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UNESCO-UNEVOC has compiled a short selection of academic or professional articles that might help to clarify the signification and the use of the term "ICT"(Information and Communication Technologies)in an educational context. It goes thus beyond the definitions stored in TVETipedia while not pretending to offer an exhaustive bibliography on the topic.
Information and Communications Technology in UK schools By Dennis Stevenson, commissioned by the Labor party (1997) and Shutdown or Restart By the Royal Society (2012)
The term “ICT” has no official date or place of birth and its precise origin can hardly be traced. If the term is now frequently mentioned, the United Kingdom might be the only country where "ICT" has been used extensively and continuously for the last 20 years, in educational policies and curriculum design. The two references above focus on this special case.
The first reference is a report published in 1997 by an “independent commission” ( summoned by the center-left party The Labour) and composed of teachers, academics and business stakeholders. It is the publication that introduced the term “ICT” in the British political debate by pleading for massive investment in the sector. The second reference has been published 15 years later by the Royal Society (the “national academy of science” in the UK). It reviews the current system and call for the end of “ICT” to the benefit of “Computing”.
The selected quotes are extracted from both reports and highlight what changed (and what did not) in the definition and perception of “ICT” in the UK.
“On a point of definition we talk in this report of ICT, adding ‘communications’ to the more familiar ‘information technology’. This seems to us accurately to reflect the increasing role of both information and communication technologies in all aspects of society. …
ICT in schools works in different ways(1). We suggest that in addressing its effects it is important to recognise that ICT may be used for a wide range of purposes:
“It was well-known – and borne out in the responses to the call for evidence – that there are a wide range of terms in use, and that they are used in different ways to mean different things by different communities. For example, industry often refers to ‘IT’ (Information Technology), teachers following the National Curriculum in England use the phrase ‘ICT’ (Information and Communications Technology), teachers in Scotland refer to ‘Computing Science’, and academe prefers either ‘Computer Science(s)’, ‘Computing’ or even ‘Informatics’. A parent or student may describe a subject as ‘Computer Studies’ or just ‘Computers’. In the context of education and skills, these terms could refer to anything from being able to use a mouse, building a computer from hardware components, writing new software, or understanding the abstract underpinning principles of a computer.
It should be noted that ‘ICT’ is an unusually problematic term because it is commonly used to mean many different things. Among them are:
1. The (current, English, Welsh and Northern Ireland) National Curriculum subject called ICT (a combination of digital literacy, Information Technology and Computer Science).
2. The use of generic information technologies to support teaching and learning (interactive whiteboards, Virtual Learning Environments, class response systems, websites to distribute and submit homework, etc.).
3. The use of specific computer technologies to support particular aspects of a subject (for example, weather stations in geography, MIDI instruments in music, etc.).
4. The use of technologies to support teachers’ administrative processes, and the school’s management information systems, including registration, record keeping, finance, reporting, communicating, etc.
5. The physical infrastructure of a school’s computer systems: the networks, printers and so on. These multiple overlapping meanings present a significant barrier to communication. ...
Our suggested definitions above draw the distinction between two separate subjects – Computer Science and Information Technology, along with the basic skill of digital literacy. Conflation of these areas is at the heart of the problem that this report explores. The English National Curriculum currently combines all of these into one subject known as ICT, and this leads to many of the problems in England described in later chapters. ...
The term ICT as a brand should be reviewed and the possibility considered of disaggregating this into clearly defined areas such as digital literacy, Information Technology and Computer Science.
There is an analogy here with how English is structured at school, with reading and writing (basic literacy), English Language (how the language works) and English Literature (how it is used). The term ‘ICT’ should no longer be used as it has attracted too many negative connotations. … Computer Science is often forgotten or ignored within the heading of ICT, resulting in teaching being biased towards ‘how to use office software’ rather than the knowledge that will form a foundation for the rest of a pupil’s life. This has led to many people holding a very negative view of ICT, to the extent that terminological reform and careful disaggregation is required.” Extracted from pp.16;18 (Chapter 2: The different natures of computer Science, Information Technology and digital literacy
“Shut down or restart? The way forward for computing in UK schools”, The Royal Society, January 2012 - DES2448
The following reference comes from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and aims at giving guidelines to the member states for the assessment of ICT in education.
