“The potential is huge … Children connect very easily with ICT. So, in terms of teaching and learning in the classroom, we need to use ICT in order to engage the next generation” (Smartphones And Online Games New Keys To Better Chinese, Miss Gwendolyn Ng).
The report “Smartphones And Online Games New Keys To Better Chinese” (June 4, 2010) reflects how information and communication technologies (ICT) has evolved to play an extremely major role in Singapore’s education system. With the advent of globalisation and proliferation of the Internet, many institutions and educators have shown tremendous faith in ICT methodologies to mainly get students interested in the teaching-learning process. Furthermore, as reflected in Miss Ng’s report, the Ministry Of Education (MOE) subscribes to the belief that active usage of ICT can significantly reduce the apprehension many students might have towards the languages.
It is true that education methodologies and pedagogies complemented by ICT can make teaching-learning more efficient, since students find it more engaging and interactive. With more dedicated resources and specialised training, accessibility has ceased to be a challenge; while heightened exposure has led to a gentler learning curve for stakeholders. However, it is imperative for equilibrium to be struck whilst incorporating elements of ICT in an assortment of education processes.
The allure of ICT might naturally lead to over-reliance and over-dependency. While interactive presentations or computer features might be beneficial in the initial phase of orientation and establishing interest, the constant emphasis on the “glitzy” features might distract students from the lesson proper. Guised under the notion of “creativity”, would students not be confused by the plethora of sights and sounds; and ultimately lose sight of the actual learning objectives? Moreover, it has not been properly established whether there is indeed a positive correlation between the use of ICT and overall academic or curricular performance. Most of the justifications by MOE for its increased usage have been highly anecdotal in nature.
For students who are less tech-savvy, moments of learning how to get around the new software and gadgets would simultaneously mean time sacrificed for actual content and knowledge absorption. Technically, the widespread employment of ICT corresponds to a considerable large financial sum dedicated to investment and development: to keep pace with the “technology treadmill”. The purchase of smartphones and high-end computers – amounting to hundreds of thousands – would similarly require constant maintenance and servicing over the years.
The positive takeaways from ICT would eventually be enjoyed after the appropriate costs and benefits have been weighed. For instance, computers and smartphones can never replace the actual need for students to hone their linguistic oratorical skills through real-life conversations and simulated presentations. Balance needs to be struck before we proceed carefully ahead.