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   Conferences / The Twelfth General Conference:Islam and Mutations of the Epoch
 
Information And Communication Technology (ICT)

Information And Communication Technology (ICT) And New
Trends In Learning Methods And Curriculum Development;
With A View To Engineering Education
By
Lord M. Mounir Shahin Of "strantion"
Professor Of Mechanical Engineering
Abstract
The term Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is
defined and its added value, mainly in education is reviewed. The issue of
increasing accessibility to new technologies through local learning spaces,
such as schools, colleges, libraries and national grid is stressed.
Collaboration and partnership in the use of the latest sophisticated
technologies, such as the multi-media and internet in researching,
networking, teleconferencing and more specifically, in the development of
software and courseware materials, according to quality codes and
standards is emphasised. The excitement of the digital age of
communications, especially in broadcasting, with its universal reach is
explained. However, the risk of globalisation of culture, which threatens
national identities is recognised. The changes needed from institutions and
staff in (ICT) environment is highlighted. The future plans for the
development and use of (ICT) with the requirement for initial training is
illustrated. Innovations in teaching and learning methods, such as group
tutoring, autonomous, life-long, work-place, problem-based and distance
learning are discussed. Reflections on the new trends in curriculum
development, with integrated teaching and learning systems and the
inclusion of (ICT) throughout, is demonstrated with a view to engineering
curriculum. Finally, along list recommendations regarding the use of (ICT)
in academic development is concluded.
Key Words: Information, Communication, Technology (ICT)
Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum.
Introduction:
The term Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has be
come a common buzzword but rarely is it defined or even explained. It is a
term which embraces a wide and assorted range of tools and resources that
puts the role of technology and learning for the twenty- first century,
especially lifelong learning, high on the political agenda. Evocative phrases
such as "the divide between the information-rich and the information-
poor" have vital significance and the implications touch all levels;
individual, families, local communities, regions, national networks; and cut
across all sectors; public, private, voluntary and community groups. As, the
information superhighway will be the route to the wealth of information in
the future, adults and children alike will therefore need to understand this
technology (26), have access to it, as well as the skills to be able to use it and
the opportunity to keep up their skills as technologies change. Such
understanding, ability and access will increasingly he a necessary
prerequisite of active participation in a healthy society. The term multi-
media is now being used to encompass many of the new developments, such
as the convergence of television, computing and telecommunications. Added
to this is the arrival of the digital technology which enables the compression
of broadcast signals and allows for more powerful broadcasting direct to
homes as well as to learning centres and workplaces, provided people have
equipped themselves with digital sets or decoders.
While communications technology in all its forms is developing fast, it
has not yet reached most homes, learning centres or even colleges at
affordable prices. Issues of access cannot only be left to the private market.
The challenge is to ensure that, first in the shorter term, best use is made of
the existing technologies, particularly those such as the TV and video which
most people already have and, second, to plan for the medium and long
terms, when the new and more demanding technologies will be more widely
available. Several government departments have shown interest in
encouraging access to (ICT), but there is still little overall co-ordination and
co-operation.
Some issues regarding (ICT) should therefore be addressed, such as its
added value, delivery systems, access to technology, local learning spaces,
collaboration and partnership, development of software and courseware
materials, institution and staff roles in (ICT) environment, quality
considerations, development and future plans, (ICT) initial training,
innovation in teaching and learning methods, group tutoring, autonomous,
life-long, work-place, problem based and distance learning, and reflections
on curriculum development with a view to engineering education.
ICT Added Value:
Information and communication technology is not just going to
change the teaching and learning methods and support (5), but it is going to
change also the whole education system and how it is going to be offered
and administered. The use of (ICT) has until now been looked at in too
narrow way. Some wider ways in which technology can assist are:
1. It provides up- to-date information, advice and support.
2. It helps collaborative learning, between different sites and
institutions.
3. It facilitates electronic publishing and provides access to
resource materials.
4. It extends time-frame of learning, and provides non-threatening
reentry to learning.
5. It enables registering in one place and learning in another, thus
breaking the barriers.
6. It assists access for people who do not have time or lifestyle for
traditional learning.
7. It offers just-in-time learning as just-in-case training, a particular
advantage for industry.
8. It helps linking industry with colleges and other institutions of
higher education in general.
9. It helps achieving the concept of virtual learning over the world
webs or video conferencing.
10. It offers different tutoring options through the telephones, fax
machines and the Internet.
