1Roseline Ugbede Akpokiere
2Israel Oghenevwede Regha
Federal College of Education, Kontagora
2Computer Science Department
Federal College of Education, Kontagora
This article focused on raising awareness about the potency of ICTs-computer instructional software package as applicable to chemistry in Colleges of Education. The article discussed the concept of instructional software package, issues in chemistry education, theoretical framework for development of computer instructional package. The challenges in the integration of computer instructional software packages were also highlighted. Based on the identified barriers the following suggestions and recommendations are made: There should be adequate funding of ICT in Colleges of Education, more training of students and teachers in the use of the computer and its application in teaching and learning, and issues of procurement of necessary ICT infrastructural facilities, and training of more software developers should be addressed by the government, NGOs and other stakeholders.
The world has become a global village through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The influence of ICT has inevitably changed the way we learn and teach in institutions of learning. This transformation in teaching and learning may be due to its interactive and dynamic potentials in enhancing knowledge transfer process, especially through animation and simulations. It also provides real opportunity for individualized instruction. The potentials of ICT to facilitate students’ learning, improve teaching and enhance institutional administration had been established in literature (Sezgan & Koymen, 2002; Mathew & Secombe, 2006; Kazu & Yovulzalp, 2008; Oyelekan, 2009; Yusuf & Balogun, 2011; Oguz, 2011). Sulaiman (2008) cited in Oniye, Yahaya and Alawaye (2011) also state that ICT can accelerate, enrich, and deepen skills, motivate and encourage learning, relate such experiences to work practices, create economic viability for tomorrow’s work, contribute to radical changes in school activities, strengthen teaching and provide opportunities for connections between the school and rapid technological, social, political and economic transformations.
Therefore, integration of computer instructional software package in Chemistry Education as ICT tool to enhance students learning, teachers’ instruction, as well as serve as a catalyst for improving access to quality education has become a necessity. It is on the recognition of the impact of new technologies in the work place and everyday life that teacher education institutions try to restructure their education programmes and classroom facilities, in order to utilize the potentials of ICT in improving the content of teacher education (Yusuf & Balogun, 2011). Despite the potency of ICT in science education, it is observed that the integration of ICT in science education is slow either due to lack of ICT facilities or the skills to utilize them. Consequently, the conventional instructional methods are still predominant in most colleges.
The teaching and learning of chemistry at the College of Education level should be such as to produce efficient teachers who having acquired the requisite skills, should be able to impart same to their students. Colleges of Education are dedicated tertiary institutions for teacher education programmes in Nigeria. These Colleges perform the role of intermediary training between the Secondary school and University Education. Some of the goals of the Colleges of Education as highlighted in the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2004) are to produce highly motivated, conscientious and efficient classroom teachers; produce teachers with intellectual and professional background; and enhance teachers’ commitment to the teaching profession (National Commission for Colleges of Education NCCE, 2008).
Yusuf (2005) maintained that e-learning is one of the most effective means of employing ICT to provide learning to students both within and outside the school environment. Electronic learning includes all forms of electronically supported learning and teaching, that is computer and network-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. Therefore, this paper focuses on the purpose of raising awareness on the potency of computer instructional software package in the teaching and learning of Science in general and particularly chemistry in Colleges of Education.
The Concept of Computer Instructional Software Package
E-learning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer based learning, Virtual Education opportunities and digital collaboration. Content is delivered via the Internet, audio or video tapes, satellite TV, CD-ROM. It can be self-paced or instructor led and includes media in the form of text, image, animation, streaming, video and audio. Despite the fact that ICT is influential in providing equal education for all students, literature revealed that the rate of e-readiness, availability of required ICT facilities and access to technology varies across the globe. In this regards, innovative thinking to develop educational materials which are user-friendly can promote quality instruction (Satharasinghe, 2006).
The quest for ICT integration in education has led to the increasing use of computers and software materials in the educational system. Computers are increasingly used in classrooms in combination with traditional modes of instructions. Onimisi (2003) described the impact of computers on teaching and learning activities at all levels of education as considerable. Educational technologies, especially computers play an important role in concretizing abstract concepts, which are difficult for children to learn, by means of animations (Akpınar, 2005). Consequently, computer has fostered the use and development of various software programmes to enhance the quality of communication between professionals and students.
