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ICT Across the Curriculum

Heads of School

Teaching and Learning with ICT


Introduction
This document explains how ICT can enhance teaching & learning, and also covers strategies for classroom use of ICT. The unit is suitable for all teachers, but especially for those who are new to the profession.

Why ICT?
Why should schools and teachers work towards increasing the use of ICT in education? There are two main reasons. Firstly, consider the potential of ICT to change the nature of work and leisure over the next twenty years. Todays children need to develop the skills which will enable them (and society as a whole) to benefit from new opportunities offered by ICT. Secondly, there is a growing body of academic research, such as the Interactive Education project at Bristol University in the UK (www.interactiveeducation.ac.uk), which demonstrates how ICT enhances the quality of teaching and learning in schools, and thus contributes to the raising of standards of achievement in education.

Benefits of ICT in Education


In the UK, all research into ICT in Education is monitored by BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency). Here are some of the benefits which ICT brings to education according to recent research findings. General benefits Greater efficiency throughout the school (Greene et al, 2002) Communication channels are increased through email, discussion groups and chat rooms Regular use of ICT across different curriculum subjects can have a beneficial motivational influence on students learning (Cox 1997) Benefits for teachers ICT facilitates sharing of resources, expertise and advice Greater flexibility in when and where tasks are carried out Gains in ICT literacy skills, confidence and enthusiasm (Harrison et al, 1998) Easier planning and preparation of lessons and designing materials Access to up-to-date pupil and school data, any time and anywhere (Perry, 2003) Enhancement of professional image projected to colleagues Students are generally more on task and express more positive feelings when they use computers than when they are given other tasks to do (Becker 2000) Computer use during lessons motivated students to continue using learning outside school hours (Becker 2000; Chen and Looi 1999; Harris and Kington 2002) Benefits for students Higher quality lessons through greater collaboration between teachers in planning and preparing resources (Ofsted, 2002) More focused teaching, tailored to students strengths and weaknesses, through better analysis of attainment data Improved pastoral care and behaviour management through better tracking of students Gains in understanding and analytical skills, including improvements in reading comprehension (Lewin et al, 2000) Development of writing skills (including spelling, grammar, punctuation, editing and redrafting), also fluency, originality and elaboration (Lewin et al, 2000) Encouragement of independent and active learning, and self-responsibility for learning (Passey, 1999) Flexibility of anytime, anywhere access (Jacobsen and Kremer, 2000) Development of higher level learning styles (Gibbs, 1999)

C. Galea Education Officer Computer Studies

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ICT Across the Curriculum

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Students who used educational technology in school felt more successful in school, were more motivated to learn and have increased self-confidence and self-esteem (Software and Information Industry Association 2000) Students found learning in a technology-enhanced setting more stimulating and studentcentred than in a traditional classroom (Pedretti and Mayer-Smith 1998) Broadband technology supports the reliable and uninterrupted downloading of web-hosted educational multimedia resources Opportunities to address their work to an external audience (Allen 1995) Opportunities to collaborate on assignments with people outside or inside school (Chiu 2002; Lipponen 2000; Willinsky 2000) Benefits for parents Easier communication with teachers (Becta, 2001) Higher quality student reports more legible, more detailed, better presented (Accounts Commission for Scotland, 1999) Greater access to more accurate attendance and attainment information Increased involvement in education for parents and, in some cases, improved self-esteem (Hennessy, 1998; National Literacy Association, 1996) Increased knowledge of childrens learning and capabilities, owing to increase in learning activity being situated in the home Parents are more likely to be engaged in the school community You will see that ICT can have a positive impact across a very wide range of aspects of school life.

ICT and Raising Standards


Recent research also points to ICT as a significant contributory factor in the raising of standards of achievement in schools.

Schools judged by the UK school inspectors Ofsted to have very good ICT resources achieved better results than schools with poor ICT. Schools that made good use of ICT within a subject tended to have better achievement in that subject than other schools. Socio-economic circumstances and prior performance of pupils were not found to be critical.

from: Primary Schools of the Future - Achieving Today: A Report to the DfEE by Becta, January 2001 (http://www.becta.org.uk/news/reports/primaryfuture/intro_conclusions.html) Secondary schools with very good ICT resources achieved, on average, better results in English, Mathematics and Science than those with poor ICT resources. from: The Secondary School of the Future: a Report to the DfEE by Becta, February 2001 (http://www.becta.org.uk/news/reports/secondaryfuture/intro_conclusions.html) A range of research indicates the potential of ICT to support improvements in aspects of literacy, numeracy and science.

