Information and communication technologies (ICT) are becoming increasingly important in education, therefore, most of the changes that education has undergone in recent decades are related to the incorporation of these in the classrooms and in the lives of students, teachers and parents.
“The rapid progress of information and communication technologies modifies the way in which knowledge is developed, acquired and transmitted” (UNESCO, 1998, cited by Castro, Guzmán and Casado, 2007, p.220)
‘‘The new generations naturally assimilate this technological culture, while for older people it has meant important training, adaptation and modification of the way of doing things that are now "done differently" or that they simply have the belief that they no longer work. For young people, technological developments are perceived as normal, while there is a good number of people from previous generations bordering on digital illiteracy.
Technologies predict, in the educational field, the progressive disappearance of space and time restrictions in teaching and the adoption of a more student-centered learning model. At the same time, they favor the commercialization and globalization of Higher Education, as well as a new management model of their organization.
The main functionalities of ICT in schools are related to:
-Digital literacy of students (rare case and, instead, it is much more necessary for teachers, parents, etc.)
-Access to information, communication, management and data processing.
-Didactic use to facilitate teaching and learning processes.
In addition, the use of ICT has other advantages such as:
-The use of resources. Thanks to technology we can study phenomena without the need to reproduce them in the classroom or go to their natural environment. Simply with the projection of a video or with a good computer simulation, it is possible to consolidate a good learning. On the other hand, the use of information on paper (encyclopedia, books, reports ...) is being reduced and is being replaced by digital support. The technology allows these documents to be transferred via web to almost anywhere in a second.
-Contacts between people. The technologies facilitate contact and communication between teachers, between students and teachers and between the students themselves; sometimes, even between teachers and parents.
-Interest, motivation. Students often associate information technologies with pleasant activities (of a playful nature) which activates positive emotional states in the face of the mere presence of technological equipment. These emotional states have a motivational effect that allows the activity to be sustained for a longer time than with conventional teaching means.
-Autonomous Learning. With properly designed computer programs, capable of providing feedback to users' actions and answers, students can know their mistakes right at the moment they made them and normally the program offers them the possibility to try new answers. This provides a friendly environment for the practice and improvement of skills, unlike the tedious traditional school tasks. This learning procedure already existed on paper or other low-tech media, although the versatility and convenience of computer media allow you to optimize its benefits.
-Easy access to information of all kinds. Both the Internet and the materials in other digital media make available to students and teachers a huge volume of information
(textual and audiovisual) that can be used to facilitate learning. Despite this, one thing
is easy access to information and another very different the quality of that information.
In addition, they provide continuous intellectual activity; development of the initiative in students; encourages cooperative learning; digital and audiovisual literacy; provides easy access to a lot of information of all kinds and multiple educational resources; development of searching abilities and information selection; improvement of expression and creativity skills; they provide great support for learning assistance and access to content, in relation to students that are objects of attention to diversity.
As to the disadvantages from the student's perspective are:
-Addiction. ICT dependence to the point of not being able to live without them.
-Isolation. It is related to addiction, taking it until a time when the student isolates himself from the real world and from the people around him.
-Viruses in computers, etc., which may even disable their use to children.
-Economic effort, sometimes we tend to think that all students have access to these media and teachers organize the classes around them, however, it is not so and many students cannot follow the class by not having internet access in their homes or personal computer. Therefore, Vilchez (2005) comments not only that the teacher should guide the student to make positive use but also that free access points should be created so that everyone can learn and make use of technologies. In addition, tutors could offer alternative options to them (ex.: if the teacher asks to do a computer assignment, he could also give students the option to do so on paper)
-Visual tiredness and other physical problems (ex.; back problems...), by staying long periods of time sitting in front of a screen and with the view exposed to its light.
-Partial vision of reality.
-Exposure to information not appropriate to the age of the students.
-Elimination of other means, which are still useful and should not be left in a corner or forgotten.
Regarding the limitations in teachers, it is important to emphasize that ICTs can cause stress due to ignorance, develop in them minimum effort strategies, dependence on computer systems, the lag with respect to other school activities and problems with computer maintenance due to the requirement of greater dedication and need to update equipment and programs, to which it can be added that these limitations are not exclusive for teachers who work with ICT.
From the perspective of the learning process:
-Distraction. Children are easily distracted and are more likely when they have something so attractive to them and offers so many alternatives to do (instead of studying or learning).
-Greater ease to plagiarize jobs and copy information without learning.
-Waste of time.
-Incomplete and superficial learning.
-Dependence of other people.
From the perspective of the center:
-Costs of teacher training.
-Demand for proper computer maintenance.
-Large investments of money to qualify for machinery.
In conclusion, ICTs have, like almost everything in this life, advantages and disadvantages but what is very clear is that the work becomes much more bearable and easier thanks to these friends of society that improve every day, as it is their goal. Even so, and despite the fact that technologies have become very important in recent years, a survey in López's book (2013) shows that 80% of teachers say they could improvisedly develop a class in which technology failed in a unexpected way for some reason; well, although technologies are a medium that makes work much easier, they are not indispensable and conventional means are not so bad either.