The development of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the 21st century has significantly polished up the speed and quality of the diffusion of innovation thus greatly ameliorates the way people communicating and gathering information. The Internet as one of the ICTs stimulate across our globe and becomes immensely popular around the world. As author Hassan (2004) states in his article, What is the Network Society, there are growing numbers of people who are connected to the Internet and who make it a ‘society’ (p.10). This is because the “internet is the fabric of our lives”, distributes “the power of information throughout the entire realm of human activities”, and transmit knowledge to human beings (Hassan, 2004, p.10). Based on this, Internet seems to be a useful tool of “symbolizing modernization and progress” in education (Rye, 2009, p.17). Especially, Internet as an important digital learning tool into the educational environment as the means of using student’s leisure learning practices, to engage them in learning the educational curricula (Drotner, 2008, p. 175); in addition, it can also facilitate the “connections between groups of students, educational institutions, and external learning resources” (Rye, 2009, p.17). In fact, this paper is going to talk about the relationship between ICTs (such as Internet) and education by discussing about how the development of ICTs transmit information that socially influence education modes from formal education to informal; How can ICTs diffusion of innovation constructs the knowledge running through students learning process; And how can ICTs create the special engaging learning environment for students in the 21st Century; Additionally, this paper will reveal the reason why ICTs are essential for new education system in today’s society
Statistics provided by National Center for Education Statistic report that rates of Internet usage among students has increased from 59% in the mid -1990s to more than 80% in 2003 (as cited in Lin&Atkin, 2007, p.59). Moreover, statistics from The Daily also confirm that numerous people participate with education through ICTs: there are over 26% of adult Canadians (80% of which are full-time or part-time students), an estimated 6.4 million people, preferred to use Internet for the purposes of [receiving] knowledge from education institutions during 2005 (Statistic Canada, 2007, para.4). As Internet is becoming extremely popular among students in Canada, it applies the role of ICTs to deliver knowledge for educational institutions. Additionally, Internet as one of the newer digital technologies has been touted as potentially powerful enabling tools for educational change and reform (Tinio, 2002, p.3). However, editors Lin and Atkin (2007) in their book, Communication Technology and Social Change, argue that students often spend too much time with Internet outside of their learning. Instead, students spend the most of their time on online entertainment and communicating with friends (p.62). From this point of view, the online activities through Internet can be hard for educators to get their students’ learning attention. Although the ICTs address students’ learning problems and provide difficulty for educators during the education process, ICTs successfully support and transform the education system by taking advantages of knowledge exchange, create students’ participation, and collaborate network awareness in everyday life. Overall, educators should consider all the benefits and affordances that ICTs offer to students since Internet has the strengths to integrate education into everyday life by transmitting knowledge, diffusing information and interacting participations.
Admittedly, Internet is a particularly useful tool for social activities and education development in civil society; however, there are visible problems about ICTs for educators and students. One of the biggest disadvantages is that educators have a hard time to lead students’ attention during lectures. As authors Marina Krcmar and Yulia Strizhakova in their article, Computer Mediated Technology and Children, point out that young students frequently use media technologies like Internet to “downloading music, blogging, and instant messaging friend[s], they spend more time in front of the screen to access a seemingly limitless supply of information” even during lecture times (as cited in, Lin & Atkin, 2007, p.70). Based on this, University of California lecturer Howard Rheingold (2010) in his article, Attention, and Other 21st – Century Social Media Literacies states that Internet diverges students’ attention from class, which would be misleading students, distracting students’ attention and decreasing studying students’ effectiveness in the lecture (para.5). When students spend more time using ICTs in the lectures, they will make educators hard to interact with them and their times also fill in uncreative and ultimately unhelpful ways (Rheingold, 2010, para.5); thus negatively affect the interactions between professors and students.
Also, another disadvantage of ICTs usage among students is that they could mislead students when it comes to online information, which can be harmful to their cognition skills. By this way, educators should be much more careful to control the flow of information for their students. Professor Abarashi (2011), who teaches at Islamic Azad University, refers to how ICTs have raised the quality of individualized distance, and inappropriate educational environment for students (p.57). Based on this, Carolyn A. Lin and David J. Atkin (2007) who are University of Connecticut professors, work in peer groups. They explain that, Internet usually provides “much misinformation, myth, and problematic content as there is of the enlightening kind [to young students]. By access to the information, the [student] –world relationship has become potentially enriching as well as more damaging. Moreover, educators who want to control the flow of information, the challenge is now greater and more daunting” (p.71). For this situation, students usually use computers and Internet at home and in school to have fun, to research, and to browse information that interests them. Sometimes, information from the Internet are not good for their learning; and on the other hand, challenges educators’ work.