Improved writing skills: grammar, presentation, spelling, word recognition and volume of work (Lewin, Scimshaw and Mercer, 2000; Lewin, 2000; Moseley, Higgins et al, 1999; Passey, 1999) Age-gains in mental calculations and enhanced number skills, for example the use of decimals (Moseley, Higgins et al, 1999) Better data handling skills and increased ability to read, interpret and sketch graphs (McFarlane et al., 1995) Improvements in conceptual understanding of Mathematics (particularly problem solving) and Science (particularly through use of simulations)

C. Galea Education Officer Computer Studies

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ICT Across the Curriculum

Heads of School

from: Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) Report, USA 2000)

Where to start?
Let us begin with the assumption that all of the above evidence has convinced you that the use of ICT in education is worthwhile. Even a quick glance at the research findings reported here will make the whole field of educational ICT seem somewhat imposing and perhaps overwhelming to many teachers. At the same time, a brief consideration of your daily working life will bring to mind a series of limitations as to what you can personally do, such as a shortage of equipment, time, or specific ICT knowledge. So how to start? You will, of course, substantially increase your own ICT skills and knowledge by taking part in all the modules of this training package. In addition, we offer two main strands of advice in this particular document: Firstly, the greatest incentive to school managers and government departments to invest in supporting ICT in education comes from teachers making best use of existing resources, and maximising pupil achievement under current circumstances. Teachers cannot wait for more computers to arrive at school before they begin the task of building ICT into their working life. It is essential that educators start this journey now with the resources available to them already. This process, where it is successful, will serve to encourage education authorities to provide further resources, support and training. Secondly, the introduction of ICT into school life is a long and gradual process. From a teachers perspective, a valuable insight comes from Jim Wynn, Microsofts Education Strategy Manager for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Jim cites Professor Margaret Cox's research on teachers' use of ICT (King's College, London) as a key influence. "She found that teachers who try to use ICT often chose areas where they were completely comfortable with their teaching, on the grounds that they could rescue it if it went wrong. Invariably what she observed was a worse lesson than the one it replaced because the preparation was wrong and they didn't really know why they were doing it," he explains. Jim talks about teachers needing to evaluate the success of their own teaching. Some lessons will no doubt already be excellent without the need to introduce ICT. These are lessons which would be evaluated with a score of 9 or 10 out of 10. In this case, the use of ICT can bring little improvement, and in fact could threaten to have a negative impact on the lesson. Conversely, a lesson rated as only 3 out of 10 cannot be rescued by the use of ICT. Rather, lessons of such low quality need a more basic re-evaluation. "If it's a 9 out of 10 lesson, leave it alone - the 7 out of 10 lessons are the important ones to rescue. So you take the 7 out of 10 lesson and try to work out why it's not better and then see if ICT can help," he explains. "If the lesson is less than 7 out of 10 you need to look more deeply at your teaching practice. ICT is a step too far." This view gives teachers a clear starting point. Think about the lessons you teach, and identify some which are neither the best nor the worst. Look for areas of your teaching which are perhaps satisfactory, but which could maybe improve with the introduction of an ICT-based component. The rest of this document will guide you through the process of including the use of ICT into your lessons.

Practical considerations
Before you begin to plan specific ICT activities for your classroom, you must of course consider the practical realities of ICT in your school. In particular, you will need to consider the number of computers available and the number of students in your class. As a general rule, it is best to have no more than three pupils working at one computer. This often means that a whole class

C. Galea Education Officer Computer Studies

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ICT Across the Curriculum

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cannot work on computers at the same time, a fact which has several consequences in the teachers planning. How many students can work on computers at the same time? Is it important that all students get an opportunity to work on computers? If there are not enough computers for the whole class to work together at the same time, then some students will need an alternative learning activity while they wait their turn. How will you manage the process of providing access to computers for everyone? This may need to be spread over a period of weeks. Will the students all be working in the same classroom? If not, how will you ensure adequate supervision of those who are out of sight? What instructional needs will students have (both for the ICT-based activity and the non-computer-based task)? How much teacher input will be required? What is the teachers role now?

