Thursday, June 26, 2008

What do students need to learn


A fundamental question for everyone involved in education — administrators, teachers, parents, and students — in this time of rapid change is, "What do students really need to be learning today in order to be ready for an unpredictable future?" Some believe that the best thing we can teach them is how to teach themselves. This requires that students become not only literate, but also able to use that literacy within their personal information environment in order to succeed now and in the future.

The challenge to us as educators lies in keeping up with an information environment that has changed dramatically in the past 10 years, a decade during which the very nature of information has changed in appearance, location, accessibility, application, and communication. Thus, it is crucial that when teaching literacy to our students, we emphasize skills that reflect the information environment of the present, not the past.

Whether we like it or not, with the information age comes a whole new set of basic skills. Following, we will take a look at how the traditional 3 Rs, naturally and out of necessity, evolve into 4 Es to define literacy in an increasingly, and soon to be exclusively, digital and networked world.

Reading → Exposing Knowledge

Most of the readers of this article were taught to read what was handed to them. Textbooks were given to us by our teachers, reference books by librarians, and magazines and newspapers by publishers. If we could read and understand the text handed to us by such recognized authorities, it meant we were literate.

Today, our students typically begin their information experiences in front of a global electronic library of billions of pages of information (the Internet), where materials can be published by just about anyone, on just about anything, and for just about any reason. If our students have been taught only to read and understand this information, they could be in serious trouble, possibly even in danger. Accessing information in an increasingly digital and networked world requires a range of skills of which decoding text is only a small part. Basic skills for today's students include the following:

1. Finding information: Locating relevant information not only from a local library or newsstand, but also from the Internet. Literacy includes the ability to identify needed information, use Web searching tools to find it, and employ research strategies that expose the best information.
2. Decoding information: Beyond decoding text, literacy requires reading deeply for meaning in multimedia content.
3. Evaluating information: It is critical that students learn to evaluate the information they encounter, and also identify its value in terms of their goals.
4. Organizing information into personal digital libraries: A key strategy for handling the overwhelming amount of information available to us is the construction and cultivation of personal digital libraries. When we create and organize information that is relevant to our ongoing interests and goals, then we can handily find answers to our questions.

Arithmetic → Employing Information

Before the proliferation of personal computers, most information was merely consumed. We purchased and then read text, listened to audio, viewed images, and watched video. Numbers, on the other hand, were used as a way of precisely measuring our environment and the laws that governed it, and to manipulate that environment and its laws in order to add value to our lives.

Today, just about all information is expressed in the universal language of numbers. Multimedia content is stored and communicated as ones and zeros, otherwise known as binary code. Since information is expressed in numbers today, and personal computers are available for interpreting and modifying those numbers, it becomes raw material that can be analyzed, altered, and improved in pursuit of a goal. It becomes just as important to be able to use a computer to process the invisible numbers behind images, audio, and video content as it is to be able to add, subtract, measure, count, and calculate the visible numbers.

Learning to process any and all information requires:

1. Basic mathematical skills: As always, students must know how to add, subtract, count, measure, and calculate numbers. They must also understand the fundamental laws of numbers and how to use these concepts to answer questions, solve problems, and accomplish goals.
2. Computer-aided processing of numbers: Of the numerous exabytes of information that will be generated this year, only a small percent of it will be printed. The rest will require a machine to read it. Students, while they learn the basic skills of processing printed numbers, must also learn to process large quantities of digital numbers using computer spreadsheets and other data processing tools.
3. Processing media: Because of affordable digital cameras, scanners, MIDI music devices, and the vast array of multimedia content available on the Web, obtaining or creating the picture (or sound) is no longer the final outcome. It is merely a part of the process. All formats of information can be moved into powerful graphic, sound, and video processing software and altered to communicate in a more precise and compelling way. Students must learn to use these software tools in order to add value to information. It's all about numbers, but also about using computers to process those numbers in order to improve the delivery of information and accomplish goals.

Writing → Expressing Ideas Compellingly

In a world bursting with information, we can use only the information that successfully competes for our attention. In the information age, content competes for our attention in much the same way as products on a store shelf were designed to in the industrial age. The information we select will be what looks the most appealing, seems to communicate itself most effectively and efficiently, and appears reliable and authoritative.

Writing will continue to be a core skill for all students, because some information is simply communicated most effectively in text. However, other information might best be expressed using pictures, sound, animation, or video. Students must master a range of practical and technical skills involved in expressing ideas effectively and compellingly.

1. Writing effectively: Students must learn not only the mechanics of writing, but how to use text to communicate knowledge and ideas more efficiently than ever.
2. Communicating with multimedia: Students must also learn to match their message with the medium that best communicates it, and then use the appropriate tools to create and or modify it in order to attract the attention of an audience.