Although some educators are concerned about the negative impact of online media environment between educators and students, Internet does contain some educational content for students, which can increase their cognitive skills and development overall (Lin& Atkin, 2007, p.68). Moreover, Communication Statistic Unit UUNESCO briefly summarizes the beneficial aspects of ICTs service for institutions, governments and society, that
“ICTs contribute to improvements in the provision of basic social services, help to disseminate valuable information on production and conservation, improve the efficiency of governments; and enhance the provision of education. In other words, ICTs are expected to improve efficiency and increase access to knowledge and expertise. Thus it would appear that an inclusive information society [would] strengthen democracy, increase social participation, remove barriers to modernization, and empower populations who might have been left out of the development process” (2006, p. 5).
This shows the strengths of ICTs, which not only disseminate valuable information to develop education system, but also increase knowledge and expertise; in addition to improve the social participation and modernization process. Furthermore, editors Lin and Atkin (2007) also give an example to show how students’ learning affected by media and how educators create new ways to train their students by using ICTs. Educators provide a unique way to present their students a lecture by setting and creating an interactive website through Internet (p.64). Once Internet is used in traditional classes, students can learn the materials faster and process materials differently with the help of media (p.64). In addition, the digital technology helps students to access more knowledge online, which reform traditional passive learning to active learning. Therefore, ICTs provide a convenient way for students to develop their social participation and challenge themselves in an informational society.
ICTs Information Transmission
The problem that educators face in engaging students in the 21st century is due in part to the setup of the formal education system. ICTs like the Internet can be effective tools for education system since they cannot only solve the problems of the current traditional education system (Dreyfus, 2001, p.35), but also change and affect everything from learning progress students do to the way society is organized (Lin &Atkin, 2007, p.25). Currently, ICTs “embrace the many technologies that enable us to receive information and communicate or exchange information” (Anderson, 2010, p. 4) with others during students’ learning process. As author Abarashi (2011) in his article, Improving Education through Distance Education and Online Learning, points out that as services to education rely on Internet today, many education institutions want to move in the direction of technologies and change their traditional teaching mode to approach new education system (p.57). By comparing and contrasting informal education (like Distance Education and Online Learning) with formal education, Abarashi finds out the major advantage of informal education is not just having flexible time running through the Internet; it also promotes learning by doing and learning in collaboration with others which engage students in the learning process as they become active learners instead of passive learners that formal learning styles encourage (2011, p.57). After that, Abarashi explains that, “Technology has raised the quality of individualized distance instruction. The use of various forms of electronic media increases time effectiveness and improves the delivery of information. Video, audio, and Internet- based applications may enhance the product received by the independent learner. Electronic delivery can occur using synchronous communication, in which class members participate at the same time, or asynchronous communication where participants are separated by time”(2011, p.55). The statement from Abarashi not only clarifies how ICTs in education different from traditional education system, but also points out the benefits of ICTs in education system, which is information delivery and development of both synchronous and asynchronous communications. Additionally, editors Lin and Atkin (2007) also confirm author Abarashi’s opinion and they believe that the use of media technologies in education can be effective because “medium is the message” (p.28). Once both educators and students get themselves connected to the Internet to spend time communicating with each other, finding information and making purchases, Internet will impact on their daily lives. To sum up, Internet helps sustain a place where fast and efficient communication can be beneficial in all sorts of material ways (Hassan, 2004, p.17) through education. In fact, the power of ICTs are imperative for students’ learning environment, electronically structure both social arrangements and facilitate communication (Bhushan, 2008, p.133); in turn to socially change that “would be observed was the transformation of education from tradition to informal to reach to information society” (Lin & Atkin, 2007, p. 25).
ICTs Diffusion of Innovations
The symbolic powers of ICTs (Internet) process information flows, develop the diffusion of education technologies; in turn, incorporate these new technologies into the classrooms, which can help students to be more easily to get in touch with the information society through the internet; and also “the diffusion of internet into the lives of [students] has created the ‘digital media cultural’”(Lin& Atkin, 2007, p.62). Based on this view, author Lievrouw in his article Alternative/Activist New Media notes that “employ or modify the communication artifacts, practices, and social arrangements of new information and communication technologies to challenge or alter dominant, expected, or accepted ways of doing society, culture, and politics” (2011, p.178). This means that the diffusion of ICTs collaborate knowledge from different areas of our lives; at the same time, this also explains that ICTs provide useful information sources for education development. On the other hand, Communication Statistics Unit UUNESCO Institutes (2006) also indicates that the use of ICTs through education system has acquired some of innovation knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in the information society (p.15). In addition, researcher Rogers (2003) also believes that new ideas, practices and objects are adopted by ICTs and have considered the diffusion as a social process (as cited in Rye, 2009, p.8). The diffusion innovations of ICTs process information flows to indicate majority of students in their learning, which can socially lead them to contact with the information society. As well, editors Lin and Atkin (2007) in their book also agree with researcher Rogers’ opinion, and they claim that students learn more from the Internet, which allow “children to retain their role as the innovators, early adopters, and those with the mastery of skills” (p.65). In fact, the diffusion displays the spread of ICTs and its technological imagination through online learning, which is appropriated into our life and supports the needs of society. To sum up, ICTs make the use of hybrid technologies across the subjects with innovation of knowledge, approach students’ perspective, which are not just product of students’ ideas, decisions and actions (Lievrouw, 2011, p. 190). At the same time, ICTs also integrate into their family and school lives (Lin & Atkin, 2007, p.65), and provide excellent day-to-day connections in their daily life.
