Educational Technology in Cyprus and Strategies for Higher Education

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Saskatchewan Library]On: 19 November 2014, At: 01:01Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Educational Media InternationalPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/remi20

    Educational Technology in Cyprus andStrategies for Higher EducationCharalambos VrasidasPublished online: 02 Dec 2010.

    To cite this article: Charalambos Vrasidas (2002) Educational Technology in Cyprus andStrategies for Higher Education, Educational Media International, 39:2, 123-131, DOI:10.1080/09523980210153462

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09523980210153462

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    http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • Educational Technology in Cyprus and Strategiesfor Higher EducationCharalambos Vrasidas, Cyprus

    AbstractsThis paper provides an overview of the status of educational technology in Cyprus. Recent developments and efforts intechnology integration in Cyprus public schools and public and private higher education institutions will be presented anddiscussed. The emphasis of the discussion will be on the vision for establishing Cyprus as a regional education centre with theuse of distance learning technologies. Issues such as the need for restructuring the education system to eliminate the lengthybureaucratic procedures needed for implementing innovations, the need for teacher continuous support and professionaldevelopment, and the need for evaluating, accrediting and supporting private higher education institutions will be presented.The role of these institutions will be discussed and concrete proposals will be presented on how these institutions can take thelead in establishing technology strategies to shape education in Cyprus and the region. Several of the issues raised and discussedin this article can transfer to other countries and similar contexts.

    La Technologie de lEducation Chypre et les Stratgies pour lEnseignement SuprieurCet article propose une vue densemble de la technologie de lducation Chypre. Les dveloppements rcents et les effortsdans lintgration de la technologie Chypre sont prsents et discuts. Lessentiel la discussion porte sur ltablissement Chypre dun centre rgional faisant recours aux technologies denseignement distance. Les problmes tels que le besoin derestructuer le systme ducatif pour liminer les longues procdures bureaucratiques utilises pour soutenir les innovations, lebesoin dun sanction continue de lenseignant et dun dveloppement professionnel et le besoin dvaluer, daccepter et desoutenir les institutions prives denseignement suprieur sont prsents. Le rle de ces institutions est discut et on trouvera despropositions sur la facon dont ces institutions peuvent conduire ltablissement de stratgies de technologie pour reformerlducation Chypre et dans la rgion. Plusieurs des problmes soulevs et discuts dans cet article peuvent tre transfrs dansdautres pays et dans des contextes semblables.

    Unterrichtstechnologien auf Zypern und Strategien innerhalb der hheren SchulbildungDieser Artikel gibt einen berblick ber den Stand der Bildungstechnologie in Zypern. Es wird ber neue Entwicklungen undVersuche bei der Einfhrung der Technologie in den ffentlichen Schulen und ffentlichen und privaten Weiterbild-ungsinstituten berichtet. Der Schwerpunkt der Diskussion liegt auf der Vision, Zypern als regionales Bildungszentrum auf der Basis von Fernbildungstechnologien zu etablieren. Dabei werden Probleme angeschnitten wie das des Umbaus desBildungswesen um langwierige brokratische Verfahren, die fr die Umsetzung von Erneuerungen bentigt werden, zustreichen; die Notwendigkeit der Lehrerfortbildung , der Bewertung und Akkreditierung und die Untersttzung privaterInstitutionen im hheren Bildungsbereich. Es wird die Rolle dieser Institutionen erlutert und es werden konkrete Vorschlgegemacht, wie diese Institute eine fhrende Rolle in der Nutzung technologischer Strategien beim Bildungsaufbau auf Zypernund seiner Region bernehmen knnen. Einige in diesem Artikel aufgeworfene Fragen lassen sich auf andere Lnder undhnliche Flle bertragen.

    IntroductionInformation and communication technologies have a major impact on education and training around the world.Telecommunication technologies used in distance education can cut the costs of education, improve access toeducation and provide time exibility for learners by creating both synchronous and asynchronous learningenvironments (Mason, 1994; Owston, 1997). The rapid transformation manifested as a result of technologyadvances has an impact on education, training, and on the administration and organization of educational

    Education Media InternationalISSN 0952-3987 print/ISSN 1469-5790 online 2002 International Council for Education Media

    http://www.tandf.co.uk/journalsDOI: 10.1080/0952398021015346 2

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  • institutions around the world. One of most critical challenges facing higher education institutions is how todevelop the capacity for change and remove the barriers built into their cultures that prevent change andmaintain the status quo (Duderstadt, 1999).

    In an era of information economy and knowledge management, it is imperative for nations and organizations toinvest in continuing education and lifelong learning to maintain competitiveness in a global market. The so-calledknowledge societys requirements for just-in-time customized education cannot be met by traditional educationdelivery methods. Educational technologies such as the Internet, satellite interactive television and interactivemultimedia CD-ROMs are widely used in technologically advanced nations around the world. However, tech-nology alone does not guarantee solution of educational problems. Only when used within the framework of asolid strategic plan will technology have a positive impact.

