- 1 UTILISATION OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (ICTs) IN THE TEACHING, A CASE OF GAYAZA HIGH SCHOOL, UGANDA.
- 2 ABSTRACT.
- 3 SCHOOL PROFILE.
- 4 INFRASTRUCTURE THAT SUPPORTS ICT USE AT GAYAZA HIGH SCHOOL
- 5 STEPS TOWARDS MOTIVATION OF TEACHERS TO USE ICT
- 6 CHALLENGES
- 7 REFERENCES
UTILISATION OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (ICTs) IN THE TEACHING, A CASE OF GAYAZA HIGH SCHOOL, UGANDA.
This paper highlights good practices in motivating teachers’ in Gayaza High School to use technology in teaching and other academic work.
- At Gayaza High School in Uganda technological facilities have been made sufficiently available; more computers have been placed in the staffroom;lessons have been time tabled which teachers can use to integrate computers in their teaching; a reliable internet connectivity has been installed with a wireless covering 200M and a well-outlined ICTs school policy is being developed and communicated to the whole school. Teachers are encouraged to conduct technology driven lessons and proper training of teachers through regular refresher courses either physically or online is our focus. All the above strategies have increased the utilisation of technology by teachers in our school.
- Key word: Information and communication technologies (ICTs)
Gayaza High School is the oldest girl’s school in Uganda. It was founded in 1905 by the Church Missionary Society of England. Gayaza High School has a community of 1,100 students (girls only), 67 teaching staff, 8 non-teaching staff, 45 support staff. Gayaza, comprising 92 acres, is located 17 kilometres North East of Kampala. Gayaza is a Government-Aided Secondary school but continues to get guidance from the foundation body, the Church of Uganda. The school remains exclusively a girls’ boarding school and attracts students nationally and from Kenya and Tanzania. All its funding is realised through student school fees.
INFRASTRUCTURE THAT SUPPORTS ICT USE AT GAYAZA HIGH SCHOOL
Gayaza High School has one computer laboratory which is open from 8:00a.m to 10:00p.m with a lunch break of 1 hour. The laboratory is equipped with 45 computers, an interactive white board with one fixed projector and one mobile projector. All the computers are connected to the internet, which has 24 hour connectivity with a fair band width. The laboratory has been connected to a backup electricity line that supports the lighting, the teacher’s demonstration computer fixed to the interactive board and the projector .This enables the teachers to sustain their lessons on a one computer demonstration basis. We also have a Hifi speakers system that allows the students to listen to audio records including those recorded by past students. Listening to resources produced by peers greatly motivates students and enhances learning.
The science laboratories
The laboratories have been equipped with large screens connected to computers having educational software that supports the curriculum content taught. This enables teachers to demonstrate concepts that would rather be very difficult to explain. It also enables teachers to demonstrate a wide variety of items that are connected to a concept taught that have been compiled in a single pool other than just teaching the theory about it. For example, teaching about how the heart pumps blood is always a hard concept to teach theoretically. However with the ICT infrastructure in place now, the teachers are able to demonstrate this using the available animations and simulations. Cyber science soft ware has been installed with science and mathematics content and teachers are being encouraged to find more resources from the internet.
Teachers prefer preparing lessons from their homes or in the staffroom. We have extended the internet connectivity line to the staffroom with three computers and provided for many other connectivity points where teachers can connect their laptops. It was observed that some teachers have laptops which they carry to the staffroom and badly needed to have access to the internet connectivity. Wireless internet network that covers a distance of 200M has been installed at the staffroom to meet the increasing demands for ICT usage by the teachers who have laptops with a wireless accessibility. There is a printer in the staffroom networked to the computers in the staffroom. This has motivated teachers to develop skills of typing their class exercises and tests since they are able to print them there and then. The secretaries have been freed from typing tests, letters and other academic documents. This enables the administration to assign them other duties such as entry of results and students’ data in computerised record forms. During the end of term two examinations in August, 2008 the secretaries recorded having typed only about 35% of the tests timetabled for this period. The majority of these were the science subjects that have more than three pages to be typed which shows that teachers could be finding difficulty in typing tests with many pages. Having tests typed by individual teachers has improved on the availability of tests when they are needed as compared to having a pile of papers in the secretaries’ tray. In the past, accuracy of the typed work depended greatly on the speed and accuracy of the secretaries and the teachers would have to go through each and every typed work for corrections which is not the case now. The teachers are also able to keep their past tests over years and re-use them whenever they want or even print them out for students’ practice. However as the school we are also creating a data base for these tests. Thus every teacher is required to send in a soft copy of their test to the academics office either by email or otherwise.
