Valuing the Information and Communication Technologies in Education. Collaborative Tools
The collaborative approach has become a vital component in many fields, its benefits being visible even in education. In this context, in order to come to the aid of the educational activities, we are witnessing today an explosion of tools and technologies that we can use to support didactic projects based on collaborative learning. The actual context and changes require every teacher to have a clear and detailed image of the available software tools and on how they can be used most effectively in order to achieve the specific instructive-educational objectives. Moreover, the continuous development of IT makes the focus to move slowly towards collaborative tools developed for mobile systems. The software tools are used in education today mainly for creating and transposing teaching content or for processing and making accessible the existing ones. From the education system perspective, the educational purpose is that these new information and communication technologies to be accessed and used by pupils or students on a large scale and to generate genuine learning by facilitating reception, understanding and assimilation of scientific content.
Keywords: Education systemcollaborative toolscollaborative learningtransposing teaching content
Introduction – issues and methodology of the study
The current concerns of educational institutions are aimed at ensuring the quality of education and
are increasingly targeted towards identifying new opportunities, means or instruments suitable to
optimize the training activities of professional skills of the pupils or students. In this sense, for
is used to create educational content or conversion of regular educational materials, in order to be
accessed by students in a simple, interactive and effective manner from learning perspective.
The educational system is constantly under pressure of striving to adapt to the changes generated by
the ICT innovations and breakthroughs. The constant adaptation of digital tools in the education
systems is a priority and a strategic direction in all countries of the world and especially at the
European level. The EU documents and literature of speciality in the field presents the assumed and
generally-valid orientation as a target for 2020 Europe concerning digital competitiveness and
strengthening of European digital economy, which spreads out in all economic sectors and is an
integrant part of social life. In Europe, 50% of productivity growth in recent years is due to ICT.
Nevertheless, Europe must maintain this accelerated pace if it wishes to fully exploit the potential
benefits of the digital economy, improving students’ competences and supporting innovation in ITC.
The actual educational context requires every teacher or trainer to develop their digital skills and use
software tools available in the classroom. This context is absolutely necessary to generate a positive
impact in terms of achieving the objectives of educational specific to the field, by using ICT tools. This
tools have the power to facilitate the acceptance, understanding, assimilation and creative application
of specific contents.
Technology is everywhere in the knowledge society and therefore its transfer in education is
justified. More, education is affected by actual technologies, which have undoubtedly influenced
teaching and learning. In this context, there is an increasing interest on using actual information
technologies to improve education.
Studies in the domain show that in education, the trend is one of innovation. This trend requires
adopting mainly collaborative technologies, increasingly available on the devices, which provide real
opportunities in terms of running with improved efficiency the educational processes. This
development is sustained by the digital skills of pupils and students, more skilful in handling mobile
devices and continuously connected to a wide range of applications.
Implementing of actual information technologies is regarded as one of the most important issues.
From this reason, the impact of ICT at global level has generated a reaction in educational systems.
Developing digital competences is a priority as pointed out in the Strategic Framework ET2020 and
in Joint Report on its implementation from 2015. Thus, the issues addressed in the present study
concerning the use of ITC in education, involved the delimitation in conducting research and the
identification of future research directions, attempting to answer to the following questions:
What is the current context on adopting ITC technologies in education?
Which are the challenges faced by teachers when implementing ITC technologies into the
teaching and learning process?
Which are the proper digital tools for the educational process?
The answers provided for the above-mentioned questions are based on the research conducted,
whose purpose was twofold: it involved a qualitative analysis through the literature review and an
analysis on the level of ITC integration in education. The research thus enabled the identification of
new approaches and digital challenges as well as its effects showed in:
specific ways of integrating ITC in education, especially the collaborative ones;
teachers’ reaction to adapting the teaching content through ITC tools;
personal/institutional barriers to the large scale adoption of ITC.
