Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Internet for Teaching : Issues & Concerns

There are factors that a teacher must consider before taking the plunge on Internet use for teaching and instruction. These are; technology competencies – his own and his students’; the available technology – hardware, software, online resources and infrastructure; the school’s policy for Internet and technology use; curriculum and pedagogy.

a. Technology Competencies
Whatever inspired you to use the Internet for teaching you must start with an assessment of your own competencies on using this technology. It would help if you could also evaluate related technology skills apart from surfing, browsing, book marking and using of key words in search engines. Self evaluation will allow you to level off; to see strong and weak areas. It’s not possible to know everything, but a cognition of what you will be dealing with comes in handy at difficult times.

Attached with this paper is a checklist of technology skills (Attachment 1). Let’s go over it and do some ticking. Once you’re done, you can gauge the extent of Internet activities you can do in the classroom.

The very nature of the Internet is appealing to children, but, it is important that their computer and Internet literacy are assessed as well. It is not pedagogically sound to assume that “they already know”. A similar checklist may help. Coordinate with your school’s computer teacher to find out. Ask him or her if she has a profile of your students’ skills in computing and surfing. Consult the Reading teacher to know the level of reading skills of your students. Meet with your Guidance counselor for their developmental profile and socio-economic background.

Included in this report is a list of indicators to understand the maturity and vulnerability levels of children. Together with it, is a set of tips on how to engage children to use the Internet effectively. (Attachment 2)

b. Available Technology
After identifying yours and your students’ skills, level of understanding, profile, etc., move on to the tools. Check for available hardware and software; network requirements, computer labs and structures that will support your teaching. This also means that, you must know who the IT people are and the extent of their work in the school. They help in trouble shooting and upgrading.
c. School’s Policy on Internet Use
The school’s stand on Internet use may be reflected on an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). This is decided upon by academic administrators or the school board in the light of effective Internet utility for the whole school community. There are many ways of making this tangible. Some are simple. Others are seriously stated.

Samples of AUPs are attachments to this report. (Attachment 3)

d. Curriculum & Pedagogy
Instructional technology is dependent on curriculum and pedagogy. A teacher’s use of the Internet for instruction should be based on the course’s or subject’s learning goals and objectives. The instructional materials that teachers make and use help achieve a learning objective. Furthermore, it assists students to understand knowledge, skills and attitudes of a given discipline. It is therefore very important that teachers use instructional technology, in this case, the Internet, appropriately.

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