Ethics: Right and Wrong Online

As information becomes increasingly important to our economy and culture, it also becomes more powerful — able to accomplish enormous good and great harm. This is why it is essential that at the same time we teach our students these prevailing information skills, we also teach them the ethical use of that information.

1. Information reliability: Students must learn to assess the accuracy of the information that they access and use, and it is equally important for them (and for all of us) to provide evidence of the accuracy and reliability of the information products they assemble.
2. Information property: In the information age, we are all information property owners. Most of us will make our living by producing information products. It is important that students gain an appreciation of information as property that needs to be respected in the same way that we respect each other's material property.
3. Information infrastructure: Today, we depend on the computers and networks through which our information flows to no less degree than we depend on our roads, rails, waterways, and airports. Planting a virus on a network is just as destructive as planting a bomb under a bridge. Students must realize the importance of our information infrastructure and how critical it is to our success in the future.

By Sara Armstrong and David Warlick

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Support for Open Source Software

Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III, Chairman of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), told today that Open Source Software (OSS) should be supported and promoted as an alternative to proprietary software. Filipinos need to be aware about OSS and its benefits, as they are cost-effective, secure and relatively easy to use. I believe this is a better option than using pirated proprietary software. No to piracy!

CICT leads in the promotion of OSS by advocating and promoting OSS in its projects such as the eLGU, iSchools and eSkwela.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

iLearn Portal

The iLearn portal features interactive educational resources and tutorials with a Filipino flavor. It's good to know that there is an online education resources localized for the Philippine setting because most educational technology resources that I find are from the United States. There are even resources written in the local dialects!

The portal was developed by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology and several state universities and colleges.

To know more about iLearn, visit their website at

This blog has now been approved by PayPerPost!

I heard about PayPerPost through a friend who also earn from blogs. I thought this seems to be like a good opportunity. I've always looked at blogging as something I want to do to practice my writing skills and write about my advocacies. But now, through PayPerPost, I'll have an opportunity to get paid for blogging! Really, really cool! :)

I intend to save the money I earn from blogging.

blog advertising

Sunday, June 15, 2008

House OKs bill splitting DoTC, creating new IT dept


House OKs bill splitting DoTC, creating new IT dept
First Posted 12:44:00 06/15/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill proposing to install a totally new department that would look after and advance the country's information and communications technology (ICT) sector.

Under the bill, the new Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) would be spun off from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC).

All existing DoTC offices dealing with communications would either be built into or attached to the DICT. These include the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the Philippine Postal Corp. The National Computer Center, now assigned to the Department of Science and Technology, would also be ceded to the DICT.

"The DoTC's administrative and jurisdictional foundations can no longer cope with the rapid advances in ICT. Thus, the need to establish a wholly new, full-grown department to deal with ICT matters exclusively," said Catanduanes Representative Joseph Santiago, chairman of the House committee on ICT, in a statement.

Santiago's panel, together with the committee on appropriations chaired by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and the committee on government reorganization chaired by Zamboanga City Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian, previously endorsed the bill.

Under House Bill 4300, Santiago said the new DICT would "ensure the provision of strategic, dependable, and cost-efficient ICT infrastructures, systems, and resources as instruments for nation-building and global competitiveness."

Santiago, former chief of the NTC, said the new department would "promote a policy environment of fairness, broad private sector participation in ICT development, and balanced investment between high-growth and economically-depressed districts."

He said the DICT would likewise be mandated to ensure:

* The accelerated development of convergent networks of ICT facilities;

* Universal access and high-speed connectivity at fair and reasonable cost;

* Ample ICT services in areas not sufficiently served by the private sector;

* Widespread use and application of emerging ICT;

* A strong and effective regulatory system;

* Adequate consumer protection as well as free and fair competition;

* Abundant human resources for ICT development;

* Incentives to grow ICT industries;

* Protection of the right to privacy; and

* ICT support for culture, education, as well as public health and safety.

The bill defines ICT as "the aggregate of all electronic means to collect, store, process, and present information to end-users in support of their activities."

ICT consists of computer systems, office channels, and consumer electronics, as well as networked information infrastructures, the components of which include the telephone system, the Internet and satellite/cable television.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June is National ICT month

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed proclamation number 1521 last May 28, 2008 declaring June as national ICT month. My organization, CICT will be the lead in this celebration.

For more info, click on this article.

The State of Philippine Education

From GMANews.TV

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Nine Excellent Reasons for Technology in Education

Taken from an article of the same title by John Page

Nine fundamental reasons why I think technology is important in education. Hopefully, they can act as the rationale for technology plans in schools.

