Could computers make careers guidance professionals redundant? The fear that students can pick up all the advice they need from a machine is real but misguided. By reaping the benefits of using information technology in careers and educational guidance, professionals will be able to concentrate on what they can do best for their clients.
This is one of the important ideas in the National Council for Educational Technology's excellent new pack. Teachers, lecturers and careers advisers working with both young people and adults will be stimulated to reflect not only on the potential uses of IT but on the nature of careers and educational guidance.
The materials, which are designed as a 25-hour distance learning pack, can readily be used both by individuals and groups wishing to improve their practice. Its flexible structure - the material is divided into modules - is ideal for use in other areas of training too. This is good news for those involved in initial and in-service teacher training, for example.
Users of open-learning texts will recognise the quality of writing by Marcus Offer, an expert in computer software for careers work. The supportive tone and the mix of exercises, questionnaires and case studies make it easy to use.
The introductory module includes a self-assessment checklist to help the user decide how to get the most out of the pack. Two foundation modules explore the nature of guidance and provide an introduction to using an IBM-compatible type computer. Even more experienced guidance professionals and users of computers will benefit from refreshing their understanding in these two modules.
The five main modules take the user through the issues involved in developing a coherent strategy for using IT in their guidance work, mapping the types of software available, evaluating software in a structured and systematic way and addressing the theoretical and practical implications of using computers in guidance.
Careers guidance professionals will welcome this timely contribution from NCET. Its publication follows the announcement of a series of Government initiatives to enhance careers guidance for 13 to 19-year-olds. This pack should help stimulate new and creative approaches to careers and educational guidance for all ages.