Think creatively for ICT
The authors respond to an article in the February 2008 issue of 'Teacher' by Jeffrey Hodges, entitled 'Think critically: against mandatory ICT'. (1) Peter Kent argues that ICT amplifies quality teaching and improves student learning. Equally, it has the capacity to amplify poor teaching - but that is no reason to resist it. It is almost clichéd to say that ICT is just a tool, but that is all it is. ICT can make good practice inspired and mediocre practice dreadful. Either way, it is the practice, or the uses of the tool, that are relevant, not so much the tool itself. Of course ICT for ICT's sake will rarely be successful, and if teachers are to take advantage of ICT they need to know what quality teaching and learning with ICT looks like. And of course classrooms need to be equipped with sufficient ICT to make it practical to integrate as well. It is fair to say that these factors are not present in all schools. While we can have a debate about the place of ICT within the curriculum and schools more generally, let us move the debate on, asking not whether we should or should not integrate ICT but how we should integrate it. (2) Rob McEwan argues that if education is to include opportunities to learn with and through technology, and not just about technology, teachers need to be competent in the use of ICT across the curriculum. We need to think of ICT as a technology just like a book or even a stick drawing in sand. Just as children learn to read in the early years of schooling and then use this skill across all curriculum areas, students and teachers need to develop a high level of competence in ICT that they can then transfer. ICT in schools has enormous potential for education. At its best, ICT can enhance student learning and engagement across all curriculum areas while also developing student competence in the essential skills for the 21st century. The question facing teachers is not whether to use ICT in education, but how well ICT is being used. If educators are not able to reconceptualise pedagogy and successfully integrate ICT as a learning tool in an information age where technology pervades almost all aspects of life, teachers risk disaffecting a generation of students for whom schooling may already lack relevance. [Author abstract, ed]
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