Reason 1. Expansion of time and place
In a typical high school a student has access to a teacher for one hour each day. That means she has access to the teacher approximately for 6% of a 16-hour waking day, and even that time is shared with 25 classmates. But she has access to the Internet 100% of the time. That's a lot better — some twenty times better. Yes, technology is no substitute for an inspiring teacher. However, on-line materials are FAR more available. As shown above, some twenty times more available.

Using the traditional textbook + classroom approach, the places where learning can occur are limited. A portable wireless computer has access to the teacher's course material and the entire Internet almost anywhere. And this is a vastly larger resource than can be practically carried on paper in a backpack.

Bottom line: information technology allows learning anywhere, anytime; not just in one particular classroom for one hour a day.

Reason 2. Depth of Understanding
Interactive simulations and illustrations can produce a much greater depth of understanding of a particular concept. When virtual manipulatives are used in a classroom setting they can go far beyond chalk and talk. Using a projector, the teacher can conduct onscreen investigations and demonstrate concepts far more easily than with just words and arm-waving. For example see Subtended Angle. Combine this class demonstration with access to the same tools over the web, and the student can reinforce the ideas by playing with the simulations themselves, any time, any where.

Reason 3. Learning vs. Teaching
Technology allows the tables to be turned. Instead of teaching (push), students can be given projects that require them to learn (pull) the necessary material themselves. Key to this is the ability to get the information they need any time anywhere, without being in the physical presence of a teacher. This project-based pull approach makes learning far more interesting for the student. I have seen firsthand how students cannot wait to get out of regular classes to go to the after-school robotics project.

Reason 4. New media for self-expression
In the old days, students could write in a notebook, and what they wrote was seen only by the teacher. Using modern technology, they can: make a PowerPoint presentation, record/edit spoken word, do digital photography, make a video, run a class newspaper, run a web based school radio or TV station, do claymation, compose digital music on a synthesizer, make a website, and/or create a blog.

Reason 5. Collaboration
A vital skill in the new digital world is the ability to work collaboratively on projects with others who may not be physically close. This can best be done using modern computer tools such as the Web, Email, instant messaging and cell phone. Rather than laboring alone on homework, students can work in small groups wherever they happen to be and at any time. They are doing this already – it can now be formalized and taught as a vital skill. Many university projects are undertaken by teams spread around the world. Your students need to be prepared for this.

Reason 6. Going Global
The worldview of the student can be expanded because of the zero cost of communicating with other people around the globe. The internet permits free video conferencing which permits interaction in real time with sister schools in other countries. From an educational viewpoint, what could be more important than understanding other cultures through direct dialog and collaboration?

Reason 7. Individual pacing and sequence
Students are, of course, all different. Information technologies can permit them to break step with the class and go at a pace and order that suits each student better. Without disrupting the class, they can repeat difficult lessons and explore what they find interesting. With time, it will become more like having a private tutor rather than being lost in a large class.

Reason 8. Weight
Three textbooks and three binders easily weigh over 25 pounds. A laptop computer weighs about 5 pounds and provides access to infinitely more material via its own storage and the Internet. A 40Gb hard drive can hold 2 million pages with illustrations; the Web is unfathomably large. Right now, students are getting back injuries lugging around a tiny subset of what they need in the form of black marks printed on slices of a substance not all that different from the papyrus used by the ancient Egyptians. And it's just static boring text.

Reason 9. Personal Productivity
Students need productivity tools for the same reasons you do. They need to write, read, communicate, organize and schedule. A student's life is not much different from that of any knowledge worker, and they need similar tools. Even if they are never used in the classroom, portable personal computers will make a student's (and teacher's) life more effective. To cash in this benefit, schools need to go paperless.

In summary, if education is about knowledge and intellectual skills, then information technology lies at the heart of it all. We have only just begun this transition. School will eventually look very different. Get ready.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Students as Lesson Evaluators?

In order to be effective in delivering lessons through the use of ICT, student opinions are worth considering.

Carrie A. Calloway presents in her article the guide questions for a survey that can be used and administered to students in order to gather information about how ICT can be effectively used in teaching. Here are the questions:

  1. Do you think the lesson made effective use of technology? Explain.
  2. What portions of the lesson did you feel worked well and were easy to comprehend?
  3. What portions of the lesson did you feel were not beneficial in understanding the content presented?
  4. What would you change about this lesson?
  5. How would you rate the overall delivery and design of this lesson?
  6. Were the instructions clearly outlined and easy to follow?
  7. Did the lesson offer opportunities for interaction with the teacher and other students?
  8. Did the lesson build upon your prior knowledge (i.e. were real-world examples utilized)?
  9. Were you involved in hands-on learning opportunities during the lesson?
  10. Did you find the lesson motivating in such a way that you would like to further explore the topic presented?
  11. Would you recommend the teacher use this lesson again in the future?
  12. Additional comments...