Other ICT infrastructure
The school has a digital camera that the teachers use to record students’ activities like poems, dances, discussions and presentations, seminars and field trips. Documentation of students’ works to act as peer education materials has greatly enhanced students’ performance and the teachers are able to retain leading students’ works for future demonstration. The school has two wide screen television sets; one fixed in the dinning room and the other movable from the staffroom. These are used to view educational tapes when the teachers need them. There is a Digital Satellite Television dish installed at the dinning room and at the staffroom for teachers to take advantage of the educational programmes provided by the service providers. However the teachers say that the programmes are not well suited for their lessons and thus they are reluctant to use the facility. Thus the customized presentations by teachers and students that could be used to teach other students in future is a solution to this challenge.
On going projects
There is a content server installed on the local area network (LAN) to which teachers are being encouraged to contribute subject notes. In three years time we would like to have all the content to be taught designed in form of lessons and documented on the content server. Past school paper tests, students’ presentations, peer teaching resources, teaching schemes and other educational materials will be included on the server and available on the LAN. This network is being connected to the library to provide the digitalized section. We hope to have about 50 laptops in this section in future.
The School website is in the final stages of its development.This will be used as a communication tool to all the stake holders about the activities within the school. It will also be used to locate our old students and friends within and outside Uganda to join hands with us in the development of the school.
All the above strategies agree with Killi, 2003 who believes that central to the argument of availability are the issues of whether or not the teachers have ample and convenient access to computers and their accessories let alone the software that is necessitated in the context of their day-to-day research, collaboration and teaching and student evaluation.
STEPS TOWARDS MOTIVATION OF TEACHERS TO USE ICT
Training of teachers and students
The teachers have been trained in the core ICT skills such as Microsoft word, Excel, PowerPoint, curriculum technology integration, multi media content creation, internet based research and use of the interactive smart board. Even where people are motivated to engage in an activity, they must have the competence necessitated to do so; hence, the need for personnel development (Baker, 2000). The students too are being trained in the core ICT skills and how to use the internet for class work and research given by their teachers. The skills gained by students out of the school environment challenge the teachers to move faster so as to be ahead of the students at all times. However this may also discourage teachers from helping the students to learn a lot since they may not want them to go a head of them.
Training workshops, Conferences and Opportunities
The school has developed its capacity to host ICT workshops for teachers and students organised by the various Non governmental organisations. This enables us to secure attendance for many of our teachers and students that may not be acceptable to the rest of the schools. These workshops act as advocacy points for us as a school since many of the donors and high profile guests attend .Thus many more staff development opportunities have been offered to us. Even the teachers and students who are not yet convinced about the importance of technology are at times challenged by the attendance at these workshops.
Last year a team of four teachers attended an e-learning conference in Kenya and this greatly impacted on the change in their activities in the school towards ICT use. This year in May six ICT enthusiastic teachers attended a similar conference in Ghana. Two teachers also attended the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum Awards in Ghana where one emerged winner of the community category. This has encouraged teachers to become more active in ICT use and motivated more teachers to use ICT in teaching and other activities. The school has a deliberate policy of sourcing for bursaries for teachers at such conferences. Moore & Benbasat (1991) found that image variables, e.g. prestige, high profile and status, are key elements motivating users’ utilization of ICT and these trips would help to achieve this.
Many more teachers have joined the online professional teacher communities like iearn (www.iearn.org ) and uderb (www.uderb.org ) which provide professional development and interaction between teachers locally and globally. This has greatly helped us to link our school to the outside world to be able to think locally while acting globally which is important as we prepare our students for the more global world. This free professional development has motivated teachers to make use of the ICT infrastructure in the school for both personal and school development. Teachers will get interested in using technology for as long as it benefits them and helps them to learn better methods of doing their jobs to enhance productivity ( Igbaria et al,1996).Thus when teachers share with colleagues else where and borrow teaching methods and notes then the motivation to use technology is enhanced. However, Mullins (2002) argues that the critical role of these technologies in enhancing performance not withstanding, it must not be forgotten that there may be other ways of achieving these objectives. Thus advocacy and training programmes for teachers must be sourced continually and availed.
School Time table
The main reason why teachers would fail to use ICT is inability to have access to the computer laboratory. We have secured free lessons on the time table for all the classes to be able to integrate technology in their study. Teachers who are free can then book to use these lessons whenever their class is scheduled for the computer laboratory. Other teachers use their free time either late in the evening or at night to deliver ICT driven subject lessons. These teachers are paid a small fee to sustain their interest.
In the past, the school deliberately sourced desktop computers for teachers at subsidized prices. The teachers were able to get personal computers at a cheap price. The school has also helped teachers acquire laptop computers by giving interest free loans. Today more than 30 teachers have laptops; many others have also shown interest of acquiring laptops. This has greatly helped to improve the teachers’ skills since they are able to work from anywhere at any time. Tests are handed in before the set dates, class work is being digitized and hand outs made. This has helped us to teach in a uniform way within departments and classes.
