The Government's five-year strategy for children and learners has been given a cautious welcome by Naace, the association for ICT advisers and co-ordinators. The Government wants ICT to contribute towards "personalised learning" - in other words learning tailored to an individual's abilities, interests and skills.
The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) says: "ICT is a vital tool for personalisation - giving the opportunity to tailor tasks to children without hours of extra work for teachers; and with the potential to do things such as mark and analyse work automatically, picking out areas where a particular child has not understood, or where the whole class has missed a point and needs more explanation."
"Since 1998 the Government has invested over pound;1 billion creating an ICT infrastructure in schools in England," adds the DfES, "connecting secondary schools using broadband, and training teachers. This investment has already had a dramatic effect, but there is more to do both to equip all teachers to make the most of what is available and to develop better quality curriculum content and materials."
Interactive whiteboards are seen by the DfES as one of the major tools for personalised learning: "in the hands of competent and confident teachers, (they) bring new dimensions to whole class teaching". The Government has provided pound;50 million over two years to support the use of whiteboards - that's enough to buy 20,000 boards.
But while many welcome ICT's key role in personalised learning, Naace is concerned about the lack of clear vision. "We give the document a cautious welcome," says Steve Bacon, its general secretary, "It's good to see ICT recognised as an element of personalised learning, but we have to see a clear direction on how ICT could be used. What we now need from the DfES is a steer on what they want from ICT over the next five years. It must now produce a strong policy and Naace would like to be involved in this process."