities world wide resource, with millions of people involving a handful of employees are using it for diverse activities such as shopping, performed using technology. Lack of capable banking, researching, forums, exchanging and and willingness employees at operational level sharing information, access to digital libraries have hampered the use of information systems and of course e-learning have already made an for daily activities. Also the inability to take impact to the society. This has and will necessary actions at the management level has transform everything we do. contributed towards this fallback. 2. SUPPORTING 2.1.2 EDMS TECHNOLOGIES AND Electronic Document Management System APPLICATIONS (EDMS) is a rapidly developing technology There are a number of technology components and is considered as the solution for available to built knowledge management organizations that needs a way to manage the systems [2]. Local area networks, Internet and information efficiently. EDMS applications focus on the control of electronic documents
  3. 3. throughout their entire life cycle, from creation Bitmaps (paint) graphics and vector (draw) to eventual archiving. Its functions include graphics are two basic forms of still graphics. document creation, storage and retrieval, Each type has its own characteristics and management, version control, workflow and satisfies different needs. Bitmaps stores the multiple-delivery formats [7]. graphics as seen on screen while vector graphics stores the instructions of how the EDMS allows managing the documentation of graphics is created. an entire process. With respect to education this task is achieved through an enhanced and Colour is an important component of a picture. more effective process called e-learning. However when producing graphics colours Although some organisation in Sri Lanka uses should be chosen carefully to ensure effective systems for their daily activities, most are not and pleasing displays. Human eye react to light looking at these possibilities. When intensity and to the three colours red, green considering educational institutes in Sri Lanka and blue. Like in the case of fonts and sizes of the use of e-learning has been around for the text, the choice of colour composition has last two years. The BIT external degree immediate aesthetic impact. programme of University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) has allowed private institutes to expose their students to e-learning. 2.2.3 Animation Animation adds impact to a presentation. Unlike text and graphics these are dynamic 2.2 Media for Explicit Knowledge time based media. The visual impact of Explicit knowledge could be represented using animation is to harness the learning process. different media. Text, graphics, animation, Animations usually take forms like moving an sound and video are the media to represent object across the screen, user-controlled them [3]. Unlike the traditional media in forms movement of an object, bitmap flipping and of books information stored digitally can be full animation files. Authoring tools are used preserved without any forms of distortion and to create such objects. they can be accessed easily and quickly from any part of the world. 2.2.4 Sound All forms of verbal communication use sound. 2.2.1 Text Technology has been used to transmit sound across the universe. Teacher’s voice has been Text is one of the most effective components the primary focus in delivering knowledge. of representing knowledge. The words Sound could be represented using computers, embodied as text, convey a powerful message and MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital and this has been widely used in handwritten Interface) and digital audio are the two basic and print media. Most data and information is file types used in multimedia systems. A represented through this medium. It is multimedia system requires the use of speech, impossible to convey an unambiguous music or special sound effects. When used for message without text. To convey a message education, speech should be short, manageable effectively the message should be specific, and integrated with other media. It should be definite, concrete and precise. Selection of used as a complementary to text. suitable fonts and size is important for legibility and aesthetic effects. Learning is concerned, summarised text is 2.2.5 Video used to identify the important points and Video occupies the most disk space and detailed descriptions are for explanations and bandwidth when used over the network. Hence subsequent supplementary reading. video can be integrated with other media only through use of edited segmented video clips each conveying a specific message. 2.2.2 Graphics Text and graphics are the basic components of multimedia systems. Text without graphics 2.3 Accessing Explicit Knowledge will fail to retain person’s attention as well as long-term retention. RDBMS and EDMS manage the explicit knowledge. They are accessed using various
  4. 4. technologies such as Internet, Intranet, Search Workflow Tools allow documents and other Engines and workflow tools [2]. forms of information to be routed among individuals and applications according to predefined processes. Workflow tools allow 2.3.1 Internet setting up the workflow environment in terms of users, types of information, processes, Internet provides a cost effective global timing constraints and alternatives. These tools network backbone. It connects users from are used in some organizations, but not yet anywhere, as long as they have access to the exploited by the education sector. Teachers web. This has allowed users to host could use these tools to effectively information on their computers and make them communicate with their students. We see e- available for others. Such computers need to learning systems gradually incorporating some be dedicated for that purpose as users will be of these characteristics. searching for information at different times. These sites are called web sites and they are connected to the web on 7x24. This technology intends to provide unrestricted access to 2.4 Using Explicit Knowledge information. An educational institute will The explicit knowledge that