Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in the emergence of technologies in the classroom; allowing a large number of children to explore methods of assimilating information. In the United States, it was seen that 83% of teachers using vision report increased interaction with their students (Geneva Logic, 2007). Interactive whiteboards, PowerPoint presentations and online research has given children the opportunity to be exposed to an open educational system.
However, the global development of the child cannot be attainable if the system being put in place is being limited to the schools’ own VPN (virtual Private Network) or through a governmental portal whereby only the information which is deemed appropriate by the government is offered to students. Both State and private secondary schools offering the traditional British curriculum namely Cambridge School Certificate and the Cambridge Higher School Certificate are actively involved in a run for scholarships.
This approach to education is more elitist and consequently a holistic education aiming at developing the global potential of the student cannot cohabitate with it. The introduction of an IT based system in such schools tends to negate the very essence of the aims of a “connected” school. Consequently whilst the efforts of Droopnath Ramphul are commendable, unless there is a fundamental shift from the elitist to the holistic education, these efforts will eventually be limited to only a computerization of a traditional system of education.
Is the pilot project underway at Droopnath Ramphul going to provide a real equality of access of the same level as an IB based schools? B IT background of the Issue The implementation of Information technology in a school is a long process which is closely related to the system life cycle. To create a fully operational IT system at school you first need to have the hardware necessary.
These include a server where all the files and documents of each and every user from school will be stored, broadband Internet obtained by a cable or DSL line, computers each containing a recent operating system; containing an integrated network card, and a LAN (Local Area Network) needs to be set up either using cables or by use of a wireless connection. The systems implemented in schools use IP addresses to provide a single, multiservice infrastructure that supports information exchange and sharing or files as well as video services.
In a LAN each computer and networked peripheral acts as an individual node on a network. These nodes are in turn connected to hubs or switches; they allow any node on the network to communicate with other nodes. A hub or switch could be used to transmit data to devices on the network. However, a hub only allows one message to be transmitted across a LAN at a time, contrary to a switch which can send several.
Although physical cabling has been used in the past, the latest trends are definitely for wireless networks (Beekman ; Quinn, 2008). Figure 1 Showing a LAN (http://img. zdnet. com/techDirectory/LAN2. GIF) Network administrators or IT technicians are in charge of configuration details as well as the maintenance of the system. This provides the school with a means of communicating and sharing files, and eventually having access to the Internet from different areas of the school complex. C Impact of the Issue
Although the implementation of IT in the classroom has captivated the interest of the students (Hargittai, date unknown) by allowing them to use technological hardware which was not used before, the system currently in place at Droopnath Ramphul State Secondary school does not allow the student to fully encompass the concept of an IT based education. The latter is one that provides students with unlimited resources to information, and is not restricted by governmental bodies which prevent total freedom of choice.
However, such freedom enables people to become more responsible in their approach to Internet. This initiative will however question the government as to its position regarding the education system. Will it continue with the present elitist system or will the holistic education system prime? This is especially so as two dynamics will occur. Firstly, this pilot project is scheduled to be repeated in other schools and secondly students from Droopnath Ramphul will have the opportunity to compare themselves with those from schools offering holistic development.
The contradiction between the good intent of the parties behind the pilot project and the actual practical realization within such a limited scope of an IT based education will create some form of inequality of access for the students to the real IT based education. D solution to the problem The main solution which needs to be implemented in order to provide student with an equality of access to information, may it be on the web or other places, would be the dissociation of the school from the governmental portal. This would allow students to search the web without information being filtered.
Obviously, the computers should be equipped with firewalls and antivirus systems in order to prevent misuse of computers. The second solution to the problem is clearly a radical shift in the educational philosophy, from the elitist system to one that will enable the overall development of the potential of the adolescent. Furthermore, additional trust should be placed in the students. This would give them the opportunity to become more responsible, giving them the choice between using this technology wisely or not.
The fourth solution would be to ask their sponsors to make a full comparative report for them regarding application of an IT based education in an elitist school with respect to a holistic development school. The solutions to the problems in relation to the equality of access are numerous, and applied properly the current IT system which is under way in Droopnath Ramphul could be further improved. The government needs to take an open view on the issue and even a lateral choice of making the school not only be a pilot case of implementation, but overall restructuring to the global education approach.