The aim of any 21st-century education system should be to prepare students on how to deal with life challenges in a very fast moving world. Therefore, it has to adapt to the constantly changing conditions as it cannot function in isolation from reality and ultimately, without modern technology.
Information and Communications Technology, also known as ICT, has changed the way people communicate with each other, acquire information, spend their free time, and obtain knowledge. Computers, mp3 players, DVDs, radio stations, television channels and, of course, the Internet are used to send or convey various types of information that contains written texts, graphics, sound or video images which can greatly help students learning at every level of education. The use of such devices and technologies in schools is, indeed, influencing the changes happening in teaching methodologies. When skillfully utilized, ICT allows us to change the current concepts of conducting school activities, and thus, to greatly enhance their quality. In today’s world, it is an inevitable process.
This article will present the possibilities and advantages of using the Internet as a technology supporting traditional learning. The main purpose is to present the tools and advantages of using ICT in schools such as blended learning, e-learning, etc., which are a mix of modern tools and some traditional teaching methodologies. The dynamic spread and progress of ICT have undoubtedly contributed to the development of a knowledge-based society, known as Lifelong Learning.
Ever since the computer was first introduced in education, teaching and learning have become noticeably more effective. The first use of computers in education took place in the USA in the 1960s. Computer dissemination in American schools started in the 1970s. In the 1980s, approximately 96% of teaching was supported by computers (Computer-Assisted Instruction). In contrast, the rest of the world remained far behind the United States. The Open University in the United Kingdom (est. in 1969), is the first educational institution whose activity was devoted entirely to distance learning. To date, it is still based on the active use of materials from the Internet, radio, and television.
The last years of the 20th century were the beginning of a new trend. E-learning and blended learning were introduced and quickly gained popularity. They enabled the dissemination of distance education, learning foreign languages, participating in courses, or even on-campus learning. Generally speaking, all of these methods added a new dimension to learning and as a result, many barriers have been overcome. In most European countries, ICT is gaining more and more popularity. In fact, ICT now is an independent subject in school in many countries.
Teaching methods – the use of ICT tools in teaching
In the 21st century, a digital generation is growing up, for which new technologies are a natural thing as they have been in contact with them from a very early age. They are referred to as digital natives. It is a generation that is difficult to reach without using digital tools, which are completely natural to them. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to adopt the forms and methods of teaching to the tools that the students use in everyday life (e.g. computer, Internet), and the teacher’s role should be one of a facilitator, inspirer, adviser, and guide.
ICT is based on the use of blended learning. The use of ICT tools in the classroom is associated with the active inclusion of familiar information and communication technologies in the teaching process. Language classes are a perfect example.
Foreign language teaching with traditional methods supplemented with distance learning (e.g. e-learning, m-learning, blended learning), encompasses different teaching methods, allowing the learner to practice all language skills owing it to a wide range of exercises and tasks available. One of the many possibilities to diversify language classes is the use of interactive computer games in learning a foreign language, i.e. introducing elements of learning through fun.