was accessed publish all information relevant to the public should be able to use effectively. For this it is through their web sites. This technology has necessary to ensure that the information made information accessible as it happens and gathered is presented in a useful manner. Tools people access them at any time they want to do such as Decision Support Systems (DSS), data so. mining and data warehousing are available for such purposes. These tools are just lying around for use by most users and education 2.3.2 Intranet sector is no exception. Intranet is used only within an organisation, thus restrict access to information from outside the organisation. The appropriate security 2.4.1 Decision Support System (DSS) measures (e.g. firewalls) implements such DSS are software products that transform requirements. These web sites allow operational data into useful information such employees and authorised users to access as statistical models and trend analysis for information while protecting the same from used by the management for decision-making. others. This technology is used to share They summarise internal and external data into confidential information within an graphs, charts and simple reports. organisation. Teachers and administrators could monitor the overall status of a student and hence take appropriate actions promptly. 2.4.2 Data Mining Teachers can also make their learning material and exercises available through them. Some e- Data mining is a process to discover new learning systems runs on these networks with knowledge from existing databases. Here, login accounts created for its users. sophisticated data searching techniques and statistical algorithms are used to discover patterns and correlations in vast quantities of 2.3.3 Search Engines data. Search Engines are very effective powerful tools that allow text based information retrieval. Web based search engines deploy 2.4.4 Data Warehousing different types of navigation strategies. Meta Many organisations have several databases searching, hierarchical searching, attribute existing within their organisation. A data searching and content searching are among warehouse attempts to unify all these them. This facility is now widely used by most databases. The technology aggregates the data users of the Internet. This has helped from different databases and cleans the data in researchers, teachers and students to reach the the process of attempting to increase the required information and acquire the quantity of the data. Effective data mining knowledge. could then be performed. The paper in [5] described one such an attempt with respect to the education sector in Sri Lanka. 2.3.4 Workflow
  5. 5. 2.5 Sharing Knowledge events involving these universities and well as some local and overseas institutions have Knowledge sharing is done among a network already made use of this facility. Video of people. Communication among people conferencing facilities are also available in could be done through paper mail, fax and other places such as distant learning centre. telephone. However these techniques are synchronous and less effective across geographical boundaries. IT provides more 2.5.3 Virtual Meeting effective solutions through the use of e-mail, video conferencing, virtual meeting, and Virtual meetings allow people from different document collaboration [1, 2]. locations connect with each other to conduct meetings and share knowledge as if everyone Combined use of knowledge sharing were in the same room. Applications such as techniques will allow reaching them beyond presentation graphics, spreadsheets and word geographical boundaries and performing processing can be shared in real time. Such businesses and services more effectively. activities are being used in Sri Lanka and the extent of it varies among users. 2.5.1 E-mail Stock exchange has reached beyond Colombo due to use of technology and the same is E-mail allows sharing knowledge required for education. We see many students asynchronously. An individual could share from Galle, Kandy, Kegalle, Kurunegala, knowledge with a community by sending a Ratnapura districts coming to Colombo on message to a group of people. Distribution list daily basis in search of good education. Such eliminate the need for everyone to remember needs could be reduced if similar facilities the names of the community and also ensure could be made available in these districts. everyone gets the message. Good resource personnel are reluctant to travel Creating student groups, teachers and well as out of Colombo due to the long travel hours. students share knowledge and this is practised However if through Vishwa Grame Kendra to some extent in Sri Lanka as well. At UCSC project [4] access to technology is made we use distribution lists to communicate with available people from Colombo could reach current and past students. them remotely and country will benefit in the long run. Officials from public services including education, travel to Colombo for 2.5.2 Video Conferencing regular meetings. Planned organised virtual meetings could save time and effort of these Telephone allowed voice communication people. among distant personnel. This has evolved not only to view a live video of the person but also Educational Institutions created to deliver to connect to a number of people. Although the knowledge have yet to adopt technology for technology is costly it is been used for this purpose. Universities, technical education scheduled meetings involving people centres should use them on regular basis. In internationally. Universities having campuses developed countries computers has become a spread over a larger geographical locations day-to-day tool like a radio and a television. have their staff meetings through such However developing countries such as Sri technology. This saves travel time of Lanka are way behind in order to provide the individual. If the time saved and it is used required technology, as the infrastructure does effectively the organisation and society will not support an affordable solution beyond the benefit in the long run. city of Colombo. Some universities use this technology for teaching as well. Students ask questions by 2.5.4 Document Collaboration posting them to the teacher using the technology. Such systems require each student Document collaboration lets team members’ to have their individual computer with the work together with many other participants ability receive and interact with the system. with documents or information in real time. We witnessed use of such technology at the Everyone can manage and use information in Multimedia University in Malaysia. Although real time. the facility to use video conferencing is Documents in digitised form can be available among universities such as Colombo, transmitted to a remote place in the exact form Moratuwa, Peradeniya and Ruhuna it is yet to and reproduced any number of times. Digital be used on regular basis. However, many
