Sunday, 17 January 2010

ICT in Education – from cutting edge to impoverishment

My first exposure to ICT was at my senior school in 1976. During the 1980’s schools were at the forefront of providing pupils with exposure to leading edge ICT technologies. However, despite massive investment both in the UK and North America (Cuban,2001, Burns and Ungerleider, 2002), contemporary schools provision of ICT falls short of what is provided in many homes, libraries and campsites:

“The embarrassing truth is that in a few short decades, schools have gone from providing many students with their first experiences with computers and the internet to what have become islands of impoverishment.”

March, 2007

School is no longer the place to experience cutting edge ICT technologies – some might say quite the reverse. I am old enough to have experienced both ends of this timeline – to be a beneficiary (as a pupil) of the introduction of ICT to schools in the late 70’s and the dubious honour of propagating a questionable pedagogy (as a teacher) on the pupils of the 21st century.

Looking at HEIs’, there has been a similar level of investment in the infrastructure and the technologies, but less investment at the grass roots to address pedagogy and staff training. The effects of the latter are beginning to emerge in both the literature (Woo et al 2008) and anecdotal data (Doe, 2010). Both sources suggest that the gap between expectations of technology by students and by academics is widening: the former having increasingly higher expectations of ICT and competence with it, and the latter falling behind as their workloads increase and thus dilute the attention they can give to using ICT for teaching and learning.


Doe, J (2010)
Amalgamation of informal discussions with HE lecturers from the North West of England, 2008, 2009 & 2010

Burns, T. C. & Ungerleider, C. S. (2002)
Information and communication technologies in elementary and secondary education, International Journal of Educational Policy, Research and Practice, 3 (4), pp. 27–54.
Cuban, L. (2001)
Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

March, T. (2007)
Revisiting WebQuests in a Web 2 World. How developments in technology and pedagogy combine to scaffold personal learning. Interactive Educational Multimedia. Euroa, Mittagong, New South Wales, Australia;

Woo, K., Gosper, M., McNeill, M., Preston, G., Green, D. & Phillips, R. (2008)
Web-based lecture technologies: blurring the boundaries between face-to-face and distance learning. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology, 16(2), 81-93.

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