In this context, this paper provides a review of the most important opportunities and challenges
associated with the adoption of current information technology in education, some benefits and
possible disadvantages of this process being noted.
Actual Context of Adoption ICTS in Education – Literature Review
Information technologies evolve rapidly. The current generation has grown up with technology and
is different from previous generations. They easily handle devices in their everyday life and want to use
them in an active way, in their education training through the development of digital competences.
Moreover, learning through ICT has a positive impact on communication skills, on collaboration and
on learning responsibilities.
ICT is a generic term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio,
television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software and so on, as well as the
various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance
learning. ICTs are often spoken of in a particular context, such as ICTs in education, health care, or
libraries (Rouse, 2005).
The continued expansion of the IT field makes the focus to shift towards collaborative tools and
towards the ones developed for mobile devices. In this context, to support professional training
activities for pupils and students, many tools and digital technologies may be used, that have the
potential to stimulate learning.
is shown that the importance of new technologies has become a leitmotif of the discourse on education
at all levels: curriculum and didactic practice, training professors, developing education institutions,
educational policies or the management of the educational system. The issue of integrating the new
ICT tools in education has already been approached a long time ago, and it has been analysed from
multiple perspectives, with particular emphasis on the advantages, the necessary resources and the
implications estimated at various levels (Marin, 2012).
Today, the objectives in education pursue the adoption in teaching / evaluation activities (at all
levels of education, including university) of collaborative technologies or software tools developed for
mobile devices. This trend is due to the fact that the actual generation of students grow up with digital
technology, and differ from the oldest generations. They handle technologies quickly in their day after
day lives and wants to use it in their education, actively rather than passively. More than, learning with
technologies also has positive impact on learners’ communication and collaboration skills, problem
solving skills, responsibility for learning, and achievement (Peterson, 2010).
Technology can be an important argument for the inclusion of pupils and students with disabilities
in education. The development of customizable applications tailored to users with special education
needs brings many benefits as it helps modelling the learning process to different cognitive, sensorial
or mobility impairments. Therefore, the design of this kind of application must take into account non-
functional requirements (Fernández-Lópeza, et. al., 2013).
Schools are increasingly concerned with providing pupils and students in schools with their own
computer, laptop, notebook or tablet. Moreover, in recent years, iPads and Chromebooks stood out as
devices more appealing to schools.
Current information technologies determine a new approach to education. Analysis of virtual, online
education leads to the conclusion that there is a new perspective to the approach of the educational
process. The applicability and impact force generated by current technologies must determine their
widespread adoption in the education system, benefiting also from the high degree of receptivity of
young people towards them.
The attempt to bring technology closer to the pupil or student may lead to achieving the following
to allow the teacher (through software instruments) to offer a more personalized educational
content corresponding to the lessons, thus allowing the pupil or student to learn in his own
rhythm and according to his personal abilities;
to contribute to the development of modern technologies specific abilities, becoming better
prepared for the modern workplace, in which digitalization is the common denominator;
to support students and pupils in achieving some creative and more complex activities, allowing
them to use instruments and online applications;
to improve the communication process between the involved actors (teachers-pupil/student–
Educational technology integration can promote the change from instructor led to student or pupil
centred classrooms. Students’/pupils’ achievements and skills improve when the learners are engaged,
and engagement results from providing opportunities that comes with many forms of digital
technologies them to take greater responsibility for their own student/pupil centred learning (Leneway,
Challenges that Impeding Technology Adoption in Education
Integration of modern educational technologies in education, involves the school to focus on the
development of thinking, selecting: the content, methods, forms and criteria for training and evaluation.
This means that it must to develop the educational technology that develops a certain style of learning
with a lasting effect.
Benefits and opportunities that can be brought to actual education are the necessary prerequisites
that determine IT companies in the world to target their work towards the development of some
software tools for education. This development is encouraged and supported, on the one hand, by the
children’s abilities to use software tools specific to smaller ages, and the openness of teachers to adapt
their teaching contents to new information technologies, on the other hand. In this context, the
development of new technologies in the teaching-learning domain have real implication on emergence
of new didactical methodologies, within mobile learning has gained a major role.