  6. 6. information leads to tremendous saving of invention of projection through a computer, a space, time and maintenance, while providing teacher can easily update his material as well. easy access, storage, management and retrieval The same material can also be printed and the of information. Chances of non-availability, students are able to obtain it without having to losing or misplacing of documents is rare and copy them. This technology has now evolved documents that fall under this category are not only to project text and figures, but also accessible even after many years of isolation. animations, video clips etc.. Thus the teachers are now equipped with tools to teach Those who use technology have been able to effectively. Figure 1 summarises these options. reduce their printing and postal cost dramatically. At UCSC we no longer post notices and application forms to our external students. They access / download them at any Method Teacher Student time they want. Verbal Dictate Listen and explanations copy 3. CHANGES TAKEN PLACED Writing Blackboard / Copy notes during class whiteboard & Availability of vast amount of information on Chalk / Pen the web has provided access to all types of learning material. The teacher’s lecture notes Pre-written Overhead Copy notes are no longer the primary focus of a learning transparencies Projector process, and the teacher’s role and the Pre-prepared Multimedia Printed student’s learning process is changing [10]. slides projector & material computer 3.1 Paradigm Shift e-learning Provide Learn learning through Paradigm shifts in today’s world have material participation identified the Machine / Industrial era being replaced by Technology / Information era. Figure 1: Classroom Facilities Similarly production process has moved from Products to Knowledge, Workplace has moved from Physical to Virtual and its focus has 3.2.1 Teacher’s Role changed from Worker to Customer [8]. In the modern global learning environment In terms of education this means we should teacher’s role shifts from "dispenser of create Knowledge that is accessible virtually information" to "facilitator of learning" as he with the focus on the student. Virtual access is has only to guide the active students who are achieved through Internet / Intranets. involved in using the e-learning material. Techniques such as e-mail, web notices, Classrooms have been fully equipped with discussion forums and video conferencing permanent multimedia projectors and allow a student to access information without computers and the facilitator needs to access visiting the physical location of delivery. A the e-learning system through the Intranet. typical interactive e-learning system will have Teachers should not control the learning these characteristics and thus demonstrates the process as well as they should allow students paradigm shift. to perform collaborative work and make some decisions on their own. The changes that are happening in teaching 3.2 Classroom Level and learning were discussed in [10] with the Use of technology at classroom level was not aid of two case studies. The key technologies possible until the teachers delivery and practices of e-learning at University of mechanisms were aided with technology. Western Sydney were highlighted there and it Originally delivery mechanism was through was compared with the activities of the verbal communication and then through the external degrees program at UCSC. introduction of written media such as blackboards. Later through overhead projectors teachers were able to do the writing in advance 3.2.2 Student’s Role and project them directly. Use of overhead Some classrooms are equipped with computer transparencies allowed them to reuse written access to all students. In such cases students material but without improving them. With the
  7. 7. interactively participate in the learning languages. This could be supported through process. Now the student’s focus is totally on Unicode. the learning process than on copying note as Learning computing has now been introduced the learning material can be accessed at a at schools as well. Currently it is targeted only future time. at advanced level students. However with time Teachers should ensure that knowledge and this facility should be available for students at skills are not presented to students directly, but the ordinary level like in the western countries. are constructed by them in response to information and learning tasks. Teachers need to consider how these learning experiences 3.4 Society could be encouraging to students who are performing this type of mental work. Using computers for public services is gradually wide spreading. Although these Thus student who used to learn facts and skills benefits are currently enjoyed by a small by absorbing the content presented by teachers fraction of the population the availability will and media resources should move towards encourage others to join and enjoy the benefits creating personal knowledge by acting on of technology. content provided by teachers, media resources, and personal experiences. The focus should be For example, some banks have moved towards on acquiring higher order skills like problem providing most of their services through the solving and critical thinking. web. This includes managing their accounts, placing standing orders and settlement of bills. This allows the customer to make a virtual visit to his bank at anytime he wish