on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 15, Issue 1, Article 6 (Jun., 2014)
Computer labs as techno-pedagogical tools for learning biology – Exploring ICT practices in India
1*Ajitha NAYAR K and 2Miles BARKER
1Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Faculty of Education,
University of Malaya, MALAYSIA
*Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala, Techno park, Kerala, IN-695581, INDIA
2Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education
Faculty of Education, University of Waikato, NEW ZEALAND
Received 4 Nov., 2013
Revised 9 Jan., 2014
In Indian secondary schools, as in many countries, Information and Communication Technologies,ICT,are changing the image of learning places, the roles of teachers and students,and often the entire classroom learning ambience. This study investigates current practices for learning biology in school computer labs in India in the light of the existing Indian pedagogical practices. The increasing availability of technology-based learning resources has increased the techno-pedagogical possibilities (i.e. the possibilities for pedagogical use of technology) in biology learning, and many schools are augmenting their ICT infrastructure by setting up fully-equipped computer labs. Nevertheless, the teaching of biology currently continues to be partly in the traditional classroom and partly in the computer labs. In fact, most schools are not yet willing to invest large amounts in computer infrastructure, despite school policies that encourage teachers to make use of ICT learning resources made available out of state-provided funding. In this study, biology teachers' techno-pedagogical perspectives and the nature of secondary school students'ICT skills deployed in computer labs are explored.
In terms of results, we report that teacher ratings on the techno-pedagogical skills they require while teaching biology in computer labs revealed that they were, in fact, well aware of the wide ranging technological possibilities: text processing, website development, spreadsheets, layouts and multimedia. Again, observations of the lab sessions themselves revealed that students were deploying significant ICT skills: text processing, information retrieval, information processing and information gathering. Also, it turned out that the teachers were actually employing the imaginative range of the skills that they had espoused in their chosen ratings. In summary, when computer labs became the sites for learning biology, the combination of the ICT provided, together with the teachers' emerging techno-pedagogical practices, presents heartening possibilities for promoting student learning in India in the future.
Keywords: techno-pedagogy, computer labs, technology in teaching biology, technology-enabled learning environments