Skills of the Administrators
The administrators use ICT in executing their duties. A lot of communication is happening through emails to the staff members. A common email was set up (email@example.com) for purposes of quick communication before we set up a mailing list for the teachers. The teachers were encouraged to sign up for email addresses and join the staff list in this yahoo account. About 95% of the teachers have email accounts and this percentage was at 45% a year back. The deputy Head teacher’s office has a password free computer that is accessible to all the teachers with a printer. This helps to increase on the available work stations for teachers and also creates a closer link between the administration and the teachers.
Funding of ICT initiatives
Teachers are keen about programmes that are sustainable. Each student is required to pay 15,000 shillings per term towards ICT development. This budget line enables the school to plan for initiatives that can be accommodated within the budget which motivates the teachers to move forward. The ability of the school administration to commit these funds for the actual purpose for which they are collected has provided more confidence to teachers to engage in the ICT projects.
Accessibility to the ICT infrastructure
The computer laboratory can be accessed at any time during public holidays and when the school is not in session. The keys are kept in the staffroom and not at the Headmistress’ home as the case may be in other schools. The staffroom computers are always available and fully connected to the internet during the holidays. The wireless network allows teachers within the range of 200M to access internet. We hope to put up a more powerful wireless to cover a wider area within the school and up to the nearby staff houses. Otherwise in some schools once the school goes for recess, the internet is disconnected for fear of expenditure yet teachers do most research and preparations of lessons during this free time.
All the above strategies help teachers to build confidence, which is in turn also reliant on the facilities’ reliability or degree to which the teachers are sure that they will have access to them at all expected times and utilize them predictably to the betterment of their work. This is an issue on which consensus is enormous as is clear from ICT in education scholars like Ross et al (1999), and Cox et al (1999).
Teachers’ negative attitude
Teachers have been known to avoid changing their pattern of doing things. Teachers develop cultures within their classrooms as regards to the way they interact with students and they usually fear to change over to another option that may lead to conflicts within the class. Use of technology in teaching demands that the role of the teacher be taken over by the student in most instances and this rarely gets a big follower ship among practitioners. More advocacy about the advantages of use while quoting successful case studies are being employed to improve the attitude of the teachers. Also successful teachers who have benefited from using ICT i.e. by attending international conferences fully sponsored by organisations such as Microsoft have motivated others.
Big Lesson loads
Many teachers have big lesson loads and they have less time to prepare for the ICT driven lessons. We have requested the ministry of education for more teachers to be employed and at the same time we are re-aligning the current manpower for effective implementation of the ICT initiatives.
Power fluctuations and black outs have stalled the fast pace of implementation of the ICT initiatives. We have installed backup systems in critical areas such as the staffroom and offices as well as the teacher’s demonstration computer in the computer laboratory. This has helped to sustain some of the office work, teachers’ preparation and lessons. We hope we will have a big generator in the school in future.
For teachers to effectively use technology they must be supported by a technical expert. Currently the school uses the teachers of computer science to do the technical back stopping for any planned lessons. These teachers are not available at all times because they also have other lessons to attend to. There is need to employ a full time technical expert who will provide the much needed back cover for the teachers. This person should be able to work for long hours, 8:00 a.m up to 10:00p.m. The School is yet to locate funds to handsomely remunerate such a person.
The funds raised from school fees are not enough to sustain all the desired programmes. Other funding options are yet to be identified to better the implementation plan.
- Baker, A. 2000. How to be better at managing people. Great Britain, Kogan Page limited.
- Cox, M, Preston, C. and Cox, C. 1999. What factors support or prevent teachers from using ICT in the primary classroom. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference. University of Sussex at Brighton (September 2-5 1999).
- Igbaria, M, Parasuraman, S. and Baroudi, J. J. 1996. A Motivational Model of Microcomputer Usage. Journal of Management Information Systems. 13 (1): 127-143.
- Killi, K. 2003. Technology access; Resources wasted in computer laboratories; Information and communication technology and the teacher of the future. Kluwer Academic Publishers, London
- Moore, G. C. and Benbasat, I. 1991. Development of an instrument to measure the perceptions of adopting an information technology innovation. Information Systems Management. 2 (3): 192-222 Mpumalunga, South Africa, 30 May – 1 June, Coetzee G. and F. Boshoff
- Mullins L. J. 2002. Management and organizational behavior, sixth edition, Italy, Prentice Hall.
- Ross, J, Hogaboam-Gray, A. & Hannay, L. 1999. Predictors of teachers’ confidence to implement computer- based instruction. Journal of educational Computing Research