11. It enhances learning, brings dry subjects to life, motivates students
and increases retention.
12. It assists institutions in moving towards online teaching and
learning for a variety of reasons, such as increasing number of student, high
fixed costs and declining budgets.
Delivery Systems:
Technology is simply providing a delivery system. The question, which
must be asked each time, is: which technology is the best for a particular
educational purpose? The answer will depend on the size and nature of the
target group, the subject-matter, the educational task and the cost (22).
In general, the following are some forms of delivery systems:
1. The latest sophisticated technologies, such as the multi-media,
broad band, cable and Internet, in mass learning terms, are still in their
infancy. Of course, they will become increasingly available and important,
but over what time-scale and to what type of audience? It is important to
note until now, all significant open and distance learning initiatives still rely
on print and postal service for the delivery of their course materials to their
learners, despite the need for new strategies for knowledge media (10).
2. While the Internet is used, at this stage with limited access, through
people's workplace or educational institutions, those who have used it found
it very valuable for a variety of purposes, such as networking,
teleconferencing, collaborative production of materials, and researching.
Working at low-tech levels is less glamorous, but may reach more people at
lower cost. However, there is not much interactivity, such as broadcasting
for example. Telephone systems are universally available at home, cheap
and provide reasonable interactivity.
3. Satellite television and cable have so far not been seen as major
players in education and training. However, they could be particularly
valuable, for example, with local family and community education and in
reaching specific ethnic minority groups. However, it also poses a risk from
cultural globalisation, which could threaten national identities, and that
there will be no more of choice, but more of the same. There could also be a
risk of creating a two class society, with the information-rich and able to
pay for the expensive media and the information- poor who cannot.
Generally, the following points should be considered when satellite
and cable television is discussed.
a) The excitement of the digital age of communications with its
universal reach is recognised, as it reaches most people free at the point
of use and undoubtedly brings more channels and some interactivity.
Encouraging examples are the BBC's plans for a digital learning
channel (BBC Learning) and the plans for the establishment of a Digital
College in Wales.
b) The traditional analogue TV educational programmes must,
there fore, continue to be a central feature of public service
broadcasting as they can play a significant role in bridging the gap
between the two evocative phrases of the information-rich and the
information-poor, which have a vital significance in an inclusive society
and touches all levels such as individuals, families, communities, and
national networks.
c) Public service broadcasters who are committed to creating learning
opportunities will need to work with public and private sectors to create a
market for educational products and services and to be able to offer an
interactive learning environment with its added educational effectiveness.
Access to Technologies:
It is necessary to remember that in our enthusiasm for use of learning
technologies, we must ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place to
enable wide public access for learners and not just for institutions of higher
educational and we must not build new barriers through lack of public
accessibility to modern technical facilities.
While some people have the resources to provide such technologies for
themselves, many others will need to obtain access through user-friendly
public network. This is not a new idea, but the urgency of this issue now is
very clear. For the community at large, the library network is an obvious
source of information and a convenient entry-point for life-long learning.
Alongside these developments, government should plan, in a later stage, to
connect freely libraries and schools to a national grid for Learning. The
scale of the task is enormous and requires collective effort from everyone
involved in education, with the public and private spaces to be shared and
used as resources to as many learners as possible. Colleges, universities and
other centres will also have a role and duty to play.
Local Learning Spaces:
There are different models that could be regarded as good examples
for improving local accessibility to technology-enriched learning. This does
not mean the creation of a chain of educational fast-food like stores, but
giving support to local schools and centres which are responsive to local
needs. Such spaces could provide modest additional resources for parents
and other adults, to allow more accessibility through longer opening hours
including weekends. This could be also in libraries, information centres,
museums, galleries, clubs, cafes or anywhere that provides a local
community activities. However, accessibility is not simply a question of
availability of equipment and technical services, but it is also the provision
of wide range of support involving advice, guidance, encouragement and
(ICT) training.
Existing experience of funding some of these centres is not
encouraging. However, some have demonstrated considerable ingenuity and
creativity in longer-term partnership-financing, from public, voluntary and
private sector institutions. Local centres should be encouraged to consider
leasing arrangements for equipment and technical services along with
offering maintenance, training and support rather than treating computers
as only items of capital expenditure. Organisations offering financial
support to their local learning spaces should review their criteria for
funding to en sure good accessibility.
