Application of information and communication technology in teaching philosophy based on constructivism theory

Abstract. Studying in a modern society requires comprehensive innovation in order to acquire the skills needed by global citizens. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is one of important tool that helps educators reach that target. The role of ICT is prominent when it is carried out based on the constructivism teaching theory. However, the understanding and application of ICT by educators varies and is in many cases insufficient to obtain adequate results. In this paper we discuss the direction of applying ICT on the basis of constructivism theory when teaching philosophy in order to soften abstract philosophy knowledge and help students study this subject more efficiently.

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JOURNAL OF SCIENCE OF HNUE Interdisciplinary Science, 2013, Vol. 58, No. 5, pp. 86-92 This paper is available online at APPLICATION OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY IN TEACHING PHILOSOPHY BASED ON CONSTRUCTIVISM THEORY Nguyen Thi Toan Faculty of Philosophy, Hanoi National University of Education Abstract. Studying in a modern society requires comprehensive innovation in order to acquire the skills needed by global citizens. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is one of important tool that helps educators reach that target. The role of ICT is prominent when it is carried out based on the constructivism teaching theory. However, the understanding and application of ICT by educators varies and is in many cases insufficient to obtain adequate results. In this paper we discuss the direction of applying ICT on the basis of constructivism theory when teaching philosophy in order to soften abstract philosophy knowledge and help students study this subject more efficiently. Keywords: Information and Communication Technology (ICT), constructivism theory, philosophy, application teaching, lecturer, student. 1. Introduction In the 21st century, information and communication technology has been developing strongly, spreading to and influencing deeply all fields of human life. The approach to the matter has been academic, static and not suitable to the complex, diverse and multi-dimensional variations of the new era. Study in a modern society includes new features that are the result of innovation in both content and teaching method and are considered necessary to prepare students for a global environment [2]. They need active and creative thinking, good communication skills, foreign language and computer skills, an ability to distinguish, associate, collect and process information and the ability to cooperate to solve problems. Information technology has become an important tool to help students acquire the skills mentioned above. However, it is necessary to combine information technology with other teaching and learning methods flexibly and softly. In this paper, the author attempts to clarify how information and communication technology can be used when teaching philosophy on the basis of constructivism theory. Received January 19, 2013. Accepted April 2, 2013. Contact Nguyen Thi Toan, e-mail address: toandhsp1@gmail.com 86 Application of information and communication technology in teaching Philosophy... 2. Content 2.1. General issues on the application of information technology and telecommunication in constructivism theory based philosophy teaching 2.1.1. What is information technology? According to Wikipedia, “Information technology is the application of computers and software to convert, store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate information.” We will now use this definition of information and communication technology (ICT). The main fields of information technology are receiving, processing, storing and publishing sound, movies, documents and digital information, making use of media such as computers, the radio, television and telephones. ICT is an important catalyst for development. It promotes economic growth and a change in the method of asset creation, human lifestyle and thought. In the modern educational environment, learning takes place when students engage in activities in which they must process more diversified and complicated information in order to create theories and make personal decisions. ICT allows people to have access to information resources quickly and effectively. For educators, ICT is opportunity and a challenge. It creates many ways and aspects to approaching subjects. This could be positively accepted by educators and encourage them to improve themselves as they approach various information resources provided by multimedia then organize and guide students to learn by themselves. ICT can instill in students a sense of initiative and good self-study and self-working habits. Students can learn to improve their writing ability by chatting online, entering forums and writing emails, a representation skill by using Power Point , and the ability to work in a group by playing computer games. By using ICT, students will not only get information, they will also learn how to study via ICT, an essential skill for anyone living in the ICT age. 2.1.2. ICT can very effectively be used to teach and learn according to constructivism theory The constructivism theory of J. Bruner is a theory of knowledge with main thought: knowledge ‘appears’ through self-awareness of subjects in the structure of their internal systems, and knowledge is subjective [4]. By emphasizing the roles of subjects in analyzing and creating knowledge, constructivism theory is subjective theory. This theory is required to organize the interaction between a person learning and objects that are to help that person receive and adjust to new information using his thinking structure. Learning is not only discovery but also explanatory and creation of new knowledge. When teaching using the principles of constructivism theory, teachers guide to discover can discover that which they did not know, implement learning tasks, to create his knowledge. Knowledge received during the learning period is a progression that is a subjective interaction between student and the study content. The study is only implemented by 87 Nguyen Thi Toan learners’ study period, because just from experience, and experience is knowledge which can change and personalize prior knowledge and ability. Therefore, teaching methods such as discovery learning, cooperative learning and problem-solving teaching are considered to be teaching methods the apply constructivism theory. According to this theory, knowledge is an actual object, and not just something which exists in one’s mind. The purpose of study is the creation of knowledge for and within the mind of the student. Assessing what a student has learned requires evaluating product-oriented learning and determining the extent to which progress is being made in the learning process and in complex learning situations. 