ICT - Battle with technology

An increasing reliance on ICT could "exclude" many parents from their children's learning, research has found.

It shows that parents are not expert enough in new technology to help with ICT-based schoolwork, and that education policy-makers do not understand how families use computers.

Olivia Stevenson of the Stirling Institute of Education, canvassed 500 14 to 16-year-olds in English schools and interviewed eight families involved with the UK Government's Home-School Links programme. It has tried to get parents more involved in their children's learning at home, with the use of ICT crucial to the process.

Dr Stevenson believes that, as well as assuming too much knowledge on parents' part, such initiatives do not take account of families' rules about ICT and how other aspects of daily life affect their use of computers.

"Current home-school links policies assume that children are passive recipients of parental actions, and that parents believe they have the competence to involve themselves in certain aspects of their children's education," she states in a draft report. "As my findings show, parents were often self-taught technology users, which meant that they developed different ICT practices from those of their children."

Dr Stevenson said parents were commonly assumed to have next to no knowledge of computers or to be highly skilled, whereas a more nuanced approach was required. Her report shows that a curriculum which relies on "tighter" links between ICT-based learning and parents could "exclude scores of parents who either lack the competence to facilitate or whose family rules simply do not want members to engage with certain ICT practices".

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