Collaboration and Partnership:
Extending learning opportunities will demand collaboration and
sharing between institutions, providers of services like libraries, and by
those engaged with the production and development of learning materials.
It would be unwise to believe that tensions between competitors can be
ignored or bypassed. What will be necessary is that competitiveness should
be managed with a shared perception of common purpose. There are signs
of awareness for this issue and supportive investment for the development
of (ICT) based learning materials has been made, especially, for schools.
Furthermore, the following points have been raised:
1. As there is little co-ordination and co-operation, at the moment,
between institutions of higher education. It would, therefore, be very helpful
if there is some sort of a national support from public and private sectors
for the development of technology-based learning materials, around
unitized curriculum core to maximize flexibility through recognised credit
transfer framework between universities and similar institutions of higher
education.
2. Collaborative effort for the production of electronic courseware
materials is not enough. Arrangements for collaborative guidance and
support for learners throughout their study should be also provided. Failing
to do this, people will seek information about opportunities and routes
through other expensive commercial providers.
3. Perhaps there are only two solutions to the problem. First, the
staffing pattern of institutions must change so dramatically that a number
of curriculum management staff (especially teachers) are taken away from
face to face teaching to develop (ICT) based learning materials. Secondly,
confident working relationships between public and private sector,
especially in the area of advanced materials production must be created.
Software and Courseware Materials:
The market for educational software is not well developed. There is a
number of reasons for that, for example, the limited training and familiarity
with learning software for teaching / learning purposes and its perceived
high cost. In addition to this, piracy of copyrighted software makes the
buyers do not recognize the true value of the products. It is, therefore,
suggested that the development of such material should be the responsibility
of the academic, commercial and governmental organizations with open
standards for the protocols which specify the format of the courseware
which are transferred and exchanged and the applications software which
manages the learning environment. This implies full collaboration between
the different parties to cover for the usual heavy up-front investment
required. A significant model to learn from for the public / private
collaboration and partnership in the academic development area, is the US
project for the Instructional Management Systems (IMS), for the under
pinnings of the Internet-based education.
Institution and Staff Roles in (ICT) Environment
Educational institutions know that they have fundamentally change
(25), to respond to and support individual learners. Institutions will also
need to ensure that access gives opportunities for flexible, modular based
learning, probably through enhanced use of learning centres based in
education institutions, community centres and work places. Furthermore,
colleges and universities should offer a wider range of courses to meet the
needs of clients whose objective is to up their workforce quickly and
effectively. Some considerations might help, as follows:
1. Flexible access will demand a range of approaches from initial
advice to continuous guidance and should be integrated into progression
routes for learners. Furthermore, access to equipment will be helped by
collaboration, often between similar educational institutions, external
suppliers, as well as local outreach centres to meet the particular needs of
learners.
2. Colleges will need to design and update good (ICT) strategies, as
more sophisticated technologies become available, to use and make
available materials in multimedia format and to facilitate the delivery of on-
site and on-line courses with increasingly support to learners via electronic
delivery systems.
3. Institutions will have to meet most learners demand for new
courses, especially, unutilized programmes with multiple pathways, and
time scales appropriate to different individuals with assessment facilities to
enable them to check on entry-levels of courses and approved accreditation
centres with appropriate trained staff to accredit prior experiential learning
and facilitate flexible credit transfer between similar institutions.
4. Higher education institutions will have to face up to major
challenges which will require visionary and cost effective approaches in
providing adequate funding for technologically based learning
opportunities. Institution leaders will need to adopt careful policies to
ensure appropriate levels of technical infrastructure and staffing (2), as well
as closer collaboration with employers and continuous updating of (ICT)
learning skills(9).
5. Also, government will need to recognize that schools, colleges and
universities will have to be adequately resourced in these equipment-
focused areas and give support to professional development for all staff.
Besides, promoting for collaboration among teachers, students, and parents
and trying to win the support of community.
For the staff, there have been pressure for the use of new technology-
based learning methods with have become major components of changes in
the teaching / learning encounter of staff and student and the academic
institutions in general (20). The new roles and expectations from the staff
during the development process will look some how similar to the follows:
1. The reductions in time available for traditional teaching and
learning methods, and the growth of resource-based learning contexts not
bound by a place, and increasingly based on (ICT). It is likely, therefore, to
see the return to the role of academic tutor, mentor or learning manager,
who organizes, plans, and obtains programmes of learning and skill
acquisition for individual learners. The role is a long-standing one, though
latterly neglected.
