Educational Technology & Society 5 (1) 2002
ISSN 1436-4522

Learning to Change: ICT in Schools

(Book review)

Reviewer: RG Baird
Faculty of Arts
University of Ulster
United Kingdom


Book details:

Learning to Change: ICT in Schools
Centre for Educational Research and Innovation  ©2001
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Publications, 2, rue Andre-Pascal, 75775 Paris Cedex 16, France
ISBN 92-64-19652-8-No. 52215 2001

Literacy in a technical world?

If you are reading this on the web, as I assume most of you are, then you are committed, committed to the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and its use in the educational environment. On the other hand you may in fact be one of the majority who accepts that the Technological express is coming your way but you are not so sure if (a) you want to get on. or (b) you are not all together happy with the route it is taking.

For a number of years my main teaching and research focus has been within the discipline of New Media, specifically its use to effectively communicate within education and training. I accept that ‘it’, New Media, is just the next stage in the advancement of communication technology that follows on naturally from Film, Radio, & Television. However it has brought about the requirement for a major paradigm shift in approach, application and concept if it is to deliver to its full potential, and there in lies the rub, we have the technology but we are not yet confident in its use.

Some years ago I was director of a research and development group dedicated to the use of ICT in higher education, most particularly my own university and at that time it was thought that all you had to do was put your notes on line. I well remember one of my colleagues saying that the students were here to learn and they would have to read the notes regardless or they would fail, it was as simple as that!. He had no concern for a redesign and application of the content, no interest in the delivery methods, in fact no interest in the pedagogy of the new delivery methods.

It would have been a great assistance to me, and those like me, if Learning to Change: ICT in Schools had been published then.

What we have in this CERI (Centre for Educational Research and Innovation) publication is the result of two years intensive looking at various national experiences in what it takes to deliver an ICT based quality learning experience. Sixteen member countries contributed to the final outcome and, very importantly, so did an international network of students organised by the OECD. The students, our end users, provided,“a refreshing and perceptive user-perspective”.

I found the report honest and refreshing and believe it to be required reading for all education mangers and teacher training staff. Not much of what I read was new to those of us who have been in this field for any number of years, but it was refreshing to see it all together in black and white and in one official report.

The publication is honest and forthright in its conclusions. I was particularly impressed by its conclusions that ICT will not work without a radical rethink of teacher training and staff development, an old and very obvious problem which it is taking a long time for institutions and governments to address.

There are seven well considered chapters here, from Policy Priorities, through, Curriculum and the Learner, Educational Software and Digital Content, to Schools Organised for ICT and the Homes they Serve.

This is not just a book for Secondary and Primary education, it is required reading for all teachers and educationalists, mainly because it is short and precise, it is exactly what it sets out to be, a short easy reading hard hitting report of 118 pages, including the bibliography.

If you are serious about your teaching either as a director, manager, or ‘chalk face’ presenter you need to read this report so you can see in six easy chapters the overview of the new frontier. This is the kind of book which you can recommend to colleagues without the fear that it will be so full of jargon and ‘tecki talk’ that it will only feed their techno-phobia with regard to ICT. It is also a valuable handbook with regard to a ready reference overview of the ‘big ICT picture’. It is the kind of book you want to quote from at those all too common faculty and board meetings where no one wants to listen to your pleading for staff development time, better considered equipment or where you want people to understand that digital literacy is more than an ability to use computers in simple ways. Buy this book for your vice chancellor and more importantly for your director of IT, they probably need it more than you.