Information and communication technology (ICT) in education in five Arab States: A comparative analysis of ICT integration and e-readiness in schools in Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Palestine and Qatar

More than ever, the advent of the knowledge economy and global economic competition compel governments to prioritise educational quality, lifelong learning and the provision of equal opportunities for all. Education policymakers widely accept that improved access to information and communication technology (ICT) in education can help individuals to compete in a global economy by creating a skilled work force and facilitating social mobility. They emphasise that ICT in education has a multiplier effect throughout the education system, by enhancing learning and providing students with new sets of skills; by reaching students with poor or no access (especially those in rural and remote regions); by facilitating and improving the training of teachers; and by minimising costs associated with the delivery of instruction. Beyond the rhetoric, and of equal if not greater importance to policymakers, are basic questions about the role that ICT plays in basic educational outcomes, including retention and learning achievement. There are those that argue that ICTs are merely a delivery mechanism for teaching and learning, while it is the foundational pedagogy which matters (Clark, 1983; 1994). Others, however, contend that computers and other ICTs may possess properties or affordances that can directly change the nature of teaching and learning (Kozma, 1991; 1994; Dede, 1996). For instance, it is believed that ICT can help to bring abstract concepts to life using images, sounds, movement, animations and simulations. In any case, a better understanding of ICTs and their impact on student outcomes are priorities in all countries, regardless of level of economic development.

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