2.1.3. When teaching, why must the application of ICT be based on constructivism theory? For a long time, when applying ICT, there have been many insufficiencies due to limited teaching conditions and facilities, inadequacies of teachers and students and a general misunderstanding of this matter. Many people believe that applying ICT in the classroom means only designing electronic lesson plans and making a power point presentation in class. Teachers spend hours presenting their lectures through the screen which they expect their students to read and copy. This teaching method of reading and copying is in this aspect now different when using ICT than it was when using the lecture and blackboard. There is still no activity or creativity required of the students, both the teachers and students express themselves no differently and the interaction between the teacher and the students is as nonexistent as it had been. To resolve this limitation, ICT should be applied making use of teaching creation theory. Teachers should play the role of problem-orienting, and students should explore knowledge as driven, ICT gives students the key to open the door to information, and possibly interaction. The center position in the teaching process is not the teacher (as traditionally understood), nor the students (as in today’s popular understanding). That center position is ICT. Both teachers and students can find information, the knowledge needed to create new knowledge in the teaching process. ICT penetrates all elements of the teaching process, including the methods, teaching facilities and the knowledge of both teachers and students. Even if a lesson is given without the use of a computer or projector, it is presumed that both the teacher and the students previously used ICT to search for information. interaction, create new knowledge in that lesson [1]. Unlike in the traditional classroom (where the teacher lectures and students listen and write), the use of ICT based on creation theory will create an interactive classroom (a classroom in which the teacher and the students interact directly online, instead of face-to-face and from time to time) with the advantage of possible feedback and greater depth of the issues being discussed. With a comprehensive search of a range of subjects in an active class, the time it takes to give theoretical presentations can be decreased, practice time could be increased. It could be a friendly class because ICT changes the relationship between the teacher and students because the teacher now wishes to spend time with all of his students having an on-going active exchange, sharing information on the subject. 88 Application of information and communication technology in teaching Philosophy... While using ICT skills, this relationship is close and friendly because students can give their teacher their opinions, the teacher will take the time to analyze each of them and respond to each student at once and this could drive the process of knowledge creation. There could also be an open class where learning could take place at any time or place, provided that there is Internet connection, computers, phones, video and teachers who are online busy interacting with the students. 2.1.4. What is ICT and creation theory’s role in teaching philosophy? Philosophy is a science that equips world vision and a methodology for people in their perceptions and actions. Knowledge of philosophy has some basic characteristics: 1) It is highly abstracted and generalized and is therefore difficult for students who are moving from high school to college to learn; 2) It is systematic, logical and accurate; 3) It is dialectic (Philosophy in general is an open system established from practice so changes occur according to the development of human understanding and practices). 4) It is relatively independant but impacts practical activities. Philosophy is a subject about which much is obtuse and complicated could be learned, while lesson time is limited. To overcome this conflict, the use of ICT based on creation theory in teaching philosophy is needed. This would help both teachers and students to search for and find rich, diversified, multidimensional information and reduce the pressure on class time. ICT can also help students to understand abstract philosophical concepts through the use of examples and vivid illustrations. Theories could be joined to real life practices and updated information could be provided in each lesson. ICT also creates a new pace for the lesson. Previously, during philosophy classtime, teachers and students relied primarily on textbooks. However, philosophy should be more like a forum where the audience is students and the lecturer is the performer. With ICT, exchange is extended by the tape of Muntimedia (multimedia communications), students are active in searching for and processing materials and information, and they are using the information acquired and and their experience as the "co-performer" with the lecturer. If the teacher will make his time available, the students and lecturer will have that time for discussion, sharing different approaches and enhance practical use. Through the use of ICT, students can practice their presentation skills and reveal their ability to think, communicate, perceive and create. Students can better benefit from classtime thanks to the interactive experiences they’ve had with their online teacher. 2.2. Apply information technologies based on creation theory in teaching the "The two principles of dialectic materialism" (a program for students of Philosophy) ICT is not necessarily used for every chapters and article, and certainly not for simple information. Here, we chose the chapter "The two principles of dialectic materialism", a focus of the philosophy program, for which its neither easy nor difficult for students to apply ICT and master their own knowledge creation process. For an efficient application ICT in teaching theoretical creation, it is necessary to 89 Nguyen Thi Toan perform the following steps: Preparation: This stage is very important as it decides on the success or failure of the lecture. - Teacher’s duty: 1) Give students a syllabus; 2) Give the students homework that they must complete before class; 3) Teach students how they can get information from textbooks, reference books and the Internet; 4) Find and make use of the most current information when giving a lecture. The teachers need to know what the students have learned thus far to be able to take them further along. Assignments should focus on the basic content of the lesson and inspire the students to want to learn more. Students’ task: Prepare for the lesson in