It is clear that using ICT asks many questions of the teacher, not only in terms of designing purposeful learning activities, but also with regard to classroom organization and the use of different teaching styles. While the traditional teaching model (whereby the teacher stands in front of a large group of students and issues them with instructions or passes on knowledge) can also be adopted when using ICT (for example when telling a class what to do), it is more common to find with the use of ICT that the teacher works more closely and personally with individual small groups of students. The teacher becomes more mobile around the classroom, and is able to engage in detailed discussions with students about the work they are doing, what they are learning, what they should do next etc. A further consideration here is the kind of ICT equipment which is available. Do you have Internet access? What about email? Are students able to save their work so that it can be reused at a later date? Does your school have special software packages for certain subjects? Are these installed onto computers so that they can be used? It is very important that teachers who are trying to develop the use of ICT also develop strong relationships with any technical support staff who may be able to help with these issues. You may be able to encourage them to buy additional equipment, such as a multimedia projector, which will enable teachers to demonstrate or run ICT-based activities with a whole class simultaneously.

Examples of ICT-based activities


What kind of classroom activities are suited to the use of ICT? The following is a brief guide to some of the most common uses of ICT in teaching and learning. Finding out Students can use ICT to find out information and to gain new knowledge in several ways. They may find information on the Internet or by using an ICT-based encyclopedia such as Microsoft Encarta. They may find information by extracting it from a document prepared by the teacher and made available to them via ICT, such as document created using Microsoft Word or a Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow. They may find out information by communicating with people elsewhere using email, such as students in a different school or even in a different country. Processing knowledge Students can use ICT as part of a creative process where they have to consider more carefully the information which they have about a given subject. They may need to carry out calculations (eg. by using Microsoft Excel), or to check grammar and spelling in a piece of writing (perhaps using Microsoft Word), or they may need to re-sequence a series of events (for example by reordering a series of Microsoft PowerPoint slides). Sharing knowledge Students can use ICT to present their work in a highly professional format. They can create documents and slideshows to demonstrate what they have learned, and then share this with other students, with their teacher, and even via email with people all around the world.

C. Galea Education Officer Computer Studies

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ICT Across the Curriculum

Heads of School

Top tips
Teachers need to decide how they want ICT to feature in a lesson. Will the teacher use ICT to create a document which they will then present to or share with the class? Will the students themselves use ICT either as part of the learning process or as a presentation tool? To make this decision think carefully how you would teach a given lesson without using ICT, and then try to identify the weakest part of the lesson. Perhaps the opening presentation of information is poor: it may be too long, it may be too text-heavy, or it may be unclear and difficult to follow. Maybe the learning process at the heart of the lesson is not actually delivering the learning desired: you may need to provide additional or alternative activities to enhance the learning process, which motivate students to work for longer and with greater depth of thought. It could be that the problem lies in the final stages of the lesson: maybe the pupils need to create an expression of their new knowledge to clarify and consolidate what they have learned, or to help the teacher to evaluate the success of the lesson.

ICT can provide solutions to all these problems and weaknesses, but it is important that the teacher has a clear idea of how and where he/she wants ICT to have an impact. Think carefully about how ICT will be used in the lesson (and by whom), and consider what support will be required. For example, if you want your students to create slideshows about the history of Ancient Egypt using Microsoft PowerPoint, then you will have to teach them not only about the history involved but also how to use the software being used. It is a very common experience for teachers in the early stages of using ICT to find that their lessons take much more time when using ICT than they do without using ICT. This is natural. Firstly, you must remember that your students are learning a set of new and valuable skills alongside the traditional subject content. In the example above, they are earning how to use Microsoft PowerPoint as well as something about History. Secondly, use of ICT can be slow where many beginners are working together, but speeds up considerably within a short time, as users become more familiar with the working environment and the skills involved. It is worth noting that one very positive feature of ICT use in schools is that both teachers and pupils are very keen to share their knowledge to help and support one another. This has the effect of accelerating the learning process, while it also provides a safety net for those who are struggling most with difficult new skills. One additional benefit is that use of ICT often creates situations where students must work together. The discussions and debates which arise bring a new dimension to the learning experience, where spontaneous lively communication leads to initial ideas being challenged, and thus the need to re-assess conclusions, make compromises and reach agreements.

Final thoughts
Teachers involved in this training course may find this document overwhelming at first, so remember the following:

The longest journey starts with a single step You are not alone!

You are at the start of an exciting journey, and it is perfectly OK to take the first steps without knowing where it will all lead. You are now part of a worldwide community of teachers, all of whom are trying to use ICT to enhance teaching and learning. Many of them will have the same difficulties and frustrations as you. All of them will be happy to share experiences via email or website discussion forums, so join in and get involved! Find out more in the training module

C. Galea Education Officer Computer Studies

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ICT Across the Curriculum

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called Skill Sharing. Finally, amidst the careful planning of next weeks lessons, do not forget to keep a vision of a brighter future for the schoolchildren of the world!

C. Galea Education Officer Computer Studies

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