Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in an Elementary School: Students' Engagement in Higher Order Thinking

Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in an Elementary School: Students' Engagement in Higher Order Thinking

Article excerpt

Based on a case study of an elementary school in Singapore, this article describes and analyzes how different types of ICT tools (informative, situating, constructive, and communicative tools) are used to engage students in higher-order thinking. The discussion emphasizes that the objective of the lesson and the orienting activities, rather than the ICT tools, play an important role in engaging students in higher-order thinking. Different types of ICT tools are often used to complement one another to achieve the lesson objectives. However, the classification of an ICT tool is based more on how it is used than its characteristics. Just-in-time ICT skills training facilitates the students in their learning process. Moreover, effective management of digital instructional resources that ensure seamless and easy retrieval supports the integration of ICT into the curriculum.

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In the last two decades, research studies of information and communication technologies (ICT) in education have shifted away from the analytic study of single learning and instructional variables towards the whole configuration of events, activities, contents, and interpersonal processes taking place in the context that ICT is used (Fontana, Dede, White, & Cates, 1993; Herrington & Oliver, 1998; Jonassen, Peck, & Wilson, 1999; Sarapuu & Adojaan, 1999; Oliver & Hannafin, 2000; Jonassen, 2000; Jonassen & Carr, 2000; Hollingworth & McLoughlin, 2001; Kearney & Treagust, 2001; Neo & Neo, 2001). These studies have shown that ICT, like any tools in the learning environment, may be used well or poorly, and care and experience are needed when using it.

Based on a case study of an elementary school in Singapore, this article describes and analyzes how different types of ICT tools are used to engage students in higher-order thinking. The four types of ICT tools discussed are informative, situating, constructive, and communicative tools. The case study rejects the view that ICT can be studied in isolation. Instead, it emphasizes on how ICT tools are studied within the context that they are situated. Altogether 15 observations of ICT-based lessons, 3 teacher interviews, and 3 focus group discussions with students were conducted in the collective case study.

The case study is one of the ten selected schools in a larger study that explores where and how ICT is situated in Singapore schools to engage students in higher-order thinking. The larger study consists of two phases: Phase One is a questionnaire survey aimed at exploring the critical aspects of ICT integration among Singapore schools; and Phase Two is a collective case study of 10 schools (5 elementary schools, 3 high schools, and 2 senior high schools). They are chosen based on their high degree of ICT integration reported in Phase One. As of December 2002, all 368 schools in Singapore are equipped with the necessary hardware, software, and infrastructure that support an ICT integrated learning environment. Therefore, it is most appropriate to study where and how ICT is situated to engage students in higher-order thinking as the process of ICT integration in Singapore schools had reached a considerable level of maturity and stability.

TYPES OF ICT TOOLS AND HIGHER-ORDER THINKING

This section first defines higher-order thinking in order to facilitate the discussions of the different types of ICT tools. The literature reviewed focuses on how the different ICT tools are used to engage students in higherorder thinking.

Higher-Order Thinking

Gagne, Briggs, and Wager (1992) identified five categories of learning outcomes: (a) verbal information; (b) intellectual skills; (c) cognitive strategies; (d) attitudes; and (e) motor skills. Intellectual skills are further subdivided into five hierarchically ordered subcategories and they are: (a) discriminations; (b) concrete concepts; (c) defined concepts; (d) rules, and (e) higher-order rules--problem solving. …

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