The Impact of Technology on Teaching and Learning in High Schools in the United Arab Emirates.
thesisposted on 29.06.2009, 11:48 by Nadia Farhat
The “Information Age” is characterized by open computing, the internet and a different breed of users. However most educational institutions such as high schools in the UAE need to affect the desired changes to realign themselves effectively with the ‘Information Age’. Consequently many schools are developing new capabilities and skills through reorganization, restructuring and reallocation, which can enable such successful transformation. This research explores the impact of Technology (ICT) on teaching and learning in high schools in the UAE. The aim is to gain insight on the consequences of appropriate use of ICT on the teaching function, and the contribution of ICT to student learning. The status of ICT was explored; status being a factor affecting impact. This study used a positivist quantitative approach to examine the skills, attitudes and usage of ICT at high schools in the UAE. The methodology used is a mixed quantitative/qualitative approach. Three surveys, two interview schedules and one observation protocol was developed by the researcher that contained a list of research questions to be addressed to school principals, teachers and students. These research questions sought for answers on the status of ICT in high schools in the UAE and as a consequence its impact on teaching and learning. The study found ICT curriculum approaches for students were very little aligned with a stage of development which does not emphasize the integration of ICT into existing curricula and current classroom practice. There was poor alignment between the management vision and the realization of policies regarding hardware, software, multimedia and the internet. Also very little is being done in teacher training to develop their skills in the technical and pedagogical aspects of ICT. Although the majority of teachers had agreed that ICT affected the planning of teaching regarding course preparation; nevertheless, there was a mismatch between policy and implementation. Very little is being done regarding the assessment methods, as teachers need support and time in making use of new strategies and technologies to enhance their personal work before learning to use them in their teaching. High schools seem to produce students with skills as the major contribution of ICT rather than being a tool to enhance their various intellectual capabilities nevertheless it was interesting to see that the whole school had a positive attitude towards ICT. There was poor alignment between overlapping policies between policy and classroom practice. Classroom observations confirmed that local practice found a reliance on office software as an enhancer of ICT skills and classes are teacher centered. From these findings a general model was derived for the purpose of answering the specific research questions, The model termed as the UAE Professional Learning Community Model (for high schools) is made up of four major components: – Policies, Structures, Resources and People where each component is unable to stand alone and needs strong support from the others if the adoption of ICT for teaching and learning is to occur. The common elements which drive the model are adequate funds, the allocation of time for collaboration, and strong leadership. The model is cyclical in nature, each major component is constantly feeding into the other components and is directly susceptible to and strongly influenced by global and local factors. Ultimately the adoption of ICT for teaching and learning can be achieved if these components, principles and elements are in place. This study provides guidance for future policies concerning the planning and adoption of ICT in a practical way, teacher ICT professional development and argues for their alignment with curriculum frameworks for ICT in high school education. The outcomes of this study also provides guidance on the integration possibilities and impact of ICT in high schools in the UAE.