Although the benefits are significant, there are still reluctances about teaching and assessment
methods adapted to new technologies. This reluctance may be due to the inability to clearly
demonstrate that the adoption of new technologies can improve learning outcomes and unequal access
to technology of pupils/students from different regions of the country, thereby leading to significant
gaps in the level of attainment of learning.
A described in (Kojima, 2014), teachers do not have anytime sufficient time, opportunities, and
confidence to learn and practice teaching and learning technologies. Also, because of their limited time
for preparing and personal preferences, teachers often skip over materials and lesson plans designed in
curriculum guidance’s. Even if teachers might believe in ICT as a set of tools that helps them to
support more professionally and efficiently, they are likely to hesitate in integrating it into classes for a
variety of reasons, which includes their lack of confidence and knowledge.
These causes can be due also to the lack of educational vision. Without a clear image of how
technology can influence the current education system and how it can help improve the learning
outcomes, adaptation can be an endeavour difficult to implement.
The current unprecedented development of hardware devices (computers, tablets or smart phones)
as well as software ones, are challenges and concrete arguments for the full integration of information
technologies in education. More, at the level of operating systems for mobile devices (Android or IOS),
specific applications are becoming more numerous. In this context, we can say that the technology is
capable of transforming learning by allowing the teacher to be with his pupils or students for longer
periods of time.
The technology supports the teaching and learning activity because it leads learning beyond the
classroom, involving all actors in the school community, prepares students for their profession.
Moreover, collaborative technologies are able to generate additional benefits. For this reason, their
integration (especially at higher levels of the education system) begins to be more marked and the
results soon start to appear.
In Martinovic & Zhang (2012) was identified a number of challenges that Teacher Education
Program (TEP) may face when designing ICT learning experiences to prepare pre-service teachers to
teach with technology. Such problematic areas include:
inadequate and/or scarce modelling of the pedagogical uses of ICT, both in schools and in the
limited access to ICT, both in schools and in the TEP;
misconceptions around the educational use of some ubiquitous ICT;
insufficient comfort with ICT use among pre-service teachers; high and only partially fulfilled expectations that these future teachers have with reference to opportunities for learning and using ICT for teaching.
All these premises determines the education system (including the one in Romania) to adapt to
information technologies, which is why projects and initiatives like “a tablet for every student in
primary school” slowly become a necessary feature, specific to the education system.
Collaborative Tools for Education
Research on learning through collaboration and cooperation has grown in the last two decades. It
has a strong theoretical and empirical support for motivational and cognitive benefits of collaboration,
unlike competitive and individualistic learning activities. According to Martinovic & Zhang (2012), in
the context of collaborative learning, it is expected that participants bring along their motivational
beliefs, tendencies, and goals and that these will play a mediating role in their actual engagement in the
The existing digital skills of pupils and students (who spend increasingly more time on the Internet)
generate significant changes in educational processes that must adapt, especially at collaborative
models and online learning. These changes are due to the fact that the online medium is capable of
offering important opportunities for improved collaboration. Exploitation the benefits offered by
current information technologies generate improved educational activities in any educational
institution. At the same time, it increases the potential for collaboration, providing the opportunity to
extend students’ learning environment, to complement the formal curriculum. It is also important to
note that in recent years, the perception over online learning has changed; it is now seen as a more and
more viable alternative to face-to-face learning.