2. Staff known as teachers are likely to have enhanced roles as
specialist guidance advisor, technically specialist materials producers,
systems maintainers, work-place assessors, and highly skilled support
workers. Some with specialist skills in particular areas, such as advanced
courseware materials development will be difficult to hire and keep. They,
probably, need to be employed on a consultancy basis, or get established in
units in specialized institutions.
3. Managerial staff will need to address the gulf between younger and
older learners in the modes and styles they need. They have also to face the
challenges of measuring staff workload, target and achievement, as well as
moving the bureaucratic systems into more delegated and technology rich
contexts to suit the 21st century (12).
Quality Considerations:
The use of technology-based learning raises the issues of how an
individual organization or learner knows whether the education product
meets "quality standards" and individual needs, including not only for the
access to technology but also for the advice, guidance and support. These
issues become increasingly difficult as the learners may be in a college,
library, remote learning centre, at home or in a workplace. Therefore, the
following issues should be carefully addressed:
1. Quality issue for the supply side (colleges for example) and the
competence standards for instructors and support staff have yet to be
defined. On the other hand, it is necessary for the user-side to create a
framework, which reflects the different purposes for which the learner is
learning. For example, the quality standards would be different for two
individuals studying the same material but one for vocational purpose and
the other for recreation.
2. Also, commercial providers of multimedia materials products
usually adopt quality systems of existing protocols, such as 1S0 9000. This
provides a measure of quality within an organization, but it does not
sometimes meet the end-user needs, which enable him to know whether he
is buying a fit purpose quality product.
3. There is, therefore, a need to develop a database for the learning
products available in the marketplace, to provide both potential purchasers
and users with clear information as to how the product can be evaluated in
terms of objectives, level and price.
Development and Future Plans:
Everyone is trying to grapple with the so-called information
revolution and its superhighway metaphors. Denmark, for example, has
reviewed its (ICT) policy and set up a national action plan which
emphasises that access to information is one of the civil rights and that
(ICT) literacy exists on future generations and who influence them and on
those who have a big influence on today's affairs with top-level security
solutions to be developed for related issues, such as protecting young
generation, for example, from illegal or socially / morally undesirable
materials.
Solutions for this lie on educational development (15) with adequate
financial support, guaranteed access to public spaces with appropriate
equipment, minimum level of service and guidance and expanded role for
public libraries. Besides, providing (ICT) curriculum software applications
to encourage the use of innovative teaching skills and to provide a more cost
effective approach to teaching in small rural areas by the use of video
conferencing, for example.
The main objective is to encourage more people to learn in whatever
way is appropriate them by dialing, for example, on a free educational
number into the national grid to enable to on-line learning, courseware
materials and education support information available in libraries, which
will act as hubs that provide a massive amount of published electronic in
formation through the Internet.
Access to institutions through high quality networked educational
services with the replacement of obsolete equipment and the provision of up
to date networking facilities and peripherals, preferably with digital
technology. Besides, the provision of introductory technical (ICT) training
and support to ensure the best use of facilities and to enable more
innovation and development.
ICT Initial Training:
It is essential to provide initial staff training for (ICT) in subject
teaching, to achieve a certain standard of competence, as outlined in the UK
national curriculum and highlighted below:
1. Providing opportunities to evaluate a range of (ICT) systems, and
the content associated with them, such as radio, television, video,
computers, the internet, cameras...etc., and to be able to justify their
selection and use in planning, teaching, assessment and class management.
2. Giving opportunities for classroom practice and showing
understanding for the current (ICT) health and safety hazards, the role of
pass words and the general security of equipment and use of the (ICT) for
the benefit of the students with special needs.
3. Learning how to use the (ICT) effectively in subject-related matters,
such as preparing contents, achieving learning objectives, avoiding using
the (ICT) for simple tasks which would be better done by other means,
setting up and connection (ICT) equipment and peripherals with correct
drivers and searching planned reference resources; e.g. World Wide Web
sites.
4. Learning how to organize effectively (ICT) resources in classroom
with all students and ensuring that they all cover the key features of the
topic, positioning the resources to minimize distraction and ensuring that
work done using (ICT) is to support teaching not to dominate activities.
5. Demonstrating that they are competent in using (ICT), including on
line help facilities and user guides, avoiding viruses, undertaking routine
maintenance, employing common (ICT) tools for their own benefit, e.g.
word-processing, e-mail... etc., loading and running software from CD-
ROMs and carrying out file management functions.