groups. Designate a group leader and have that leader tell each student in his group what he must do. The information that students need to acquire revolves around four groups of issues: 1) The concept of dialectics, historical dialectics, dialectics comparison and metaphysics; 2) Common relationships principles; 3) Development principles; 4) Methodological principles deriving from two principle contents (with reference to the country’s current development status, education and their own life). The members to search for information and then share it among themselves. The group leader aggregates what the group prepared. In class: The teacher introduces the lesson with an overview of the purpose and telling them what exactly will be required of them. The groups, in random order, present problems using Power Point with accompanying evidence and illustrations. These examples should address all three fields: natural, social and thinking. The other students should listen, observe and ask critical questions that do not challenge the basic theory. The teacher suggests questions which appear to be critical. These will revolve around the central issue, gaps in students’ arguments, and improper perceptions. In this program, students are often not clear about the following: What is the role of metaphysics in perception? Do things and phenomena which are apart in space and time have any relationship with each other? Does metaphysic opinion acknowledge movement and development of the world? Are there negative aspects to development? Is there any movement in the world taking place in a circle? Can a defective object be considered comprehensive? Many students answer "no” to these questions and they are to learn why they are mistaken to do so. The lecturer is to analyze the opinions of the students and encourage debate, suggesting open solutions. Teachers can also mention to sayings, proverbs and quotes from Ho Chi Minh, and require students to explain the sayings, "No one can bathe twice in the same river" (Heraclit), “Why it is said that when a butterfly flaps its wings up, it could foretell an earthquake?” and "The break was inside the cup" (Buddhism). After listening to the groups’ presentations and the discussion comments, and answered students’ questions, the teacher provides a suitable opinion and finalizes the basic contents using Power Point, presenting comments and evaluation. The evaluation made by the teacher is comprehensive and is based on the progress made by the students in the learning process. It is also a comprehensive assessment of materials prepared, the 90 Application of information and communication technology in teaching Philosophy... form and content of the slides, the presentation of problems, the quality of answers to critical questions and group interaction capabilities. Teachers also ask the students to begin preparing for the next part of the class. Students receive teacher’s comments and distill other students’ opinions, adjust and supplement their knowledge, and the learning process of the students as well as the assimilation and application of knowledge according to creation theory took place with the support of ICT. The information acquired by the students was provided under the direction of the teacher and with the support of ICT. The concern of the student and collaboration in teamwork, etc. is to become sustainable, providing an impetus for the creation of new knowledge of the student. 2.3. Some difficult issues in applying ICT in teaching philosophy based on creation theory and suggestions on how to overcome the problems Applying ICT based on creation theory requires a great deal of time, many attempts, and ICT facilities (computer, projector, the internet, etc.), besides an ability of the teachers and students to use the software. Today, most schools in Vietnam lack basic ICT equipment and therefore ICT cannot be used in teaching. Even young teachers who have a basic understanding of informatics lack the practical or professional ability to use it. In Vietnam, teachers are most concerned with ways they can make money and they are not overly concerned about their students. Older teachers are the same but they have the ready excuse that they have no informatics training. It is also of significance that philosophy is regarded as an unimportant subject and so the schools that do offer a course in philosophy would have no incentive to make use of ICT in teaching it. Just as the general population in Vietnam has no interest in philosophy, so also do teachers and students have little interest in this subject. The use of ICT in education occurs mostly at teaching festivals. Due to the infrequency of these festivals, teachers have not learned to use a slide projector. The previous teaching method of having students read and then write is replaced with showing what has been written on the slides, which includes a great deal of text. The use of ICT is a superficial substitute of the same old write-an-copy method of the teacher and therefore does not increase student creativity. To avoid this situation, it is suggested that we should: Spend however much is required in order to put in place the infrastructure that will make it possible to apply ICT for teaching: This means to equip classrooms and halls with computers, projectors, a Wifi network and facilities needed to make possible the new teaching method. - When the equipment is purchased and installed, it should be required that teachers make use ICT when teaching. - Provide classes to teach informatics to teachers, especially on how to use the software that teachers would need use in their lectures and E-learning lecture design techniques. - Establish an electronic library, particularly for philosophy, with a store of electric 91 Nguyen Thi Toan syllabus, information and materials that can be accessed. - Establish an on-line philosophy forum on which students can post questions and opinions. 3. Conclusion To be able to make use of ICT, teachers must have basic information and skills regarding ICT and creative teaching theory. This would qualitatively change all methods of teaching and test evaluation, and create a new generation of teachers, and students, who are independent, have initiative, are creative, and can have real interaction, meeting the demand for high quality human resources in this age of globalization. For philosophy, the application of ICT basing on creation theory would help this abstract subject become lively, understandable and more attractive, which would lead to improved thinking ability of the students, which is a prerequisite for people to able to function in a modern society. REFERENCES [1] Nguyen Huu Chau - Cao Thi Ha, 2004. Rationale of creation theory in teaching. Education Science Information, Vol. 103 [2] Development strategy for Information Technologies and Co