In the selected quotes, the authors remind that the definition of ICT in education must adapt to the level of development (described as “e-readiness”, “e-intensity”, “e-impact”) of the country.
Data on access depend on the provision of infrastructure that can be captured at the school level, whereas the information on the use of ICT for the teaching and learning process can be captured at the teacher and student level. Data on outcomes – which are ultimately of the highest interest for policymakers – need to be gathered at the student level.
International Comparison of Computing in Schools By Linda Sturman and Juliet Sizmur, NFER (2011)
This report made by another British research centre draws a small scale comparison of “ICT curriculum” in primary and secondary education all over the world. The report highlights how the label and the content change from a country to another, even at an equivalent level of socioeconomic development.
In the selected quotes, the focus is on the great variety of labels used instead of “ICT” around the world.
The comparator countries/regions vary in how, or indeed, if at all, ICT and Computing are represented in their curricula. In most of them, ICT is integrated with other learning during the earlier years of education, being used as a tool across the curriculum. Where ICT and/or Computing are represented as discrete subjects, this tends to arise at the later stages of schooling, and a wide range of labels is used to describe the subjects. These labels include the following.
For those countries/regions specifying a discrete subject at the elementary phase (which is typically up to age 12 but with some exceptions, see Appendix A):
This academic article reviews the literature on the following questions: “the need for effective integration of ICTs in TVET, factors influencing the effective integration of ICTs in TVET, overview of the challenges to the effective integration of ICTs in TVET”.
In the selected quotes, the authors remind the basic factors required for the inclusion of ICT in education and training, before highlighting the special importance of blended learning in TVET.
Strategic readiness is the preparation stage that is accomplished by developing a wide-ranging master plan for the incorporation of ICTs into TVET. …
Pedagogical readiness focuses on the fit between ICTs and current teaching and learning practice. …
Organizational readiness focuses on teachers’involvement in integrating ICTs into TVET. …
Technical readiness addresses issues related to infrastructural requirements for ICT integration. The following key questions are used to assess technical readiness. …
While ICTs provides a platform for virtual manipulation of skills, TVET emphasize hands-on experience among learners. As such, the critical challenge lies in the possibility of ICTs to substitute physically trained specialist/instructors and training facilities. In view of the aforementioned fact, ICTs can only replace a portion of hands-on experience where manual skills are necessary requirements in teaching and learning process (Zarini et al., 2009). Though ICTs are crucial component that no training programme (TVET) can afford to neglect, face-to face interaction among learners and between a learner and a teacher equally holds great promise." Extracted from pp.6670-6671 in “Factors influencing the effective integration of ICT in TVET” and “Overview of the challenges to the effective integration of ICT in TVET”
ICT is a global term, not only used in education but also in the economic or business fields. This academic article aims at “developing a hierarchy for the definitions and applications of the term ICT (or ICTs)”, in education but also in other sectors of the society.
In the selected quotes, the final 'hierarchy' submitted by the author is faithfully reproduced.
1.1 Economic Development
1.1.1. Mobile Signal/Towers/Satellites
18.104.22.168. Crisis Management/Disease Management
1.1.2. Mobile Devices
22.214.171.124. Phones, pagers, tablets, other wireless devices
1.2 Economic Sector
1.2.1. Goods Produced/Manufactured
1.2.2. Related Services
1.2.3. Digital Economy Readiness Metric
1.3.1. Skills and Competencies
126.96.36.199. Phones, pagers, tablets, other wireless devices including Computers
188.8.131.52. Support Systems
1.4.2. Phones, pagers, tablets, other wireless devices”
This article is an element of the TVETipedia Glossary.