    Although Cyprus is not regarded a technologically advanced nation, there have recently been some developmentsthat are likely to shape the eld of educational technology. The news headlines on TV, radio stations andnewspapers during the summer of 2001 focused on educational technology. A group of anonymous donorsproposed to the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture (CMEC) that they would donate one computer forevery student. The hype over this donation dominated public discourse during the summer. Some people thoughtthat this was the opportunity for Cyprus to earn a place on the world map of educational technology, whereasothers felt that this had the potential of a disastrous effort for technology integration in public schools. After asummer-long debate, the government of Cyprus turned down the offer since the donors refused to reveal theiridentity. Therefore, the government could not trust that the donors would indeed ful l their promise. Besides,there were plans for equipping all schools with computers and connecting them to the Internet over the next veyears. However, the lengthy media coverage and intensive debates over this matter illustrate the publics desire toupgrade Cyprus public schools and integrate information and communications technologies (ICT) into teachingand learning.

    Next, I will provide some background information on Cyprus. I will then discuss some developments in educa-tional technology in primary, secondary and higher education. I will address some issues facing higher educationinstitutions and discuss three major barriers to integrating information technologies in education. Several of theissues raised and discussed in this article are transferable to other similar contexts.

    Background informationCyprus is an island in the Mediterranean sea, strategically situated on the world map on the crossroads of threecontinents: Europe, Asia and Africa. The strategic position of Cyprus is an important factor that has contributedto its troubled history over the years. Its strategic location is one of the factors on which we will base the proposalfor establishing Cyprus as a centre for education in the region. The population of Cyprus is estimated around740,000: 82% belong to the Greek Cypriot community, 16% to the Turkish Cypriot community and 2% areforeigners residing in Cyprus. The per capita income is over $13,000, one of the highest in the Mediterranean.Cyprus has an open free market economy and there are currently several offshore and high-tech companiesoperating in the island.

    Between the 1960s and 1980s, educational technology efforts in schools were limited to the use of traditionalaudiovisual equipment and some government produced educational radio and television programming.Advanced ICT have not been a part of the Cyprus educational technology scene until the early 1990s.Educational technology efforts were in uenced, in part, by the islands technological infrastructure. Cyprus hasinvested heavily in the development of telecommunications on the island. As a result, its telecommunicationsinfrastructure is very well developed. Cyprus has recently acquired access to satellite technology in partnershipwith Greece, which will allow Cyprus to participate in interactive televisions projects and develop material for such broadcasts. Technology is used widely in the private sector and the CMEC feels the pressure to keep upwith technology developments. Unfortunately, this pressure forces the CMEC to rush into decisions that are notwell planned. One such example is the recent announcement by the CMEC for compulsory computer training for high school teachers, something that raised serious reactions since the ministry did not give teachers theopportunity to provide input on this issue.

    Something that will have a strong impact on Cyprus education, economy and culture is accession to the EuropeanUnion (EU), which is planned to take place by January 2003. Cyprus has been a member of the Council of Europesince1960 and it follows policies similar to those of the EU member-states in the eld of education. Cyprus isaligned with the principles provided by EU resolutions, declarations, conclusions, etc. (e.g. equality ofopportunity, illiteracy, safety in schools, etc.).

    124 EMI 39:2 PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY

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  • The status of educational technology in primary and secondary educationAll European nations have established policies for incorporating ICT in education. Their objectives have been setin the categories of equipment, the acquisition and development of software, the skills of teachers and students,and the use of the Internet. Cyprus has established objectives in all six areas for primary education and uppersecondary education. In the primary level, the trend among European education systems is to integrate ICT astools for learning. Although most European nations have plans for in-service teacher training on ICT, Cyprusdoes not have such a plan (Eurydice, 2000a).

    After the special evaluation report of the Cyprus education system conducted in 1997 by the InternationalInstitute for Education Planning (1997) a number of reforms were set forth in an effort to raise the quality ofeducation. Among these innovations was technology integration into all levels of classroom teaching. Efforts arecurrently under way to integrate computers and the Internet in primary and secondary school levels.

    The department of primary education has established a pilot programmeto introduce computers and relatedtechnologies into the classroom. During the academic year 19931994, computers were introduced to someprimary schools as a pilot project (Information Technology Group, 2000). The main goal of the project was toidentify how computers could be integrated into classroom teaching in ways that they will improve education andlearning for all students. This pilot project was coordinated by the Information Technology Group of theCurriculum Development unit at CMEC.

    From the 352 primary schools, only 48 have computer technology available, which corresponds to 13.6% of allpublic primary schools (Information Technology Group, 2000). Furthermore, from the 48 schools that havecomputers, very few have access to the Internet. From the schools that have computer technology, only 32 of themare of cially participating in the computer integration programme run by CMEC. In the summer of 2000, anof cial decision was made to equip every classroom of upper-primary with a computer and a color printer. A planfor lower grades is also under development (Information Technology Group, 2001).

    In Gymnasia (lower secondary) and Lykeia (upper secondary), informatics and computers are currently beingintroduced. The aim behind these initiatives is to provide access to computers to all students and prepare them tobe informed and critical citizens of the information era. In 12 out of 31 Lykeia, there are local area networksinstalled. All Lykeia and technical schools are connected to the Internet. All physics laboratories are equippedwith at least one computer. Teachers have access to computers and they can use them in all areas of thecurriculum (Republic of Cyprus, 1999).

    Although there are plans for equipping schools with technology, what is lacking from most...

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