6. Understanding the characteristics of information, e.g. it evaluated
in terms of accuracy, validity, reliability. ..etc., it can be dynamically linked
between applications, applications and information can be shared with
other people at remote locations and that information has to be stored and
to that there is implications for compressed data.
7. Knowing about the related legal and ethical issues, such as
confidentiality and issues related to copying software and copyright
legislation and monitoring the access to illegal or immoral information
sources through the Internet.
Demonstrating that they know how to reduce administrative burdens,
e.g. using (ICT) for record keeping, report writing, exchanging information,
using the (ICT) to join professional discussions and to locate and access
teaching plans, material and other sources of help and support in the
National Grid for Learning for their continuing professional development.
Innovations in Teaching and Learning Methods:
Some saw innovators as dangerous and threatening conventional
teaching. However, pressures for the replacement of lectures by seminars
and tutorials has been an old feature of the 1950s and 1960s. The following
points have, consequently, been raised:
I. Innovations in teachings and learning methods should not take place
in a context of radical changes within institutional structures (27).
2. Recent moves to raise the profile of innovation in educational
institution, including prizes, were widely discussed, but there was much
staff cynicism or wait and see attitudes.
3. Major obstacles to the changes in teaching and learning strategies
do arise (3), such as from staff, based on tradition, and from students
attitudes, which should be changed (28).
4. Integration of (ICT) with curriculum should aim to supporting
conventional teaching not to replacing it (14) i.e. in tasks that are authentic,
important and relevant to students experience.
5. Institution should provide resources and cut down bureaucratic
procedures in implementing new ideas and should have a policy, especially
for promotion, incorporating innovation.
6. National funding through sponsoring sabbaticals or introducing the
equivalent to readerships or chairs for innovative staff would help in
developing new teaching and learning methods, which should be
disseminated by people in authority to show interest in the outcome.
Group Tutoring:
Lectures are described as a one-way process, incapable of stimulating
academic discussion of any value (8). This does not, necessarily, mean that
the total needs replacement but supporting them by means (17). The role of
teachers has, therefore, been shifted from delivering the content in lectures
to group teaching (29) and group projects. The plan was adopted primarily
in science and engineering education.
Autonomous Learning:
Due to the rapid development in information technologies and
communications networks which allows education and training to be
delivered wherever it is needed and makes electronic course materials and
computer instructions available whenever they are needed. This enabled all
students to have different amount of accessibility to new technologies and
permitted for more autonomous learning (7), especially for postgraduates
and to a lesser degree for undergraduates.
Life-Long Learning:
The main point to remember is that the majority of adult learners do
not study full-time, but study part-time, in their own free time. They usually
combine their life-long studies while working or caring for their families
and are likely to be studying at or near their place of work or near where
they live. Open learning environment with the help of flexible (ICT) systems
(23) will, therefore, be a good mean to provide a frame work to enable
adults to achieve what they want throughout their lives, as where and when
they need and choose. Besides, additional initial advice and guidance for
learners are usually given through, for example, telephone help-lines and
the Internet.
Work-Place Learning:
Work-place learning will also be of increasing importance (30), as
employers do encourage it and support it financially. For large companies,
they have their own on-site fully equipped learning centres. For Small and
Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), with adequate bandwidth and a
powerful server, they download training materials and applications.
Employees can then work off-line. For smaller sites, the cost of a dedicated
high speed telecommunications link to the training provider cannot be
justified. The solution will be to send CD-ROMs by mail, and use the
available telephone links for e-mail tutoring, progress tracking, courseware
updating ....etc.
With this technology, training time and cost will be less, by avoiding
travel and hotels. There is, however, a prevailing concern amongst many
employers that completely open access to the Internet during the working
hours can lead to the abuse of staff time and to the general loss of
productivity. It is therefore, suggested to have some control on technology
access by employees.
Problem Based Learning:
Other subject areas, such as in the medical and health education they
have pioneered other attempts through Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
(1,6, 1,6) to turn away from what they see as ineffective lecture system,
which is described as out-dated and incapable of stimulating academic
excellence.