Educational software can be categorized into five different types: tutorial, drill and practice, simulation, educational games and hypermedia type (Alessi & Trollip, 2001). For effective and productive teaching, these techniques should be used with some classroom activities, such as presentation, demonstration, practice and evaluation of learning (Özmen, 2008). In a later study, he posits that the use of computer technology enables learners to be active in the learning process, to construct knowledge, develop problem solving skills and discover alternative solutions
The methods and materials which are relatively machine-dependent include the computer software packages, Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL); Computer Based Learning (CBL); networks video; hypertext; hypermedia; simulation; multimedia; scientific visualization and virtual reality. The computer software among these technologies has been found to be the most popular. Applications of computer assisted instruction include guided drill and practice exercises, computer visualization of complex objects, and computer-facilitated communication between students and teachers (Microsoft Encarta, 2008)
The merit of a developed package is based on its content, presentation, and effectiveness. Computer technology can assist the instructional environment in one of three basic categories: electronic communication, presentation support, or student materials. Robinson (2012) a multimedia educationist outlined the instructional multimedia development process that could be adapted by developers to suit individual projects thus: Determine your overall goal; Define your instructional goal and develop your learning objectives; Analyze your students and audience; Determine what expertise is needed for your project; Determine your computer hardware and software requirements; Draw your conclusions; Write your design specification; Develop an implementation plan; Develop a field test plan; Develop your project; Conduct your field test and revise as needed; Implement your module, use it, and monitor its results. These processes are stipulated in the adopted model for development.
Instructional System Development (ISD) is a controlled process for designing instructional system and evaluating their effectiveness. The ISD is defined as the planned interaction of people, materials, and techniques, which has the goal of improving performance as measured by established criteria of educational standards (Hays, 1999). The ADDIE model is described as the most common model used by instructional designers and training developers for creating instructional materials (Koper, 2006). This acronym (ADDIE) stands for the 5 phases contained in the model (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate). Most of the current instructional design models namely are; Rapid prototyping, Dick and Carey, and Instructional Development Learning (IDLS) are variations of the ADDIE process.
Because of the newness of the technologies, formal evaluation of programs is recommended. The evaluation is the process of gathering information about the merit or worth of a program for the purpose of making decisions about its effectiveness or for program improvement (Owston, 2012). Many evaluation approaches exist, each include the components of problem analysis, assessment for learning, formative and summative evaluation. Although a variety of types of models exist, four types stand out as extremely relevant to the work of an instructional technologist–result focused (goal-based, goal-free, theory based); utilization focused; collaborative; balanced scorecard; and appreciative inquiry (Kenworthy,2005).
The quest for ICT integration in education has led to the increasing use of computers and software materials in the educational system. Consequently, ensuring quality in software development has become paramount. Bodies/societies that have contributed significantly in ensuring the quality of software development are; the American society for quality, Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) Standard for software quality assurance, and the Computers in Teaching Initiative (CTI) established in 1989, offers a UK- wide service to academic staff in higher education institutions through its network of 24 subject-based centers. Specifically, Computers in Teaching Initiative (CTI) centres for chemistry are aimed at enhancing the quality of teaching and learning of chemistry through the use of appropriate technology (Martin, 1996).
The criteria considered for assessment of software designs for chemistry are: ease of use, ease of learning, documentation equality (contents), academic content, usefulness to students, usefulness to teachers, portability, meeting the stated objectives, and accuracy. The intended users of the software cut across secondary school students, A-level candidates in Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Universities.
