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4th July 2003 at 01:00
History, ICT and Learning in the Secondary School

Edited by Terry Haydn and Christine Counsell; RoutledgeFalmer pound;17.99

As someone who wants to use ICT in the classroom regularly, I found this book stimulating, interesting and informative. The authors argue that ICT has had a significant impact on education and can contribute greatly to teaching history as long as the tasks attempted are manageable, meaningful and well planned.

The contributors are leading academics in history education and well aware of the problems teachers may encounter. There are practical ideas on developing computer-based lessons and discussions on progression by building on skills and experience.

The teaching strategies and advice refer to research findings and inspection reports and this information, combined with the authors' own experience, gives a history of ICT in education as well as covering potential pitfalls, limitations and suggested lesson formats. There are many website references for online help, ideas and resources, as the authors make the point that learning, in the words of Tony Blair, "is no longer a matter of passively receiving information".

Chapters highlight the potential of this increased interactivity alongside the reassuring message that ICT does not, and should not, have to be used in isolation from other teaching methods and resources.

This is emphasised by Ben Walsh, who refers to "learning packages" that incorporate structured activities using ICT with traditional teaching methods within a scheme of work and take into account pupils' ability and a clear historical learning outcome.

The message of integrating non-ICT elements into ICT lessons is demonstrated in the discussion of database, map and source use. The authors realise that computers are "no guarantee of better learning".

The book provides good ideas on how ICT can help find new routes of enquiry, help pupils explore new learning and make a subject traditionally perceived as difficult more accessible and fun.

Martin Williams is head of history at St Cenydd School, Caerphilly

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