The uses of ICT within schools can be summed up and categorized within 3 areas: External Reasons (i.e. from people not directly linked to twaching and learning within the school like Parents, Governors and the Government in general); Internal Reasons (i.e. the school leaders and teachers themselves) and; Educational Reasons (i.e. the opportunities that arose for improving education within the school through using ICT).
In an educational utopia quite clearly the educational reasons behind using ICT within schools would alwyas take preference to ensure the learning and development of our students. Unfortunately, as we all know this is not case with many external and internal pressures that take preference over the educational requirements of our most important stakeholders as teachers – the students.
I have highlighted some of the reasons why schools should, or rather expected to use ICT in my opinion:
External Reasons for Using ICT
- Pressure from the government for schools to adopt various technologies (probably because they have an agreement with a large/multi-national organisation that wants to make a healthy profit on the back of education)
- Pressure from parents and governors to make the school a ‘future’ friendly school
- The expectation that all young children are now technologically aware and in need of harnessing and embracing technologies to aid their learning (i.e. a lifestyle choice).
- The school is currently undergoing a project or preparing for a competition that requires the school to adopt certain technologies (i.e. Botball and Robotics Olympiads etc)
- An inspection report that dictates that ICT is not upto the standard it should be within the school
- New School management who want to lead in making the school a more ICT friendly institution
- To improve the delivery of lessons by using visualizers and Interactive Whiteboards
- To ensure that all teachers have access to a healthy set of resources
- Allowing teachers to have an efficient and centralized way of collating and analysing whole school data and grades.
- To promote innovation within the classroom and give teachers an opportunity to explore alternative ways of delivering their curriculum.
- Allows students (and their families) better access to 21st Century working practices that will allow them to have a more integrated existence with the rest of society (especially when applying for jobs, paying bills, booking holidays and even online shopping etc.)
- It promotes lifelong learning and allows individuals to be able to use ICT beyond the conventional classroom to ensure that they remain productive users of technology to develop personally and professionally.
- It makes resources more accessible and cheaper – Schools could buy hard copies of text books or just distribute them on the network for students to access.
- It takes learning out of the conventional classroom; with the use of VLEs and the like students are now able to take control of their learning outside the classroom and become more independent learners.
- Allows students to access a global educational experience and interact with their peers around the world (Minecraft?)
In conclusion there are too many reasons for using ICT within schools that aren’t fundamentally linked to the learning and development of the child, but rather a reaction to external and internal expectations and keeping stakeholders happy. However it is reassuring to see that educational reasons and the “greater good” is a nice side-effect of the pressures of the external and internal factors.