ICTs Interaction with Students
Despite the early promise of ICTs for educational purposes, many educators are still unsure of the value of Information Technologies as educational tools. However, the main strength of ICTs are not just based on the homes and schools usage, they also offer entertainment (Lin & Atkin, 2007, p.67) and solve academic difficulties by utilizing online activities; especially, the Internet as one of ICTs plays a significant role in people’s lives and shares a platform for “mass collaboration” (Lievrouw, 2011, p.181). As authors Ping, Hung, Wong and Hu in their article The Pedagogical Design of ICT Integration in Learning Online: A Case Study, claim that Internet as a resource at this juncture is primarily a one way communication providing information to students by setting announcements and guiding questions; especially, creating online activities (p.40). This shows the ‘pro’ of Internet for students gaining information and creating online activities with students. Based on this, editors Lin and Atkin (2007) suggest that two thirds of students agreed that they used the Internet to have fun, including playing learning and entertainment games, emailing, and instant messaging (p.89). Later on, they suggest students to use the “media to satisfy certain cognitive for [information learning] and affective needs” since new communication technologies are the most likely associated motivate to young students (Lin & Atkin, 2007, p.42). From this point of view, education professor Picciano (2002) also summaries that Internet contributes the interaction between knowledge and students since it provides the active learning environments for both educators and students (Picciano, 2002 July, p.21). What’s more, author Recchiuti (2003) points out that the function of Internet is similar to face to face communication, its social and interpersonal use focus on relationship development and maintenance. Besides, it provides entertainment, escape and information, which is similar to traditional mass communication to motivate its users (as cited in Lin & Atkin, 2007, p.43). This shows that Internet analysts have long investigated the dynamic functions of ICTs at the heart of social interaction and the production of meaning to motive students (Castells, 2009, p.21). Additionally, the article of New Media and New Technologies by Lister, Dovey, Giddings, Grant and Kelly (2009) continue to claim that the properties of Internet provide connectivity, convergence, network society, and interaction in students’ lives in 21st Century (p.84). This shows that ICTs offer a lot more than the mere benefits found in educating students. In summary, ICT’s power can also contribute to our society-by-society shaping through which close relationships among students can be easily created. Otherwise, this also shows educators the best way to understand the role of information technology in an information society.
In conclusion, even though the Information technologies create difficulties for both teachers and students in terms of spontaneous communication with each other and may lead people to lose attention and diminish social participation in today’s society, on the other hand, they create convenience for both educators and students to remain at home or anywhere they like via computers and Internet (Abarashi, 2011, p.56). As well, ICTs transmit information, control innovation of knowledge and motivate students through online activities, which help them better understand their society. From this point of view, author Lievrouw (2011) considers that students have opened new arenas for collaborative knowledge production [through the ICTs] that increasingly rival the traditions, conventions, and privileges of expert authorities and institutionalized knowledge itself” (p.178), which is different from traditional learning and also challenges the society itself. Based on this, professor Carolyn A. Lin (2007) in her article, An Integrated Communication Technology and Social Change Typology, denotes that ICTs running through education system actually can help educators to improve the academic performance and intellectual growth of young students (as cited in Lin & Atkin, 2007,p.286). She also comments that, “in either formal or informal learning environments, interactive technologies may simply be a fun tool that could distract students from reaching desired learning objectives” (Lin & Atkin, 2007,p.286). This statement briefly defines that ICTs like Internet helps expand access to education and ICTs have effectively been utilized to establish the special communication channel between educators and students; in order to convert formal to informal education. Thus, “the role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is addressing global development agenda, which the key millennium development goal” (Bhushan, 2008, p.131) of promoting the valuable information transmission, information diffusion of innovation and participation with knowledge society.
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