TRENDS OF ICT (AUDIO-VISUALS) IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
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1.1 Background to the study
The era of the teacher being a reservoir of knowledge is past. The world is moving at a jet speed as a result of advancement in technology. More, importantly, technology entails information and communication which can be defined as the handling and processing of information (texts, images, graphs, instruction etc) for use by means of electronic and communication devices such as computer, cameras, telephones etc (Ozoji in Oleabhiele, 2015).
The rapid growth in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has brought remarkable changes in our contemporary society. The use of ICT is already indispensable in the area of educational research. ICTs are the technologies used in conveying, manipulating and storing data by electronic means. They provide an array of powerful tools that may help in transforming the present isolated teacher-centered and text-bound classrooms into rich, student-focused, interactive knowledge environments.
Modern theories of teaching suggest that the instructional process should be learner-centred for teaching and learning to be effective. In the traditional classroom, learners do not demonstrate reasonable understanding of concepts while only a few of them dominate the instructional process because significant interaction is absent (Duggan, Palmer & Devitt, 2007). A strategy that promotes the learner-centred method of learning as well as of interaction between the instructors and the learners is the pivotal objective of information and communication technology (ICT).
Early years in life are the most important to the formation of intelligence, personality and social behaviour of a child. The year before a child reaches Kindergarten are among the most critical in his or her life to influence learning. That is why modern societies show serious concern for the education of their young ones by providing needed support to prepare them to succeed later in school (Ejieh, 2006). It is common practice in most societies to make provision for early childhood education programmes of various sorts for children below the official school-going age (usually 6years) mainly to prepare them for education in primary schools (Obidike, 2012). The Federal Government of Nigeria recognizes the importance of early childhood education in Nigeria and as a result it was given prominence in the National Policy of Education (FRN, 2004) as one of the programmes in the Nigerian educational system.
Mahuta (2007) also stated that the aim of Early Childhood Education (ECE) is to foster the proper development of the children, identify and address their problems, harness their potentials, mould their character, enhance their learning, equip them for life, so that their actions are channeled towards positive personal, communal and global development in all ramifications of life.
In today’s world, ICT has become an important component of our life. In this context, internet access and exposure to video-games, computers and mobile phones at a very young age are rising globally. This change has been recognised by both researchers and policy makers and attempts have been made to investigate the potential of ICT to support early childhood education effectively through a variety of functions. Several researchers claim that ICT carries the potential to support education administration and management, student access to quality education, professional development of teachers and development of locally relevant content. But to what extent could ICT be beneficial as a learning tool for children in the early years (0-6 years of age)?
Creative and innovative applications of ICT have been used as important potential tools by both parents and early childhood educators in order to provide support for children’s early learning at home and within early year settings. Although there are certain critics against the introduction of ICT in early childhood education, a number of studies have shown that ICT, when used responsibly, can actually support children’s learning by offering beneficial opportunities in the areas of language and communication, emergent literacy and reading readiness, mathematical thinking, creativity, and positive attitudes towards learning. Besides, for many children, who need additional support in order to participate effectively in classroom settings, such as children with disabilities and children from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds, ICT can provide a technological solution to overcome some of their impairment and be included in appropriate and meaningful learning opportunities facilitating their inclusion in the society (UNESCO, 2010).
ICT/Audio-Visuals can facilitate differentiation and individualization in education. It makes it possible to tailor both the content and the presentation of the subject matter to the individual background, experience and needs of students. In addition, as Schiller & Tillett (2004) said “audio-visuals enhances what is possible by amplifying what teachers are able to do, by providing an entry point to content and enquiries that were not possible without the use of audio-visuals, by extending what students are able to produce as a result of their investigations, and finally by providing teachers with the opportunity to become learners again.”
Whether in fact ICT/audio-visuals is negatively or positively related to pupils’ educational development is an issue that remains open to empirical studies. Hence, the undertaking of this research seeks to investigate the relative trends of ICT (Audio-Visuals) in Early Childhood Education.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
One of the major problems among pupils in Early Childhood Education in Nigeria is inability to remember what has been learnt. This problem is often caused by too much theoretical expression by the teachers while the pupils remain as passive listeners. These problems confronting the objective of Early Childhood Education can be handled using slide presentations, audio-visuals presentation process and other interactive ICT software facilities in which a pupil interacts with and is guided by visual equipment aimed at achieving certain instructional goals.
The link between information and communication technology (ICT) and Early Childhood Education (ECE) is generating some interesting debates. Many scholars have argued that ICT is still a new phenomenon and too sophisticated. That it is still very much unclear and complex how it can support Early Childhood Education (ECE), for instance the Alliance for Childhood (2000) argues, for the removal of computers in American schools, as they consider that the use of computers is dangerous for children’s physical, emotional and intellectual development. On the other hand, Jones (2002) disputed these claims, as his research indicates that children were spending far more time watching television than working on computers. In view of this discrepancy, there is a need to examine the relative trends of ICT (Audio-Visuals) in Early Childhood Education.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to explore the trends of ICT (Audio-Visuals) in Early Childhood Education. Other specific objectives are:
Firstly, to find out if the use of ICT enhances pupils’ educational development.
Secondly, to investigate the impact of the use of audio-visuals on pupils’ retention rate.
Thirdly, to determine the roles of teachers’ know-how in implementing and integrating ICT within the early childhood context.
Fourthly, to examine the impact of ICT on early childhood education.
Lastly, to examine the challenges of ICT/audio-visuals in early childhood education.
1.4 Research Questions
This study will be guided by the following research questions:
a) What is the impact of ICT on pupils’ educational development?
b) What is the impact of the use of audio-visuals on pupils’ retention rate?
c) What are the roles of teachers’ know-how in implementing and integrating ICT within the early childhood context?
d) What is the impact of ICT on early childhood education?
e) What are the challenges of ICT/audio-visuals in early childhood education?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The researcher intends to test the following research hypotheses:
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between the use of ICT and pupils’ educational development.
Ho2: There is no significant impact of the use of audio-visuals on pupils’ retention rate.
Ho3: There is no significant impact of teachers’ know-how on implementing and integrating ICT within the early childhood context.
Ho4: There is no significant relationship between the use of ICT and early childhood education
Ho5: There are no challenges of ICT/audio-visuals in early childhood education