and obtain 3.2.3 Curriculum Characteristics the required service. Other services such as In order to change the teacher’s and student’s withdrawing cash, depositing cheques etc. can role the curriculum also needs to be revised. be done through the teller machines which are Traditional curriculum would focus on also accessible at anytime. fragmented knowledge and disciplinary Wireless local area networks allow users to separation. However now we should focus on access shared information without looking for multidisciplinary themes as future generation a place to plug in their laptops. This will need the ability to move through several technology is being made available in some different jobs. Thus establishment of basic public places and organisations. Educational literacy and focusing heavily on job specific centres such as Universities and Libraries skills is pointless, as one has to change jobs or should have such facilities, as future manage many jobs by themselves. Therefore it generation will be carrying mobile equipment is important to emphasise on thinking skills, to access facilities. Information users now knowledge integration and application. Depth carry their laptops, PDA, smart phones, CDs, of understanding will be required than breath thumb drives with them for fast and precise of knowledge [6]. access to their day to day material. A public library is a knowledge centre [9]. To 3.2.4 Assessments provide services through technology it should not only allow members to view available With changes to the learning process the books, but should also allow viewing of assessment methods should also change. content pages and abstracts. In the case of Instead of measuring a student on fact research papers the facility to download knowledge and discrete skills, assessments papers, journals and thesis is provided. User should focus on application of knowledge. must also have a facility to interact with the This will allow testing of problem solving librarian, suggest procurements, interact with skills of a student. Students should also be publishers, receive alters on outstanding given tasks to demonstrate understanding and books, late fees and collection of books creativity. reserved. 3.3 Language Barriers 3.5 Infrastructure Facilities Most Sri Lankan learner’s first language is not Educators confront with the issue of equity English. Hence some find it difficult grasp the when they consider introducing technology to concepts through reading. Hence there is a learn. To develop a country and provide need for supplementary material in native everybody equal facilities is impossible with
  8. 8. the existing free education system and the 1) Alessi S.M. and Trollip S.R. (2001), policy implementation processors. Trying to “Multimedia for Learning: Methos and solve the equity problem and introduce Development”, Ally and Bacon, (3rd technology at classroom level will result in the Ed.). country going backward compared to others as 2) Biswajit Saha (2005), “Knowledge well as encourage migration as people are Management: Strategy, Technology and always looking for better learning Application”, Proc. of Intl. Conf. on opportunities and living standards. Information Management (ICIM) in a Every student must have computer access to Knowledge Society, pp.684-694. successfully implement above ideas. Thus 3) Boyle T. (1997), “Deign for Multimedia student to computer ration must increase. It is Learning”, Prentice Hall. recommended that all education institutions must have computers with a minimum ratio of 4) De Silva Harsha (2003), “The Vishwa 1:5 with those teaching computing with a Grama Fund: An Innovative Funding minimum ratio of 1:3. All teachers must be Mechanism to Overcome Rural ICT provided with unlimited computer access so Infrastructure Bottlenecks, Proc. of 22nd that they could prepare their educational Nat. IT Conf., Computer Society of Sri material. Lanka. Word processing is the most frequently 5) Fernando M.G.N.A.S. and G.N. reported application. The most frequently Wikramanayake (2004), “Application of mentioned categories of use are word Data Warehousing & Data Mining to processing, Internet research, and CD-ROM Exploitation for Supporting the research. Thus the percentage of schools with Planning of Higher Education System in Internet access needs to be raised and Sri Lanka”, Proc. of 23rd Nat. IT Conf., ultimately all users should have access to the Computer Society of Sri Lanka, pp. Internet. Lower Internet bandwidth and high 114-120. usage cost is a bottleneck. 6) Grabe, Mark and Grabe, Cindy (2004), The education system has been producing “Integrating Technology for Meaningful graduates without any exposure to computers. Learning”, (4th Ed.), Houghton Mifflin When these graduates take teaching Company. assignments they are not equipped to use technology for education. Technology and 7) Sathiadas Joseph P. and educational reforms has to be done taking Wikramanayake G.N. (2003), these into consideration. “Document Management Techniques & Technologies”, Proc. of 5th Int. IT Conf. (IITC), Infotel Lanka Society Ltd., pp. 40-48. 4. CONCLUSION 8) Schwandt, David & Marquardt, Michael Over the last five years computers have been (2000), “Organisational Learning: From introduced to most educational institutes World-Class Theories to Global Best although its ratio to a student is very high. By Practices”. London: St. Luis Press. making the educators aware of the available technology and some taking initiatives to 9) Waydande H.S. (2004), User’s implement them, some forms of reforms may Perspective Towards Digital Libraries: take place. A practical approach of Central Library, IIT Bombay, Intl. Conf. on Digital Libraries, Vol. 2, pp. 1081-84. Whatever Sri Lanka do with respect technology requirements the world will be 10) Wikramanayake G.N. (2003), “e- flooded with information and some people will Learning: Changes in Teaching and use them effectively. They would be the Learning Styles”, Proc. CSSL. people who have developed their skills to the Proceedings of 22nd Nat. IT Conf., level of finding problem-relevant information Computer Society of Sri Lanka, pp. and interpreting and applying them in solving 118-124. of problems. 11) 5. REFERENCES