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Key principles and prejudices
We have paraded some of our prejudices, if not principles, in the statement of vision at the start! We should perhaps be a little more precise as to the basis of them.

1 Why do we believe in the benefits of ICT to education?

There is a legitimate question as to whether the cost/benefit case for investing money in ICT has yet been proved. On both sides of the Atlantic people are asking whether ICT in education is another skate boarding fad?

The somewhat Luddite argument is sometimes advanced that ICT is making available so much more information that it is polluting and confusing the world. Such arguments ignore the powerful ability of modern software to search and distinguish between different forms of information. Indeed one objective of increasing the use of ICT in our schools is to give students the ability to control information and the sense that they have this ability.

The perhaps more legitimate question is how and to what extent ICT presently helps learning. Evidence is now emerging on how ICT can improve learning. This evidence points to the conclusion that ICT brings considerable benefits to bear on the learning process, albeit benefits with different weight in different situations. It will be a very long time, however, before there is conclusive evidence to justify the substantial investment by the community at large that we believe to be necessary; and by the time this justification is achieved, almost certainly a generation or two will have lost out not to mention that the investment then required will be different! In our view there is no substitute for Government taking what we describe as a common sense act of faith view of the need to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the application of ICT in schools. It would, after all, be remarkable if school education turned out to be the one area in society where effectiveness and productivity were not dramatically increased by the application of ICT! And there are a number of features of ICT that a priori make it particularly suitable for education:

It combines and integrates the full range of media through which successful learning takes place: sound, vision, text and numeric data.

It provides teachers with opportunities and options that they have never had before eg. combining class or part-class teaching with individual computer based teaching(1), distance learning, etc.

The one to one relationship between computer and student can retain student interest and involvement to a degree much harder to sustain in whole class teaching! In addition, any failure in comprehension becomes a private matter between the student and the computer.

It seems to us a matter of common sense that the educational process in our country will gain massively as a result of using ICT wisely. If this proposition cannot be entirely proved, it has to be an act of faith. It is important that Government makes this act of faith and that we use technology rather than study it over the next decade.

At the risk of sounding a little theological it is worth also addressing the question as to ...

2 What is the role of ICT? We want to emphasise that ICT is in no sense a substitute for "traditional" learning and teaching. Nor is it a substitute for students using their minds and imaginations. The role of ICT is to serve education: in particular by helping students to learn more effectively and by helping teachers to do their professional job. Attempts are sometimes made to suggest that ICT is in some way the property of a particular educational philosophy. We do not see it that way. The best analogue we have heard for ICT is the analogue with the invention of electricity. Electricity - once regarded as a strange, almost frightening wonder of the age - has come to serve almost every aspect of society. So also with ICT. It should be used in the service of the curriculum, and made available to help teachers to manage the learning process, however that is defined by them.

Cross references to McKinsey:
(1) Exhibit 38

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