ICT For Curriculum Enhancement

Author(s) Monteith M.
Publisher Intellect
Published 2004
Price 19.95
ISBN 1841500615
Reviewed by Mr Andy Connell
Liverpool Hope University
Review published 9 January 2006

It is not immediately clear from the cover who the intended target audience is for this book, but there is something here for everyone interested in ICT. Its collection of writings from a number of ICT experts, from a variety of backgrounds, presents food for thought for ICT Advisors, ICT consultants, ICT Directors/Coordinators and ICT leaders in primary, secondary, tertiary and ITT (Initial Teacher Training) sectors. It may also be of interest to students and teachers of ‘ICT and Society’ and ‘ICT education’.

In chapter one Moira Monteith proposes ways of using IT to model what goes on in the classroom to help us understand better. She suggests that more of us should put together organised case studies of experience and practice in ICT in order to provide an opportunity for reflection to enable us to move on. This book is one step along this road. Martin Owen challenges in an interesting way, the notion that the ‘computer is just a tool’. Posing the question ‘what is the digital curriculum?’, he effectively criticises some current teaching of the NC as stuck in a previous era. Peter Twining describes his ‘Computer Practice Framework’, developed since the mid 1990s as a tool to help clarify the planning cycle for the use of ICT in schools. Libby Jared gives an overview of the NRICH project and uses it to support her argument that the internet does provide great resources but that we need to debate how to make best use of it and how to embrace it to improve learning and teaching. Rachel Pilkington and Peter Kuminek provide a case study on the use of role-play with synchronous CMC. Importantly they discuss the importance of preparing pupils well and of offering support and they are encouraged by the initial findings. Jocelyn Wishart provides four case studies we may all learn from, to show how pupils can be motivated to learn and moved towards independence through ICT. Deirdre Cook describes how good use of ICT support early years learning, with some good advice on health and safety, choosing resources, involvement of adults and acknowledgment that computers can be used badly too. The last four chapters have a focus on ICT in Initial Teacher Training (ITT), but will be of interest to non ITT people.   Babs Dore and Cathy Wickens give a case study on how and why ICT has been used to support trainees in ITT in one institution, John Chatterton gives an overview of the thinking behind the PGCE in the subject of ICT at Sheffield Hallam University and describes the use of a forum to support trainees, Tony Fisher gives a case study on the use of ICT to support PGCE Geography and explains why he thinks ICT literacy is needed in the ‘Information Society’ and Stevie Vanhegan and Susan Wallace discuss their experiences of using IT Key Skills courses within a PGCE for FE lecturers.

Most of the chapters provide a short summary of relevant theory chosen to support the author’s viewpoint. It is unfortunate that two chapters on ITT discuss 4/98 rather that 02/02, but this is due to the time of writing and the content is not invalidated by that.

Each chapter presents the viewpoint of its particular author(s) and each chapter ‘stands alone’ from the others. Every chapter gives case study and argument that is worth consideration by the reader, whatever the sector being used as an example.

I found that I did not agree with everything I read, but these ideas and proposals will stimulate argument and debate and are worth reading for that alone. I found it interesting to read about developments in other ‘sectors’ and to think about how they might inform thinking in my own ‘sector’. There is a bit of repetition of historical context in the chapters, but as the editor explains in the foreword, the context is important and the chapters may be read in any order.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the use of ICT to support the curriculum as a reference to inform debate in this very important area.