Vol.1 No.1 July - December 2013 ISSN: 2321 - 6530

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) IN JORDANIAN EDUCATION



Belalyahya Bani Salameh
(from Zarqa, Jordan)
Belalsalameh9@gmail.com
Research Scholar, Faculty of Education, B.H.U., Varanasi


‘ICT in education is the key to unlocking the skills and knowledge of our future generations of young people. It is the tool for learning for the 21st century.’

Kate McKenzie

Introduction

Jordan is a developing country with highly educated human resources; it is improving in fields where there is a fast development in education, computerization, e-government, in addition to a rapid spread of knowledge centers in remote areas, and the establishment of a legal environment sustaining this progress. The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) field is an area that is seen as an opportunity in which Jordan can increase its competitive advantage over other countries in the region, consequently Jordan have taken very serious steps in order to launch its major ICT initiatives aiming at developing the ICT sector.

Accordingly, in response to a challenge put forward by his Majesty King Abdullah II in 1999, the efforts were directed at devising a comprehensive framework for Jordan’s ICT sector, which resulted in the REACH initiative. REACH (1999–2005) is Jordan’s national blueprint for nurturing a vibrant, export-oriented, and internationally competitive ICT sector. The strategy involved developing a regulatory framework, providing an enabling infrastructural environment, and offering advancement programs, Human Resource development and capital and finance. In 2007, the National ICT Strategy (2007-2011) was launched as a continuation of the REACH initiative and encompasses a number of revised policies and directions that are aimed at taking advantage of new markets, enhancing business maturity, investing in research & development, capitalizing on regional demand, cultivating foreign investment, and improving the ICT labor market. The Ministry of Education (MoE) has made extraordinary efforts to implement ICT in schools, where computer labs had been introduced in public schools and simultaneously equipped with computers, Internet lines, and terminals such as printers, scanners and data show. The MoE has created the e-learning portal (EduWave) which enables all end-users to communicate smoothly through discussion forums, chat, e-exams, e-mail and others ,and enhance better education by activating the various e-content subjects, such as Math, Science, English and Arabic languages, IT, Civic and Health Education. The MoE has also begun teaching computer in 2000 for grades 7-11, MoE was keen on encouraging all teachers to attend the ICDL, Intel Teach to the Future, and Word Links professional development programs, and it has presented scholarships to some teachers to get the ICT Diploma or Master degree in education.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MoICT) has established the National Broadband Network Program (NBN Program) which contributes in developing Jordan educational system by increasing ICT diffusion in universities, community colleges, schools and learning intuitions throughout the kingdom .This high speed, fiber-optic based network is expected to connect nearly20% of Jordanian schools by 2011.

The Jordan Education Initiative has emerged as the first model that manifests the true partnership between the public and private sectors, by the World Economic Forum and the Jordanian Government, during the extraordinary meeting of the Forum that took place under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II at the Dead Sea in June 2003. It was launched in the presence of more than one hundred local and international participants, with the aim of supporting Jordan's efforts in improving the level of education, encouraging creativity, developing capabilities and building knowledge economy by using the latest technological tools in one hundred governmental schools that was later named "Discovery Schools." The Jordan Education Initiative one of Her Majesty's Queen Rania Al-Abdullah non-profit organizations that had, since its launching 6 years ago, the care and support of Her Majesty through her close follow up to every creativity and excellence. Because of this care and follow up, many countries have sought the help of this initiative especially in terms of electronic curriculums, providing infrastructure for utilizing technology in education, and in the implementation of creative and unique programs for the factors of the educational process "The Student, The Teacher, The School Unit."

Access to ICT in Jordan:

Jordan has joined other countries in their race to adopt ICT as a vehicle for preparing and transforming societies for the knowledge economy. Due to the increasing awareness of ICT as a catalyst for economic prosperity and development, that IT sector registered the most rapid growth of any sector since 2000 in Jordan (ministry of information and communication technology, 2005).

Several national initiatives were lunched by the Jordanian government with the aim of infusing ICT within society at large. REACH initiatives (1, 2, and 3) intended to improve the competitiveness of IT industries and to improve the environment for IT industry growth. In addition, the ministry of ICT launched the connecting Jordanian initiative (CJI), which paved the way for establishing Jordan Information Technology Community Centers(JITCC) as part of national strategy to get Jordanians online (United Nation Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, 2005).

