Feasibility of ICT in ELT Classes in Nepal
Eak Prasad Duwadi
There has been no time like this in the world history of technology. Although most people travel to work in a modern mean of transportation, how technology has transformed the world is still unconcealed. Even in remote areas in Nepal, almost each family own more than one mobile phone sets now.
Both teachers and students interact with each other via internet, and use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has slowly been taking rapidity at schools and colleges even in Nepal. However, because of some limitations like load-shedding, poor infrastructures at institutions and lack of trainings to the teachers, the fruits of ICT are not given fully to the learners. Then, how can it be best utilized in Nepal? In his book A brief history of the future: the origins of the Internet, Naughton (Crystal, 2004) comments:
The Internet is one of the most remarkable things human beings have ever made. In terms of its impact on society, it ranks with print, the railways, the telegraph, the automobile, electric power and television. Some would equate it with print and television, the two earlier technologies which most transformed the communications environment in which people live. Yet it is potentially more powerful than both because it harnesses the intellectual leverage which print gave to mankind without being hobbled by the one-to-many nature of broadcast television with a clear and common vision. (p. vii)
This was impossible at the turn of the 19th century. Time has taken giant strides by now. These days Internet has allured everyone. Almost all sectors have been improved largely, and education is no exception– ICT has annexed this sector since last decade (new millennium).
ICT becomes part and parcel of education plans, ensuring its implementation. It also enables education stakeholders to examine opportunities for ICT in education (UNESCO, 2004). Godwyn (2000) states:
Internet provides opportunities for students to search for visual resources of all kinds to use alongside books and other print resources. Students can, through creative use of the photocopier and printer, and increasingly the scanner, produces texts that are a visual representation not only of the poems and their own version, but of the historical and social context from which they came. (p. 126)
The need to instill among students the importance of lifelong learning, that is, to constantly seek new information, to think critically and to take initiative (UNESCO, 2004) has become ever more pressing in our fast-changing world. English teachers who are like cultured people distributing the inheritance and with experiencing a living culture as it happens, are always curious to “this living culture that is now the culture of the computer, the Internet, the global media, the hypertext, the interactive encyclopedia and, of course, the book” (Goodwyn, 2000).
One can still make out how technology frees the human thoughts. How the digital revolution and the arrival of the internet have allowed for an unprecedented exchange of ideas is perhaps crystal clear. For example, hundreds of English Language Teaching (ELT)-related materials to be found on the Internet came as a revelation. “They also developed an awareness of the breadth of material; researching one topic on the Internet threw up other areas which might at another time be of real use” (Goodwyn, 2000, p. 37). “While Edubba was originally conceived of for use by Junior High school learners and beyond, it has been successfully tested both with slightly younger learners in senior elementary grades and with young adult learners in college labs” (Reeder, 2010). Also in Nepal One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) I/NGOs have started to distribute XO laptops to sample schools that contains integrated lessons. Moreover, the Government of Nepal has also already provided a PC to each public school. WebMD, an accepted internet portal for medical information, permits patients to self-research symptoms for a more informed doctor visit. This exercise opens trails of thinking that were previously closed off to the non-medical people. With increased interdisciplinary interactions, inspiration can arrive from the most surprising corners. So technology actually provides hope to the future of humanity.
Technology appears to mark the human experience, from the discovery of fire to the execution of nanotechnology. In the history of the mankind, there will be surely no limit to the number of both new and old problems for us to engage in. There is no need to retreat to a Luddite attitude  to new things, but rather hug a hopeful posture to the possibilities that technology provides for new opportunities. Despite of some limitations and challenges, ELT teachers ubiquitously feel the value of ICT lies in the opportunities it creates. “An example cited is the Year 9s, who now are creating their own web pages and forging links with feeder primary schools, finding ways of communicating with those schools” (p. 49). As many of fellow teachers, I also think “Teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) who want to develop successful lessons face numerous challenges, including large class sizes and inadequate instructional materials and technological support” (Sad, 2008). Nevertheless, with ICT, that may include mobile, we can engage them different groups with separate projects like producing drama, creating stories, poems, etc.
Technology seems to make the problems obsolete as reliance on it does not necessarily bar the creativity that marks the human species. The preceding examples reveal that technology allows for expediency. The vehicle, computer and cell phone all liberate additional time for people to live well. This efficiency does not prohibit the need for humans to think for themselves.
In fact, technology frees compassion to not only deal with new problems, but may it create new issues that did not exist before. For example, the large quantity of vehicles has introduced a need for fuel conservation on a global scale. With increasing energy demands from emerging markets, climate change has become a concern improbable to the old generations. Similarly, dependence on oil has created countries that are not dependent on taxation, allowing ruling parties to oppress the poor. Solutions to these complex problems require the flexible imaginations of very wise scientists and politicians.
By increasing our reliance on technology, impossible targets can now be achieved. With the technology of vaccines, free thinking humans dared to imagine a world free of smallpox. Moreover, by using technology, battle plans were drawn out, and epidemics were steadily targeted and eliminated.
However, some people still have the assumption that an increased dependence on technology (for instance Internet) negates the need for people to think creatively and resolve previous sticky situations. They claim without Internet, vehicle, computer, or mobile phone, people need to find alternate methods of transport, information processing and communication. Interacting with the generation Z  , whom tech-savviness seems to have rendered toxic, is even less heartening. With teenagers’ trends shooting through the air from PDA and with the latest starlet buzz zipping from succulent smart phones to little mobiles having GPRS (a telecommunications system providing very fast internet connections for mobile phones), technology seems to support new generations’ worst leanings to go behind the crowd.
In fact, today’s teens who even have tiny cameras to efficiently photodocument the fashion blunders, are civility of bona-fide with hands-on video games. Courtesy of chat and instant text messaging, they have their own languages, too. Therefore, technology trends and the integration of technological wizardry into our everyday lives have served mostly to inflict conventionality by promoting dependence, consumerism and materialism, and a culture that values of vanity and personal right over cooperation and collaboration.
Above all, I think we are simply in the embryonic stages of learning to live with technology, where technology hasn’t damaged students’ thinking and problem-solving aptitudes. Even though it seems to have debilitated our behavior and manners, and their values have taken a blow, they are perhaps more well-organized in our badness these days. The main challenge is to outline how to provide technology users with some correct directions. If teachers put effort in technology appropriately, it can improve their ability to think and act optimum even in Nepal.
Crystal, D. (2004). Language and the Internet. Cambridge: Cambridge.
Godwyn, A. (Ed.). (2000). English in the digital age. London: Cassell.
Granger, S. (Ed.). (1998). Learner English on computer. New York: Longman.
Reeder, K. (2010). Edubba: Real-world writing tasks in a virtual world. In M. Thomas, & H.
Reinders (Eds.), Task-based language learning and teaching with technology (pp. 176-196). York Road, London: Continuum.
Sad, S. N. (2008). Using mobile phone technology in EFL classes. English Teaching Forum (4),
34 – 40.
UNESCO. (2004). Integrating ICT into education. Bangkok: UNESCO.
(Mr. Dawadi is an Assistant Professor of English at Kathmandu University)