The impact of collaborative learning requires the generation, transfer and understanding of specific
knowledge, which makes collaboration a necessary and extremely valuable process. Moreover,
collaborative learning can consistently contribute to personalization and enrichment of the learning
According to Syed Noor-Ul-Amin, ICTs have the potential to accelerate, enrich, and deepen skills,
to motivate and engage students, to help relate schools experience to work practices, create economic
viability for tomorrow's workers, as well as strengthening teaching and helping schools change (Noor-
Ul-Amin, 2013). Actual information technologies try to facilitate the educational process and help
create favourable contexts of learning and skills development; building a complex of attitudes that stimulate curiosity, the desire to know more and more, the spirit of self-competition, the pleasure of making progress and developing one’s self-instructing capabilities; accurate reporting evaluation.
Over the last two decades, the use of technology has been an important topic in education. On the one hand, studies have shown that it can enhance teaching and learning outcomes: scholars have documented that the use of ICT can improve students’ conceptual understanding, problem solving, and team working skills (Zhang & Martinovic, 2008).
In the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition, is mentioned that collective action among universities is growing in importance for the future of higher education. More and more,
institutions are joining consortia — associations of two or more organizations — to combine resources
or to align themselves strategically with innovation in higher education. Today’s global environment is
allowing universities to unite across international borders and work toward common goals concerning
technology, research, or shared values. Support behind technology-enabled learning in higher
education classrooms has reinforced the trend toward open communities and university consortia, as
educators and administrators recognize collective action as a sustainable method of supporting
upgrades in technological infrastructure and IT services (***, 2015).
The main objective of collaborative tools is to increasing accessibility and the quality of education
on a global level. Today, there is many platforms for creating, collaborating and sharing, an online
environments for all our files, which offer a set of tools for students and teachers alike. For example,
one of the most popular is Google Classroom, which is an online tool that allows teachers to set up
classrooms, assign work to students, grade the work and return it to the students. This software tool is
available to anyone with Google Apps for Education and is designed to help teachers create and collect
assignments paperless, including time-saving features such as the ability to make a copy of a Google
Document for each student from its classroom. There is more benefits, including:
easy to set up,
improves organization activities, enhances communication.
With this solution, teachers can create courses with just a few clicks.
In Addison et. al., (2010) is presented a personalized collaborative tool (Personalized Annotation Management System 2.0 –
Summarizing, we can say that in education, collaborative tools are used today to improve communication skills and to enable group problem-solving. In this way, each pupil or student can harness the knowledge of others. Also, the quality of interaction is a vital factor in the learning environments, digital tools allowing pupils or students to interact easily (ask questions and receive answers), and teachers to provide real time feedback.
Conclusions and Discussions
The use of ICT in education contributes to the innovation of the teaching and learning strategy,
resulting in the integration and adoption of ICT specific instruments in the operation of processing
educational content in various fields. Also, it provide an education appropriate to the specific
requirements of the information society, according with the technology trend, extremely dynamic and
to which sometimes students are better connected than teachers. These tools enable teachers to adapt
their teaching techniques, integrating ICT innovations in an interactive way and to access or create
attractive digital educational content, with direct impact on young people’s professional skills training.
I appreciate that the benefits are already visible, and on medium and long term, the results will be
reflected in an improved educational system.
Through the new ICT, a diversification of the means of access to information is generated.
Development and implementation of new digital technologies generate a metamorphosis of the
communication process in mass education. In this sense, it can be said that information technologies
are already a major challenge of the moment in the educational training plan, the generated impact
becoming a spearhead for the progress registered in all areas of social life.
The development of specialized competences is a topical issue, the curriculum directing the
educational process towards achieving a quality training consonant with the knowledge society. To
improve the quality of teaching, a continuous integration of new information technologies in the
education system is required, in order to be applied intelligently and constructively in the development
of the educational process. The benefits of technology are evident not only in the transmission and
acquisition of new knowledge, but in strengthening the acquired skills and also in achieving the
transfer of information between different fields of knowledge. Information technologies favour, in a
very special way, the learning through discovery both in the information chapter and in terms of the
variety of ways of using the computer itself, saving time and effort.
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VolumeEpSBS / Volume 15 - WLC 2016