Distance Learning:
There has been for quite sometime political pressure on universities to
provide open and flexible courses to non-traditional learners. Distance
Learning (DL) seems to fit into that and is accelerating, most strongly at
postgraduate level and to lesser degree at undergraduate level (13). New
universities called "Universities for Industry" (UFIs) similar to The Open
University are getting established, mainly for that reason of providing
distance learning. It can deliver a learning package on CD-ROM to the
learners home or send it to him by email, or broadcast it through an
interactive TV programme, or provide it as a course over the radio or on
the internet. Learners will not need then to be tied to one particular location
as long as they have access to Information and Communication Technology
equipment, which are becoming now an important factor in any educational
establishment (21).
Reflections on Curriculum Development:
Certainly computers have a strong and growing presence, but they
have largely been harnessed to serve the needs of the on-going curriculum
rather than transforming it into any different way and it should be noted
that when using (1CT), the lesson should not be wasted in teaching the
students how to scan an image or recover a lost file, for example, and that
the outcome should be judged for its content rather than its technical
competence.
Strong signs are giving a clear indication that Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) is becoming too important in new
curriculum to the degree that British Secretary of Education proposed to
align the programme of study in educational institutions with the key units
of the IT and that the (ICT) should replace the (IT) as standard terminology
throughout the national curriculum. Also, some (ICT) departments have
been established inside some colleges, for their important role. Further
more, a faculty of (ICT), at Griffith University in Australia, has been
established, which comprises three different schools and three allied centres
and units and offers 12 undergraduate degrees, 4 master degrees and
different topics of research for doctors of philosophy.
In general, beside the use of computer-based management tools, such
as the email, unified student database, the intranet. . etc, other applications
in new curriculum development can be classified into three main categories:
1. Using general tools, such as word processing, database, spreadsheet,
Internet browsers.. etc. are becoming very important in curriculum and are
mainly relying on peer tutoring scheme (24).
2. Applying Integrated Curriculum Teaching (ICT again), which
delivers broad and integrated curriculum at undergraduate level but deep
and specialized one at postgraduate level.
3. Implementing Integrated Learning Systems (ILS) across computer
net works that provide a comprehensive multi- year collection of computer-
assisted instructions and which record and report student progress and
achievement (4).
Engineering Curriculum as an Example:
The new trend in the engineering curriculum nowadays is the Total
life Cost Design based curriculum from concept to disposal which does not
imply that all graduates are going to become designers. However, the
following points are the main features of the new curriculum, which provide
stronger general education with more emphasis on management and
economics. This would have never been possible without the new and rapid
development in (ICT).
1. Using the general tools of (ICT) in the whole curriculum (19)
through the basic skills in the science subjects e.g. Maths, physics and
chemistry and shifting the philosophy from teaching principals to under
standing concepts (teaching new computational skills as an example).
2. Integrating all facets of essential engineering concepts (18), such as
concurrent engineering, optimisation, mechanics, electronics, control,
computers, materials, manufacturing, statistics, reliability, team working,
decision-making, legal obligations, cost analysis.... etc. (teaching new
computer integrated manufacturing as an example).
3. Understanding the inter-relation of all previous facets, the business
context of all engineering concepts and introducing the students to the
reality and world of industry (11) (teaching computer integrated renewable
energies as an example).
Distance Learning Engineering Courses are gradually increasing in
number. This has widely been accepted to be of help to students who may
not have the time to attend full-time lectures or even those who are unable
to travel. However, most of these courses still rely on traditional methods
and updating them by providing online video lectures and seminar-based
video conferences could vastly benefit students, as they have already done
so in the business world. For example, Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
softwares could be made available through the Internet, whereby students
would follow a provided set of online tutorials. Linking this to a
manufacturing-based Computer Numerical Control machine (CNC) in the
campus, the student may be able to send a command whereby the product
that he / she has designed could be manufactured directly whilst video
footage is sent through the internet. This also has the indirect advantage of
saving the educational establishment the cost of providing for specialized
computing power, by housing fewer computers and utilising the sharing of
hi-tech machinery with industry and other similar education institutions.
Not only this, but direct contact could be established with interested
industrial partners, which will not only provide a more experiential
learning degree for the student by allowing them to gain practical
knowledge as well as the academic theoretical background that is already
being provided, but this could also serve to provide for industrial workforce
by keeping them up-to-date with the latest research projects and new skills.
This could also help in closing the gap that currently exists between
industry and academia. Modular I unitised higher degrees such as a Master
degree could be much more easily accessible for the industrial partner and
this would enrich them by utilising a work-place-based learning
environment and would also help in academic development by providing
direct access to a problem-based learning environment through state-of-the
art engineering case-studies.
