How to Overcome Challenges Caused by Lack of ICT Resources in Sri Lankan Schools

T. M. S. S. K. Y. Ekanayake


It is well recognised that education can aid development of a country by creatinga workforce that is more productive. However, without the availability of classroomresources, teachers cannot provide quality education. It is now being recognised thatInformation Communication Technologies (ICT) could support quality-education inmany ways. Nevertheless, ICT resources are limited in many schools. For example,computer laboratories are available in only 40% of schools and only 12% of schoolshave the internet connectivity. Some of these computer laboratories are now becomingout of date. Moreover, it is well known that the remote schools always have less ICTresources and the low levels of electrification. Therefore, frequent power outages inmany places regularly hinder the effective use of ICT in teaching and learning. Thepossibility of using mobile phones to carry out most of the functions that computerscould do make them an ideal solution for education. The biggest advantage in usingmobile phones for learning activities in Sri Lanka is the comparable low cost of mobilephones. Further, mobile phones do not suffer from power outages and can be used inareas where there is no electricity.

The work presented in this paper first reviews the literature to discuss thepotential of mobile phones for teaching and learning. Then the factors that supportedtheir use in Sri Lankan schools were discussed by carrying out a survey among group ofscience teachers and a market survey in Sri Lanka. Finally, four sample lessons weredeveloped with a group of teachers and implemented in four different classroomsettings. The survey questionnaire data were analysed descriptively using the SPSSstatistical package. During the lesson development and implementations, data werecollected using observation via video, audio recording and written materials (teachers‟notes on how they used mobile phones during lesson planning stage, the participantobserver‟s field-notes and students‟ comments in post-lesson interviews). These datawere transcribed; translated, coded and emerging themes were abstracted usingThematic Network Analysis. From the findings it was recognised that the mobile phone is an ideal alternative for computer, video camera and still-camera and they couldsupport learning by bridging the outside world with classroom and enhancing theinteractions. However, the main limitation of this study was that the findings are basedonly on four lessons. Thus, further studies should be carried out with a greater numberof participants and in different contexts before making a broad generalisation of theabove claim.

Key words: Teaching and learning, challenges, ICT, Mobile phone

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