Furthermore, the ministry of ICT implemented what was called the “e- Government initiative”. As part of this initiative, 20,000 government employees across the kingdom were scheduled to receive training to make them ICT-literate by the year 2005 (information technology association, 2003). In 2006, a national ICT research and development strategy was lunched in order to guide ICT sector development in Jordan between 2007-2009 (ministry of information and communication technology, 2006).

The international privet sector was also invited to participate in infusing ICT in to the society at large. In 2004, Intel opened its first computer clubhouse in Jordan aiming at supporting young people aged 10-18 by providing them with access to high-tech equipment professional software and training ( Intel corporation, 2004).

In 2002 McConnell international, funded by the USAID, conducted an assessment of Jordan’s e-readiness in five years: connectivity, leadership, information security, human capital, and e-business climate. The report concluded that while Jordan has a strong leadership commitment to ICT which made it the highest national priorities, the two areas of connectivity and e-business climate needed substantial improvement. This was also illustrated in an international telecommunication union (2003) report, which indicated that while knowledge of ICT scoured high, in Jordan both infrastructure and access remained poor. In addition, despite attempts made by the government to encourage access to ICT and the use of internet, connectivity prices remained prohibitively high (the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.2004) in relation to average income per capita. However, there has been the remarkable role played by a large number of Internet Cafes where access to the internet is available at relatively minimal fees (Information Technology Association, 2003).In 2003-2004, a World Economic Forum report indicated that Jordan ranked 46 among102 countries worldwide in its networked readiness (Dutta et al.,2004). Most recently, an ITU/UNCTAD(2007) report, showed that Jordan ranked 79 among 181 countries worldwide in 2005/2006 on the Digital Opportunity Index; a tool designed for tracking progress in bridging the digital divide.

Obstacles to ICT in education:

Some research findings shows that there is no conclusive proof of Computer-Based Learning (CBL) making the teaching and learning process more effective than conventional processes.CBL, for example, does not allow students to inquire about unrelated information.

A worldwide survey of representative schools in 26 countries by Pelgrum (2001) showed that the ten most important obstacles to integration of ICT in education are:

  1. Insufficient number of computers.
  2. Teachers lack knowledge/ skills.
  3. Difficult to integrate query in instruction.
  4. Scheduling computer time.
  5. Insufficient peripherals.
  6. Not enough copies of software.
  7. Not enough simultaneous access to World Wide Web (www).
  8. Not enough supervision staff.
  9. Insufficient teacher time.
  10. Lack of technical assistance.

These impediments highlight the importance of providing adequate hardware and support facility for getting the best out of the use of technology in teaching-learning processes.

The use of technology sometimes looks positive when it is introduced because of its novelty. The initial enthusiasm may not sustain for long unless teachers understand its most effective use. The principals need to appreciate these realities and guide the process of use of technology in teaching ina much matured and systematic way.

The benefits of ICT in education

The uses of ICT is making major differences in the learning of students and teaching approaches:

Schools in the Western World invested a lot for ICT infrastructures over the last 20 years, and students use computers more often and for a much larger range of applications (Volman, 2005). Several studies reveal that students using ICT facilities mostly show higher learning gains than those who do not use. For instance, Kulik’s (1994) finding across 75 studies in the United States showed the following.

Students who used computer tutorials in mathematics, natural science, and social science score significantly higher on tests in these subjects. Students who used simulation software in science also scored higher. The findings also indicated that primary school students who used tutorial software in reading scored significantly higher on reading scores. Very young students who used computers to write their own stories scored significantly higher on measures of reading skill. Moreover, students who used word processors or otherwise used the computer for writing scored higher on measures of writing skill.

