Noureddine Azmi on how teaching with ICT can open minds

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Noureddine began by describing his teaching context in Morocco. The students he is working with already have a high level of English, but needed to develop their intercultural understanding, and in particular, openness to new ideas. He went on to explain the perspective transformation theoretical framework, as developed by Jack Mezirow. Each individual comes into the class with their own frames of reference, or way of looking at life, which they have developed during their upbringing. The job of the educationalist is to get them to challenge these assumptions and become aware of alternative ways of seeing. This may or may not then lead to them adopting one of these alternative ways for themselves - a perspective transformation.

Noureddine's hypothesis was that the use of ICT in class would encourage these processes, because the web can bring the outside world into the classroom in a way that hasn't been possible before.

The rest of Noureddine's presentation was devoted to how he researched this hypothesis. He began with a review of other research in the field. Many of the studies had been conducted in the Middle East, and there were some interesting insights from this context. Noureddine suggested that the more conservative the society, the greater the incremental benefit of using ICT would be. And within this conservative context, women were even more benefited, given the cultural restrictions imposed upon them.

Noureddine's own study was a piece of quantitive research on the effect of ICT in work on for-and-against issues in class. There was an experimental class and a control group, both preparing an essay on the topic of forced abortion where a fetus has deficient genetic traits, and the circumstances under which it might be permitted. The typical frame of reference for a Moroccan muslim would be that it is unthinkable unless the birth would endanger the mother's life. In the experimental group, the class used the internet in the lesson and were thus able to navigate their own way around the issue, while in the control group, they all had the pre-prepared material provided by the teacher.

In the resulting for-and-against essays, Noureddine coded the arguments for and the arguments against abortion that were presented. There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in terms of revisions of the students' value systems. However, there were more arguments outside the typical Moroccan muslim position on forced abortion in the ICT aided group than there were in the control group, showing that the ICT experience was beneficial for the students' development of critical thinking skills. Noureddine concluded with this intriguing caveat: that the beneficial results of ICT were to be noted more in the case of learners who were already high achievers. Little or no benefit was to be observed among the low achievers. Perhaps they didn't have the necessary self-drive and independence to benefit from what ICT could offer?

On the map, I'd put this in the South East because it focuses on the difference that ICT can make.


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