Successful uses of ICT in School
Successful learners have the essential skills in literacy and numeracy and are creative and productive users of technology, especially ICT, as a foundation for success in all learning areas.
The preamble to the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA, 2008) acknowledges a number of changes and new demands on Australian education.
… rapid and continuing advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) are changing the ways people share, use, develop and process information and technology. In this digital age, young people need to be highly skilled in the use of ICT. While schools already employ these technologies in learning, there is a need to increase their effectiveness significantly over the next decade.
This statement recognises that ICT is used extensively in schools, and also highlights accelerating changes in ICTs. The second of the two goals in the declaration is that all young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens ( Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA), 2008). Successful learners have the essential skills in literacy and numeracy and are creative and productive users of technology, especially ICT, as a foundation for success in all learning areas. (MCEETYA, 2008) The explicit reference to ICT as an essential skill for successful learning raises many questions about what research has already identified in relation to how ICTs improve learning.
This perspective on Australian education reflects the diverse use of modern ICT in many countries. A recent oECD study reports that, in all oECD countries:
In schools it is now common to see ICT being used by students to write essays, find information for projects and assignments, compose music, share ideas with students in other schools, conduct simulations, build databases, create works of art and do detailed architectural drawings. (oECD, 2005b)
for them to use ICT to be of less importance than do sector personnel. Policies and syllabuses for ICT are seen as a stronger influence by teachers than by principals and sector personnel.
The new demands made by ICT have prompted discussion: … it’s the relatively new uses of the internet and worldwide web that are stimulating new demands and expectations in education. (White, 2008a) There is also clear recognition of the need for research about questions of the impact of ICT on learning and education:
The internet and www have caused considerable changes to the ways we access and use information as well as communicate that are having a continuing impact on education. The sheer richness of media and the diversity of processes that can be applied to those media mean that we need research into their effects on learning. (White, 2008b)
Research addressing this topic takes many forms, including large-scale investigations of the range of ICT literacy amongst students, reports from schools and classrooms about students’ responses to new teaching practices integrating a range of ICTs and students’ responses to these approaches, as well as meta-analyses of rigorous research seeking to determine the impact of ICTs on learning. In different ways, all of this research explores key questions about the impact of ICT on learning.
Within Australia and New Zealand, a survey-based evaluation of online curriculum materials produced by The Le@rning Federation has provided insights into the perceptions of teachers, school leaders and sector personnel about the uses and benefits of information and communication technologies in classrooms and the factors that encourage its classroom use. This evaluation has found a generally low adoption of ICT, due to various factors, including a lack of alignment between curriculum, pedagogy, assessment of students’ performance, and high stakes testing. (Freebody, P., Reimann, P. & Tiu, A., 2008a)
The findings of the evaluation survey of The Le@rning Federation’s (TLF) online curriculum materials (Freebody, P., Reimann, P. & Tiu, A., 2008b) identified a number of factors concerning the use of online curriculum material in the current school context, including, for example:
◗ Teachers vary considerably in their reported rates of familiarity and professional development experiences with TLF materials, and report low levels of professional development, although higher than reported in earlier surveys. ◗ The curriculum areas with the highest use of TLF materials are mathematics, English/literacy and science. Studies of Society and the Environment and cross-curricular integrated studies now have higher reported rates of use than those reported in earlier studies. ◗ Teachers who use TLF materials continue to report very favourably on their value for students’ learning and engagement. ◗ In estimating the importance of a range of factors that enable teachers to adopt new digital/online technologies in their teaching, teachers place less emphasis on those related to ease of use and support in ICT than do school leaders and sector personnel. Teachers also view pressure from outside sources.
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