Furthermore, the use of ICTs in education also shifts the learning approaches. As put by (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 1999) cited in Volman (2005), there is a common belief that the use of ICTs in education contributes to a more constructive learning and an increase in activity and greater responsibility of students. This limits the role of the teacher to supporting, advising, and coaching students rather than merely transmitting knowledge. Thegradual progress in using computers changes from learning about computers, to learning computers, and finally to learning with computers (Volman, 2005).With respect to introducing ICT technologies in schools, Olson (2000) advises to explore the following questions as bases for in-service teacher education. These are (1) how can the theoretical ideas tested in practice? (2) What does practice say back to these theoretical ideas? (3) How are useful negative feedbacks obtained? (4) What might be the substantive talking points about the new processes? What is practical from a classroom perspective? (5) What does the talking about the new processes say about the nature of existing technology? Is it adequate? (6) What scaffold needs for the next stage?

On the other hand, teachers’ reluctance to adopt innovations need to be seen in the context of existing technology and commitments. Fullen (1989) cited in Watson (2001) states that change or improvement can happen at schools ifteachers understand themselves and understood by others. For instance, many teachers are currently not in a position to make informed judgments on ICTs to support their teaching goals. Clearly a variety of factors still do make using ICT in the curriculum problematic (Watson, 2001). Because of this, the influence of ICT did not bring revolutionary changes at schools. For instance, the National ICT survey in the Netherlands shows that most primary-school students use computers less than once a week and there are still many secondary school teachers who do not use ICT at all (Volman, 2005). Most often, they use computers for drill-and-practice and word processing.

In recent years however, there has been a growing interest to know how computers and internet can best utilized to improve effectiveness and efficiency of education at all levels and in both formal and conformal settings. As there is a shift of theories explaining learning processes, ICTs become handmaiden for learning activities. Voogt’s (2003) description on the major roles, distinguished ICTs as an object for study, an aspect of a discipline or a profession, and a medium of instruction. As a medium of instruction, ICTs fit to realize and implement the emerging pedagogy of constructivism (Davis, 1997; Office of Technology Assessment, 1995; Panel on Educational Technology, 1997; Watson, 1996) in Voogt (2003). Moreover, Voogt (2003) differentiated between traditional learning setting andconstructivist approaches. The former considers learning as transmission of knowledge to students, which is the sole responsibility of the teacher. On the other hand, the constructivist approach considers learning as authentic and learner centered. ICT, the computer for example is a great help in the constructivist approach, where one can design simulated and individualized learning environments to students.

ICTs are exerting impacts on pedagogical approaches in the classrooms. Their contribution to changes in teachingpractices, school innovation, and community services is considerable. A research review by Kozma (2005) suggests three significant concerns of consideration regarding ICTs impact on education. Firstly, student out comes such as higher scores in school subjects or the learning of entirely new skills needed for a developing economy. Secondly, we should consider teacher and classroom outcomes such as development of teachers’ technology skills and knowledge of new pedagogic approaches as well as improved attitudes toward teaching. Finally, one has to consider other outcomes such as increased innovativeness in schools and access of community members to adult education and literacy.

Recommendations and conclusion

Some Of The Main Recommendations Are:
  1. ICT must have much more importance in Jordanian education system that can develop the quality of teaching learning process among the Jordanians’ schools.
  2. Ministry of Education has to activate the computer labs in government schools and provide internet facility that should be sustainably serviced to avoid technical problems that might face by teachers and students.
  3. Computers should be redistributed in schools according to students’ numbers and their educational needs.
  4. To find radial solutions for slow internet connection and other disconnection inconvenience.
  5. ICT has revolutionized the entire concept of education, learning and research by offering new opportunities and challenges in creation and dissemination of information by way of Web TV’s, Net PC’s and Web-based education independent of time, pace and place.

ICTs are advances in technologies that provide a rich global resources and collaborative environment for dissemination of ICT literacy materials, interactive discussions, research information and international exchange of ideas which are critical for advancing meaningful educational initiatives, training high skilled labor force, and understanding issues related to economic development. ICTs highlight innovative effort and partnerships and promote ICTs literacy and facilitate interaction between all sectors of a national economy including external spheres. I can conclude that ICT is the back boon of our education system and through it we can develops and improve the quality of teaching and learning process over all the country. The stakeholders must have the responsibility on their shoulders to develop the ICT over all the kingdom of Jordan.


REFERENCES

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