Samples of Software assessed and published by CTI in Science
|Year||Subjects||Software Title||Place developed/ Publication|
|BCHM 2001 (Genes and Proteins) and BCHM 2002/ Metabolism and Cells||University of Sydney
|Review of website
|Human Biochemistry Course||University of Canada
|Discovering science: Topics in Biology & Geology||Uniserve Science News Vol. 16|
|Biology||Discovering science: Topics in Biology & Ecology||
|Chemistry Teaching Graphics version 1.1: General chemistry & organic chemistry.||Vol. 6|
|Chemistry animated reaction mechanism(CHARMS)||
|The video encyclopedia of physics demonstration||Uniserve science news
|Feb. 2000||Physics (2nd review)
|Interactive Journey through Physics||Vol. 15
Table 1 shows samples of software packages rated and published by CTI in science education. Generally, the production of educational softwares utilizes several computer programs which include the Corel Draw graphics suite, Microsoft word, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Macromedia flash and Macromedia. In addition, other computer programs that could be used include Hypertext, Hypermedia, Simulations, Multimedia, Macromedia flash, Corel Draw, Macromedia Dreamweaver. In addition, the development of computer software requires the services of experts like: Applications Engineers, Instructional Systems Designers, Hardware/Software Specialists, Graphic Designers, Subject Matter Expert Video, Voice, and Data networks Engineer
Based on the evidence from literature, most of the developed and published softwares are in other countries as indicated by CTI report on Table 1 which are used to enhance STM education. This however confirms the assertion that Nigerian schools lack indigenous software for teaching science and particularly chemistry.
Theoretical Framework for Instructional Software Development Model
Learning theories are conceptual frameworks that describe how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning. Learning brings together emotional and environmental influences and experiences for acquiring, enhancing, or making changes in one’s knowledge, skills, values, and world views (Ormrod, 2012).
Constructivism is a revolution in educational psychology built on the work of Piaget and Bruner. Constructivism emphasizes the importance of active involvement of learners in constructing knowledge for themselves (Yount, 1996). Constructivism is a major learning theory that is particularly applicable to the teaching and learning of science. It promotes a student-free exploration within a given framework or structure (Devries & Zan, 2003). The teacher acts as a facilitator who encourages students to discover principles for themselves and to construct knowledge based on current and past experience to solve realistic problems. The teacher’s role is to translate lesson resources into a form that the learner can understand. He is to encourage and engage the learners in a dialogue. The instructional material is designed in a way that builds on what the pupil already knows and develops on it (Smith, 2002). It also recognizes that challenging and helping students to correct their preconceptions, misconceptions is essential to effective learning. These principles should guide the development of instructional package.
Cognitivism is a process that is clearly cognitive in nature. It entails ways of enhancing students’ innate desire to make sense of the world by acquiring and organizing information, solving problems, and developing concepts and language for conveying them. Techniques associated with congnitivism include discovery learning, reception learning and reciprocal teaching (Nkuche, 2008).
Cognitive load theory was developed out of several studies of learners as they interact with instructional materials. Studies conducted on the measure of the effects of working memory load revealed that the format of instructional materials has a direct effect on the performance of the learners using those materials (Mayer, 2001). Researchers attributed learning effects to cognitive load (Sweller & Cooper, 1985). This theory in the past decade has revolutionized how practitioners of instructional design view instruction. Instructional designers use various instructional strategies to reduce the cognitive load by presenting text in small meaningful chunks, use of auditory and visual methods to communicate information to learners. The presentation of content in the instructional package should be guided by this theory.
Gagnes’ instructional theory used in the design of instruction has its impact in the field of educational technology from 1985-1990. Robert Gagne classified learning outcomes based on the domains of learning: Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor. Gagne posits that learning occurs in series of learning events that are commonly referred to as the nine events of Gagnes’ namely: Gain the learners’ attention; inform the learners’ of objectives; stimulate recall of prior learning; present the stimulus; provide learning guidance; elicit performance; provide feedback on learner’s performance, assess performance and give feedback to reinforce learning; and enhance retention and generalization (Gagne, Briggs & Wager, 1992). Gagne’s events of instruction when applied as part of a complete instructional package can assist educators to be organized and focused on the instructional goals (Dowling, 2001). By and large, an effective instructional software package development for chemistry should take into cognizance these Gagnes’ events of instruction.
Issues in Chemistry Education
The state of chemistry education in Nigerian Colleges of Education has been a concern to science educators and researchers in chemistry education, notable among them are the studies of Musa (2004), Unoroh (2004), Musa (2010) and Ayodele (2011). Most of these studies have been conducted to identify the difficult topics and concepts in chemistry and also innovative pedagogical strategies for enhancing chemistry education. Among the reasons found to be responsible for students poor performance in chemistry are; inadequate laboratory equipment and facilities, and teacher-centered methods of teaching.