Most recently, many UK universities offering Engineering degrees
have established their own intranet (a private network that uses Internet
software and standards) and this provides a new work culture for only
those involved with the course to be able to have access to relevant
information posted by lecturers and administration. It allows for a more
autonomous method of learning whereby students may pick-up, amongst
other things, lecture-notes, assignments and examination timetables, as well
as being able to choose the modules they wish to study for the following
semesters.
Conclusions and Recommendations:
From the work described earlier, a number of policies that can be
adopted to enhance accessibility, improve (ICT) skills and encourage
changes for academic development could be concluded in the following
points:
1. Setting up a forum from all groups engaged in technology for
learning, such as government, agencies, broadcasters, regulators, hardware
and software companies, telecom operators, educators, trainers.. etc to
coordinate planning and give urgency to challenges facing them.
2. Defining and implementing quality standards issues within a frame
work to satisfy all above mentioned parties, especially suppliers and
different and users.
3. Promoting public / private collaboration for the development of
technology based materials and the accompanying software, in accordance
with international standards and protocols.
4. Setting up a not-for-profit consortium for the development of a
copyright free pool, after reviewing existing copyright arrangements and
creating a bank of freely available collective software and audio visual
materials into a national grid for learning.
5. Supporting institutions to observe the availability of a minimum
standard of learning technology equipment e.g. a networked PC in every
staff room, a specified number of lap-top computers for staff members to
borrow for work at home and to allocate an email address to every staff-
member.
6. Changing educational institutions to respond and support
individual learners as they wish to re-enter learning and update their skills
by providing them with flexible, modular based learning and accreditation,
through learning centres in institutions, communities and workplaces.
7. Providing (ICT) training to teachers, librarians and other who may
be involved with learning process to bring them to a standard of
competence to be able to meet their new staff role and justify the selection
and use of the different systems in relation to their planning, teaching,
assessment and management.
8. Returning to the role of academic tutor, mentor or learning
manager, who organizes, plans, and obtains programmes of learning and
skill acquisition for the individual learner.
9. Extending learning opportunities to individual learners through
collaboration and sharing facilities between institutions and encouraging
employers to invest in people and to make sure that employees have
training on key skills and opportunities for professional development and
certification in (ICT).
10. Building a national network to provide more access to new
technologies and wider opportunities for flexible learning. Besides, making
more use of the existing resources and charging publicly funded institutions
to increase accessibility to learners by longer day opening and during the
weekends.
11. Promoting more autonomous learning, especially with the fast
development in (ICT), which would allow for the return of the role of
academic tutoring.
12. Encouraging Life-long learning with the help of (ICT) delivery
systems to provide a good framework for adults to take part in education
throughout their lives, as where and when they need and choose.
13. Promoting more work-place based learning, especially for in work-
related training and encouraging employers to change attitudes towards the
use of (ICT) by their employees in the workplace, with some sort of a
control, to prevent the abuse of working hours and loss of productivity.
14. Considering offering tax breaks to companies that invest in
learning technologies for their staff and offering them support to kit up a
study-room and make it available outside the working hours.
15. Providing Distance Learning (DL) to offer open and flexible
courses to non-traditional learners, especially at postgraduate level. New
universities called Universities for Industry (UFls), similar to The Open
University, have been establish mainly to offer the kind of service.
16. Promoting Problem-Based Learning (PBL) as pioneered in some -
subject areas, such as in the medical and health education, to turn away
from what they see as ineffective lecture system.
17. Advising educational institutions to include in their strategies
plans the promotion for the use of (ICT) across the curriculum, as what is
happening in the Total Life Cost Design Based Curriculum for Engineering,
and the use of (ICT) for administration and staff development.
18. Returning to the Integrated Curriculum Teaching (ICT again),
which delivers a broad and integrated curriculum at undergraduate level
but a deep and specialised one at postgraduate level.
19. Making use of the digital broadcasting, by supporting the
development of a free-to-air learning channel available on all broadcast
delivery platforms as part of a public digital service. Plus encouraging
broadcasters to stimulate taking-up life-long learning and promote for
better use of local resources.
20. Preparing for the risk of globalisation of culture with the risk of
threatening national identity and dividing the society to information rich
and able to pay for (ICT) and information poor who cannot.


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