In the mid-1990s, Tony van der Kuyl was conducting research into the use of ICT in schools. Van der Kuyl is director of the Scottish Interactive Technology Centre. Back then, he says: "You would hear how ICT was making learning and teaching better, but no one was able to explain how." He decided to find out what teachers were doing in the classroom to make ICT such an effective tool.
Over time, he produced 16 case studies of good practice in Scottish primary, secondary and special schools. From these, he created 12 learning outcomes (now increased to 13) that could be used to develop the ICT skills of pupils and teachers. The result is MIICE - Measurement of the Impact of ICT in Children's Education.
MIICE has developed a "toolbox" containing the 13 learning outcomes with 41 components, free to all teachers online. Tony van der Kuyl says MIICE can be used in numerous ways by schools - to determine a target for a scheme of work, as an overall school plan, or for inclusion in a departmental handbook.
Some of the 242 teachers who took part in the development and validation of the toolbox put forward their own suggestions for using it - as a tool for planning staff development in ICT; as a general tool for raising awareness of how to use ICT in learning; to provide school managers with criteria for judging the learning value of ICT budget requests from different departments.
"People have used the toolbox not only as an audit tool but as a learning tool," says van der Kuyl. "Teachers have used it to answer the question 'How can the outcomes help me embed ICT?'One headteacher in a large secondary school uses it when considering department bids for the ICT budget: if a teacher says 'I want 20 laptops', she responds with the question: 'to do what?'"
Tony Van der Kuyl stresses that MIICE is not intended to be used as a measure of teachers' competence in using a specific piece of software or as a framework for projects which focus exclusively on teaching ICT skills.
Nor is it an external package of performance indicators coming from HMI or Becta (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency). "No school has to take the whole lot - you can take one outcome and a couple of competences and then link them to your practice," says van der Kuyl.
The outcomes are divided into three sections. The first relates to the attitudes and abilities of learners, the second to the management of learning, and the third to the teacher's continuous professional development in ICT.
The first section is aimed at students and the outcomes cover areas such as skills development (eg how well does the student collect and analyse information?), managing and manipulating data (including text, pictures and sound) and shared learning (eg how well they collaborate with others). The other sections are concerned with areas such as the teacher's skills in using ICT hardware and generic software, and in using ICT as a rich and effective means for learning.
MIICEhas more than 30 partners, including local councils and academic institutions, and representatives from all Scottish schools, and 30 out of the 32 LEAs, attended the last MIICEconference. The website also contains newsletters, reports and discussion papers. The MIICE learning outcomes are also being used by schools in the US, Australia and Hong Kong, and Tony van der Kuyl believes that schools in the rest of the UK could also benefit from it.
l The toolbox includes an auditor version (to record evidence) for primary and secondary schools, discussion papers, newsletters and various other free downloadable resources, available in Microsoft Word and AppleWorks.
Short video clips of the case studies can be viewed at: http:sitc.education.ac.ukCase_Studiesindex.htm