Some chemistry topics may by nature be difficult to understand, the problem may be compounded if teachers do not adopt an instructional strategy that is activity-centered and interactive to facilitate the understanding of these fundamental concepts upon which other complex knowledge will be built. Literature has established that there are difficult chemistry concepts and misconceptions to both students and teachers at all levels. This has been identified as a contributing factor to students’ poor performance in chemistry.
Studies have also indicated that the use of the interactive computer learning packages has positive effect on the learners’ understanding of concepts in science and chemistry in particular. For example, Oyelekan (2009) established the effect of CAI and computer instructional packages on students’ understanding of electrochemistry concepts. Tho and Hussien (2011) designed a microcomputer Based Laboratory (MBL) for gas pressure law, Serin (2011) simulated problem-solving skills of science students using CBI instruction, Wainwight (2006) determined the effectiveness of microcomputer software package in general chemistry, Ozmen (2008) facilitated chemistry students ability to develop problem solving skills, and discovered alternative solutions. Oloruntegbe and Odutuyi (2003) also assert that the often perceived difficult and abstract concepts in chemistry such as radioactivity, mole and stoichiometry, electrochemistry, organic chemistry etc. can be encoded or programmed into computer software that teachers and students could utilize to make their teaching and learning better.
In addition, the paper focuses on the Colleges of Education because the NCE program is aimed at producing teachers that will teach in junior secondary schools and in some cases in senior secondary school. It is therefore pertinent that they are trained on the usage and integration of ICT in instruction to adequately prepare them for the world of technology in this 21st century. This will enhance the use of ICT and conceptualization of difficult concepts in chemistry courses as well as other science subjects. This has necessitated more research for alternative strategies to compliment the conventional instructional strategies. Therefore, this paper focuses on raising awareness about the potency of ICTs-computer instructional software package as applicable to chemistry in Colleges of Education.
Challenges of Integrating computer Instructional Packages in Teaching
Some of the possible areas of challenges in the development and utilization of computer Instructional packages are as follows:
- Inadequate funding of the educational system. The use of ICTs requires huge financial investment in the procurement and maintenance of necessary facilities.
- The challenges of working with experts such as Computer Programmers, Instructional System Designer/Developers, Hardware/Software Specialists, Graphic Designers, Subject Matter Experts, Video, Voice, and Data network Engineers.
- Inadequate skilled manpower to manage available system.
- Inadequate training facilities for ICT application.
- Inadequate and unstable electricity supply. Most ICT tools cannot function without electrical power. The implications of this situation on the use of ICTs cannot be overemphasized.
- Inadequate infrastructural facilities such as: telephone, Internet facilities and hardware such as computers, scanners and multimedia projectors.
- Teachers’ incompetency, inexperience, old fashion and unwillingness to change from traditional pedagogical methods to more innovative technology-based teaching and learning methods.
Recommendations and conclusion
Having examined the potency of ICTs – computer instructional software packages in Science Education, and specifically in chemistry in Colleges of Education, and critically looking at the identified impediments to the use of these facilities, to ensure the effective integration of ICTs in the educational system the following suggestions and recommendations are worth considering:
- Adequate funding by the government for tertiary education in general and development of ICTs in particular for the procurement of necessary ICT infrastructural facilities.
- Instructional program developer should work with experts at the various stages of the project.
- There should be more support and training of more software developers, who will be able to manage available ICT facilities and also develop nationally useable e–education software.
- There should be more training for lecturers, and students at all levels to be more literate in using the computer, and computer instructional software packages. This will address students’ phobia for computer, and resistance to change of pedagogical strategy that is ICT-based.
- Lecturers in Colleges of Education should be encouraged to use computer instructional software packages for instruction. This could be by either making such packages available, or sponsoring the development of indigenous computer instructional packages for science education, particularly chemistry.
Discussions made in this article are expected to create awareness on the potentials and integration of computer instructional software packagea in Science Education, especifically chemistry. E-learning is now widely accepted and associated with more effective and efficient learning outcomes. With the anticipation that all necessary facilities will be put in place to facilitate ICTs integration in education as a whole, these innovative strategies will no doubt enhance the teaching and learning in Science.
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