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Integrated ICT Approaches in China
Case #10: China’s attempts at integrated approaches
By Janice Dean
The history of using ICT in education for China dates back to when the first computers were introduced in classrooms in the early 1980s. Like many other regions of the world, the implementation of ICT in education has evolved from techno-centric views to adopting more integrated approaches.
Beliefs, attitudes, individual teaching styles of teachers, as well as the organizational culture of the school; all influence how teachers adopt technology in classrooms and thus how effectively instruction is delivered with the assistance of technology.
The following diagram illustrates the influential factors, represented by the three interrelated circles, which create an organizational culture that is conducive for the effective implementation of technology in education. According to Jianwei Zhang, the culture must include availability of hardware and infrastructure, access to content and services, and training and support to allow optimal utility of the technology introduced.
The challenge for China, as well as for other regions and countries that either
have had a history of utilizing ICT in education or are piloting educational ICT projects, has continuously evolved around the question of how to integrate ICT in education so that lessons are purposeful and the technology plays a positive, supportive role in students’ learning.
“Undoubtedly, ICT is bringing about new opportunities for educators, because it can provide powerful support for educational innovations.
However, the use of ICT in education creates ever-new challenges for teachers. They need not only to learn the skills of using ICT, but also to learn how to design innovative instructions through an integration of ICT with curriculum.” – Zhu Zhiting and Yan Hanbing,
Scholars and educators in China are trying to merge the gap between technological know-how and pedagogical practice using the technology in its appropriate learning context. Currently, much of the focus in the field of ICT and education is on training teachers how to effectively deliver instructions using technology. More than 76 percent of teachers' universities in China have ICT related departments and students who are future teachers take a mandatory course on “Instructional Technology,” a course that attempts to relate the use of ICT in teaching. However, critics claim that the course does not cover enough of the relationships between educational theories and technology, nor does it effectively introduce the use of new ICTs and their educational uses. A new model of training teachers attempts to connect theories and technologies while placing an emphasis on pedagogy.
Pre-service teacher training in universities are often enabled through the funding of corporations such as Intel Corporation. Intel-teach-to-the-future (ITF) is an international effort to provide teacher training with the purpose of increasing competence in effectively using ICT for education. The ITF curriculum has been delivered to in-service teachers and has recently been piloted for students who are
training to be teachers at Zhejiang University .
One can predict much about how technology is integrated in classrooms by determining the teachers’ beliefs, attitudes, motivation and knowledge about ICT and learning. A few scholars have researched and explored the interplay of teacher-related variables and how these variables affect the use of ICT in classrooms, particularly in the Chinese context.
The research noted that teachers with constructivist beliefs were more likely to adopt ICT in their lessons compared to those with objectivist views who opted to use technology minimally. Constructivist approaches center on the idea that students learn through a process of exploration and arrive at conclusions based on this process. Objectivist approaches place the teacher as the carrier of knowledge. Definitions between the theories of constructivist learning vs objectivist learning can be found here:
Considering how much traditional Chinese culture emphasize on respect to teachers and authority figures as the principle carriers of knowledge, it is not a surprise, then, that ICT practices in education in China has been most developed in the areas of distance learning programs and television programs, where the lessons are still largely teacher-directed. These are also the most popular mediums because of the ability of radio and television to reach out-of-school children in remote areas of the country. China has the largest network of educational television programs disseminated by Chinese Central Radio and TV University (CCRTVU). A division within CCRTVU also provides distance training to teachers, training over millions of teachers and headmasters.
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