A Survey on ICT Usage and the Perceptions of Social Studies Teachers in Turkey

Article excerpt

Introduction

Throughout the world, many countries have introduced Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into schools via different courses of action. Their use is also underlined by OECD (2001) as a necessity for improving quality in teaching and learning. The Ministry of National Education (MNE) in Turkey has also made huge investments in the hope of attaining the goal of improving the quality of education through enriching the learning environment with the help of educational software and technologies. Integrating ICT training into all levels of primary education and providing each student with access to ICT equipment and information sources were also among the objectives of the MNE. In 2001, 2837 ICT classrooms were established. The distribution of educational software purchased for these schools was also completed in the same year. ICT classrooms are equipped with computers, printers, instructional software, electronic references, video players, overhead projectors and TV. The policy makers in Turkey expected that the introduction of ICT into formal education settings would improve the academic performance of teachers by encouraging them to improve their ability to use and apply technology and software in their jobs. Programs have been organized for teachers to access to ICT in every circumstance (MNE, 2003). Furthermore, in-service training opportunities for many teachers in different subject areas have been provided. It was hoped that teachers' use of technology in education would improve educational outcomes, increase technological skills and reduce anxiety when preparing lessons. Technology usage is an important indicator of their preparedness to carry out the obligations of daily lessons. In fact, Woodrow (1992) asserts that any successful transformation in educational practice requires the development of positive user attitude toward new technology. The development of teachers' positive attitudes toward ICT is very significant factor not only for increasing computer integration but also for avoiding teachers' resistance to ICT use (Watson, 1998).

The Need for ICT Integration in Schools

ICT integration in schools is needed in order to accomplish many objectives and improve the quality of lessons in all subject areas as well as social studies. ICT increasingly pervades various aspects of our daily lives like work, business, teaching, learning, leisure and health. Since ICT leads all processes based on information, every individual in a society should become technology competent. Thus, all schools have to be equipped with the necessary ICT in order to provide the next generations with the needed tools and resources for access and use and to attain the expected skills. Norris, Sullivan and Poirot (2003) point out the importance of accessibility as: "... teachers' use of technology for curricular purposes is almost exclusively a function of their access to that technology" (p. 25). Merely providing schools with hardware, software and in-service training is not enough. Any in-service training needs follow-up support, peer coaching and peer dialogue to ensure successful utilization of new technologies. There must be active involvement of the teachers concerned in the whole change process so that there is the element of "ownership" of the innovation.

Just filling schools with the necessary ICT neither improves the quality of instruction nor creates more effective learning environments. However, embracing a broader vision and philosophy, schools should revise present teaching programs, practices and resources, and ICT should be integrated into all levels of an educational system from classrooms to ministries for use in management, teaching and learning activities. Thus, "Teachers must receive adequate ongoing training, technology use must be matched to curriculum's philosophy and theory of learning, and adequate numbers of computers must be conveniently located within the classroom" (Al-Bataineh & Brooks (2003), p. …