Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Maturity Model for Assessing the Use of ICT in School Education

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Maturity Model for Assessing the Use of ICT in School Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

Different studies indicate that several parameters considerably affect the implementation of new technology in the school environment (Condie & Munro, 2007; Kozma, 2008; Zamani, 2010; Underwood et al, 2010). For example, the opinions and attitudes of principals with regard to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) adoption influence the extent and quality of technological applications' usage (Pelgrum, 2001). In fact, two schools with the same infrastructure, same human resources and same students can have very different results. There are concrete cases in which a mere change of the school's principals has generated, with the same teachers, striking results in a short time (Waissbluth, 2010). Given this, principals and administrators need a vision to help them towards their goals. It is especially important at the school level for the principal to have a vision of what is possible through the use of ICT, and to be able to work with others to achieve that vision (Sun, Heath, Byrom, Phlegar, & Dimock, 2010). As an example, consider the following very well-established technology vision of a school (Nido, 2011):

"The purpose of technology use at school is to support teaching and learning. Technology is a powerful learning tool that, when properly integrated into a challenging curriculum, improves learning and helps us achieve our educational goals.

Students are active learners who use technology responsibly to solve problems, develop critical thinking skills and communicate ideas. Teachers integrate technology across the curriculum where appropriate to enhance instruction and assessment of student learning. They take advantage of staff development designed to improve teaching and learning with technology. Technology provides parents with user-friendly access to up-to-date and meaningful information about the school and their children's academic status. The school administration is committed to improving the efficiency of school technology by providing current and effective resources, appropriate training and qualified personnel."

Every school needs an ICT plan to achieve its vision, but according to Zhihua and Zhaojun (2009), evaluation is usually the weakest component of ICT plans. There are several factors involved, but an important one is that policy makers often have unrealistic expectations about the learning improvements that will result from ICT initiatives. For example, when you consider that it takes an average of four to five years for most teachers to reach a level of technological proficiency at which they can use computers fluidly and effectively, then an impact on student learning will not occur any sooner.

On the other hand, the degree of success that a school has in implementing ICT will depend, in part, on the quality and maturity of its ICT plan. Therefore, the school needs to monitor its progress towards ICT integration and use the evaluation results to plan its ICT program, e.g., identifying needs, problems, and opportunities as well as specific aspects of the program such as professional development, technical assistance, and resources. Evaluation is neither easy nor inexpensive, but when it is an integral part of the ongoing ICT planning and infusion process, it is well worth the effort (Spector, Merrill, van Merrienboer, & Driscoll, 2007).

It is clear that schools need a periodical evaluation mechanism to know where they are. This mechanism also indicates how to advance (more rapidly) towards the correct direction (roadmap) without losing time, efforts or resources. Evaluation is necessary, but unfortunately there are no standardised approaches. The choice of an evaluation method would depend on what aspect of ICT and education we want to evaluate; consequently, there is a wide range of assessment tools in ICT and education. An example of these proposals is that from Rodriguez, Nussbaum, Lopez and Sepulveda (2010). …

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